Ways to use technology in your homeschool

As with many things, whether or not technology is good or bad is based on how we use it. Parents are often concerned about using technology in the homeschool, and what will be sacrificed in the process. Will they lose the ability to think for themselves? Will they still be able to do original work and exercise creativity? How will it affect their work ethic? There are some ways that technology is beneficial, and in our world, essential. More and more careers require some knowledge of and ability to use computers. Here are some ways that kids can use technology to enrich their homeschool experience.

  • With an inexpensive digital camera and free programs like GIMP ( GNU Image Manipulation Program) and Google Docs Presentation, kids can learn the rules of good photo composition and editing. They can also illustrate stories and create slideshows. Encourage them to document their book reports, history presentations, and science projects with these tools.
  • Using Google Docs, a free alternative to Microsoft Office that uses the cloud, kids can create and keep documents without worrying about backing them up. They can also be quickly and easily shared across a network, making it easy for the parent to check the student's work.
  • Most computers come with a web cam, but you can also use a cell phone or the video capability of a digital camera so that kids have the opportunity to record and critique their oral reports and presentations, or watch themselves playing a musical instrument or singing a song. They can also demonstrate a skill by doing a "How To..." video.
  • Synthesia is a fun game that helps kids develop their musical skills. Connected to a digital keyboard with a MIDI cable, kids can also compose their own songs.
  • Wikipedia is an easy-to-use research tool, although sometimes its veracity is brought into question. But rather than just looking up a subject on an online encyclopedia, students can contact real life experts on their topic of interest. Start by finding local professionals and craftsmen with Google Maps, find their websites, and use the contact form to ask questions or set up an appointment for an interview.
  • Find tutorials for all kinds of projects and hobbies, from carpentry to car mechanics, sewing and knitting, cooking and crafts, on YouTube.
  • Use Pinterest to create boards of all their projects. Let them develop their creative writing skills or keep an online journal by blogging with a free platform like Wordpress or Tumblr.

It is important to keep a balance between using a computer or pencil and paper to communicate with others,  compose prose or music, or do art projects. Technology can be used to keep people at arm's length, but it can also be the bridge that helps us connect with people in far away places. It can become addicting and out-of-balance, or it can be used to make lists, keep calendars, plan and prioritize.

How do you use technology in your homeschool?