Digital technology is a great enabler for home educators. It allows parents to find information, enhance their lesson plans, supplement their curriculum, and so much more. Sometimes technology can be a stumbling block and be more of a hindrance than a help. Let’s take a look at the 3 ways technology hinders homeschooling.
1. It can be a distraction
This is the biggest hinderance to homeschooling. With the rise of social media our phones, tablets, and computers can be a huge distraction. You’ve also probably ended up looking at silly animal videos 2 hours after you went on YouTube to look up a science experiment. Maybe you’ve also been infatuated with getting 3 stars on that one level of Angry Birds. Yes, technology can be a huge distraction.
Our kids are distracted by technology too. In fact, the lure of technology is stronger on them than it is on us. Society is moving towards being constantly connected. Facebook’s recent announcement of Home (a homescreen replacement app for Android phones) puts the social media giant front and center on their (or your) smartphone.
So how can we reduce the distractions of technology in our homeschool?
- Limit access to tablets, smartphones, and computers. If the next 2-3 hours are to be used for schooling and none of these things are needed, put them out of sight.
- Configure devices like iPods and tablets so that notifications are turned off. If you use these devices for homeschooling (and many do) turn off notifications
- Keep the tech out of the bedroom. If your kids go to bed with a smartphone or tablet in hand they’ll stay up late which will lead to less sleep and the temptation to check up on their friends throughout the next day.
2. It can be a crutch.
Technology is a great enabler. It allows us as home educators to access information and curriculum quickly and easily. The rise of educational apps for tablets and smartphones allows us to supplement our curriculum with fun games that also teach our kids (sometime overtly and other time subversively).
However, technology can also be a crutch that we lean on in a time of weakness. Rather than using it as a tool or an educational aide we use it as a babysitter or distraction so that we can do what we want to do. I guilty of this myself. Sometimes if I want to get some writing or reading done, I’ll let the kids watch a show on Netflix. “It’s educational,” I say to myself and then proceed to get lost in what I want to do while the kids go nuts.
So how do we as parents not fall into the trap of using technology as a crutch?
- Plan how you will use your technology. If you have a plan you’re less likely to fall into the trap of defaulting to tech.
- Set time limits. If you set time limits and adhere to them yourself you’re forced to find something else to do when you run out of ideas.
- Have a purpose for each device. Sure, it’s fun to play games on an iPad or smartphone but also have a specific educational purpose designated for each device.
3. It can be expensive.
Yes, technology can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Parents sometimes feel like they need to be “fair” with all of their kids and so if they’re going to buy an iPad for one they need to buy one for all of their kids. Baloney!
One device can be shared among siblings. Again, scheduling the use of technology in your homeschooling helps with the “me first” attitudes that tend to crop up among siblings.
Perhaps you feel like every other homeschooling family around you has a laptop or tablet for each of their kids and so you need to keep up too. Don’t fall into that trap! Buy what you can afford. If you’re on a tight budget a Kindle Fire HD tablet will meet all of your homeschooling needs. You may not have the same selection of apps but these inexpensive devices should easily meet your needs.or
Just because the Jones’ support their local Apple store doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to keep up!
Do you struggle with these technology hinderances? Perhaps you you have some other ideas. Please comment below and share your thoughts.
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Music for the podcast by Kevin Macleod.
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