How Technology Can Revolutionize Your Homeschooling

homeschooling
source: Jessie Terwilliger

A couple weeks ago, I shared a video with some of my thoughts on technology and education.

If technology is having a profound impact on education as a whole, though, that impact is felt even more strongly by homeschoolers. Technology is literally revolutionizing the way families “do school”, opening additional opportunities, connecting them to one another and providing a wealth of information at their fingertips.

Although you probably know that we homeschool our girls, what you may not know is that I was also homeschooled at the end of high school. Due to some changes at the private school I was attending, my parents pulled me out in the middle of my junior year, and I completed my coursework through the University of Nebraska six months later to earn my high school diploma. At that time, all of my curriculum was paper and pencil, but when my sister began the same program 7 years later, it was all available to her online, and I was able to help tutor her even though I lived a couple of hours away at the time.

Let’s look at some other examples. You might even discover some resources you didn’t know about!

Community

Homeschooling can be isolating, especially if your local friends and family either don’t homeschool or are downright unsupportive. But even if you have a strong homeschool community in your area, homeschooling takes an investment of time that doesn’t leave as much room for play dates, coffee breaks and even phone calls as you might have if your older children were in school.

Thankfully, technology makes it easy to connect with like-minded homeschoolers even when your schedule is to busy to get together in person.

  • Facebook: If you’re fortunate enough to have friends who homeschool, Facebook is a great way to commiserate, laugh together and encourage one another in little snippets throughout the day. You can even create private groups that allow you to communicate outside of the regular news feed.
  • Forums: My husband and I have always known we would homeschool, even before we had kids, and when I first purchased a Sonlight core to use with my home daycare, I joined the Sonlight Forums. The encouragement I received and friendships I formed over the years through that forum has played an important role in who I am as a homeschooling mom now.
  • Find local homeschoolers: If you haven’t yet connected with local homeschoolers, a simple Google search for “local {INSERT YOUR CITY & STATE} homeschoolers” is likely to turn up a number of resources for connecting with homeschoolers in or near your area that you might not be familiar with already.

Support

Homeschooling can be stressful, even without worrying about legal requirements, curriculum choices and more. Thankfully, there are so many resources available to provide just the kind of support you need:

  • HSLDA.org: As an HSLDA member, I’m thankful for the peace of mind that comes from knowing there’s a team of experienced lawyers in my corner. But even if you’re not a member, you’ll find a myriad of resources on the HSLDA site to help you understand local laws and requirements, stay up-to-date on issues affecting homeschoolers and more.
  • Live Curriculum Consultants: Many homeschool publishers today have live curriculum consultants available on their sites so that you can talk to someone who knows and uses the curriculum to get help in making decisions for your own family. And those that don’t offer support through email so that you can ask the questions you need to ask without wasting precious time on the phone!

Inspiration

Whenever I’m looking for inspiration for a particular subject or lesson, I turn to the Internet:

  • Pinterest: Pinterest has become one of my favorite sources for lessons because you can quickly see the lesson in action. From this veggie skeleton to this noun chart, I’ve discovered tons of great ideas that I never would have thought of otherwise.
  • Blogosphere: Homeschooling blogs like Simple Homeschool, Five Js, Life as Mom and Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood provide inspiration for approaching things differently and for trusting our instincts as well as practical resources like free printables and worksheets!

Access

Using a PC or tablet, you can literally access new materials and resources in an instant.

  • eReaders: No longer do you have to make a special trip to the library or wait for an order to arrive to begin reading a new book. eReaders give you instant access to thousands of books, including tons of classics that are available for free.
  • YouTube: With video sites such as YouTube, you can listen to Beethoven, watch a science experiment, see a famous speech and more. Kids can even make their own videos, practicing their public speaking skills as they demonstrate a lesson or skill.
  • Tablets: On my tablet, my girls are able to play a piano, a steel drum and a variety of other instruments. Of course this can’t replace the experience of learning to play a real instrument, but it’s a wonderful way to introduce them to music theory and instruments that they might not otherwise be able to play. In addition, I’ve heard many families talk about the doors that tablets have opened for their children with special needs.
  • MP3 Players: Because a lot of our focus at this point is on memorization, I’m thankful for MP3 players that make our memory work accessible even when Mom doesn’t want to sing about Columbus one more time. In addition, my 7 year old has listened to the complete Story of the World collection so many times that at this point she literally has almost the entire thing memorized. That’s something I couldn’t have given her on my own!
  • Specialized Software: I also love that our girls can use online tools or software packages we’ve purchased to practice math concepts, explore principles of science and more. They’re always excited to use the computer, even for school work, which is definitely a bonus.

Research

Although there’s something to be said for traditional library research, research is also made easier and more accessible through the internet.

  • Wikipedia: Children should be taught to double check resources themselves, but Wikipedia is a great launching point for a lot of research, containing more information than even the encyclopedias of ol’.
  • Google: Is there anything you can’t find on Google? I’m not sure there is, and I’m so thankful that no matter what question my girls asked, a simple Google search can almost always find the answer!

With a collection of several hundred children’s books, I don’t foresee us giving up those or our manipulatives or paper and pencil any time soon, but there’s no doubt that technology plays an important role in the things we’re doing as well, and I’m excited to see what else changes over the next 16+ years as I homeschool our girls!

I am so excited to be partnering with Intel, the sponsors of tomorrow, to bring you my opinion on some of the issues that affect our lives today. Join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #IntelEMP!

How has technology impacted how you homeschool?

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