To homeschool successfully, you need technology!
There are so many ways technology can help us homeschool, learn, keep up with friends and family members, and even have fun. How? There are quite a few ways technology can be a positive and even necessary thing for homeschoolers. You may use technology to learn more about the world and to virtually go places you may never be able to otherwise go. You can use technology for planning travel. You may choose to use it to learn more about the environment and plants and animals. You may choose to use an online curriculum or to supplement with some online classes.
There are two more articles in this series. We hope you enjoy them and find them helpful! To find out how books can help you homeschool successfully, click this link. And to find out how hands-on activities can help you homeschool successfully, click this link.
Even if we don’t use online curriculum, most of us use technology to look up supplemental information for our homeschools on a regular basis.
Those who use online curriculum rely on technology on a daily basis in order to get school work done. Even those who don’t use online curriculum may supplement our children’s classes with an online class here and there.
There are some great reasons to use online curriculum. You may want to consider these things as you make your decision about which curriculum you’ll use in your homeschool.
- Using online curriculum makes it easier to travel with your family. Yes, of course you can use traditional books and workbooks and still travel! (In fact, one of my children preferred using traditional curriculum over online. One of the benefits of homeschooling is having the ability to make that choice for each student!) But it is generally much easier to grab everything and hit the road when your “school” is contained in a computer rather than having to bring along stacks of books.
- Online curriculum may give your child the ability (if you use live online classes) to interact with students from all over the United States and the world! My son took some live online classes when he was in high school, and he had students from several other countries in class with him. It was fun for the students to compare who had to get up early to attend class and who had to stay up late to attend. They also had time now and then to chat about what life was like in each country, etc. My son definitely learned more than just history in that online class!
- Using online curriculum is highly motivational for many students. Lots of students enjoy using the computer to play games, interact with friends, and even to take online classes! If your child is motivated by online classes, I suggest taking advantage of that interest and making the most of it!
- Online curriculum allows our children to become more accountable for themselves. My son loved the independence that online classes allowed him to have. During elementary school and most of middle school, he did more traditional classes, but for high school, he wanted to take some online classes. He truly enjoyed the independence that taking online classes gave him, and I truly enjoyed giving that responsibility to another teacher! To be honest, I felt like it was good for him to get used to taking a few classes from a different teacher (other than me) too since I wanted him to be ready for the strict due dates and high standards his work would have to meet for college.
If you decide not to use online curriculum, you may decide to supplement with one or two online classes that you don’t love teaching for one reason or another.
My daughter, who is a senior in our homeschool this year, uses mostly textbooks and independent learning, but she takes an online science class. Science isn’t something I enjoy teaching, so she takes the online science class so she can have a teacher who loves what she teaches and who’s good at teaching science. Trish’s son uses an online math curriculum because it allows him to take higher level math classes that Trish doesn’t feel comfortable teaching. We feel like these classes are great for our children since they provide a fun change from their regular independent work while giving us the ability to outsource classes we don’t feel good about teaching.
Even those who don’t use any online classes at all often enjoy looking up (or find it necessary to look up) information online to clarify something we’re learning, add necessary details, find additional work for practicing a skill that needs fine tuning, or even to look up fun arts and crafts, printable games, charts or graphs, or other information to go along with lessons you’re doing in your homeschool. (We share lots of “how to homeschool” information and encouragement right here on Hip Homeschool Moms, but you’ll also find printables, games, activities, arts and crafts, and more on our sister site, Only Passionate Curiosity!)
Technology allows us access to information about places in the world we may never otherwise be able to visit.
We want our children to be curious about other people, cultures, events, cities, states, and countries. After all, there’s no better way to learn about another person, group, culture, or place than by actually meeting people or going there! Realistically, though, we can’t all go to every single place we’d like to go in one lifetime. (It would be nice if we could, though!)
So, knowing that we’ll never be able to visit every single person or place we’re curious about, what can we do? We can use technology to virtually visit the people and places we want to learn more about!
There are lots (and lots!) of photos, videos, literature, art, monuments, statues, and landmarks that are available online to help us learn more about ourselves, people in other places, and people in other cultures. For example, are you interested in learning more about how hot air ballooning became popular or how the huge Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque got started? No problem! You can find lots of information online on these topics. Or maybe you want to learn more about hydroponic gardening and how and where it’s being done. You can find information about that too. Want to learn more about another culture or group of people? Would you like to read literature written by a diverse group of authors? Learn a variety of styles of art? Find out how people live and work in other countries? You can do all of those things using technology!
No, it’s not exactly the same as visiting those areas and learning in a hands-0n way, but it’s certainly the second-best way of learning and experiencing more than you would otherwise be able to learn and experience!
There are many ways to use your smart phone to learn more as you travel or as you plan.
Sometimes when we travel, we have the entire trip mapped out and have all the details planned before we ever leave the house. My husband loves to plan trips and spends hours and hours planning them before our vacation even comes close to beginning! I, however, prefer to fly by the seat of my pants. (Which drives him crazy! But opposites attract, right?!) Whether you plan in advance or last minute, you can use smart phone apps and online searches to look up information about destinations, tours, events, and festivals that will happen in the near (or distant) future.
