How to do full-time child-led learning with Outschool

The Hall family believed in child-led learning, but didn’t have the tools to make it happen. After trying other online options, they felt stifled by scheduling and unsatisfied by a lack of feedback. When mom Michelle stumbled across Outschool, it quickly became her kids’ full-time choice for homeschool learning.

The Hall family on Outschool

The Hall family has homeschooled for over seven years, and now uses Outschool full-time. The family takes 30 to 40 classes per semester.

The Hall Family on Outschool

Quinn (left) and Ainsley (right) make their own full schedule of classes on the Outschool platform.

Quinn, Age 14

Favorite subjects: Anything engineering and technology related.

Ainsley, Age 13 Favorite part of Outschool: the social interactions.

  • Loves the anthropology classes with Susan Lanigan
  • Takes all of the women's rights classes
  • Mom says: “She's my social justice kid and she really feels passionately about making sure that everybody has equal rights. She's learning all about feminism and history.”

Unsatisfied by textbooks and online schools

The Hall family has been homeschooling for over seven years. A few years ago, they tried a local online school. They were stifled by scheduling and soon stopped. As the kids moved into the middle grades, the family wanted more structure. They tried textbooks, but “neither kid thrived,” Michelle says.

“It was about that time that we discovered that my daughter has a visual disability,” Michelle says. Textbooks were out. They needed something that would meet their learning needs.

They tried Udemy and Coursera but felt unsatisfied by the lack of personal connection. “There’s no live teacher and there's really no feedback,” Michelle explains. She wanted a social learning experience tailored to her kids’ interests.

Stumbling on a solution

After discarding the idea of local online school or tutoring, Michelle stumbled on a Facebook ad for an Outschool tea time class costing just $10. Michelle was intrigued and signed up both kids.

“My kids came to me after the class was over and said, ‘Mom, we really enjoyed that!’ I said, ‘Well, would you like to do more?’ and they said, ‘Yeah!’

The family now has a system for registering for classes: the kids log on to peruse new classes, then send links to mom. Michelle registers the kids if it works with their schedules. Even if there is a conflict, Michelle takes advantage of the easy communication between parents and teachers on Outschool. “I send their teacher a note and say, ‘Can you offer this for a different time?’” Both Quinn and Ainsley use Outschool full-time, taking 30 to 40 classes per semester.

Outschool schedule

A space for learning

Michelle loves how Outschool allows her kids to take responsibility for their education, connects them with high-quality teachers, and provides a space for learning with other kids.

“I get to watch them be curious and forward-thinking and work on improving themselves. I don't have to nag, which is amazing. They do their schoolwork, they tell me the things that they've been learning, and I don't have to worry. It's wonderful.”

Michelle has had so many good teachers on Outschool that she keeps a list of teachers her kids have enjoyed, so they can stay up-to-date on new offerings. Michelle and her kids appreciate that Outschool teachers come from all walks of life and often have professional experience in the topics they teach.

“If my daughter comes to me and says, ‘Mom, Miss Hosanna is doing another set of science fiction literature classes. I'd love to take them.’ It's an absolute ‘yes’ because I know that teacher is so good that I absolutely trust her with whatever she wants to teach.”

“My kids can become the people they want to be”

Michelle has noticed a shift in the way her children learn after using Outschool. Instead of learning specific subjects to meet requirements, her children now develop their identities through learning. They have what Michelle calls a “creative stake” in their education.

My kids tell me all the time, ‘Mom, this is really the best way for us to learn.’ And for them to be able to give me that feedback ...is really invaluable.

The family has realized that learning is a tool for self-development. According to Michelle, Outschool offers the chance for her kids to “become the people that they want to be.”

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Amir Nathoo

Amir is co-founder and CEO of Outschool. He previously worked at Square leading the Square Payroll product and founded Trigger.io before that. He holds an MEng from Cambridge University.

San Francisco https://outschool.com

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