Both Calvert and K12 Curriculum can be purchased by parents to educate their homeschooled children. Both can be purchased as a complete curriculum package. There are many differences between the two, however.
Calvert provides a Teachers Manual that is part of the curriculum. It is actually the key to the ease of the curriculum. Calvert Teachers Manual is easy to follow. It can be followed to the letter as it is intended or you can individualize to meet your student’s needs better. The manual lays everything out for the homeschool parent and it also contains extra discussion points to enrich your student’s learning. Everything is all laid out and planned for the teacher. This is a great time saver for the home teacher who does not have to plan or organize everything on their own but simply purchase the curriculum and follow the manual. K12 has online lesson planning. The “lesson manual” is all online and must be printed out if one wants to use it well with the student. Some find that it is hard to plan and follow using the online planner. In addition, K12 provides very little actual instruction on how to teach your student. Much is left up to the parent to discover while with Calvert, everything is totally laid out.
The structure of Calvert is great. It is similar to a classroom structure and includes a general schedule for the student as well as all subjects to follow. It has a very academic approach to learning and is very similar to a Classical Education as defined by The Well Trained Mind. Calvert provides a very thorough education, complete in one box, however electives such as art and music are not well covered. There may be a few art lessons throughout but it is not much. K12 is also well organized and thorough. It is an academic program with what some think is a strong science component, including online animations of experiments and phenomena. K12 also teaches art very well in a rich, inspiring program.
One can go as quickly or as slowly as necessary with Calvert. Calvert is laid out in lessons that are supposed to be used one per day. Each day contains all the academic subjects. One can do half of the lesson if a child is struggling or can do two lessons per day if you find that the material is easy. If you do more lessons per day, you will find that you complete the course more quickly and can move to the next grade level immediately. With K12, when you are paying monthly for access to the lessons, one feels more stressed to complete the lessons on time or else you wind up paying more for the year’s work.
Calvert’s curriculum can ease fears of first time homeschoolers who may wonder if they are teaching enough. They may wonder if they are going too quickly or too slowly and if they are covering the correct material. Calvert subjects are complete and appropriate for grade level. Each grade builds upon itself to provide more information and more material as the student is able to handle it. In addition, because Calvert is all in one, the subjects tie together in a very cohesive manner. K12 has everything in one package as well, but since you can customize levels for different subjects, it loses the cohesion and one does not gain a deeper knowledge of subjects. In addition, K12 may actually have too much material. K12 contains much more work than Calvert and many other programs as well. None of it is labeled as enrichment or optional so all is expected to be done. It is a lot of work that many children just do not seem to be able to do it all then, as a parent, you feel that they are failing. In addition, much of the K12 content is just a bit too challenging for the age level it is geared for.
Calvert is based upon 100 years of experience in home settings. In addition, Calvert does have a day school where many new ideas are tried out and tested before implementing into the homeschool program. K12, on the other hand, is a relatively new program. I found that a few of the websites did not load correctly and that there are still a lot of small problems with the online portions of the curriculum. It has a lot of quirks to be worked out and refinements to be made.
Additionally, many like that Calvert is very portable. Students are not tied to a computer and could realistically take their school with them while traveling if necessary. With K12, much of the daily lesson is done on the computer. You cannot just take it with you (unless you have a laptop and wireless service). If your computer is broken or if your Internet service is down, you cannot do the lessons that day.
Calvert also has an “advisory teaching service” that can be purchased. For the fee, tests and some assignments are sent in to a teacher to grade and send back. For some, this service give a sense of verification as someone else is overseeing the child’s education. For others, it meets a state homeschool requirement. One can purchase the curriculum without purchasing the extra service.
If you do not choose to use the ATS service, you will still find that you have access to education counselors through Calvert. You can call or email them at any time and they will assist you with questions or problems you may have. For example, I had a blank page in one of my manuals and I called Calvert and they instantly emailed me the page PLUS they sent me a whole new book! I’ve also emailed questions about the program and have gotten an answer in less than a day back from them. K12 customer service is almost nonexistent, in my opinion. You can email them but it takes forever to get an answer if you get one at all and often the answer is not even really an answer to your question. I have had the experience where I have sent emails to K12 and not gotten an answer at all.
Both of these companies offer curricula for grades K-8 though K12 plans to eventually offer curricula to grade 12. Calvert never has and probably never will advance past grade 8. In the meantime, while using either curriculum, you will need to find another route to follow for grades 9-12 while using either program.
The prices of these two curriculum are quite different too. To purchase a 3rd grade curriculum with Calvert, one would spend $695. To purchase a similar 3rd grade curriculum with K12, one would spend $1128. Calvert provides a savings of $433 for a complete curriculum! Over the course of 8 years, this savings is substantial: $3464!