There is no getting around it; technology is here to stay and as much as many homeschooling moms may want to skirt around the use of it, it is better to be intentional in our use of it than to ignore it altogether. After all, just like money is not the root of all evil, neither is technology the cause of issues within our home. Rather it is a tool to be subdued and used to our best advantage rather than to be categorically omitted or allowed to propagate problems.
So what role should it play in our homeschools? While the answer to this question will, of course, vary, there are some basic ways we can look to utilize technology that will serve both our children and our families well over the long term. While we touch on the issue of internet safety in the TBH program and checking out a tool like Safe Eyes is essential in this day and age, here are some other thoughts that may be useful to consider as well. This is especially since many safety tools can be difficult to implement in reality; striking a hard balance between setting restrictions while achieving access to useful sites.
FEE-BASED SERVICES: Rather than relying on the unpredictable results of Google searching for finding supplemental information, consider investing in a subscription-based service like Encyclopedia Britannica for Kids (ages 6-14) or Brain Pop (topic-specific videos geared for Jr. High and up). Similarly, consider using the Usborne series of Internet-Linked books to extend understanding and discussion about various topics you are studying.
FREE RESOURCES: Another consideration is to begin saving a list in your "favorites" that serve as handy resources for your teaching needs. For example, a site called Watch, Know, and Learn is a free collection of videos that have been organized especially to serve educators. Though you will need to research in advance to locate the best, age-appropriate ones for your purposes, there are some useful videos available here. Teacher Tube is organized similarly. Google Earth is also a fantastic resource (free download) that is very useful when studying geography or history.
TEACHING HELP: At some point, many of us will consider and utilize an on-line private course for our children; especially in the high school season. Besides the plethora of on-line classes available through many of the major publishers, here are some additional options that you may not have heard about: Homeschool Spanish Academy (Skype with your teacher on a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio and learn Spanish at any skill level from an engaging, bi-lingual instructor who works around your schedule). Consider art, cooking, gardening, or hand-craft class options through pre-recorded on-line class options that your whole family can enjoy many times over through Michael's Craft Store. Have your teen take a Constitutional Law class from Michael Farris, co-founder of HSLDA.
HOMESCHOOL HELPS: For teacher development and general research, also locate organizations like Sonlight, or Institutes for Excellence in Writing who regularly host live webinars on various topics of interest to home educators. Other groups like College Plus or HSLDA's "At Home Events" hold webinars that may provide needed support based on a particular season you are experiencing or anticipating. Most of these organizations and other similar ones maintain a database of archived webinars either for free or a small fee.
So remember that no matter what season of homeschooling you are in right now, technology can and should play a suitable and useful role in helping to achieve your family's home education and life skills training goals.
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, information, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.