One of the wonderful Ask a Tech Teacher contributers, Jenny Wise, is a busy homeschooler who suggested I publish an article about the benefits of technology for the homeschooler. I asked Jenny if she would share how she came to homeschool her children, how technology contributes to her success, and then share resources. Here are her thoughts:
At one time, homeschooling was a religious or moral choice made by families that wanted to guide the education of their children more carefully than a public school system would. Today, millions of families choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, ranging from protecting their children from bullying and violence to avoiding the standardized testing that permeates public schools. Homeschool curricula have greatly improved over the past few years, and new technologies are making it easier for families that homeschool their children but don’t have education degrees themselves. These technologies are helping students achieve academic and social success while meeting the needs of various learning styles.
- Experiencing Proven Curricula and Support
Some parents would love to homeschool their children but just don’t feel confident in their ability to deliver a sound education that will help their children develop the skills and knowledge they need to attend college and become successful adults. Thanks to online homeschooling programs and accredited curricula like the one offered by Calvert, parents can access the tools and support they need to deliver top-notch education to their children at home.
Technology-based homeschool programs deliver material to children via online lessons that can be completed at the child’s own pace. Parents can skip lessons that children excel in, or they can slow the pace if children struggle. Individualized learning is the hallmark of quality technology-based homeschool programs. Additionally, parents who need assistance in teaching a concept or supporting their children’s learning can email teachers and learn alternative teaching strategies to better meet their kids’ learning styles.
In this digital age, parents want their kids to know as much about technology as possible. For younger kids, this means learning to type, use a mouse or trackpad, create illustrations, and more using a tablet or a laptop. For older children, this means learning to code and create graphic designs. Coding is considered a literacy skill that kids should learn to prepare for the job market that now demands web designers, software developers, and robotics engineers. But, learning to code is a far more important skill for students today because it gives them new ways of thinking and problem solving with real-world applications.
Top coding programs deliver content in the form of lessons and allow kids to work independently and at their own pace. Homeschoolers benefit from coding programs that also offer tutorials and set up assignments and projects for them to complete, rather than simply test their skills. Again, it is the application of the coding skills that engages students and deepens their skills and understanding.
With the explosion of educational apps, parents of homeschool students easily can become overwhelmed when trying to choose those that have the most educational value for their kids. One of the best ways to go about choosing educational apps for your children is to consider their strengths and areas of concern. Look for top-rated apps that will extend their knowledge and skills in their strong areas and that will support their weak areas with more practice and application. For example, Splash Math [see Ask a Tech Teacher’s app review here] delivers extra practice and adapts to kids’ skills.
Other apps enable kids to explore the world around them and study. Some help them to better manage their time, while others help them to get organized and stay on track with due dates and assignments. Don’t forget to check into reading apps that promote reading for pleasure. Quick searches of Google Play or iTunes will help you find the best apps for your kids and help you meet their learning needs.
Technology plays a critical role in quality homeschooling programs. With technology, parents can ensure their children have access to top curricula. More important, technology gives parents a way to meet the learning needs of their children and adapt to their learning styles. It also gives students a way to put their learning to the test and apply their skills in various ways.
Jenny Wise homeschools her four awesome children. As any homeschooling parent knows, every day is an adventure, and Jenny has begun chronicling her experiences at SpecialHomeEducator.com. She hopes to use the site to connect with other homeschoolers and to provide helpful advice to parents who may be considering a home education for their kids.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.