Despite being a teeny bit Amish when it comes to to wonders of the modern world, I want to talk about how we use technology as a tool. That is something I feel really positive about and have utilised since the very early days of our homeschooling. Even something as little as reading blogs for information or ordering resources online, involves the use of technology and enhances our lives. We can reach out to like minded people all across the globe and benefit from their knowledge and experience; something I do on a regular basis and I’m constantly amazed by what is ‘out there’.
As the boys are getting older I’m finding technology is playing an even greater role in our school, and having the added benefit of saving my sanity when I really need it. To have lessons taught for me feels miraculous and being able to enhance or support my own teaching with resources available at the click of a button equally so. We live in the information age and I want my children to know how to access and use what is out there, whilst learning to filter the reams of junk and nonsense that are equally available.
So right now, January 2017, what wonders of technology are we using?
After 6 years of teaching Huwyl (grade 6) maths, I reached the point where I really didn’t feel like I could do it any more in a beneficial way. Ok I actually felt like that about 5 years ago but this is the first point where I felt my boy was ready to go it ‘alone’, in the sense of working without me.
I will do a full review of our TT experience once we are further in, but so far I’m already feeling the relief of not having to teach a subject I don’t enjoy to a child who doesn’t enjoy it either. If nothing else, that was worth the money. For 45 mins each morning Huwyl works away on his computer (so far quite without incident) and I can get on with working with Neirin, who still needs much more 1-1 teaching. I can honestly say that this programme has lifted a weight from my shoulders and left me an altogether happier Mummy, which can’t be half bad.
This is a programme designed by the British Dyslexia Association to help students with learning differences learn to spell. The idea behind the programme is that children learn to spell ‘through their fingers’, circumventing both the issues created by hand writing and the part of the brain that struggles with spelling. Spelling becomes a more kinaesthetic process, as with typing itself, and is taught alongside that skill. So the programme allows kids who find writing difficult, or even painful, to develop a life long skill while improving their spelling. Win-win. Again I will write about this programme in more depth soon, but for anyone looking to support a struggling speller, this is well worth a look.
If you decide to get this resource check with the Homeschool Buyers Coop, we bought it through them at a substantial discount.
Neirin loves to draw and these tutorials allow him to create drawings that he is proud of while learning drawing skills. To be honest this one is very much child driven, for me art is something created solely from the imagination (everything I class as ‘crafts’) and I’ve never been a fan of product art. I’m a snob, I know.
But Neirin loves these tutorials, they give him enormous satisfaction. He does produce his own drawings too, but the tutorials give him a guide and a set of criteria to work to that allows him to end up with a piece of work very close to his goal. He is very self critical so the frustration of not meeting his own imagination was real and undermining his pleasure in his art. While I encourage him to produce his own original work too, I love how happy these tutorials make him. The main website and videos are free but their is a subscription option that I will be looking into in order to support this great family business.
Huwyl has his own Audible account (a birthday present from Nana and Grandpa) for fun reads of his own choosing, but I also provide him with classic literature from my account. He’s always loved audio books and I credit his excellent vocabulary in part to the constant consumption of quality language through audio books. He’s listened to a real classics (Tom Sawyer, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island…) that would be beyond his patience and motivation to read. I think audio books are wonderful for everyone, but particularly for a child with learning differences as they provide access that would otherwise be unavailable.
Library MP3’s and Purchased MP3’s
While I really enjoy reading to the boys, it can be nice sometimes to hand over to an alternative narrator. We often listen to the audio version of Story of the World or download audio books from our library for education and recreation. We are really lucky that our library has phenomenal online resources and I often marvel at being able to access a book without having to leave my chair.
Speaking of books… I was a bit sceptical when I first tried out this app, I wasn’t sure it could add anything to our lives, but I was wrong. I have loved being able to access non-fiction and fiction material that supports whatever subject we are learning about. It has dramatically reduced my library dependence (can anyone say fines?) and despite having a cost it is well worth it to me as it negates my need to drag myself out in the middle of winter in order to continue learning. The immediate availability is marvellous and has seriously boosted our reading stats for the year!
In addition to these key resources we have apps and sites that we dip into, to enhance our learning. Spotify and youtube (essential) provide us with music and informative videos that expand our understanding of our subjects. I rarely use a video as a stand alone, I like to tie it in with books and other kinds of learning, but it is a valuable addition and can give me a little breathing space during our learning time together.
So there you have it! A bit of a sample of what we are using and loving right now; do you have any suggestions or resources you love? I’m always looking for new ideas : )