Getting the resources to properly homeschool can be quite the challenge. They require a lot of in-depth thought and preparation, not to mention the budget to afford the tools needed to give a homeschooling family a good education.
Since the pandemic, many people have turned to technology to help with supplementing schooling and homeschoolers aren’t the only ones. However, homeschooling families tend to be much more engaged with tech products and learning what can be used to help cultivate a good education than any other family. So what tech products work best for homeschool families?
1. Smart TV for Streaming
There are all sorts of resources even just for a nice home environment, but a surprising one that is especially helpful for homeschoolers is a Smart TV or a gadget that allows streaming as something of a virtual whiteboard.
A lot of the curriculum for a homeschooler is online, and the resources through which they teach often include videos, websites, and pictures. Things like this can be hard to see when gathered around a smaller computer screen and in order to help with all learning styles, this technology product helps to cover those bases.
A Smart TV or a product such as an Apple TV allows for a device with streaming capabilities to connect to the TV and display what would’ve otherwise been a very small video or screen. It covers the visual aspect of learning as well as the audio while leaving hands and tables free for the more physical aspect of learning.
For example, it is super easy for a parent to put up a video talking about how to mix colors for their self-taught art class and then do it right there with the kids with the video running in the background. Messy hands, no problem. And the kids get to engage in all things and don’t even need to watch if they don’t learn that way.
Amazon has the Firestick, there is the Roku which includes other streaming services, just the same as an Apple TV does. While the main focus of the gadget is not to stream shows and movies, it is an added bonus of having that tool on hand to incorporate into a lesson plan and how the children in homeschooling families learn.
Using robotics as a way to learn is a great way to encourage the kids of a homeschooling family to branch out. There are several different coding languages to learn and depending on the skillset and level of a child, there are options to learn how to code robotics of different levels to do different things.
Part of that is actually assembling the robot and working on solving problems through the access they have to the robot and its coding. A great example of this would be the First Lego League society, which has varying levels of difficulty for kids that a parent could enroll their child in, starting with a simple LEGO Mindstorms robot and that programming to solve worldwide problems over the course of a season. (Source)
Or the child can simply use that resource of a LEGO Mindstorms NXT or EV3 Robot to build one and learn how to program it. First Lego League isn’t the only First associated robotics competition and there are many more in so many different areas that can help to put together a team and help homeschooled kids get connected and think on a bigger scale. (Source)
Having a computer is integral to having a primarily internet-based education and while it might seem at times to be a bad idea to give a child access to a computer specifically for them, it’s not a bad idea with the right moderation.
A child will gain and learn valuable lessons from learning how to manage their technology consumption and how to type on a laptop as well as how to get creative in what they’re needing to do for their schooling. There are many programs that have them write up a report of things they learned during that week of homeschool, and having access to a computer will help them become self-directed about it and other elements of their life.
Now, there are several options for types of computers and each will be based on the needs of a singular child and the curriculum associated with their specific schooling. For instance, if a child is doing more of an emphasis on programming, the chances are that a MacBook or ChromeBook will not have the computing power to run the kind of programs they need.
Make sure that getting this kind of technology is within the budget and that it meets the needs of the children so that they can complete their schoolwork to the best of their abilities. For most kids, a Chromebook will be just fine, and for those who can afford it or need something with a higher capacity and other program running ability, a MacBook will be okay however a Windows laptop will be more cost-efficient. (Source)
Alternatively, having a desktop as well as a laptop will allow for some flexibility and diversity in the options the children have to complete their work. Especially if a program is requiring greater processing power. Computers allow for different profiles, so different levels of access to things like the internet can be enabled to keep the kids safe while they use this tool.
Just as a laptop is helpful for most things, a tablet can also be more versatile and has the ability to access many of the similar things a child would need to enable and help their schooling curriculum.
Any sort of tablet won’t have the same processing power, but they can do several basic things such as type on different apps and access the online learning materials needed to help a child succeed. A lot of schooling is done through Canvas, and a tablet can usually access that.
A tablet can also house a lot of educational apps that will enable the child to be more self-directed and focused on learning different things. It’s easier for a younger child to use a tablet, so using an app or images to learn the alphabet and vowels could be a great resource using a tablet.
