The Homeschooling Why and How Blog
Can Apps Help With Homeschooling?
by Helen Young
The internet in general, and mobile technology in particular, have really transformed the way in which the world operates. Thanks to the internet, it’s now more possible than ever before to work from home – something an increasing number of adults are taking advantage of. But can this translate into the world of education? With mobile devices and apps potentially being as much of a distraction as an educational aid, can the internet be utilized to help with homeschooling?
Let’s start with the potential drawbacks to apps in education. There is a school of thought which holds that apps (or, rather, the devices upon which they are installed, and the internet from which they run), are having a profoundly negative effect upon our children’s capacity to learn. In particular, concerns have been raised about the potential of excessive internet usage to destroy concentration spans in young people. Some are therefore cautious about integrating tablets, online learning programs, and educational apps into their homeschool curriculum, as providing access to the internet – however theoretically educational that access is – could ultimately prove too distracting to produce any pertinent learning. Furthermore, tablets and the like are vastly more expensive than more traditional learning aids, like books. Given the potential for damage in the hands of children, canny homeschooling parents would also be advised to get insurance for their devices, pushing costs up even further. For some, therefore, incorporating tablets etc into homeschooling can prove to be a very expensive distraction.
However, the potential pros of apps in homeschooling may outweigh the cons. It all depends on how you use them. Certainly, allowing a child unbridled access to the internet during school hours could easily result in the kind of multi-tab, social-media saturated experience which ultimately has a detrimental effect on both concentration and learning. However, providing limited and monitored access to specific educational apps could reap positive benefits. The potential of tablet apps has grown enormously in the last few years. There are apps out there which can do everything from teaching times tables to improving personal focus. Apps also allow for truly scientific progress-monitoring, enabling parents and teachers to spot learning patterns which may otherwise have slipped beneath the radar. It’s also worth mentioning that, in the future, it’s likely that the world will incorporate app and internet based protocols into more and more areas of life. It is perhaps a good idea to help children to use apps efficiently and without distraction during their education, to prepare them for the evolving world they’re about to enter.
It’s important to remember that, while apps can now do things which teachers can’t, teachers can do a lot more which apps can’t. Rather than expecting an app to take on the work of educating homeschooled children, the best way to use apps is to incorporate them into teacher-led and supervised lessons. When teachers are involved in guiding and supervising app-led learning, the potential for distraction is eliminated, and the overall learning experience is enhanced. It’s always a good idea to get the best of both worlds if you possibly can!
Some Good Homeschool Apps
Splash Math – Splash Math teaches math from kindergarten through to fifth grade. It’s interactive, and provides a fun, game-based learning experience which kids will love.
Teach Your Monster To Read. The BBC has some really great early years learning apps. Teach Your Monster To Read helps children learn to read by teaching their very own interactive monster to read. It’s lots of fun, and very effective.
Khan Academy. Khan Academy provide free, well-presented, and excellently explained videos on a range of subjects.
Avi-On. Avi-On is essential stuff for any homeschooling parent. It allows you to set timers for device usage, controlled by parent-password. Perhaps the best method out there of preventing web-based distractions.
Family Time. Family Time is a similar idea to Avi-On, but rather than setting time limits, Family Time enables homeschooling parents to see the kind of content their kids are accessing on the internet, and set parameters accordingly. While it should not be used as a substitute for teacher supervision, it is a good failsafe.
Homeschool Helper. Homeschool Helper helps parents to organise lessons, track progress, design curriculums, and more.