Homeschooling has it’s unique set of benefits and challenges. If you technology seems like one of the challenges, it’s time to turn it to one of your benefits. You can do this by investing in your technology the same way you would invest in homeschooling curriculum and compliance. Why should you invest in your homeschooling? Try asking some questions.
What is your education worth? What is your child’s education worth? Whether you go to university online or your kids are taking some homeschool courses online, your computer is a vital part of your education. So when you service it, it’s the same a a computer in the classroom needing service. Yes, it’s that important. When you homeschool, you are your school’s teacher, IT Admin, custodian, cafeteria, and principal. As your homeschool’s IT Administrator, it’s important to invest in your student’s education – as a homeschooler, your child isn’t just your child, they are a student. Your homeschool is like your business now.
When you are homeschooling, you may teach certain courses yourself and you may use online curriculum and courses to either aid in your lessons or teach courses that you may determine are best learned with existing online curriculum. What can you do to invest in your homeschooling classroom?
Invest in Your Internet Connection. In many cases whether it’s library research or online courseware, your student will only be as efficient as your internet connection. Fast and reliable internet is now an educational expense for your homeschool. It’s no longer just a household luxury. We recommend a speed of 75mbp/s or greater. It’s important to make sure the router is placed away from large metal objects such as washing machines and that it’s placement is optimal to your student. We’ve seen it set up right in the student’s room so they have a ‘wired’ connection for their classroom. It’s important to have a good router / modem or router-modem combination unit and Cat 5e or Cat6 wiring to wired devices. Remember, your homeschool is like your business. It’s no longer just your household, it’s your student’s education. If you were running a school, what would you invest in for your internet?
Invest in Your Setup: A good homeschool workstation includes a laptop that can be taken anywhere with a size that is comfortable for your student, a quality printer, a second external monitor, and a good set of speakers / headset. Homeschool students can benefit from a range of libraries and study spaces outside the home to help refresh the mind and spur creativity so a good laptop is vital. Many online curriculum use multimedia and many exercises may require that so we recommend a 13-15″ laptop with a solid graphics card and solid state drive. This may run you up to $500-$600 but it’s an investment that can last much of of your homeschool season. A quality printer may include either a good color printer or a desktop laser printer such as the HP Laserjet Pro. A second external monitor allows a student to do an assignment on one screen while doing library research on another or view a media clip on one screen while taking notes on another. The second monitor allows a student to do their work in half the time it would take ‘switching between windows’. With DisplayLink technology, a student could have 3 screens to allow even more work to be done. Displaylink will work with MAC and PC. Check the hardware specifications for your device. What will you invest in your student’s setup?
Invest in your Software: Your student’s software may include a homeschool curriculum suite, test taking software, and other specific needs but you may also need to invest in software such as Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Cloud. A good antivirus such as Kasperskys is also a good investment. Your student should be able to do work without switching files into many different format and should be protected from malware and virus attacks. Software updates should be done regularly. In the end, if you lose the computer use to a virus or lose a file while converting from an open source program to Microsoft format, the time you and your student spend recovering assignment after assignment could be better spent learning new lessons. Your homeschooling classroom is worth the software investment. The public school system spends tends of thousands on software licenses. Doesn’t your student deserve the same experiences as their public school counterparts when it comes to software?
Taking the step to homeschool your student is a great investment but the investment only begins with the decision, it continues with software, hardware, curriculum, and of course, time. Whether you homeschool yourself, partner with a local homeschool business, or do a hybrid with online courses, your homeschool student station is a vital part of the education process.