The follow is a post from contributing writer, Sarah Robinson of Sidetracked Sarah
Using Technology in your homeschool can mean many different things. There’s TV’s, Computers, DVD Players, CD Players, MP3 Players, iPads and Tablets, Smart Phones (including iPhone and Android phones), web sites, computer programs, Audio books, You Tube Videos, Digital Cameras, Video Cameras and more. It seems that today’s technology choices are nearly limitless.
We can do things that we never imagined we could do when we were kids. We have a whole new way to communicate with each other as well. We’re in tune with our friends like never before. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad! As a homeschooler, you can let technology take over your life in ways that don’t benefit your family OR you can choose to use it to enhance your homeschool.
Using Technology to Enhance Your Homeschool
There are many different ways to incorporate technology into your homeschool. The four main areas that I will focus on today are video, audio, digital books and websites.
- Netflix – We’ve all heard of Netflix, but are you aware of the many educational video choices there are on Netflix? They have School House Rock, Moody Science videos, Biographies of the US Presidents, Basic Math videos, Biology videos, historical fiction movies, documentaries, etc. If you plan it correctly, you can definitely use Netflix to enhance your homeschool.
- YouTube – We’ve used YouTube for everything from entertaining grumpy toddlers by watching Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to watching historical documentaries on a subject we’re studying. If you feel clueless on the wide variety of YouTube videos you can use in your homeschool, try going here: Using YouTube in Your Homeschool or here: Homeschooling with Technology: YouTube
- DVD Curriculum – There are also many benefits to using a curriculum on DVD. For starters, you don’t have to take the time (or mental energy in my case) to instruct your children, but can leave that particular subject to the instructor. Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance, Drive Thru History, Institute for Excellence in Writing and Lightbearers Curriculum are just a few that we’ve used in our homeschool. A lot of times, we will do these courses as a group, within our homeschool group.
- Podcasts – Podcasts are a great way to find encouragement for the homeschool mom. In fact, my friend Jill of Blessed Beyond a Doubt and I are starting a Homeschool Moms Podcast called Homeschool Live. If you’re interested in hearing a sneak preview, you can do so here. My special guest was Rachael Carman of Apologia and she shares a very special message on Where is Your Joy?! In addition to Homeschool Mom encouragement, you can find shows like Adventures in Odyssey and Generations Radio by Kevin Swanson (Homeschool Dad).
- Audio Books & Audio Productions – You can download audio books, check them out from your library or you can buy them. We enjoy listening to these when we go on long road trips. One year, we had a trip where we spent 12 hours in the van. We listened to Anne of Green Gables on CD. Others that we love are Jonathan Park and Brinkman Adventures. Brinkman Adventures are missionary stories re-enacted. They’re based on true stories, too. You can even download a sample of the Brinkman Adventures to see if you like their stories. I highly recommend them!
- Kindle or Nook – If you’re not aware of all the books that are available to you in digital format, you’re missing out! You can get a ton of the classics for free and each day there are new books available on Kindle for free. You can also borrow books from your friends and from your local library. For more ideas as to why you’re missing out by not owning a Kindle or at least having the free Kindle app, read this: Using a Kindle in Your Homeschool.
- Curriculum that Utilizes Free E-books – There are two well known websites that offer their curriculum all online and for free. They are Ambleside and Old Fashioned Education. They are both molded around a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling, but Old Fashioned Education uses more textbook style learning and all free online texts. I recommend browsing their sites to see if it would be a good fit for your family.
- Project Gutenberg – Project Gutenberg is a compilation of over 42,000 e-books that have once been published (i.e. in print). They are all offered for free! Many of these books are linked to in the Old Fashioned Education curriculum that I mentioned above. You definitely want to check it out!
- Google Images – You don’t know how many times we’ve been in the middle of studying something and the children wanted to know what _____ looked like. I would type it into Google Images and suddenly have a picture to show them. See how my friend Amy of Raising Arrows shares more about how she uses Google Images in her homeschool.
- Blogs – There are so many resources out there from many of your favorite Homeschool bloggers! Many of them have free printables to surround the holidays and many more great ideas. Check out Free Homeschool Deals for many of these ideas. Click here to see a post that Amy has written one ways to use the ideas of bloggers in your homeschool.
- Pinterest – Pinterest is an awesome tool to categorize all of the great ideas you’re seeing while surfing the net. If you’d like to see some of the great ideas on Homeschool Classroom Pinterest boards and my own Pinterest boards, you should consider following some of these boards: Foreign Language, Planning for High School, Homeschool Planning & Organization, Art, and a nonspecific Homeschooling Board.
As you can see, we use technology in many different ways in our homeschool! Each family is so different in the way that they utlize it. I hope that this has given you a few new ideas.
Now it’s your turn. How do YOU use technology in your home?
Sarah is in her 11th year of homeschooling her 6 children. She is a big believer in using computers and technology in order to further her children’s education. It’s not unusual for her to utilize multiple media resources throughout the course of her homeschool day. She blogs about life as a busy, sidetracked homeschool mom at Sidetracked Sarah.
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