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The Homeschool Minute ~ Using Apps in Your Homeschool

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Using Apps in Your Homeschool
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Mercy Every Minute   
The Wuehler FamilyI am not a very tech-savvy mama. My kids laugh when they have to explain new gadgets to me. They think I am ancient when I tell them I learned to type on a non-electric typewriter and learned word processing on a big machine with a big floppy disk. Now, I just feel like a floppy disk when they maneuver around their screens and leave me way behind.Nevertheless, I want to learn because there are tons of educational apps out there that would benefit my students … and me. One of my student’s assignments next quarter will be to help mom find and utilize those apps. Although I have not fully navigated the world of apps yet, I do have two must-haves on every device:

 

The Bible app at www.youversion.com. This app helps my struggling reader immensely! I want to get the Word of God into her without it being a painful reading assignment, so this app reads the Bible aloud as she follows along in her own Bible or on a phone/tablet screen. This app is also great when I am busy–I can listen to the Scriptures as I clean the kitchen or organize my school stuff. I am also getting the hang of highlighting passages, writing notes about particular verses, and picking out daily devotions. Oh, and you can connect with friends on this Bible app, and choose a reading plan that will help you and each of your kids stay on track. Awesome and free.

 

Apps for me: www.tosapps.com. Directing the production of this every quarter means I need to see the app on a smart device. The preview thrills me as I get to see all the articles that make me laugh and cry; articles that are practical and inspirational, and even ads about great apps. I may be biased, but I think all of our contributors rock (how’s that for sounding hip?) And free is groovy, too. Here is a whole section on educational apps and here is an article listing apps in all academic subjects.

 

You know, I love being a part of this TOS family with you as we walk this homeschool path together. Our Great God and Father walks with us, and in His presence is fullness of joy. Instead of giving in to despair; lean in to Him. He is very close to you; even within you. Anxiety and fear must flee as you find your rest and peace in Him.

 

~Deborah

dwuehler@theoldschoolhouse.com

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It’s such a balance. There are so many cool new things out there for our children in the app world, but it’s not good for them to have their heads down on a screen all the time, either.

We remember a few years ago when we were traveling through China. Our children’s cousin had a game device that she played on constantly. When I noticed our children absorbed in it and missing the opportunity of a lifetime to see another country, we realized they didn’t have the maturity to decide for themselves how to use electronics reasonably.

We’ve done different things over the years to manage them, but one thing is constant with our younger children. When we decide it’s time to back off of electronics for a time, they act like it’s killing them, but it only takes a few hours until they’re building forts, reading books, and thinking creatively again.

When we’ve gotten some balance again, the younger children love to use Stack the States and Stack the Countries and other apps that are both fun and educational. Our older children love Duolingo for language learning and Skritter for practicing Chinese and Japanese characters.

 

In fact, I don’t know a better way to learn to write Chinese than Skritter. It would be a shame to miss that in an effort to limit screen time. Not all screen time is created equal! It’s a little different to be practicing a foreign language than watching the Three Stooges.

 

It’s just so easy for our children to get obsessive about

playing games (even great ones that teach them a lot!), and it’s equally easy to enjoy the peace when they get what they want. We don’t want to err, though, by treating all this stuff just the same and miss out on some great stuff.

So, what’s the answer? Parenting. Keeping an eye on them. Making sure they’re doing a lot of good stuff when they are “plugged in” and that they also have a lot time with nothing to do. It’s that “I’m bored and there’s nothing to do” time that breeds creativity, inquisitiveness, and inventiveness. Make sure they have time to get bored enough to find their own fun. It’s good for them.

 

Now, it’s time for us to get in the van again and fight this battle ourselves. ? We’ll be in Fargo, North Dakota, this weekend at the NDHSA Convention then speaking a couple of places in Iowa. Next month, we’ll be speaking at CHEF of Louisiana and Teach Them Diligently Atlanta.  Please come by and say hello if you see us at an event!

 

Your friends,

Hal & Melanie Young
info@raisingrealmen.com

Oh, and if you’re seeing changes in your nine to twelve-year-old, you might want to check out our extremely popular webinar series just for parents like you–a new session is starting in just a couple of weeks! Click here for more information.

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I think apps are good, and I’m sure there are about a billion out there that offer oodles of engaging learning. Here’s my warning: sometimes apps transition into game playing, video watching, or time frittering.

 

Kids can be stealthy too. They ask to play an educational app on your phone or iPad and a while later they’ve quit that app and are doing something else on it instead.

 

As parents, we tend to justify time spent on apps because we think that any time our child can learn while playing is a good thing. Don’t let it become a replacement for time spent with you or playing real games with each other though. Any screen time we give our kids of any kind tends to feed their appetite for more screen time.

 

My concern about apps is that although they can be awesome tools, left unchecked or unmonitored, they can easily be a gateway to something less awesome and possibly even something bad.

 

Do not let your kids access the app store alone. There are some mighty bad apps out there that can be found with just a couple of innocent (or not so innocent) clicks. Those risks aren’t worth taking, not when it comes to your child.

 

So, go find those good apps and then control when they are used. Learning apps should be part of your school plan NOT a convenient babysitter to be brought out when you want your kids out of your hair. And keep an eye on those app users, making sure they’re doing what you expect them to do and where you expect them to do it.

 

Be real (there’s no app for that!),

 

Todd

familyman@familymanweb.com

 

PS – I’ll be at UTCH  in Utah this weekend, first person to utch me (at the convention) gets a free carton book.

 

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