Tablets are generally cheaper than full-on laptops and for most basic things, a tablet is all that would be needed. Apple with the iPads still seems to be on the more expensive route. There are other options from Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, and many more. Looking at the budget and the needs of the children will best help when deciding which tablet to get. (Source)
5. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
This might seem like an odd product for a homeschooling family as some might say they want their kids to hear them and pay attention, especially during school periods and this is a completely fair expression, it’s also not the only time the kid would use noise-canceling headphones. Homeschooled kids are never all on the same level of education and sometimes being in the same space as each other can get to be exhausting and extremely distracting.
Getting the kids Noise-Cancelling Headphones will help to lessen the amount of noise that is heard daily. Giving the kids a way to listen to music without annoying their siblings is even better and then they won’t be as overwhelmed with background noise that could be distracting. This might work for some, but not for others and that’s perfectly okay!
Working with the kids that might need some more of an insulated work area by giving them noise-canceling headphones will help improve their productivity and ability to focus. If they’re less stressed out about everything going on around them, they’ll take correction better and actually process what they’re trying to learn about.
6. Office Tech
Some other tech products that you wouldn’t think you’d need right off the bat include a spiral binding machine, a laminator, an electric pencil sharpener, and things like a visual timer. These items may seem completely normal for more of an office setting than a homeschool environment, and might not even be considered tech products for the most part.
These resources are extremely helpful for a homeschooling parent’s arsenal. They’ve been credited with being able to help keep things organized and nice. Laminating small visual and hands-on elements of teaching keeps things more interesting and helpful.
Small things like this make the homeschooling endeavor just that much easier to organize and help with keeping things less spread out and more centralized. Making books for kids and helping them organize and visualize in ways that they need is ten times easier with a laminator or a spiral binding machine. (Source)
7. Printer/3D Printer
Printers of all kinds are extremely helpful. The two types here specifically are the regular ink printer, which will help with printing out resources, papers, and other creative images that will give a more hands-on approach. Things like using different paper for different resources, such as cardstock for an important visual that can later be laminated and stuck in a child’s binder so they have a visual reminder of something later.
Printers aren’t the most expensive thing and they can be used not only for this but for other activities as well. They’re definitely a helpful thing to have and the next type of printer takes it a step further.
3D printing has become more and more prevalent. There are small models and the ability to create and then print models are highly sought after. This skill is developed and can be a great learning point for a homeschooled kid. Printing things using a 3D printer is such fun and teaches valuable lessons about patience
8. Language Apps and Other Programs
A huge part of technology products is the apps and programs that can help to facilitate learning. Among the top of those is Duolingo as a language app, and there are several resources along those lines that can help to teach different languages.
In addition to that, there are also resources such as Big Brainz, formerly known as Timez Attack, a game that was designed to help kids learn their timetables and has now been expanded to addition and subtraction. It can be a bit hard to find, but it’s a huge resource and there are many other programs just like it. (Source)
Zoom has become so integrated into learning because of the pandemic and this only expands with the ability it has to help connect people with each other. Previously, the whiteboard feature in Zoom was only something that could be accessed through the pro version, but now it’s being changed to be accessible in the free version.
Zoom is a great resource to connect homeschooling students with tutors, people who can help, to share with other homeschool parents, and teach in a way that has the kids invested and connected online. Many homeschool parents use this resource more than they ever used Skype or the phone-specific equivalent.
10. Google Account
Next to Zoom, a Google Account is integrally important for any homeschool family’s technological arsenal. Another way to organize things, and yet it is more. Google accounts give free access to several different things including sheets, docs, presentation software, and more. All of this will help get a homeschooled kid familiar with something that many jobs primarily use. Not only that, but it helps to develop an ability to use technology.
Having the resources and ability to store schoolwork will also help to see progress and seeing all of the progress in a google document of what the child has been working on is so worth it to have a good pattern of organization. It helps to be able to share as well, leaving it as an easily accessible resource with many safety features.
11. Wacom Drawing Tablet
Finally, a Wacom Drawing Tablet or an alternative will help a homeschooled child start to develop a creative and artistic talent through different art programs, perhaps even an art class, and then they’ll be able to take the skills they learned through digital art and start to apply it.