If there is one tool that has been an all-around integral part of our lives since we began homeschooling, it has to be the Internet.
After our initial decision to homeschool, way back in February 1998, I hit the Internet. I searched everything I could possibly find on homeschooling: How to start, what to use, where to find other homeschoolers, curriculum choices, and learning styles, and even “why can’t my daughter understand zero”. It was all to be found while looking through my computer monitor.
The three places I spent the most time back then were the Christian Homeschool Fellowship, Donna Young.org, and the Five in a Row forums. The Internet is much, much larger now, and there are infinite other ways to connect with like-minded people, but these sites are still a huge help and support to thousands of families. (And Donna Young is still the bomb!)
These days, we use the Internet in ways we only dreamed of in 1998. Students can take classes online, practice math facts in fun, interesting ways, do their spelling lessons AND take spelling tests, write their own blogs, and so many more!
We’re a pretty techie family. Everyone, down to our 9 year old son, knows how to get around online. The boys can do a search and sort through the results to find what it is they are looking for. (We don’t have them writing blogs, but our soon to be 11 year old has asked for one!) Between the computers, the XBox Kinect, the cell phones and iPods, tech just sort of comes with the territory. Add in the fact that my family got our first computer when I was 13 (A Commodore 64, in 1984), built a homeschool website in 1998 and started blogging in 2005, and we’ve got serious leanings toward all things electronic.
We all enjoy the various ways that the worldwide web integrates with home education. On a regular basis, my kids:
Practice their times tables using Timez Attack, which is a free game that we downloaded. It is played offline, but I’m still counting it.
Do their spelling lessons almost completely online, with Spelling City. From rote practice to games, crossword puzzles, and tests, they can do it all online!
Use Skype to chat with Dad when he’s out of town. I know, it’s not really school-related, but it is a HUGE for them. Having the ability to have face to face conversations with Dad even when he’s in another state has been a way to alleviate missing him (and him missing us!) when he’s gone. Video phone! Something we only dreamed of while watching The Jetsons when I was a little girl in the 70’s.
Other sites I use on a frequent basis are:
Barnes & Noble.com for Nook books. They have lots of free ones too!
The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op If you haven’t joined yet and you’re a homeschooler, you should join! I have saved a lot of money using featured group buys!
Swagbucks Oh how I love Swagbucks! Just install the toolbar and use it for your internet searches, and earn Swagbucks while you search. I have cashed in my SB’s for over $65 in gift cards since January!
Twitter Oh Twitter, what would bloggers do without you? Favorite hastags? #Homeschool, #Homeschooling and #specialneeds
The Homeschool Village There’s something for every homeschool mom at the HSV!
YouTube You wouldn’t believe how many How-To videos are on YouTube! How to Knit, how to make a birdhouse, how to tie knots, you name it! There are also some fantastic grammar videos on there (Prepositions, Helping Verbs, etc.) We love YouTube! Just be a responsible parent and supervise searches, because sometimes “related videos” aren’t actually related, or appropriate.
Daily Mile is where I keep track of my runs, walks and workouts. It’s sort of like Facebook, for people who are active. I can access it through an app on my iTouch too, so I don’t even have to get on the computer (although I usually do to map my routes so I have the mileage.)
If it weren’t for the Internet, I would have been very alone and floundering when I first began homeschooling. I have met so many amazing women and gleaned stolen so many much ideas information to use on my kids that this alone makes paying the monthly fee so worth it to me! Almost everything is right at our fingertips now. We just have to teach our kids to use it responsibly!
What are your favorite sites for homeschooling or other things? What is the most useful site you know of (besides Google)?
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