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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

What a Homeschooler Really Thinks of Distance Learning from BJU Press


I am a finite woman with limited expertise. I know a lot about some things, but very little about most others. My ignorance doesn't have to limit my homeschool, however.

What's more, even if I could teach every subject at every level, I don't think I should. I think it's vital that my kids, especially my middle and high schoolers, be exposed to the teaching of others from time to time.



(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)



No, homeschooling doesn't mean that I have to teach all things. It just means that I get to decide what, when, and by whom things get taught. In that way, I'm often more of a facilitator than a teacher.

That's why when my daughter approached her 9th-grade year, I did not feel the least bit guilty for deferring some of her subjects to others. Physical Science was one of those subjects that I knew I possessed neither the time nor the skill to teach thoroughly.

The previous year, she completed a self-paced program I had put together using a traditional textbook and a corresponding lab kit.

While the textbook was thorough and well-written, she struggled to retain the information without the mentorship and daily review provided in a more traditional format. Science became a drudgery.

So when faced with the task of providing her with an option for 9th-grade Physical Science, I knew I had three choices.

I could hit "repeat" on my plan from the past year and assign her another year of self-paced learning
OR
I could attempt to teach high school level electricity, energy, and optics (physical science) to her myself and hope for a mediocre year at best
OR
I could defer the teaching to someone else.

I chose the latter and enrolled her in the BJU Distance Learning program. And I'm so glad I did! Physical Science was a solid success and not just because she learned a lot, but also because she enjoyed it!

To be honest, I thought I was sentencing her to school-day jail when I signed her up. My only other experience with video-based lessons to that point came from my own high school years using A Beka's video program. (I'll spare you the sad details by giving you the abridged version of my time in A Beka jail: I hated it.)


I soon learned the distinct difference between the two programs, however.

If I had chosen the A Beka videos for my daughter instead, she would have sat as a spectator watching for over an hour as a teacher taught a classroom full of other children. She'd get a good education, but she'd have to slog through the wasted parts of a school day to do it--the papers being passed forward, the kids raising their hands to go to the bathroom, and the lengthy oral reviews. But since BJU's Distance Learning lessons are specifically designed for homeschoolers, she was spared the boredom. The lessons were short because the teacher talked directly to her and her alone.

BJU does not try to replicate the treadmill of a traditional classroom. But instead, understands that you're homeschooling, not trying to provide school-at-home.

The fact that my 9th-grade daughter often spouted off random facts about magnetism and electricity at the lunch table all school year is a testament to the sticking power of the Distance Learning Program.

But, don't just take my word for it. Recently, I asked her to tell me what she really thought of using the BJU Physical Science Distance Learning Program. Here is what she had to say.

What My High Schooler Thought


Why didn’t you want to do a traditional program with only a textbook?

In the words of Monster’s University “…it’s boring, unchallenging, a waste of monster’s potential.” Last year, I tried using just a textbook. And while it explained things thoroughly, it used a lot of formal, scientific words that I could barely pronounce much less understand.

What did you like best about the BJU Distance Learning program?

I appreciated how the teacher took the time to clarify terms that might be obvious to some but were foreign to me. He not only gave me a definition but also explained how that concept corresponded with other concepts.


What did you like least about it?

The labs. They often required a lot of set up and I didn't always have all the needed supplies. That being said, the videos and lab book helped to fill in the gaps.

Would you recommend the program to others? Why or why not?

I would definitely recommend this to others, especially to those [for whom] science doesn’t come naturally. It “dumbs” big ideas down to the average student’s level and yet still provides a challenge.


What did a typical lesson look like for you? 

Usually, I started by reading the text for that day which was typically 3-6 pages long. Then I watched the 18-30 minute-long video and completed a couple of assignments which included the lesson review (found in the textbook) and the lesson quiz (handed to me by my mom).

Do you have any other thoughts you think would be helpful for a mom who might be on the fence about purchase the program?

If you plan on having your kid do the labs, be sure to have all the equipment so she doesn't get halfway through and realize she's missing a c-clamp.


What I Thought


As I mentioned, I was thrilled to NOT have to teach high school level science and to see my daughter learn so much because I chose NOT to teach it. 

What came with my purchase?

Instead of attempting to piece together the program in an a la carte fashion, I chose to order the entire kit which came with the following:
Because I chose to order the DVD lessons instead of the streaming program, I also received:
  • curriculum guide and answer key
  • test & quiz book
  • lab manual answer key
Students who watch the lessons via the video streaming subscription service take all of their tests and quizzes online so parents would not need those extra components.

Unfortunately when I ordered, I did not realize that BJU offers prepared lab kits for all of their high school level science courses, so I ordered those elsewhere. I purchased what I thought was a corresponding kit. Clearly, it was lacking a c-clamp among many other things. (mom fail)


What was my role as a facilitator?

Other than providing her with the necessary materials for the course, I graded her daily lesson reviews (written answers to 10-12 questions found at the end of each lesson in the textbook), provided any applicable handouts, quizzes, and/or tests she needed as dictated in the lesson plans, and recorded the grades for each of these on the record sheet provided in the curriculum guide.

Admittedly, the program was a lot more traditional in nature than I'm used to for content-oriented subjects such as science. But since my daughter has college aspirations and will be in need of a thorough high school transcript, the distance learning structure made it easy for me to award credit and a letter grade.

Would I order the program again?

Most definitely! In fact, I've already made plans to order the 10th-grade Distance Learning Biology class for next year. Only this time, I will save myself some sanity and order the streaming subscription and the prepared lab kit. 

Want to learn more about BJU Distance Learning?


Take a peek at a sample lesson from the very class my daughter took. Of course, Physical Science isn't the only subject offered via the streaming subscription. Be sure to follow BJU Press or Homeworks by Precept (a partner company that helps pair families with the right BJU materials).


6 comments:

  1. As a beginner homeschool Mom in the early 80's,the help and support from BJU was amazing. The curriculum was organized and easily adapted to each grade. We attended several HELP conferences at BJU They offered phone support. Several times I was directed to the author of the textbook to help adapt to homeschool. I am glad that they are still providing excellent materials to homeschoolers

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    1. Yes, I've found BJU to have excellent customer service help as well.

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  2. Jamie, tell your daughter I liked her "In the words of....". We just finished the Wingfeather Saga, and already we miss hearing..."In the words of..."

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    1. Will do! We're working our way through that series at this very moment.

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  3. Jamie, Please tell your daughter that I am glad she saw that I was trying to keep it simple but not too simple and to connect all the areas of science together--she got it!!! I love that. Thanks for allowing me to have a small part in the education of your most precious part of your family! Bill Harmon, BJU Press Physical Science Distance Learning Teacher.

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    1. Thanks so much, Bill! She was so excited to have you reply. Thanks again for teaching her this year. She loved your class and is looking forward to another year of distance learning.

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