Welcome back for part two of the online curriculum review. This month I’m reviewing a site that we discovered in the spring semester of school last year. Despite being late in coming to the table I was able to sign the kids up for the first semester of the courses that we chose from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Resource Center, or LPHRC, and we opted to continue throughout the summer.
This is not a bells and whistles website with elaborate tools, games and graphics to entertain the kids with. Instead, its a very simple website that is a valuable source of online education. And speaking of value, you can’t beat these prices. The individual behind this curriculum has a love of teaching and is happy to share his knowledge and the courses that developed out of his years of running a bricks and mortar resource center in the nineties, at very reasonable prices. The cost for most of the online classes that he offers are 38 dollars a semester for a total of 76 for the full course. Here is the part that I found most amazing; this is PER FAMILY.
In other words, if I have three children of the right age and maturity for any particular course, it will only cost me a total of 76 dollars per course, not per kid. When you are homeschooling as many children at one time, as I am in the habit of doing, this is a wonderful option. The majority of his courses are two semesters long though he does have a short string of ten week courses, each of which can be completed in a single semester. These courses are only 38 dollars as they last for just the one semester. Again – you can enroll more than one student in a ten week course. You can read more about his pricing here. There is only one exception to the per family pricing and that is for the creative writing course which he offers to a limited number of students per semester.
Now that I have your full attention, I bet you would like to know what courses he is offering. He has an interesting collection that encompasses logic, history, religion, poetry and, as I just mentioned, creative writing. He even has at least one math class and a course that is all science projects. He has aimed the course level towards grade four up through the middle school grades but, apparently, has had high school students and some parents take the classes. Here is the page with the full listing of course options. When you click on a course title you are directed to a complete listing of the lessons taught in that course as well as the titles of each lesson. Unfortunately you are not able to view an actual lesson in any of the courses but on the page titled ‘how it works’ you can see how the quizzes work at the end of each lesson. They are self marking which I personally love.
My soon to be twelve year old and my fourteen year old both just finished the classes that we signed up for late in the 2o13/14 school year and they enjoyed them. My fourteen year old did more of the bonus material than my twelve year old did but I was content knowing that my daughter was reading solid Catholic information being taught in the ancient history and the North and South America geography classes they studied. I rarely had to remind them to do their online studies and now that they have completed them Mr. Kephart, owner of the site, will email me a certificate of completion at the end of this week. While he prefers the students to all be on the same schedule he is happy to work with your schedule and has, on more than one occasion, sent us a new link to the lesson of the week when life interrupted and one or the other child missed that week’s lesson. For our own records, I had the children email me their quiz results at the end of each lesson. In this way, I was also able to track that they were completing the lessons weekly.
Part of the beauty of these courses is that as the home educator you can be as involved as much, or as little as you want. There are, as I have alluded to, bonus materials besides the weekly lessons and quizzes. Children are encouraged to answer bonus questions and projects are sometimes suggested. A parent could use a course to teach a group of her own children at one time by reading the lesson ahead of the appointed gathering time and looking for extra online information to share. With the history courses, a parent could choose a novel to read out loud that coincides with the history period being studied. Or they can do, as I did for most of last year, simply have the children read the lesson and complete the quiz. Due to our busy family life and multiple therapy and doctor appointments last year, it made the most sense for us to utilize this program at its simplest level. This year I’m looking forward to being more involved as they engage in the poetry course, along with the History of Science classes and the Early Church Dark Ages history lessons.
There are few other supplies required for the majority of the classes; sometimes a note book or bible is suggested and a couple of courses, such as the science projects course, lists materials needed a week in advance. Online safety is imperative to Mr. Kephart and so there are no links embedded in the lessons that take a child off site. Once you have chosen a course [ or courses ] you wish to sign up for and chosen your method of payment [paypal or mailed cheque/money order] you will receive a welcome email and a url per course which you are encouraged to bookmark in your browser of choice. Once it’s bookmarked it will get updated weekly. We missed the beginning of the course last year, so I initially updated my bookmark on a weekly basis but after a while I got my fourteen year old to do it for me. Don’t let being late deter you from using this curriculum.
As I brought to your attention at the beginning of my review – this is a very simple website which I believe is a huge factor in making this such an affordable alternative compared to what’s out there. It is Catholic and run by a Catholic educator, and, in my humble opinion, a valuable option that I’m looking forward to continuing to use for some time to come. If there was one change I would suggest – it would be to allow a parent to be able to peek at one or two full lessons from a couple of the courses. Even without that option, given the generosity of the price, I felt I had little to lose by signing up for two classes last year. And I’m very glad I did.
I have stumbled across only few other Catholic online curriculums in addition to one that I am reviewing next month. However, as I have not used them, I feel the only other Catholic online curriculum I am equipped to give a proper review of is Homeschool Connections. I’ll see you then.
Christi Gareis is a homeschooling mother of thirteen, with four children still at home. Her youngest child can boast that she was an aunt before she was born. Christi has been blogging since 2005 and has three blogs. In addition to blogging, Christi has been published on Catholicmom.com as well as in CCL’s magazine Family Foundations. She also wrote the section on How to ‘Prepare Your Child for First Reconciliation’ in the book ‘101 Stories of Reconciliation’ by Sister Patricia Proctor.