Video Lessons were Not an Option in the Beginning
Years ago, when I first started homeschooling, video lessons were only just starting to come out as an option for homeschoolers. They were also only available for third grade and up. So at the time it was not a possible option for us.
We homeschooled with a more traditional school type setting, including a big table with me at the center as I went from kid to kid teaching each subject to each child. All while entertaining a toddler or baby and trying to keep up with the house and laundry.
It was a little frustrating at times, especially when I was teaching with morning sickness. However, we figured it out and developed our own little system. That system worked fairly well for us and while it is doable, I personally struggled with my Autistic son.
I Needed Help
At that time, I spent a lot more time teaching my son, then I did with my other children. Completely understandable – but it was a struggle for me because after awhile, I learned the best thing for my son was to teach consistently to him. Meaning, if I tried to teach him a different way to look at a problem (if he was struggling with a concept), it could confuse him. So I had to teach the exact same way the
One day however, while I was praying about this difficulty in my day, that I realized something I didn’t consider before (because I can be stubborn about things)
– If I am repeating the exact same thing over and over, maybe a video lesson would help supplement so that I can spend more time with my other kids. I felt like they could use more guidance from mom. My hold up though was – 1. I wasn’t sure video lessons would transfer the information into the correct parts of their little brains. And 2. Money. Video lessons are expensive.
Something Had to Give
However, I was at a point where something had to give. I spoke with my husband about it and figured- why not? We had the money to try one lesson, and we got a discount because I started later in the year. (BJU will offer lessons half-way through at $99. Without books). So I decided to try the lessons but use it as a supplement whenever he didn’t understand a concept.
Everything Changed For Us
Everything changed at that point. I still taught the
Over the years I have tried various methods with our video lessons and I’m still tweaking them. Video lessons however do have some downfalls, but the great thing about homeschooling is that you can always tweak what doesn’t work for you.
The Pros and Cons
With that all said, Here are some Pros and Cons that I have had with Video Lessons. (I am not an affiliate with BJU, however, I do currently use their curriculum and video lessons for my children so some of this information will be related to them)
- Video lessons free me up to move around more. Including taking care of laundry, taking care of a toddler or baby, in the bed sick, or taking care of a sick child, etc. Life gets really busy the more kids you have and keeping up with all of the “things” that need to get done can be a struggle. Video lessons free me up to move around the house while I’m still available to help out a child who is struggling in any specific area.
- Video lessons expose the kids to more than just worksheets and lectures. When I was teaching the lessons myself, I had to be diligent beforehand to make sure I had extra resources to help explain concepts to my kids. The video lessons do a good job of doing much of that work for me. If a young child is learning about service workers, the videos include real-life video of firefighters working, their gear, explaining everything with real firefighters (and no scare of the kids seeing an inappropriate ad pop up from a youtube video). They also include science experiments that I wouldn’t normally do (we can’t do them all) but they get to watch the experiments and understand concepts even if I chose not to partake in the experiment for that day. This helps me a lot and it also helps to keep my kids interest to actually pay attention to their videos. So they are not just viewing a teacher lecturing them.
- The ability to review a lesson. This has helped my older kids mostly. During their math lessons, they sometimes need to review a lesson they struggled to understand. They can watch the video as many times as they need and if they have moved on, they can always go back to something they already learned but may have
- Independence. With video lessons, my kids know exactly what they need to do each day without me. They also like the ability to choose which subject they want to do first. I sometimes have rules, such as bible first or math. Depending. But, for the most part, I let them make their own decision about what they tackle next. They enjoy the freedom to make their own decision. Especially my boys.
My older two kids also like the ability to go ahead and start their schoolwork for the day, if the rest of the house is not awake yet (house stays quiet while the
- Move Around. Video lessons definitely allow more freedom to move around. While I have a desk specifically for each child, we can always change where they are located easily. This comes in handy if they are struggling and need help, If I need to keep a closer eye on them, Or if they are visiting family for a week and need to stay on task. (For some others you can school while on the road. (For us we haven’t utilized this option just because we like to focus on the vacay and not worry about traditional schooling during any outings.)
