As a family that has homeschooled two children for over 5 years, we have tried many pre-packaged curricula, as well as made efforts to piece together our own. The Switched-On Schoolhouse set is by far our favorite program, and is one that we will stick with for many years. The program does have a Christian slant, and even courses that are not Biblical in nature will often refer to creation and God. The $400 price tag was steep at first, but more than one child can use the program, and it can be used for multiple years. Additionally, the program tends to go on sale in the early spring.
While we purchased a 5 subject set, you can purchase each subject individually. There are the basics, such as Math, Language Arts, History/Geography, and Science, but there are also great electives including foreign languages, health, and Bible programs. (When ordering note that History and Geography are on one CD and sold as a single course.) Courses cost between $49 and $100, depending on the subject.
All of the multi-media presentations have been enjoyed by my children. They have material to read, material that is read to them, arcade-style games, experiments, projects, quizzes, tests, and short movie or video clips. The lessons are varied enough so that the children don't get bored, but there is enough consistency and flow to keep the student moving along at a solid pace. When the family's schedule changes, though, it's easy for a parent to log in and arrange for days "off" of schoolwork, or adjust the due dates for each subject. This is very handy during times of illness, an unexpected vacation, or when the student just needs a little more time to master a concept.
We have been very pleasantly surprised by the Math program. Each lesson includes a written explanation of the subject matter, which the student can read on their own, or have the computer read to them. There is then at least one detailed example of the problem or operation, along with a "Tiny Tutor" video that offers more support and explanation in solving the problem. To practice the skills, the student can choose between a flash card presentation or several video games. After the instruction, videos, and games, there are more problems for the student to solve. For lessons, they receive feedback right away, knowing that they either got the answer correct or they need to try again, or perhaps re-visit the instructional portion. The instant feedback is important because if they are completing the problems incorrectly, I don't want them to continue to practice those mistakes.
When the set is purchased, you receive each subject on it's own CD. They come in paper sleeves rather than jewel cases, which aren't the sturdiest storage containers, but it's easy enough to keep them all in the main box, or purchase jewel cases of your own. You install each program on your home computer or laptop, and you are given the option of a full installation (where you won't need the CDs to operate the program) or a less space-intensive installation, which requires the student to change out the CDs with each subject change. The system automatically checks for updates each time you use it, which is very helpful.
My only contact with customer support came when one CD purchased would not load properly. They were very quick to help resolve the situation, and I wouldn't hesitate to call them again if needed. We have been extremely pleased with both Switched-On Schoolhouse and AlphaOmega Publications.