Leveraging technology to make your homeschooling journey truly amazing is not that hard. In fact, technology has made our homeschooling journey special, unique and in many ways easier. As my children get older the value brought to our homeschool experiences only increases. Thanks to reader Lucia’s question, I’m going to share how I’ve used technology for amazing homeschool experiences including some of our favourite online homeschool courses.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links
Recently, reader Lucia, sent me this question:
I am sorry this is off topic but would you share the details about the unique learning opportunities and the amazing talented people you can access through technology? I have just discovered your blog and I am intimidated by anything STEAM but since I am homeschooling I really want to change it. Oh, man seeing your blog I don’t know where to start! You are amazing!
First off, boy I don’t feel amazing. Most of the time I’m overwhelmed and lost. Especially as my children are getting older and the topics they are diving into are more complicated and difficult. I can’t be an expert in everything, but as a homeschool mom I feel like I’m constantly being thrown into the deep end of topics.
Diving Deep With Specialists Around the World
Right now my oldest is obsessed with marine biology. This isn’t fleeting, he has been diving in deep to this passion for many months. As his teacher I should be able to teach him, turn this into some amazing science lessons. But I can’t even swim. I know nothing about marine biology. How would I ever keep up? Especially at the rate he has been learning and studying about this topic? In a matter of months he has become an encycolopedia of knowledge on this subject, exhausting all the resources I provided him.
This is where technology has revolutionized learning. Years ago we only had books and the people in our immediate circles to learn from. As a prairie locked family, there aren’t any marine biologists anywhere near us. The closest aquarium is a 14 hour drive away. But we have a computer and through that computer we can connect with people around the world that are specialists in their fields.
Just this past month my boys took a 4 week course with a marine biologist studying sharks. It was exactly what my son needed and he was obsessed! I’m already researching more marine biology courses for him to take online.
With these online programs there is a lot of variety. Some are video based courses, like this shark course. The kids watch a series of videos. Maybe take a quiz or do an assignment. Sometimes there is feedback or grading on the assignments, sometimes their isn’t, they vary significantly.
There are also classes that are live and interactive. They allow the kids to watch and ask questions, as if they were right there with the specialist.
There are also some very creative classes that use the medium of gaming, in particular Minecraft, to teach lessons on a wide variety of subjects.
Some of courses are expensive, into the hundreds of dollars, others are free. The quality can really vary, so do your research and ask lots of questions, especially if you are spending money on the courses. A big question to ask is the duration of the course and whether it will be self-paced or scheduled. Make sure the course will suit your needs before diving in.
So where can you find these courses?
First, for a new homeschooling parent I recommend you join some homeschool support groups. This can be in your area or online. Facebook has many homeschool support groups. If you are looking for a secular group, Secular, Eclectic, Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers is a good one on Facebook that is very active and has a large number of specific chat groups to ensure you find one that suits your needs. These groups are filled with experienced homeschooling families that can provide recommendations.
Some of our favourite online homeschool courses include:
Youth Digital – This was the first online program we took and my 7 year old loved learning how to program and design his own Minecraft Mod. Now he is 11 and obsessed with video production, he is asking to take their animation course or possibly game design. There so many fantastic options.
Khan Academy – This has become the first stop for many looking for online educational tools. It covers a wide variety of topics and they are constantly growing and expanding.
Skrafty – We’ve only done one course on butterflies through Skrafty but it was a fun lesson that included using Minecraft to build your assignments to show your knowledge. Note: There is quite a bit of religious content
Next Level Homeschool – This is where we took the shark course and will be taking a Harry Potter Genetics course this fall. She also offers Marine Biology courses, which I am sure we will be registering for soon. These are fully secular courses and the evolution lessons are fantastic. The shark course even included a shark dissection and you could order your own shark to dissect at home!
EdX – How about taking a course with the great Stan Lee on Superheros? We did this course and it was so much fun! Plus EdX has so many other courses, a great place to search for classes for your kids.
Outschool – We haven’t used Outschool yet but I’ve heard some really great feedback from fellow homeschoolers. I’ve been browsing their site and expect we will try one or two courses this year.
Museums – OK, so this one is a bit broad, but do a search and you will surprised what you might find. Many museums offer outreach programs and online lessons.
I could list keep listing courses all day, but I hope this answers Lucia’s question and helps families learn how technology can be an important tool in homeschooling.
Have you found some fantastic online learning opportunities for your homeschool? Share them in the comments.