When we decided to homeschool, the kids were still toddlers and we were mostly involved in playgroups, rather than school groups. Our group happened to be primarily Waldorf focused, so technology was totally off the table – which was great for kids that age. I did start to notice as they got older how helpful it was for me to have technology around, though. I never liked sitting behind a computer – got too much of that at the job I escaped from!
Around the time the iPhone was introduced, I was ready for something that would help me answer the kid’s questions on the fly. We take it for granted now, but before the smart phone, you still had to go home to your desktop to find out where pineapple seeds are. That was the way I convinced my husband that I ‘needed’ an iPhone. I don’t regret it! It helped us out in homeschool so much, since we were almost never home.
Technology has progressed massively since then and it can be a great asset for homeschoolers. It can help us learn, keep up with friends and family, and even have fun. How? Technology can be a very positive thing for homeschoolers. It can provide structure and organization for curriculum, allow for collaboration with other homeschoolers, and give students access to a variety of resources. Technology can be used to learn about different places around the world that you might not be able to visit in person. You can use technology for planning travel. If you’re interested in learning more about the natural world, you can use this information to expand your knowledge. Some students choose to use an entirely online curriculum, while others supplement their regular classes with a few online classes.
Even if we don’t use online curriculum, most of us use technology to look up supplemental information for our homeschools on a regular basis.
People who use online curriculum need technology every day in order to do schoolwork. While some parents choose not to use online curriculum for their children’s education, others will supplement their child’s regular classes with the occasional online course.
There are some great reasons to use online curriculum. Some factors you may want to consider when choosing a curriculum for your homeschool include:
- Using online curriculum makes it easier to travel with your family. Yes, of course you can use traditional books and workbooks and still travel! (In fact, one of my children preferred using traditional curriculum over online. One of the benefits of homeschooling is having the ability to make that choice for each student!) But it is generally much easier to grab everything and hit the road when your “school” is contained in a computer rather than having to bring along stacks of books.
- Online curriculum may give your child the ability (if you use live online classes) to interact with students from all over the United States and the world! My son took some live online classes when he was in high school, and he had students from several other countries in class with him. It was fun for the students to compare who had to get up early to attend class and who had to stay up late to attend. They also had time now and then to chat about what life was like in each country, etc. My son definitely learned more than just history in that online class!
- Using online curriculum is highly motivational for many students. Lots of students enjoy using the computer to play games, interact with friends, and even to take online classes! If your child is motivated by online classes, I suggest taking advantage of that interest and making the most of it!
- Online curriculum allows our children to become more accountable for themselves. My son loved the independence that online classes allowed him to have. During elementary school and most of middle school, he did more traditional classes, but for high school, he wanted to take some online classes. He truly enjoyed the independence that taking online classes gave him, and I truly enjoyed giving that responsibility to another teacher! To be honest, I felt like it was good for him to get used to taking a few classes from a different teacher (other than me) too since I wanted him to be ready for the strict due dates and high standards his work would have to meet for college.
If you choose not to use an online curriculum, you may want to consider adding one or two online classes to your schedule.
Even people who don’t use any online classes often look up information online to get more details about something, find extra work to practice a skill, or look for fun arts and crafts.
Technology allows us access to information about places in the world we may never otherwise be able to visit.
We want our children to be curious about the world around them. There is no better way to learn about another person, group, culture, or place than through first-hand experience. It is not possible to visit every place that someone would want to go to in their lifetime. (It would be nice if we could, though!)
Since we will never be able to visit every person or place that we are curious about, is there anything that we can do? We can use technology to visit people and places virtually that we want to learn more about!
There are many photos, videos, pieces of literature, art, monuments, statues, and landmarks available online that can help us learn more about ourselves and people in other cultures. For example, would you like to know more about how hot air ballooning became popular or how the large Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque started? No problem! There is a lot of information available online about these topics. What is your motive for wanting to learn more about hydroponic gardening? You can find information about that too. Start with one of these books If you’re interested in learning more about another culture or group of people, a good place to start is with one of these books. If you’re interested in reading literature from a variety of different authors, we have a great selection for you to choose from. Learn a variety of styles of art? Find out how people live and work in other countries? You can do all of those things using technology!
Although it is not the same as being in the area and experiencing it firsthand, it is still a great way to learn and experience more than if you were not to do it this way.
