Lauren has been homeschooling her 10-year-old for two years. Her family has a relaxed, eclectic style of home education.
How do you include technology in your home education?
I use technology as a resource and tool to make learning fun, efficient, meaningful, and to prepare my son for 21st century life-long learning. We use apps, digital books, audio, video, social media, on-line learning, gaming, websites, and more that are integrated into our content learning.
What kind of devices do you use for techie homeschooling?
What traditional homeschool supplies and tools have been replaced by techie homeschool tools in your home?
I haven't totally replaced supplies and tools, but rather teach my son that he has options that he can use to make his learning more meaningful and efficient. We use digital and ebooks, but we also use and read hard copies and visit the library weekly. He uses Power Point and word processing (MS Word) to type much of his writing instead of paper and pencil. Although he knows how to research using books, he prefers to search on-line for both personal development and problem-solving (e.g. using YouTube to learn how to use his new GoPro camera) and for academic learning. For math, he prefers to use apps such as Khan Academy instead of flash cards to practice fact fluency.
What are your favorite techie homeschool tools and supplies?
My favorites are my phone (I have an Android and my husband has an IOS, so he is learning how to use both) and iPad. With both, learning can be done “on the go” and almost anywhere. Some days we are in the car traveling to appointments and social events. He can use both devices to access learning such as apps for math (Khan Academy and Rocket Math). Right now he is teaching himself to play chess using an app on the phone and iPad. Many times he uses these devices to make life just a little easier. For example, he uses my phone's GPS to get directions when going someplace new, the flashlight app for reading at night, QR scanner, and of course the camera. We like to use the iPad for research, to watch videos (e.g. art tutorials), to find recipes and save to Pinterest, taking pictures of things of interest and of our learning, and to have on-hand in case we have a question as we are doing “book work” or activities.
What do you think are “must-have” supplies for techie homeschooling? How do you use them?
High speed internet and Wifi so we can quickly use any of our devices throughout our house. A device, whether it is a Smart phone, Kindle, desktop, laptop, or tablet, for accessing websites, videos, digital books, and using apps. For me as the mom and teacher, my desk-top is a must, as it is where I do most of my research, create my own lessons, post to social media, and where I print resources we may use.
Another must-have supply in my opinion, is not something tangible, but rather an attitude. I think it is important to have an open mind, to be flexible, and to realize that our kids are learning in ways that may not have existed when we were in school. Our kids need to be tech savvy and they need to now how to use tech and social media responsibly and safely. Although I would rather my son read a hard copy of a book, I have had to learn that this is not how he would always want to read. I strive to use tech to augment our learning and to complement my son's learning style and interests. That requires me to be flexible and to be a life-long learner as I attempt to keep up with him in this digital world.
What motivated you to add more tech to your family's home education?
My three boys motivated me, as they are naturally inclined and drawn to tech. I needed to be informed before allowing them to use devices, apps, etc. As well, this is how they prefer to learn and matches their learning style and interests, and I strive to create a child-centered learning environment in our home.
How are you preparing your kids for their future in our ever-evolving techie future?
My oldest child is a senior in college and the child I homeschool is only 10. I see first hand how important and necessary using technology is for my oldest son's learning. Even though technology will most likely continue to evolve quickly and in unimaginable ways, I am preparing my son to use tech responsibly for both personal and academic purposes. That includes being aware of safety issues, of the digital footprint you are creating, and how what and how you write depends on your audience.
How are you instilling the attitude that technology is a tool, not a toy in your home?
I do this by modeling it myself. For example, I purposefully do not have some apps on my phone like email. I do not have to have instant access to my email. I have created a routine where I check it on the desk top three times a day. I have a motto in our family, “Business before pleasure”. I can use my phone to take a picture, to quickly find directions , or an answer to a question. I am not on social media for entertainment purposes for long periods of time. And I try to model how we have to intentionally be disciplined to not get sucked into games and apps that are for entertainment only that will waste time and prevent us from getting required, important, and or necessary work completed.
What's the biggest challenge you face in regards to digital learning?
A big challenge is that tech can be fun and things like social media are interesting, but they can also be time-wasters. We need to make sure that we are sincerely using tech for learning and learn to manage our time and priorities. Gaming is fun and can be used for learning, but there is a fine-line….
What do you think holds people back from adding more digital learning to their homeschool? How can you encourage someone to work through that?
Fear of the unknown. For many of us, this is not how we learned in school. This is not how I learned in college. It wasn't until I worked on my graduate degree that tech became a vital part of the the learning and academic community. Others are overwhelmed with all the choices of devices and resources. I encourage others to focus on just one app or learning and implementing just one device into their homeschool.
Share first steps someone can take to start techin' their homeschool.
Reading and researching whether it is reading books, blogs, listening to TED talks, joining Facebook groups (like Techin' Your Homeschool), Podcasts, or watching Periscopes and Facebook Live. Talk to and visit someone you know and trust to see how they use tech in a fun and meaningful way in their homeschool.
More about Lauren…
Lauren is a former reading specialist and literacy coach turned homeschooling mom. She has a special interest in Selective Mutism, Asperger's Syndrome, and dachshunds! You can get to know her better by visiting her website, Teacher Mom of 3.
How do you use technology in your home education? Leave a comment below to let others know more about your family's techie homeschooling.
Come hang out with me in the Techin' Your Homeschool Facebook group. No matter if you're a Techie Homeschool Mom, a Wanna-be Techie or a Help Me! I'm Not Techie. we'd love to have you join us for homeschool encouragement and inspiration.