You know how sometimes life gets full and good things get lost in the shuffle? That is what happened to my family last year with our Homeschool Courses by Standard Deviants Accelerate (SDA). Even though we were impressed by SDA, the busyness of life kept us from finishing some of the courses we'd begun as well as from diving further into others. So, recently, when we were offered a second chance to review SDA, we took it.
SDA - Time-Proven Courses
As I discovered last year, SDA has been around for 20 years or so and has become expert at the craft of condensing full subjects into a few hours of instructional videos that are educational, engaging and entertaining.
Currently, SDA offers the following online homeschool courses:
- American Government and Politics (A.Arithmetic
- Biology (A.P)
- Chemistry (A.P.)
- Earth Science
- English Composition
- English Composition (A.P.)
- Fundamental Math
- U.S. History
- U.S. History (A.P
In a nutshell, each of these courses takes a year's worth of materials, condenses it, and divides it up into concise, easy-to-digest video clips with corresponding information, exercises, and assignments, including:
- video transcripts that build one upon the other to offer a comprehensive understanding about topics
- vocabulary lists with definitions
- critical thinking questions
- interactive review graphics and assignments
- automatic grading of quizzes and tests
- a note taking feature
- a print function
- the ability to message parents for help on specific lessons
In doing so, SDA creates a highly visual format for independent learners to pace themselves through engaging and effective learning and review that is meant to be supplementary, but, in my opinion, also serves well as a survey course of core topics.
SDA also makes it easy for parents (after initial set up of students and their courses) by offering:
- grade reports
- red flag alerts
- editable scoring rubrics
- progress indicators
All of these features make SDA ideal, in my opinion, both for families like mine that lean towards an eclectic, delight-directed homeschool style, as well as for those that are more linear and traditional in their studies. For SDA can be dipped into here and there, offering families engaging, understanding and convenient studies in areas of interest. Or it can work as intended, with students being assigned particular courses as independent supplementary or elective studies.
When I signed up for this review, I intended to use the Arithmetic and Fundamental Math with my eight- and nine-year olds. However, after re-introducing them to these subjects, my nine-year-old's eye was caught by the Nutrition course (meant for sixth graders and up). So, that is where our SDA studies are taking us so far.
My son has been reviewing what he viewed and learned last year, and moving beyond it, sometimes including his siblings in his studies and, more than once, sharing his reviewed and newfound knowledge with the entire family at mealtimes.
When I told my son that it was time to write my review on SDA and asked him what he thought I should share, he had this to say:
The nutrition sounded easy and interesting, so I decided to do it. To do it, I watch a video, take a quiz, work on a diagram and a few things, study the vocab (which I do not usually do, because it is impossible or I already know the words), stuff like that. I like it.
(Yes, my son is one who does not always like the "work" part of schoolwork and, thus, does not always rise to the vocabulary portions of lessons. He, instead, prefers to go to the more interesting-to-him visual component of the actual videos.)
I have learned a lot. I have learned what vitamins do for me, what protein does for me, what the top killers in the United States are (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity)...When my son has shared his learning at our meal table, we have discussed how what the government, doctors, nutritionists, and holistic practitioners say about nutrition does not always mesh. He seems to have gleaned this already from SDA and has also realized that no earthly source is an ultimate source of information. Thus, he went on to say:
I think a lot of people should use the program (SDA). It's good, and anyone should use it as long as they don't accept everything in it is true without triple checking, because you should always study something from a few resources before you say , "Okay, this is true." Make sure every resource is from totally different people. Maybe do three videos, books, CD's, or other sources, like asking your parents, and make this program one of them."
My son likes SDA and thinks it is a strong source for information. I agree with him in his thoughts:
It's good for kids because it is online and it's videos, which catches kids' attention. Kids can also use it on their own.
At this juncture in life, I am THRILLED about that last point. A key goal for me regarding my son this year is that we enable him to work more and more independently. I also wish for my other two children to enjoy engaging learning options they can do on their own or with their brother while I attend to some other things about the house that need attention. So, SDA fills this need for me. I am delighted that my son has said:
I want to check out the history more and am glad I have a chance to use this.
It means hat he is interested, learning, and will continue to choose this quality option for independent studies. I echo his gladness and think other will, too. If you'd like the opportunity to see what SDA is all about, sign up for a 7-day free trial!
Quoting my own review from last year, I think you will appreciate what we have about SDA. It is:
- enjoyable. Young actors and comedians present seemingly difficult material in accessible, engaging ways (even if some of the jokes are corny and the slang, in my opinion, less than necessary. I am just not into words like "dude" and "tude", as in bad attitude.)
- understandable. As well as the actors, videos employ on-screen graphics, mnemonic devices and creative demonstrations to help children learn.
- convenient. SDA can be accessed anytime, anywhere with an internet connection!
- effective. My children have been integrating information learned in the courses into everyday conversations. So, obviously, they are retaining it!
See what 70 Schoolhouse Review Crew families thought about SDA.
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