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How to Get Free Online Courses for Your Homeschool Student

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Did you say free online classes? Yes, we did, which should come as welcome news for parents wanting to supplement their child’s homeschool curriculum. In this article, we walk through ways that homeschool parents can partner with Michigan school districts to supplement their child's education with non-core electives at no charge.
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You made the choice to homeschool, but that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to have some of your tax dollars benefit your child’s education if this choice aligns with your needs and values.

Opting out of public school doesn’t automatically exclude you from state-funded programs available through your local school district.

In fact, Michigan law allows students to attend a full-time online school or participate in a seat- time waiver program approved by the Michigan Department of Education.

In these cases, the school also is required to provide them with a computer and Internet access.

We’ll examine these options a bit further so you can: 1) decide if you can take advantage of free online learning and 2) take steps toward getting free online classes for your homeschool student.

Several options for obtaining free online homeschool courses

If you’re a homeschool parent looking to supplement your child’s education with online courses, it may be worth talking to the principal or superintendent of your local public school district to ask whether they offer any of the following:

  • A homeschool partnership program
  • Seat-time waivers for homeschool students
  • Opportunities for homeschool students to take non-core electives on a part-time basis

Homeschool Partnerships

Some public schools offer homeschool partnerships that allow homeschool students to enroll in online classes and even participate in extracurricular activities.

Some schools are more familiar with homeschool partnerships than others, but it never hurts to ask!

Contact your local public school district or principal to see if they have online study available for your homeschool student.

In Michigan, the Gull Lake Virtual Partnership serves as an excellent example of a public school’s use of online courses to enhance the education experience.

The partnership “strives to offer meaningful and personalized learning opportunities for students to grow and thrive as they discover their own unique talents.”

Fully online classes, blended learning, and early college are opportunities offered to all students, including homeschoolers.

Remember, however:

For your child to keep his or her status as a homeschooler, a parent or guardian must provide 51% of his or her total education including all core subjects, according to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

In addition to core subjects, however, quality online programs also offer an array of electives that can open your learner’s mind up to a world of possibilities.

Seat-Time Waivers

In an effort to encourage alternative learning options, the state of Michigan allows seat-time waivers (STWs) that removes the days, hours, and physical attendance requirements for students.

For homeschool students, this means enrolling in the participating district without being required to physically attend the school as they work toward a high school diploma or grade progression.

The benefit of STWs may permit your child to participate in all the district’s fine arts, clubs, programs, and athletics as well as have access to a computer, internet service, and a designated mentor.

Just like homeschooling, STWs offers the following advantages:

  • Flexibility to study at home, travel, and participate in non-academic activities
  • High-quality online courses
  • Accelerated learning, including Advanced Placement online classes
  • Access to an array of electives

To learn more about Seat-Time Waivers, check out our article exploring how they can help homeschoolers in Michigan.

Non-Core Electives

If your homeschool student has developed an interest in learning a world language or just loves the early Impressionists in art, an elective online course may be the perfect option.

While it may not fall into the category of a core subject, these types of classes are often fun and highly engaging for a student, allowing them to explore their unique interests and passions.

Since electives enhance the educational curriculum, homeschool students can enjoy enhancing their “transcripts” with online learning.

Again, some Michigan school districts welcome homeschool students to take free elective courses. Some may place a limit on the number allowed, so you’ll want to find out directly from the school.

With the options outlined above, parents may jump at the chance to supplement their children’s homeschool curriculum with FREE online classes.

A quick online search and a phone call to your local school district may open the doors to an array of subjects that ignites your learner’s thirst for knowledge.

Many area school districts rely on Michigan Virtual for providing high-quality online classes and certified instructors for both traditional and homeschool students.

Sources

Donnelly, M. (2017). What about Michigan’s “Homeschool Partnerships”? Home School Legal Defense Association.

Ewen-Trout Creek School District. Seat Time Waiver Program.

Gull Lake Public Schools. Gull Lake Virtual Partnership.

Michigan Department of Education. Flexible Learning Options.

Michigan Department of Education. Pupil Accounting Manual.

Wayne, I. (2017). Public School Partnerships — The Parable of Two Roads.  Michigan Christian Homeschool Network.

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Michigan Virtual partners with over 500 Michigan K-12 school districts to provide students with high-quality online courses taught by highly qualified, Michigan-certified teachers and educators with affordable professional development opportunities.

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