We have been using Outschool for some time now, so this Outschool review is long overdue! As a homeschooling family, Outschool has been such a great resource for us.
What is Outschool?
Outschool is an online teaching platform offering small online classes for kids ages 3-18. There are classes on just about every subject you can think of. There are classes ranging from the core subjects to dance, all the way to hobby-focused classes like cooking and escape room classes.
Who are the teachers?
Outschool is unique in that teachers are not required to have formal teaching credentials. This allows for many teachers who may be knowledgeable in a field, but don’t teach for a profession but would like to share their expertise with students.
Despite not needing teaching credentials to teach, there are a lot of teachers on the platform who bring an abundant amount of experience to the classes.
Teachers are responsible for creating their class curriculum which gives creative freedom to the teachers to teach their material in a way that they feel will be most effective.
Who can access Outschool?
Outschool started in 2015 and was first widely used by homeschoolers. They hit an all-time high attendance as schools shut down during the pandemic, and they became a critical source of learning for kids of all ages. They offered a credit for families during that time helping many children who could not afford supplemental education stay connected academically. Currently, there are 140,000 live online classes reaching more than 1 million learners in 183 countries.
When and how are classes structured?
Each class is uniquely structured. You can customize your search to meet your needs when browsing for classes under the “Find Classes” tab. There is a filter for days of the week, age, price, subject as well as the length of class, duration of the class, and language the class is taught in (there are currently classes taught in Spanish as well as English).
When you click on a selected class, you can see the teacher’s profile and experience by clicking on their picture or name. Each class has a detailed description with an overview of the class, a supply list, time commitment, and sources used in the class.
There is an opportunity for each class attendee to rate each class, so reviews can be helpful in determining if the class is the right fit for your child.
Types of classes
There are live classes, where you are face-to-face with a teacher and other students, as well as flex classes where a class is prerecorded and the student interacts with the teacher through a classroom forum and private messages. This is a great option for someone who wants to pace themselves and/or who prefers not to be live in front of the camera.
Aside from live and flex classes, there are also Outschool Groups. Outschool groups are built around the idea of show and tell and are structured as a community group. There are groups based on all different kinds of interests such as photography, digital art, cooking, and writing. The group is monitored by an Outschool facilitator, and due to their more casual structure and format, the groups are much larger and learners pay a nominal fee.
Why do we use Outschool?
As a homeschooling family, you might be wondering, why do we use Outschool? One of the biggest reasons we use Outschool is to supplement an academic area that needs more attention. I’m so excited to share this Outschool review because it has been an amazing supplement for us and I believe it can be for so many families. Although I am my kids’ primary teacher, they are learning all the time from peers, other adults around them as well as coaches, family members, and neighbors.
We first tried Outschool when the pandemic hit because there was a lot of time inside and it was a way to change up our normal homeschool routine. Our usual learning done out in the community came to a halt, so we supplemented it with online learning. Outschool at the time graciously offered a credit for all families affected by the pandemic, and we were able to explore different class structures and teachers.
Outschool has been our go-to resource when we seem to hit frustration or resistance with certain learning goals. We signed up for a writing class to get more structure with writing and forming paragraphs, and honestly to put a little space between myself and my son around the topic because it was producing more resistance than I think either of us needed. He was enrolled in a class with a wonderful teacher who was clearly a veteran teacher. She was much more structured than me, but her approach was so beneficial and really helped my son grasp the structure of the specific type of writing they were doing. In one class, she stayed nearly a whole hour after class to help my son and one other student complete the writing task that she assigned. I absolutely don’t expect teachers to stay (especially when they don’t get compensated) after class time is over, but her generosity in time made it clear that her heart is really to help her students learn.
One son is currently enrolled in a weekly class where games are played centered around multiplication facts. While we have flashcards to memorize these facts, the weekly game session is something he looks forward to every week and he is solidifying his multiplication facts simultaneously. The instructor for this class has so much energy and knows how to make friendly competition between kids a catalyst for learning. She is fun and encouraging and knows how to make every student feel like a winner.
While every teacher may not be the right fit for your child, finding quality teachers who love to teach has been more than a dime a dozen at Outschool. One great feature is that even if you enroll in an ongoing class, there is no penalty for withdrawing if you feel the class or teacher is not the right fit.
One of my favorite things that I appreciate about Outschool is that you can search for classes by content, or by the teacher. Because I am the primary teacher for my children, it is nice to look for teachers who are different than me in style, age, and background to expose my children to more diversity. I truly believe, that the more diverse the education, the richer the education.
Outschool has been such a great resource for us as a homeschooling family, but I really think it is a great resource for any type of student. With all of the options of classes and groups, there is something for every need. Aside from the benefits for students, I love that Outschool is a reliable platform for teachers by profession or teachers at heart who want to make a good income on their time. If you haven’t checked it out yet, click here to earn a $20 credit towards classes. I hope you find this Outschool review to be helpful!
For further reading on our homeschooling approach, click here.