Buy An iPad (And Fill It With Apps)
The iPad is used extensively in education. For this year, the LA School District spent $1 billion on tablet computers from Apple for each of their students. The number of educational applications available is very large. Since homeschoolers are used to being in charge of their education, it makes sense that they would be enthusiastic about taking charge of their physical fitness as well.
The daughter of AngryGamerMom has an iPad that is full of apps that help with learning and that go along with different subjects. Some apps are designed to help improve reading speed, while others are intended to help relax and refocus.
Others are used to incentivize the learning process. One used is Math Brownie Points. This app is different from others because it rewards users for their commitment and learning with points that can be redeemed in the App Store.
These are rounded off with some pretty unsurprising additions. There are several dictionaries available, including the Merriam-Webster dictionary, as well as the Kindle app for e-books. This app has a wide selection of novels, which can be helpful for school assignments.
Find Inspiration In Unusual Places
Learning Math can be a pretty dry affair. What if you could learn mathematics and computer science by playing Minecraft? It’s more likely thank you think, as AngryGamerMom’s daughter shows:
My daughter started kindergarten knowing how to read, add, subtract, and do simple multiplication because of Minecraft. We have found that Minecraft is a huge help. We have used it since its alpha days. She entered kindergarten understanding how to use resources, but she was also learning a much more important skill: multiplication. As she aged, she developed an interest in modifying Minecraft games and using the console. This is a great way to get her used to code and hopefully in the future she will be writing code herself.
If you choose to leave the mainstream schooling system, you will have a lot of freedom in terms of how you teach your children. AngryGamerMom is good at teaching uninteresting subjects by using video games.
There are many ways to use your smart phone to learn more as you travel or as you plan.
Sometimes when we travel, we plan out the whole trip and have all the details figured out before we even leave. My husband loves planning trips and spending hours on them before we’re even close to leaving on vacation! I prefer to handle things without planning or preparation. Although he hates it, opposites attract and he has to deal with it. Whether you plan in advance or last minute, you can use smart phone apps and online searches to look up information about destinations, tours, events, and festivals that will happen in the near (or distant) future.
Back when I travelled for work, I would have given a lot to have hundreds of books, magazines and games at my fingertips the entire trip. I used to have to plan carefully what I had room to take. Now I have nearly every book and movie and piece of information with me where ever I go. It’s fun to do spontaneous things and to find local events that make us feel like we’re getting to know the area we’re visiting.
There are apps that allow us to identify plants and animals while we’re out hiking at national parks, in our own yards, and wherever else we may be!
There are apps you can download that will help you to identify plants and animals by taking a photograph of them. Apps that allow you to learn about the plants and animals in your area are not only fun to use, but also come in handy when traveling. If you are able to do so safely, be sure to take pictures of the scene from different angles. This will provide different angles which will assist with identification.
It’s important to know about the natural world around you. It is a good idea to use books and printed nature guides to learn about the natural world around you. Although it can be helpful to bring a nature guide with you when you’re hiking or rafting, it’s not always possible or practical to do so. We usually have our phones with us, so apps are good for impromptu games.
Technology allows us to stay in touch with people who are important to us.
Many of us have parents or other relatives that we want to stay in touch with while traveling. We care about the people in our lives and want to make sure they’re doing okay even when we’re not around. We may want to travel in order to talk to our adult children or grandchildren. And those who have older children and teens know that they definitely want to be able to stay in touch with their friends, even while we’re on vacation! People want to share their positive experiences with others through social media. Many adults enjoy sharing photos on social media just as much as children and teens. It’s a fun and positive way to use social media in a world that can feel negative.
Technology allows us to work or homeschool from home or from the road.
Being able to work while on the road is a positive aspect of using technology while traveling. You can work from home or pay your monthly bills while traveling!
This allows our children to continue doing school work while we travel. You can still attend your math tutoring sessions, online classes, and ACT practice sessions while you are traveling.
What about those who have slow internet or who are traveling and don’t have internet connectivity?
In those first 5 or 10 years of having a smart phone, there was absolutely no hope of coverage outside a major urban area. Still, when traveling to remote national parks, coverage is spotty at best. It’s good to remember to bring maps and any paper information you might need on those excursions. For nearly everywhere else, smart technology can make your homeschool life easier.