One of the potential downsides of homeschooling has always been that it relies heavily on pen and paper teaching techniques. Getting kids to crank out pages of worksheets, presentations and quizzes is often not conducive to turning out motivated self-learners.
The fact is, we live in a technologically super-driven society. At this point, it is impossible to create a successful homeschool curriculum without utilizing technology in the planning process.
Overall, incorporating technology into the daily curriculum is beneficial for homeschool families for two main reasons: (1) it provides a relief for parents in search of engaging lessons and (2) accommodates tools that reinforce knowledge for students.
Educational Technology (EdTech) companies are working on finding ways to support home learning through the use of new technologies and learning products. Some of the most recent innovations include:
- Live online classes – There are now thousands of classes available to homeschoolers that can be tailored to meet the different learning styles of individual homeschool learners. Some of these programs are designed to be used with children as young as three years old.
- Live Chat Rooms – Chat Rooms can be a learning experience similar to the open classroom. Students are provided with the opportunity to interact with other kids within their age group while making friends and learning to work in teams.
- Cross-Discipline Learning – Using blended learning software and e-tools, students gain skills while studying different subjects. While studying math or reading, kids learn context-based social and emotional skills by sharing their creative cross-blending skills.
- Speed up the Learning Process – Using focused e-products and tools, younger children are able to accelerate their early literacy and math skills.
HOMESCHOOLING AND CREATIVITY
Homeschooling enthusiasts have long believed that public school has a negative impact on children’s creativity. When teachers are obligated to crank out curriculum approaches for classes as large as 35 and 40 children, all of whom will move on at the end of the year, it’s difficult to address the individual learning needs of each child.
Homeschool blogger Mandy Chau, points out that, in a homeschooling atmosphere, the parent/teacher has a unique opportunity to tailor their learning approach and guide their child to topical areas they love. The use of the Internet for research, gaming and sharing opportunities exponentially expands what can be accomplished on an individual creative basis. (https://serendipitymommy.com/)
Homeschool tech blogger, Lindsey Wright, researches and writes about emerging educational technologies and their application in the homeschool world. On her blog, Homeschooling-Ideas, she says that “Since technology is both accessible and flexible, there are tools and programs for all types of learners. Besides helping all students learn, no matter their disability or learning style, technology also benefits the average student because it helps them prepare for their future. Home-schooled students have a unique advantage in this case however, because they have the time to actually use technology.”
ESTABLISH PARAMETERS FOR USE OF TECH TOOLS
Another blogger writes about how providing an iPad to her homeschool student’s tech-toolbox turned out to have a positive impact on her day-to-day approach to teaching. Her most valuable tip is to immediately establish “parameters” to make the iPad a “positive addition” to your learning tools.
- Make sure your student understands the iPad is ONLY to be used as a learning tool. Don’t allow installation of any “just-for-fun” games.
- Don’t connect to e-mail or messaging systems. “I find being tethered to interruptions is one of the biggest downsides of technology, so our iPad is mostly disconnected.”
- At the outset of each week, “I download all the PDFs that we require for the week. No time is ‘wasted’ looking up and downloading” assignments or study requirements.
- Use the iPad for learning process documentation. “It takes a mere few seconds to snap a picture of something she learned and then write a few sentences about it. By the end of the year we have a comprehensive log of everything she learned and explored.”
10 TECH TIPS FROM PARENTS AND OTHER EXPERTS/A SUMMARY
- Download podcasts or listen to interviews for real context of what is being learned.
- Help your student learn to create a website or blog about what they’ve learned.
- Watch streamed educational movies. Search for free educational video sites.
- Encourage your student to listen to classic literature online if they don’t enjoy reading.
- Use your GPS to study geography. Use Google Earth to learn about map-making.
- Organize online field trips to anyplace in the world. It’s all available online!
- Help your child to make a video diary of what they’ve learned rather than taking a test.
- Find a way for your child to learn computer programming languages. These skills are in great career demand!
- Access digital archives to learn about American History.
- Create an online debate team. Using easily accessible meeting programs, it’s easy to learn and debate with other students around the world at no cost.
Referencing homeschool tech blogger Lindsey Wright to close out this piece – “Since many home-schooled children are more dependent on educational technology than the average child, they actually know how to use it better. This can benefit them in the very near future. Technology is completely changing the professional world, creating new jobs and changing the way old businesses and professions function. Homeschooled children who use technology actually attain more skills and experience for future careers.”
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
Technology provides endless possibilities for homeschool learning creativity!!