Wednesday, September 7, 2016 (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

I can hardly count how many times I've gone looking for programs for the boys, and felt like I spent more time Googling than actually checking things out. Christian HomeSchool Hub aims to take that "seek and find" feeling out of preparing your child's lessons with the CHSH Download Club program. aggregates over 50,000 downloadable curriculum items for preschool through high school, making it easier for the homeschooling parent to plan their child's program.  CHSH offers both annual and lifetime plan memberships (our family received an annual membership) that help you find hundreds of program ideas at one website.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

The major reason why we homeschool is to be able to meet each boy where he is, rather than trying to mold him into a student that has to make a program just work already.  Because of how arranges its content, I can choose to mix a middle elementary Bible course with early elementary reading for Jude, or match three social studies programs to create an American History powerhouse of government, history, and geography for Matthew.

One of the nice organizational features of the program is it does not have a single way of presenting the downloads. Developer Lynda Ackert has arranged the offerings by subject, grade level, calendar use (holidays, etc.), and presentation.  This makes it very easy to search for specific topics.  I know a particular set of boys who will enjoy this poem for copywork!

One of the features I found myself going back to was the area containing downloadable versions of many literature books. These are titles that are older and in the public domain, but they're still excellent resources, especially the children's story, and poetry anthologies.   I've downloaded these because I could download the entire file and then print individual poems and stories on an ad hoc basis.

Something I did appreciate is many of the offerings do have a "free preview" option. I would highly recommend using this feature before purchasing a membership.  To use the site fully and be able to download entire files, you'll need to create a paid account, but you'll be able to see if a particular item fills a need for you.  I get annoyed when I download something and find it's not at all what I expected it to be and isn't useful, and then have to go through my hard drive to locate it to delete it.  Being able to preview items meant if it was a good fit, I could go ahead and download it, but if it wasn't going to work, the file wasn't taking up space on my computer.

 I decided to take a look at the high school offerings.  It seems that there are millions of curriculum options for elementary students, but the pickings are much slimmer for high schoolers, so I was excited to see an entire section just for high schoolers that included a  broad range of disciplines, including science, history, and literature programs.  However, I was disappointed to find that they weren't suitable for Matthew.  Many of them simply were digitized textbooks -- to use them would have made the bulk of the program a "read the book, answer the question" type scenario.

I'm sure for some kids, this would be okay, but for Matthew, the idea of reading a 700-page science book or almost 300-page text about the US Government with no visual supplementation would not work for him.   Adding in YouTube or other videos would have sent me back to hours of Googling and screening.  I think that this could be a valuable high school resource if you have a combination of a flexible learner, limited budget, and a lot of time to personalize the program.  For us, since Matthew learns best with less reading-intensive programs and I don't have time to cross-reference video resources, it's not a great fit.

Ultimately, I was left with this same feeling throughout the site.  On one hand, there was a lot of stuff literally at my fingertips, and fairly well organized.  However, to use much of it, it would take either a lot of paper and ink to print files or just a lot of tweaking to make it right "for us." I found myself frustrated at finding so many things that looked good in a master list but fell short once explored in detail.  I think if I'm going to spend my time searching and organizing, it will be to find something that is not as labor-intensive for me to prepare.

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Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

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