Here are the 10 must-have gadgets and apps for homeschooling that every homeschool family should have!
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.
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10 Must-Have Gadgets and Apps for Homeschooling
1. AN IPAD OR TABLET
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. This new version handles graphics and video streaming much better, plus it has all-day battery life. You can use it in conjunction with Apple Pencil in order to draw or jot down notes or click it into a Smart Keyboard to make it more like a traditional laptop.
The Kindle Fire works exceptionally well with our Amazon Audible subscription because it syncs without difficulty. This new version has a more durable screen (thank you!) and it comes with a kid-friendly case. It also comes with a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ where you can access over 20,000 apps, books, games, and audiobooks (and thereby save yourself money in the process). Your kids can even use the Kindle Fire to make voice and video calls to approved contacts.
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.
Can You Do Homeschooling on a Tablet?
Absolutely! A tablet is more than a screen. It is a book, a camera, an audio player, a notepad, a word processor, a drawing pad, a calculator, and an encyclopedia. You can use it to read books, take notes, write papers, listen to audiobooks, design and edit illustrations, take spelling tests, play learning apps, watch educational videos, participate in online classes, and lookup resources. It really enhances your ability to school at home.
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 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 a 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 as a teenager, the oldest has mastered the art of conversing with Dragon. You can learn more about it here.
You may wonder why I’d include a Fitbit 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, 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 Fitbit Versa 3 best, because it syncs with our devices, can be charged with a cord or from our computers, and is a lot more like a watch.
If you’re looking for a way to increase your family’s movement and get those PE credits in, I’d strongly suggest getting a Fitbit Versa 3.
We’re an essential oil using family and over the last few years 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 lavender 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 type works for each of your family members.
The youngest and I like Apple Air Pods Pro because they come in different size, soft earpieces. The oldest loves his Air Pods, and the 14-year-old prefers the over-the-ear, soft headphones vs. Air Pods. 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’s 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. 😉
This depends on your schooling needs. At a minimum, you want a tablet with good wireless connectivity and the ability to download apps. If you school on the go, make sure to pick a tablet that can access cellular data. And don’t forget to buy a durable case for the tablet!
You can’t go wrong with the iPad, which has all the capability of a laptop with the portability and connectivity of a tablet. The snap-on Smart Keyboard allows students to type when necessary, and the Apple Pencil allows them to scribble notes. Since online classes often necessitate that the student have a camera, the iPad wide camera has great resolution at 8 megapixels (and its even better if you go with the iPad Pro at 12 megapixels).
While I prefer the iPad for middle school and high school, in my opinion, the best table for 7-10-year-olds is the Kindle Fire. Here’s why: Elementary students are notoriously hard on electronic devices (sorry, kids), and the Kindle Fire 10 Kid Pro has durable aluminosilicate glass and a 2-year warranty (that outdoes the iPad by a whole year). The Kindle Fire also comes with a case AND a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (free games, books, apps, and audiobooks). To close it out, the Kindle Fire 10 Kids Pro is over $100 less than the basic iPad. Did I mention you can use it with Minecraft and Zoom? This tablet checks all the boxes for kids.