To be honest, it’s particularly nice to be able to take my technology with me and look up information as we’re traveling since I’m a last-minute planner. I love being able to look up information about local things that are going on in whatever area we’re visiting. Like my husband, I do see the value in planning ahead, but it’s also fun to do spontaneous things and to find local events that allow us to feel like we’re really getting to know the area we’re visiting.
There are apps that allow us to identify plants and animals while we’re out hiking at national parks, in our own yards, and wherever else we may be!
Did you know there are apps available that allow you to photograph plants and animals in order to identify and learn more about them? It’s so much fun to use these apps to learn more about the plants and animals that live in your own area, but it’s also lots of fun to use them when you’re traveling. (Be sure to take pictures from different angles if you can do so safely. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a picture from a certain angle in order to make identification easier.)
Yes, it’s a good idea to use books and printed nature guides when and if you can! But sometimes it’s just not practical to carry a nature guide with you when you’re hiking or rafting or participating in other outdoor events. But almost all of us carry our smart phones with us wherever we go, so apps are perfect for these occasions!
Technology allows us to stay in touch with people who are important to us.
Many of us have older parents or other relatives we want to stay in touch with while we travel. It’s important to us to be able to check on those we care for and make sure they’re doing well even when we’re not there. Others may have adult children or grandchildren we want to talk to while we’re traveling. And those who have older children and teens know that they definitely want to be able to talk to their friends even while we’re on vacation! And they want to be able to share their fun experiences through social media too. (To be honest, many adults enjoy sharing pictures and photos on social media just as much as children and teens do! It’s a fun and positive way to use social media in a world that doesn’t always feel fun and positive.)
Technology allows us to work or homeschool from home or from the road.
Another positive thing about using technology while we travel is that it gives us the ability to continue doing our work while we’re on the road. Whether you work from home or just need to get the regular monthly bills paid while you’re traveling, you can do that!
And it gives our children the ability to continue doing school work while they travel with us. There’s no need to miss math tutoring sessions, online classes, or ACT practice sessions when you’re on the road! My daughter even used her connectivity to attend youth group classes at our church while we were on vacation.
What about those who have slow internet or who are traveling and don’t have internet connectivity?
I’m thankful that I live in an area with good internet connectivity! That makes it easy for me to use technology for working from home, for my children’s homeschool needs, and even just for fun. The other owner of Hip Homeschool Moms, Trish, lives in a more rural area, though, so her internet service isn’t great. In fact, it’s often hard for her to use the internet for work while her children are using it for school.
And what about those who travel? For the last 6 years, Trish and I have taken homeschooling families on educational family field trips. We call them Homeschool Road Trips. (If you’re reading this during the time of Covid, you should know that we’ve had to put our trips on hold until things settle down. But we’ll be back with more Homeschool Road Trips as soon as we can!) We’ve also traveled around the country speaking and exhibiting at homeschool conferences in quite a few states for the past couple of years. While we were traveling, we often experienced problems getting work done, and our children weren’t even able to try to get school work done. We just didn’t have a good enough connection for that. (Not that our kids were super sad about it…haha!)
And if you do a lot of camping or travel to national parks, you’ll find that most of them don’t offer internet connectivity at all. Yes, it’s true that we all need a chance to enjoy some down time and just do great in-real-life activities with our families! We love that aspect of not having internet. But the truth is that most of us are accustomed to having internet and actually need it in order to do what needs to get done whether we’re at home or on the road.
There is an option available for you!
What can you do if your family needs to stay connected while you’re traveling? We’ve researched lots of mobile hotspot options and found one we love! In fact, Trish had the opportunity to try out Inseego’s MiFi® mobile hotspot in exchange for her honest review, and she loves it! Keep reading to find out more and to learn how you can enter for a chance to win. Three grand prize winners will each receive the device AND a year of service for free! Seven runners up will each receive a device without service.
Why do we love Inseego?
U.S. government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security use the Inseego MiFi hotspot because of its endpoint security. That means it’s nearly impossible to hack and it keeps all of your information secure.
Availability and Speed
A MiFi hotspot gives you your own separate internet connection. What does this mean? You won’t have to compete for space if you’re at a desination with limited wi-fi. This means your connection will be faster. And if you’re someplace that doesn’t offer an internet connection at all (or if you’re literally on the road traveling from one place to another and you need a connection), you can use your own hotspot!
This also means you can do things like attend online meetings, stream movies, play video games, share photos and videos, check email, and even keep in touch with folks on social media any time you want! And these MiFi hotspots provide 4G or 4G/5G connectivity – the fastest on the market.
The Inseego MiFi mobile hotspot allows up to 15 people to connect at the same time. If we’re at the campground and some friends need to connect too, we’ve got room!
Where can you get one?
The MiFi hotspot is available through Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T.
Want a chance to win your own Inseego MiFi hotspot and one year of service? (NOTE: This giveaway is closed.)