How To Homeschool with Technology In Your Homeschool
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With a blog called “Techie Homeschool Mom”, you might be inclined to think I’m a tech expert, and that we use technology in all aspects of our homeschooling.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from expert status, and I’m still a big fan of good old-fashioned books, pens, and paper. However, I love learning about all the ways to homeschool with technology and how it can support our homeschooling efforts (and sharing them with you!).
The truth is, I was a little nervous about all-things-tech at the beginning of our homeschooling journey. I had all the typical concerns about “too much screen-time” and just knew that my kids were going to become addicted to screens.
I worried about the dangers of my kids on the internet and was concerned about too many distractions online.
But as we’ve begun to incorporate more technology into our homeschooling, I have learned that not only can we do so safely and effectively, but that it can be such a valuable tool to enhance our kids’ learning and academic growth.
Why We Use Technology in Our Homeschool
Let’s be honest – technology isn’t going anywhere. By carefully choosing how and when to introduce techie tools to our kids, we can begin to teach them valuable lessons about things like their digital footprints, how to find good resources online, or how to navigate the internet.
You know, things they will need to know in “real life”.
Not only that, if we have techie kids, we can validate their interests by finding meaningful ways to incorporate digital learning into our homeschools. By doing so, you’ll find your kids are enjoying learning while picking up authentic skills they will carry with them throughout their lives.
What a fun opportunity we have! And while yes, there are some things we need to be mindful of, homeschooling with technology doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. It can even help you save time and energy (don’t we all want that!).
Read on for a few tips and tools to help you start techin’ your homeschool.
It’s All About Balance
Before we get into some of the ways you can use technology in your homeschool, though, let’s touch on one of those big worries many of us have: balance.
How do we balance tech work and book work in our homeschools? How do I keep my kids from wanting to be on screens all the time?
I think we have to be mindful that the technology we choose to use is for the purpose of helping our kids become creators rather than simply consumers.
When my kids found a love for playing Minecraft, I caught myself letting that worry creep in…because they could spend all day playing Minecraft if I would let them! And I had to ask myself why that bothered me; and if they were spending all day reading a fiction book, would it bother me just as much?
When I took a good look at the skills they were using and learning as they played this game with each other, I was actually pretty impressed.
I realized that productive screen time was a thing for my kids – just as much as it is for me – and finding a good balance between technology and textbooks can be a great way to respect my kids and tap into the different ways they learned.
7 Ways We Homeschool with Technology
I’m thankful for all of the opportunities technology affords us in our homeschool. Just think of all the things our kids can do that we couldn’t when we were growing up! They can get answers to questions in an instant. Use their creativity with online tools. Play games and video chat with relatives that are thousands of miles away. Get an education from the comfort of their own home.
Here are a few of our favorite ways we homeschool with technology.
Online Courses & Curriculum
Online courses were my first experience with adding a bit more technology into our homeschool. Needing a bit more time to juggle a newborn baby, I purchased a curriculum with self-paced online classes. That year, my kids picked up some great computer skills, learned how to work a bit more independently, and I had a little more time to tend to our new baby.
There are so many options for online courses these days. You can find live classes or self-paced options, core curriculum courses or classes that teach a single topic your child is interested in. Plus, if you feel wary about teaching something yourself, you’re sure to find an online class that covers it.
I’ve got some great course suggestions on my blog, and have even put together an Online Homeschool Curriculum Directory you can access to find the perfect fit for your family.
Online Unit Studies
Unit studies are used far and wide in the homeschool community as a way to explore multiple subject areas while digging deep into a particular topic of interest.
When putting together your unit studies, consider using videos, interactive websites, online timelines, and other techie tools to allow your kids to show evidence of their learning.
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This might feel overwhelming at times (there is so much info out there!) – but I’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you.
Check out my Online Unit Studies for a place to get started. You’ll find a variety of topics in my shop that your kids can work through at their own pace in a safe online environment.
Organization & Planning
Although I love my paper planners, over the last couple of years I have been utilizing more techie tools to organize and plan our homeschool.
I use Google Drive and Sheets for a majority of organization and tracking, and I also have found a love of AirTable for keeping track of all our digital resources and printables I download.
There are a lot of great online homeschool planners such as Homeschool Tracker and Syllabird you can dive into if you’d like to digitize your homeschool organization.
This past year we discovered a love of e-books in our homeschool. I personally have always preferred a good solid book I can flip through, but my kids really love the option of using e-books at times.
If I forget to go to the library (or we just don’t have time), we have a load of options at our fingertips. Need a new book for silent reading? Covered! Need to find some different sources for a research project? No problem.
We use Epic for our e-book source, but there are other great options such as Hoopla Digital if your local library offers it. Aside from e-books, Epic also has a read-to-me option where my kids can follow along as the book is read, and they also have a great audiobook selection, among many other features that actually help encourage my kids to read.
Best Apps for Homeschooling
There are a few best apps that have been so helpful on our journey, when I needed just a little something extra to supplement our curriculum.
When my kids were younger, we used Reading Eggs and Math Seeds, and my littlest loves Teach a Monster to Read. For my bigger kids, Adventure Academy is a hit (they don’t even realize they’re learning when they play!).
You can read more of my reasons to homeschool with technology by using apps in your and find a list of recommended best apps for homeschooling here.
I am not a big gamer, but my kids love video games. If your kids do too, why not try to incorporate them into your homeschool lessons? It CAN be possible!
Not only can you use video games to help teach “school-ish” subjects, but they often can learn life skills and exercise a lot of higher-order thinking while playing. Minecraft is a favorite in our home, and you can see a few other suggestions your kids might love here.
Many of my Online Unit Studies include projects kids can complete using online tools. There are so many ways you can incorporate techie projects into your homeschool using tools like Genial.ly, Emaze, Prezi or Canva, or letting your kids get creative with coding or videography.
Projects like these allow your child to not only share and demonstrate their learning in a meaningful way, but they learn skills as they go that they truly can use in the future. I share a few other options for Techie Project ideas in my course Guide to Digital Student Projects.
Recently, we were working through our science curriculum and were studying endangered animals. A suggested project was to create a poster after choosing and researching an animal; an alternative suggestion was to encourage kids to use digital resources for research, and programs for presentation.
That sounded great to me, but no further instructions were given; and I wondered how homeschool moms could walk their kids through the steps of simple online research and preparing a digital presentation (especially if they had never done it before)?
I ended up creating a free project tutorial that I share with other moms on my website. I created this to help my own son work through his science project, however, the skills he learned are going to translate to other areas of our homeschooling as well.
You can grab it for free below and try it out with your kids! My 9-year old son could do a lot of it on his own, but I did have to sit and help him with parts of it that were completely new. Older kids who are already comfortable using a computer might not need as much help.
How much or how often you choose to incorporate technology into your homeschool is going to be unique to your family and your children. I don’t think the benefits can be denied – and techie tools can be a lot of fun!
I hope that you learned a few new ways you might add technology to your homeschool lessons. Intentionally teaching and guiding your kids to be responsible digital citizens will pay off as they build healthy tech habits and learn valuable skills they will carry for years to come.
This is a contributed post for the 2021 How We Homeschool Series.
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This is a contributed post for the 2021 How We Homeschool Series. Learn more about the How We Homeschool Series, contributors, sponsors, and giveaways by heading here.
Thank you to Sara Radginksi with Techie Homeschool Mom for writing this guest post!
Sara is not a techno-whiz, but loves finding new ways technology can enhance her kids’ learning. While homeschooling her 4 digital natives, she inspires and equips parents to add valuable digital learning into their own homeschools via her blog Techie Homeschool Mom. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and on Pinterest.