Charlotte Mason · Technology

Technology in the Charlotte Mason Homeschool – Technology in the School Day

Of this entire series, this may be the shortest part. Our technology use in school is pretty limited. I mainly have tools to help me as opposed to having technology replace subjects. We did do online math for a while for my third-grader but we transferred back to analog math once he mastered what was tripping him up. We don’t use Kindles, although we do have a couple of e-books that we utilize.

Also, we are an Android family but most of this should work for iThings. I don’t know if Apple has an equivalent for the Google Family Library, or if you can access the GFL from an iThing. I’m sure they do, but I’m not sure what it would be called.

Here’s pretty much what gets me through my days:

  • A Bluetooth speaker – I use a Bluetooth speaker on a daily basis. I connect it to my laptop or my tablet (usually my laptop) and play our composer study pieces, our German lessons – basically anything that is on the computer and needs amplification. Bonus: during Family Time when we have cocoa or other beverages; I can put my computer somewhere safe and still broadcast the music (as long as there’s no video component). I also put the speaker in my six year old’s room at night and broadcast LibriVox recordings through it. Currently, she’s listening to “Among the Forest People”. It helps her wind down and gets her ready for sleep. I can control it from my tablet or computer on a different floor so if I’m giving other kids baths, I can still run her story without having to leave the bathers unattended. (My current speaker is a SoundCore Nano {affiliate link} that I found in the clearance aisle at Walmart for $4. It works amazingly well, I wish I had picked more up.)
  • Spotify Premium – my Spotify is bundled with the basic level of Hulu, but Spotify is used constantly. GET THE PREMIUM I CAN’T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. The Premium subscription removes all the ads between songs on Spotify and lets you download music to your phone/tablet/gadget. I used to have free Spotify but was horrified when an ad for a certain “adult product for the bedroom” aired during Valentine’s Day. Thankfully this was before the kids arrived for Family Time. At any rate, Spotify is heavily used here. It’s how I also take our composer studies on the road when we’re in the car for the plethora of appointments we have each week. And I don’t blow through all my phone data in a week.

(If you’re curious, my kids can’t stand the ads on Hulu so they don’t usually watch it. We do watch Mythbusters on Hulu and we use the ad times for potty breaks, get a snack, stretch – basically leave the room until they’re done.)

  • Google Family Library – I use this to send the kids apps – I purchased Minecraft on my Google account, but using the GFL I can send it to my two oldest’s tablets without requiring them to have a payment method. It’s very handy. I can also send them books – my oldest has a couple of books I’ve purchased for her using my account, and then just stick them into the GFL for her to read from her tablet.
  • Google Chromecast – I don’t usually stream things to this for the kids BUT I do like to use it for the artist study. I can load the images as the Chromecast’s background and ta-da, captive audience. 😉 We aren’t using the Chromecast as often as we used to since I got a laptop with a much larger screen. But back when I had a netbook, the Chromecast was very handy.
  • Streaming Services – not something we use for school on a regular basis; but we do have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I usually bust out the streaming services when I’m sick, or if we need a good documentary to supplement something.
  • The Kids’ Tablets – the kids have standard Samsung Android tablets, which are hand-me-downs from my husband and me. They’re older and slower, and don’t have massive amounts of space; so that limits what they can do on them. But, they’re new enough that they still get updates and whatnot – it’s a great balance. We mainly use these for coding – Scratch Jr and the code.org stuff all run well on the tablets. Everyone can work on different projects (since everyone is at different levels) and there’s no bickering AND I can teach coding to everyone at once as opposed to daisy-chaining three different coders on one machine.

And really, that’s pretty much it! I try and buy physical books when possible, we print off our artist study (when we can) from Costco and frame the pictures, we use pencils and notebooks and whatnot. My whole outlook of technology is “helping, not dominating”. We have a wonderful balance between the real and the virtual.

Up next: Teaching technology – how to raise your kids as both readers and coders

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