5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials, #4: the Internet
(This week several members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew will be giving everyone a glimpse into their daily lives by sharing “5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials.”)
Do you remember when you first discovered the Internet? I do. At first I didn’t realize how big it was. I just used it for email and Instant Messaging. Those two things alone were pretty amazing. Eventually, however, someone taught me about search engines, and before I knew it, the whole world was opened to me without ever leaving my desk. That was about 20 years ago. Nowadays I honestly cannot imagine trying to homeschool without the Internet. I know countless people have done it through the ages, but it has become such an integral part of what our family does that I have to include it in my top 5 homeschooling essentials.
Here are a few ways we utilize this fantastic resource:
I realized early on that Ian and I have very different learning styles, which often leads to frustration on both sides when he’s trying to learn a new concept. We first encountered this when he was learning to read. Some people told me 4 years old was just too young, but since my brother and I both read well at that age, I wasn’t going to give up so easily. Thankfully we found Reading Eggs, a site with one of the best learn-to-read programs of any kind I’ve ever seen. Ian had so much fun doing the lessons and learned so much. Within days he was reading on his own, and enjoying the feeling of success. Elijah also started going through the lessons, and it has been just as wonderful for him. Right now we’re reviewing on online science program and it’s proving to me that online lessons are a great way for my kids to learn. I imagine we’ll find classes online to be a regular part of our curriculum in the years to come.
There are so many wonderful sites out there with educational games. If I need to keep the boys occupied so I can finish dinner or tend to another child’s needs for a while, I know they can easily entertain themselves on Starfall, ABCya, Kabongo, Teach Your Monster to Read, and lots of other sites we’ve preapproved and given them access to. (All of those are free, though we have also paid for a subscription for “More Starfall” because it has some wonderful activities that both boys love.)
In addition to online lessons, we’ve found a lot of curriculum for traditional lessons available online for free. Some people thrive on a boxed curriculum, but I am not one of them. I tend to tweak everything to fit our needs, and I’m not willing to pay for something I’m just going to change. I prefer to look online for a free curriculum to provide some structure, and then I adapt it as I see fit. We did that in preschool with ABC Jesus Loves Me, and I plan to do something similar with Ambleside Online starting in 1st grade. (I’ve also gotten lots of good ideas from An Old Fashioned Education, another free online curriculum.) For math, I have found nothing I like better than the Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP) from the Center for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching, which just happens to offer all the materials for free online.
We also use the Internet to find the materials we need for teaching, such as e-books and audiobooks (both of which I usually get from BooksShouldBeFree.com), regular paper books (I especially love buying used books on Amazon to save money), and school supplies. Amazon Prime is awesome for getting what I need quickly. For example, when we decided to “row” Owl Moon (post coming soon!) I thought it would be fun to dissect an owl pellet. I was doing my lesson planning on Saturday so it was kind of late to start looking for science supplies, but I went on Amazon to see if they had owl pellets and they did! I placed an order and they were here Monday, giving me plenty of freedom as to when I wanted to include them in our week. (I love Amazon so much it almost got its own day this week. It’s more of an essential when mothering lots of young children, however, rather than homeschooling, so I decided to just include it here. I use it for ordering as many non-perishable groceries as I can, mostly through the Subscribe & Save program where I can save 20% when I have 5 or more items delivered that month. It is so much easier to have things delivered to my door than to drag four young children to the store!)
The other part of Amazon Prime that I love is the streaming video. There are many educational programs available to watch for no additional charge. One of our favorites is Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. We watch an episode almost every day at lunch, and I’m amazed at what the kids have learned from it. It’s like having a virtual fieldtrip every day. We’ve also found videos on Netflix to complement our lessons.
While life might have been simpler before the Internet, I am so thankful for the ways it has made our life easier, particularly when it comes to homeschooling. It is awesome having so much information readily available to us with just a few clicks on a mouse!
In case you missed them, here are links to my other posts in this series so far:
Click on the picture below to see what the rest of Crew is blogging about this week!
Not sure where to star? Check out these blogs:
Marcy @Ben and Me
Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Tess @ Circling Through This Life
Victoria @ Homemaking with Heart
Kayla @ The Arrowood Zoo
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool
Beth @ Ozark Ramblings
Rebecca @ Raventhreads