- Substitute. One of the hardest parts of homeschooling can be whenever mom is sick. With traditional schooling she must either power through the sickness or possibly risk getting behind in the school work. Typically, I always allotted extra time in the year for getting sick myself, but with video lessons, I don’t worry as much when I’ve been sick more often than I planned. With video lessons I don’t have to worry about trying to “power through” and I don’t have to worry about having my “back up” plan for my husband to implement in my absence or sickness.
It is also helpful If they stay at grandmas for an extended period. She can easily be a substitute in simply making sure they do their work and she doesn’t have to teach them. The work still gets done and they don’t have to skip math because it makes grandma nervous. 😉
- Price. Video lessons are not cheap. A full year curriculum runs around $1000 per child per year (includes textbooks through BJU). However, for us, I reminded my husband that the price for 4 kids (currently homeschool age) for a full year of video lessons is still cheaper than a month or two at a private school. -Everything went into proper perspective for my husband with that tidbit of information. (BJU will also allow you to pay half up front and then spread the rest out over a few months.)
- Internet usage. We use a lot of juice for this. In order to stream for four kids and be able to watch Netflix on occasion, we usually pay a little extra a month for the best internet our service will provide. However, BJU does also offer DVD’s of their lessons so if you do not have internet or it is limited, you can still use their video lessons.
- Keeping up with what the kids are working on. This is sometimes an issue for me. While I think BJU does a good job at making sure I know exactly what is going on each day, I don’t always keep up with it. Let say my kid is doing well in Algebra and excels in one chapter, so I don’t spend much time helping him, then the next chapter comes and he struggles. My issue is that since I wasn’t reviewing the information previously with him, I have to go back, review, figure out what or how the teacher was teaching him, then I can help my son with where he is currently. When I taught the subject myself, I was always up to date with it. This isn’t a huge problem for me, but it can be at times. Recently, I have given math (algebra specifically) to my husband to help my son with. It’s really his only “duty” with homeschooling the kids, but it has drastically helped me. Elementary levels don’t usually require me to review in order to help them, but the upper levels are more of the problem for me as they can easily suck up time. I’m perfectly capable of teaching it, but I easily get pulled in many directions with all of my kids and their different problem areas that it can be a little overwhelming or just plain tiring.
- Sitting at a screen. This was one of my biggest hold-ups in deciding to use video lessons. I was worried they would sit at a screen too long. I am actually in the process of trying to reduce some of this, especially for my younger kids. However, on the plus side, I think watching short lessons followed by doing work helps move information from one side of the brain to the other. In fact, My older kids lessons are doing this more now. Where they watch a small clip, do some work in their books, then watch another clip, followed by work. I believe this is helping them stay better focused on the task, so they don’t “space out” as often while watching lessons.
- Vision and hearing– using headphones (we use headphones with volume limits) and sitting close to a screen for a couple of hours in the day concerns me. I’ve never liked this and am in a process of weeding as much as I can out for the next school year. Moreso for my younger kids, as my older kids are seeming to be doing more “work” rather than video watching. So they are busy reading in a book, writing reports, answering textbook questions instead of just watching a screen.
- Space Out- mentioned before, my kids get off task. Most lessons are 20 min or less, but when you school this way every day, my kids have a tendency to “space out” while the teacher is teaching. I have to be careful to pay attention when they start using a pencil as a spaceship while the teacher is going over science. Without a “person” right in front of them, they can get off task pretty quickly or easily.
- School is disrupted when the power goes out.- this is not the biggest problem, but it has caused a few issues on occasion. Usually, power outages give us an excuse to do some educational “extras”, like a science experiment, or art project. I also will make them read a book or tackle independent work that they are capable of completing without videos until the power comes back on. Again, not a BIG issue, but it does cause a few hiccups in our schedule for the day.
Those are some pros and Cons that I have had with utilizing video lessons. I have learned that I don’t need to worry quite so much about using video lessons as I have in the past. My kids are still learning and still doing well, even though it is not a fix all for problem areas.
I think it is best to use them suitably and there is nothing wrong with using them exclusively during rough seasons. However, for us, my kids seem to do best with a little variety. Some video lessons, some independent learning and some with me teaching them.
The point is to help YOU teach the kids. It’s a tool to utilize it, so do so. It has been a life saver for rough times (ex: bed rest during pregnancy) and has helped as a simple supplement in addition to my teaching of the subject.
I am extremely thankful these are an option, and I plan on continuing to use them throughout our homeschooling years as needed.