To be honest, a few years ago I would’ve turned my nose up at the idea of technology being an important tool in our homeschool. I have always wanted our home life and our homeschool to be marked by living books, experiences, and hands-on life skills–not hours in front of screens, even if it was educational. As time has gone on though, I have come to a place of balance in regards to utilizing screens in our home as a tool for education. While we certainly don’t spend hours a day using technology, I have found that there are some incredible resources out there, and if used responsibly, technology can really add richness and value without becoming a crutch or addiction.
With one quick Google search, you will find so many websites, games, and online programs that claim to be educational. There are entire online homeschool programs that claim to give children a complete and quality education. There are websites that reinforce educational skills but are so saturated with color, noise, and “fluff” that a child becomes addicted and over-stimulated while using them. To me, those resources aren’t a healthy option.
So how do you decide what and how to use technology in your homeschool? The key for me is finding resources that are low-stimulating and simply supplemental, not a replacement for time spent learning through books and with each other.
Low-stimulating technology often means simply using an audio resource, not audio and visual. This gives the children the opportunity to use their hands to crochet, do a puzzle, or draw while listening to a story or podcast. When using a resource that is visual, try to find options that are calm and simplistic. This means avoiding technology that has multiple sounds layered on top of one another, bright colors, and fast-moving elements.
Intentional ways we use technology in our homeschool
Keyboarding Lessons and Typing
We have used Keyboarding Without Tears for a couple of years now. The kids only do one short lesson each week and it has built their confidence to use the computer. I love how they incorporate history, science, and more subjects into the typing lessons.
Along with these lessons, I encourage them to use the computer to type their narrations, letters on Mail Monday, creative writing stories, and more.
We use Hoffman Academy for piano lessons and absolutely love it. It’s fun, engaging, and they can progress at their own rate. After sitting with my children for the first few lessons, they’ve been able to do their lessons and practices independently.
From Hoffman Academy website: “Rooted in early child development and learning theory, the Hoffman Method teaches you to not only play piano but to truly comprehend music. Its multi-sensory approach engages your natural curiosity and creativity while providing a high level of musical proficiency. Your child will love becoming a well-rounded musician with Mr. Hoffman! Kids start playing music by ear to build a strong foundation of musical understanding. Students will progress to understand music theory, learn to improvise, read sheet music & rhythms, and more!”
We love to watch documentaries to reinforce subjects that we have studied or to chase down an interest one of my children has. We especially love biographies and animal documentaries.
We use Math-U-See, which offers a short lesson taught by Mr. Demme (founder of Math-U-See). I love how “old school” these video lessons are. It’s simply the teacher with a whiteboard, marker, and math manipulatives. The video lessons are anywhere between 5-20 minutes and the kids only need to watch one about once per week. The rest of the week they practice the skills taught with their set of manipulatives in their workbooks.
Film Adaptations of Books
After reading certain chapter books, we often end with watching the movie that is an adaptation of the story. We love to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the book and the movies. Some of our favorites are Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, the Narnia Series, and Mary Poppins.
We love to use Youtube to learn how to cook, build, make, or draw something. We also often use ArtforKidsHub for how-to draw videos.
My son takes a beginner drawing course on Outschool.com with a live art teacher. We haven’t explored any other classes offered, but we plan to in the future. They have a wide assortment of classes such as crocheting, sewing, clay sculpting, and more. Disclaimer: I don’t condone all of the classes on Outschool.com. Use discretion as you choose courses best for your children.
Nature Identification App
When we are out in nature and spot a bug, leaf, or various other things that we want to identify, we use the free app Seek by iNaturalist. It is fairly accurate in identifying and saves your “findings” by location so you can refer back to them later.
We love listening to educational podcasts, especially in the car. There are podcasts that tell stories, teach values, and even non-fiction podcasts that teach science, history, and more.
Related: 20 Favorite Podcasts for Children
Incorporating technology in your homeschool in an enriching, gentle way is possible with some intention and preparation. I hope this list helps you navigate how to best do that in your home!