Do you struggle with finding a peaceful moment to yourself as a homeschool mom when you are home with your children 24/7? Is prepping for dinner an afterthought because you're exhausted? It’s a quick recipe for a disastrous day! So, let's discover the advantage of the free tech tools we have available today and avoid the dreadful homeschool burnout.
Interruptions are part of the package as both a stay-at-home and homeschool Mom. Yet, we're not just talking about kids, we're also talking about household responsibilities.
The kids are calling your name.
Those dirty dishes are rotting on the counter.
That pile of laundry is staring at you on the couch.
The list goes on...
Does your husband works 12 hour days and you feel like everything is on your shoulders? Dirt. Drama. Decisions. You want to scream “I just want a half hour of peace!”
Over 100 years ago, several generations of families lived together, making it easier to manage homes. Neighbors helped out each other taking turns watching the kids. Children could walk for miles to the store without being in danger. As a result, moms had more opportunities to fold laundry and wash dishes while the kids went off to school.
Fast forward to today. As the number of homeschool families rises, so does the need for rejuvenation. We need to take advantage of modern conveniences and avoid homeschool burnout! Modern conveniences may mean washers, dryers, and dishwashers, but it also includes technology
Thankfully, over the years I’ve discovered helpful tech tools to give me more freedom with my time. I want to have the energy for my husband when he comes home and my side business. Digital tools can help in several ways.
Let me show you.
Here are my top picks of educational tools that you may be familiar with, but haven't used them in these ways. The best part is, they are free! You can incorporate these ideas before, during, and after school. Before proceeding, please remember to track your children’s activity on any device. Always precede on the side of caution.
Smartphones (iPhone, Android)
Smartphones have great apps for kids to learn tech. Listed are some suggestions on how you can use smartphones to your advantage.
- Show your child how to record a video. Part of the Charlotte Mason way is narration. For elementary-age kids, oral narration is the preferred method. The good news is your child can videotape themselves using the video feature! You can watch it when convenient for you. Ask them to keep it to 2 minutes narrating a book for school. What a great opportunity to organize thoughts and improve speaking abilities!
- Use Facetime/Google Hangouts to bond with loved ones. Kids love calling their grandparents. Allow your child to Facetime or Hangout with them for 10 minutes. This a great way to communicate upcoming activities while upgrading their communication skills.
- Reenact a scene from a favorite book using free video tools. We've used iMovie (iPhone) and Moviemaker (android). My kids love to write scripts and then record each other acting out their parts.
YouTube is an awesome resource for visual and auditory learners. It's also a great getaway method when preparing dinner or sneaking away to the bathroom!
- Create a playlist naming it based on week and or/month. If you are in tune with the Charlotte Mason method, this is a wonderful way to expose them to the monthly hymn, folk, composer or art studies. Adding helpful videos reinforces their history or math studies. My older children get a link to the monthly playlist in their email for a permanent record.
- Teach them how to create their own channel and upload a video using their narrations.
Parental Note: Please be careful with this app as I have found inappropriate thumbnails and videos. Try using Youtube Kids to monitor their activity. It just takes one explicit video to ruin their innocence. Consequently, we must put safety measures into place.
Ebooks are electronic versions of paper/hardback books and can be read on any device. However, they are most effective using a Kindle Fire or iPad. Ebooks are great tools for reading books free or cheap. You can store several books without taking up space on a bookshelf.
- Use ebooks for homeschool reading material. Charlotte Mason books are mostly classics and can be downloaded free or at a reasonable price.
- For a few dollars more, you can get the dramatized audio version for most books. This makes a great tool for audio learners and kids who have difficulty reading. My daughter, an auditory learner, struggled with reading for several years. We allowed her to listen to books using the Kindle as long as she followed along with the narrator. She is a great reader now but still prefers listening to books.
- Send pdf/documents directly to their Kindle if not in book format. Instead of printing assignments/instructions, you can send it directly to their Kindle. Go to Settings -->My Account and look for their email address ie email@example.com. Then, compose an email, attach the pdf, document, and send it to the address. It should show up within seconds after refreshing.
If your kids are not helping you with the housework, you are doing a disservice to yourself and them. First of all, make a conscious choice to write a list of your daily chores, and then assign to your kids based on age and ability. Give them incentives with time on their tablet or a treat later in the afternoon or evening. In addition, there are a plethora of chore apps on the market today, free, and paid.
- Check out Habitica. We used this app last year for chores and school work and thankfully, we don't need it anymore. We have our routines down pat but chore apps can be a great start to a solid, robust routine. See this list of Chore apps for your viewing pleasure.
I saved the best for last! Siri is such a timesaver for me. I hold down the home button, and Siri comes to life to answer my questions. A few ideas to ask Siri or Google Assistant is opening up an app, setting a timer, and finding directions. Here are some ways you can use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to your benefit for education. If you have an android phone, say “Ok, Google” or “Hey, Google” and start giving it commands.
- Use voice commands for spelling. My daughter has always struggled with spelling. When she has a hard time with a word for Creative Writing or in her journal, she asks Siri how to spell it, and voila, there it is!
- Ask Siri/Google for definitions to words they are unfamiliar with when reading.
- Voice commands are wonderful when curiosity strikes or Mom doesn’t know the answer. If the kids have an assignment and they are unsure about facts, Siri/Google can come to the rescue. That way, Mom can go take a shower. You may want to confiscate the smartphones though when the kids are taking a quiz!
Conclusion with a Caution
Yet, we need to be careful not to use tech as a crutch. Always set aside time for your family every day. We've found it's easy to get addicted to the screen and adding safeguards is necessary. As a result, we’ve incorporated board games into our homeschool specifically for this reason.
Did I get your creative juices flowing?!! These tips come in handy when it's time to change a messy diaper or make a phone call. It’s easy to get homeschool burnout when your name is called incessantly or it's only you for several hours a day. Modern conveniences can help you during these busy times!
What tech do you use to keep your kids occupied? I’d love to hear more!