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Computers and Homeschool

What is the Role of Computers in Your Program?

A Trip Back in Time

It really wasn't that long ago computers were not used much by homeschoolers. About fifteen years ago I began reading the story of Hannibal to my sons. I started by explaining about the Punic Wars and one child wanted to know which side won the war. I told him, "You'll just have to wait and see how the story ends."

He responded, "I'll just go look it up on the internet."

At the time, I thought that was extremely amusing. I shared it with several homeschooling friends who also saw the humor in the younger generation using the ultra-modern internet to look up information on ancient wars.

No longer! In fact, if I wanted information on the Punic Wars today, the internet is likely the first place I would turn.

Homeschool and Computers Today

So will the internet replace books completely? Some think it will. But it just doesn't seem that curling up in your favorite chair with a lap-top is quite the same as enjoying a good book.

Nonetheless, computers are here and will continue to change how we do things. Here are some common ways they are used in homeschooling:

  • Researching curriculum ideas and homeschool information
  • Internet based schools that are done at home
  • On-line courses (usually high school and above)
  • Software for homeschool subjects
  • Student research on the internet
  • Webinars on a particular topic
  • Creating documents for assignments
  • Record keeping
  • Social Media (for homeschooling or in general)
  • Website Building
  • Forums and Blogs (for students or parents)
How would you rate your use of computers in your homeschool program for each of those items?

Technology and Your Homeschool Program

computer system

Here are a few questions to consider:
Are you using textbooks or unit studies?

If you are using a traditional textbook curriculum, in what forms is it available.
  • Bound books
  • DVD
  • Software used on your own computer
  • On-line course
Until recently, internet-based learning was geared more towards textbook-oriented learners. But that too has changed. For families using unit studies they may find:
  • Webinars
  • Contests
  • Student evaluation of websites on the unit study topic

How Much and When

As you evaluate the role of computers in homeschooling, you also have to think of how much, how come, and when.

  • Does your child enjoy working at a monitor?
  • Do you have a equipment for each student?
  • Will you need time limits for each student? Do those limits include study time or just recreational time?
A program with a strong technological emphasis would be 80% computer-based and 20% hard materials. Some subjects, such as physical education, art, and literature are not likely to be completely done at a keyboard. At the other end of the spectrum, a non-computerized program in many households would be 80% hard materials and 20% computerized. Keyboarding, writing papers, and looking for current event articles are common activities that generally are done with a laptop or other equipment.

Are there any households that are internet-free? Of course there are and there likely will continue to be for a long time. However, considering you are reading this page, it is quite likely you are not in a completely non-techno household. Contemplating how the internet and soft-ware programs will fit into your homeschool will assist in choosing the right curriculum for your family.

Computer Learning

Of course, in addition to learning ON the computer, students also have to learn ABOUT computers in homeschool. Here is a scope and sequence for computer-skills for homeschool.

Move, Move, Move

One last point about computers and homeschool. Yes, they are here to stay. But that doesn't mean your kid has to stay put on them.

There are some known health risks to the computer. Sore eyes, headaches, carpal tunnel, stiff necks - not to mention increase cardiac risks later in life from decreased activity.

One of the advantages of homeschool is that kids are not stuck at desks all day long in limited positions. But some of those kids are now stuck at computer desks which limit the movement of their upper body even more.

Not trying to bust on comptuers, but just recommending you balance computer time with physical activity.

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