There’s no denying it, we are a tech-loving homeschool family. While we may not always have the latest models or gadgets, there are some that have withstood the test of time and continue to be our favorite gadgets and apps for homeschooling. If you’re looking for some new ideas of items to add to your homeschool treasure chest, here are 10 must-haves that you don’t want to miss.
10 Must-Have Gadgets and Apps for Homeschooling
A tablet of some sort is fabulous for homeschooling. While we have a very old iPad (2nd generation, I think), my oldest also has a Kindle Fire that he uses for ear reading. The iPad may be old, but it still works and is great for doing online research while we’re not tied to the desktop or laptops. The Kindle Fire works exceptionally well with our Amazon Audible subscription, because it syncs without difficulty. Any tablet that has app download capabilities, as well as a wireless connection should work, but if there are specific apps you’re after, be sure that the device you invest in is compatible.
2. A Calculator
After the tablet, a calculator seems like a crazy addition to our gadgets, but it’s truly one of the most used gizmos in our homeschool. While the kids can access a calculator from the tablet app, it’s really easier to have a simple calculator on hand.
3. Minecraft Pocket Edition App
Minecraft? As a must-have? Absolutely! We’re a big Minecraft family and with the Minecraft pocket edition app we can all play together when connected on the same wireless network. It’s great for quick math lessons (i.e. – “Build me a house that’s 10 feet wide by 10 feet long by 15 feet high. Now find the area and the perimeter.”), teamwork, creative thinking, and more. Find out more about how we use Minecraft here.
Since we take our photos using our iPhones, iPods, and iPads (can you tell we’re an Apple family?), Dropbox has been a lifesaver for us in terms of freeing up storage on our devices. While there’s always iCloud, we prefer Dropbox, because we often access it from our computers, as well. Since not all of our computers are Macs (shocking, I know), Dropbox helps fill the gap. The basic plan is free, but we’ve upgraded to the paid version, because we have so. many. pictures.
5. Electronic Timers
Yes, just like the calculator app, there’s an app for a countdown timer, but we also like to have a separate one on hand. Sometimes, it’s just nice not to have your phone or tablet at the school table. Electronic timers are fantastic for chunking time and working for specific periods to complete tasks. Often, we’ll set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes and have laser-like focus on an assignment or project. Those designated minutes make us more productive and make the project go more smoothly. Timers are also great for when the kids are doing independent reading.
6. Dragon Naturally Speaking
My oldest has severe dyslexia and some dysgraphia, so writing is often a challenge. He has great ideas and thoughts, but the process of getting it from the brain to the page can be overwhelming. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a computer program (and app!) that lets you speak what you want to say and it types it for you. There’s definitely a learning curve and it doesn’t work so well for young children, but at 14, the oldest has mastered the art of conversing with Dragon. You can learn more about it here.
7. Fitbit Zip
You may wonder why I’d include a Fitbit Zip in our must-haves for homeschooling, but for us, the Fitbit is great motivation to move! Since we’re a one car family and I work from home and we homeschool, we’re not out and about as much as we used to be. We found that we were becoming more sedentary and with it, our dryer started to shrink our clothes…or we start to expand. Either/or, right? 😉 Then we began a FitBit competition where we see who can accumulate the most steps during the week. There are days when the kids pace the house while reading or look for reasons to walk from room to room, take a stroll outside, or even take the dinner plates out just so they can get more steps. Although there are a lot of options available for pedometers, we like the Zip best, because it syncs with our devices, uses a watch battery instead of needing to be charged by a computer, and it’s the least expensive Fitbit option. While the small holder is awesome, we also invested in these terrific WoCase Zip bands that have proven to be amazing and effective. I prefer these over the other watch-style bands for the Zip, because they hold the device very securely and it absolutely will not fall out. If you’re looking for a way to increase your family’s movement, I’d strongly suggest getting a Fitbit Zip.
We’re a Young Living essential oil using family and over the last year and a half have really changed the way we approach life, stress, and health. One of our daily go-to gadgets is a simple diffuser. We fill it with a bit of water and add a few drops of our favorite oil blends to it. I usually start it with some peppermint when I wake up in the morning and by the time the kids are awake, the house smells great and everyone is in a great mindset. When lessons get stressful, we switch it up and use Stress Away to fill the house with aromatherapy goodness. I’m not sure school would go even half as good as it does without our daily diffusing.
Headphones are an absolute must-have for any homeschooling family. We all prefer different types, so it’s really about which types works for each of your family members. The 12 year and I swear by these Sony earbuds, because they come with different size, soft ear pieces. The 14 year old loves the traditional Apple earbuds, and the 8 year old prefers the over the ear, soft headphones vs. earbuds. Whatever works – just be sure to have them on hand.
10. A Selfie Stick
A selfie stick?!? Weird, right? Hear me out. My kids love taking pictures and when I recently brought home a selfie stick from a conference I had gone to, they were in absolute heaven. Suddenly, they were taking pictures together, clamoring to have us all in the photos, and spending a lot of time laughing, smiling, and recording memories. They’re using this crazy little gadget to record moments together and that is priceless. I’m sure the selfie stick will travel with us on our journeys, but even around the house it’s become a small thing that means a lot.
And if you’re wondering if you absolutely must have these things in order to be a homeschooling family, the answer is, of course, no. What you really need is a curious mind, a love for learning, and dedication to tackle everything that comes your way. Coffee helps too. 😉
Discover other homeschooler’s must-have gadgets and gizmos at the iHomeschool Network link-up!