The Great Courses Plus, Changing the Way I Homeschool
**Update: The Great Courses Plus is now called Wondrium and has added much more content.
Sometimes you come across resources that change or reshape the way you homeschool. I have been homeschooling for over 20 years now, so this has happened to me a lot. My oldest is 22 now and I believe I started at birth, maybe before. I always felt like a homeschooler, these children are my responsibility and I want to give them everything so that they can have the best opportunity in life.
When I started, the internet was new. I would come across an educational computer program and get excited, or an educational series on VHS (remember those?)
But now there are so many resources you can’t keep track of them all and access with technology is amazing! Back then, I would buy one VHS (or DVD later on) and we would watch it like crazy until I could afford another. Now we have streaming access online or on TV. YouTube is exploding with educational content and I use Pureflix and even Netflix.
But I have come across something that is changing the course of our homeschool once again. And when I say homeschool, I mean life, because homeschooling for us is just life. Yes, we pick courses each year and have curriculum and lessons, but the majority of it is just free learning. I gear it toward our “theme” courses for the year or the grade level they are at but mostly we just have fun. For example, we are going to study Eastern Hemisphere History this year so naturally programs, stories, or activities having to do with Japan, China, Russia, Korea, etc. will peak our interest and supplement our learning.
So what is this resource that is changing our homeschooling? The suspense!
Well you must have seen the title. It is The Great Courses plus. You have probably heard of the Great Courses. I have gotten their catalogs and seen the ads online, they have high quality, high school/college level DVD courses. But they are pricey! They usually range around $300 or more for one course. Sometimes I’ve seen them on sale for around $70 or so and I’ve even seen them in the used book store but I could never justify the price especially for only one subject and not being able to preview it. What if we hated it or what if it wasn’t in line with my beliefs? Especially since there are so many other resources out there, yeah they might not be as high quality or as refined but I could make due. I could just never justify the price.
But I recently discovered they now have a subscription, The Great Courses plus!! You have access to over 11,000 engaging video lectures (with more continually being added) Math, History, Science, Travel, Health & Wellness, Entrepreneurship, Photography, Language, Cooking and more, from award-winning college professors and experts from National Geographic, the Smithsonian, The Culinary Institute of America, The Mayo Clinic, and more. All for one low monthly price! You can even try it for free and cancel anytime!
The Great Courses is a mainstream, secular resource created for High School and lifelong learners (think college courses) I expect you will use your own discretion when picking courses from this resource as I do. You will get everything from Biblical Hebrew to Evolutionary Science courses. There are so many choices, pick what is relevant to your family. If your beliefs lie on the side of Creation Science as ours do you probably won't find many courses in the Science area, but the Math courses are amazing as are the cooking, language, history and culture, plus so many more I'm sure I have not been able to review yet. For our family this is replacing Netflix. Even though it is created for older children my younger ones are also enjoying many of the courses too.
Most of the lectures are about 30 minutes long so I figured I could pick 4 or 5 courses at a time that can supplement or in some cases be the complete curriculum. That would depend on your child, family, and the subject. That would be about 2 hours of educational video instruction! That is very doable. I personally will still use YouTube for my younger ones but I have struggled to find everything I want for middle and high schoolers on there.
Some people do not like too much “screen” time but I find it extremely valuable to my children’s education if I choose wisely.
You can watch these easily on your computer, phone, or tablet. You can watch them from your TV with Roku, AppleTV or the Amazon FireTV or Echo. If you don’t have one of those and want to watch it from your TV you can plug your laptop (or desktop computer if it is close enough) to the TV and voila! Some smart TVs can pair to your phone which might also be an option. I personally use a laptop that is kept near my TV and set it up to easily hook up to it (it usually stays hooked up) we watch videos on our large screen and do some online lessons this way too when I want multiple children to see.
Also if you have a high schooler it is important for them to learn to become an independent learner, with your guidance of course. It is always necessary to oversee your students, they cannot homeschool themselves. You have to know what is going on, what they are learning and guide them when they need help or encouragement. In comparison, if they were at school they would have teachers and administrators at home they have you and the resources you provide. I will suggest that you consider The Great Courses plus as one of those resources for your High Schooler. For about the same price as Netflix or similar service you can have access to these high quality courses.
You know I rarely write blogs about products but, I was so excited to find this I wanted to share it with you. This is going to change my homeschooling this year. We have added this to our Resource page or you can click on the links in this blog. We are an affiliate for this company and if you purchase here it will benefit the school. But keep in mind we first and foremost share resources we use or would recommend then, if they have an affiliate program we participate in that. There is no risk to try it for free and preview the courses to see if this would benefit your family. You may find that it greatly enhances your homeschooling too.
As always, Happy Homeschooling!