6 High-Tech Tools for Homeschools

By Lauren Cassel Brownell

There’s no denying that homeschooling is becoming an educational option utilized by more and more parents as an alternative to poor-quality public education and unaffordable private education. Others are choosing to homeschool because they have a certain value system or viewpoint they want to instill. Whatever the reason you and your family have chosen the option of homeschooling, numerous terrific online resources are out there.

Whether you are a seasoned homeschooling veteran or considering taking the leap, you will find these six resources inspiring. These sites are well designed and visually appealing (that means that while you will enjoy utilizing them, they will also appeal to children and engage them visually), easy to navigate, and often include lesson plans and additional resources. They also have a great deal of information and material available for free!

WARNING: When reviewing these sites, set aside plenty of time. They are wonderfully addictive!     

1. Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org)—Consider this your go-to resource for math and science lessons. With more than 2,700 videos and new material being added regularly, you can study any subject any time. The site originally focused on the areas of expertise of its founder, Salman Khan, who received three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard before founding the Academy. However, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the curriculum is being expanded to include a variety of humanities-related topics.

As a registered user on the site, your child can track his progress, seek assistance, and earn points and badges as he goes. As the educator, you are able to observe the quality of your child’s work in detail and access reports on your student’s progress. If you simply need to stop by occasionally for a little help with a homework assignment, that’s fine too, and you do not need to register.

Khan Academy: A Classroom in Your Pocket mobile app is available through iTunes. Be advised that the Khan Academy site does have some content about evolution. As with all online resources, there is information that you may not want your children exposed to. Your children’s safety requires your attentiveness to what they access, especially with online learning tools.

2. ReadWriteThink (www.readwritethink.org)—Language arts, reading, and writing—find it all here! A partnership between the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this site is sponsored by the Verizon Foundation’s Thinkfinity program. With classroom, parent, and afterschool resources filterable by grade, theme, or learning objective, you will have a tough time deciding which activities to use. My favorite? The calendar activities that provide lessons based on an interactive calendar of happenings in literary history, birthdays of famous authors, and holidays.

3. EDSITEment! (edsitement.neh.gov)—This site is so much fun to visit! A project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and also funded in part by Verizon’s Thinkfinity, I recommend this resource for developing social studies curriculum. The topics seem virtually limitless, and each lesson plan includes guiding questions, learning objectives, instructions for how to prepare to teach the topic, assessments of student progress, and even tips on how to expand the lesson with additional reading or activities. Everything you need is contained in one clear, concise package of information. This is a tremendous resource, whether for school or simply for personal enrichment.

4. Discovery Education (www.discoveryeducation.com)—With the same quality and commitment to respecting the wonder of nature as other Discovery mediums, Discovery Education has to be experienced to be believed. Their website explains their offerings as “award-winning digital content, interactive lessons, real time assessment, virtual experiences with some of Discovery’s greatest talent, classroom contests & challenges, professional development and more.” And indeed it is so much more! There is an opportunity to subscribe to unlock additional resources, but with such an incredible amount of information available for free, I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing by not being a subscriber.

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