When we first began homeschooling six years ago, I was wary of introducing technology into our daily rhythm. Research has shown the many cognitive, emotional, and social advantages of limiting screen time for kids—so we did our best to use screens sparingly. Doing so allowed our family to create a love of good books, imaginative play, and enjoying the outdoors.
Six years in, we've slowly and intentionally introduced technology as a valuable tool in our homeschool. We still limit screens, but these additions have truly brought value to our home education experience. I want to share three things we use every week and recommend!
Beast Academy - Our two oldest kids (ages 8 and 10) use Beast Academy for math. It has been a game changer not only for me—because I'm no longer spending hours a week teaching math lessons—but for my kids who beg to do "just a few more minutes!" because they enjoy it so much! Beast Academy is a challenging program, so it's helpful to have a solid foundation in basic math before starting it. We used RightStart for Liam and Math-U-See for Lanie for a few years before beginning this program. Your child also needs to read in order to do these lessons independently. You can choose a 100% online option, where students will do all their work (lessons, practice, and testing) online or a 100% workbook option or (what we do) a little bit of both. We typically have the kids using the online lessons three times a week, and the other two days a week, they work in their practice workbooks. What I love about the online option is that I receive emails about their progress and can see if they're struggling in a particular area. What I love about the workbook option is that we can bring the workbooks anywhere, and they're full of challenging games and word problems that can be worked out on paper (which I think is a valuable skill to maintain). If you sign up for the Beast Academy Online yearly subscription, you can use the coupon code 3MonthsFromInventiveShark36 and receive an extra three months for free! And if you're looking for a more in-depth review about how Beast Academy works, I found this review and this lesson walk-through helpful!
Hoffman Academy - When our son, Liam, was 6 years old and had an interest in piano, we purchased a year-long subscription to Hoffman Academy for online piano lessons. I loved that Liam could work at his own pace, learning not only how to play the piano, but music theory, music history, fingering, and more. I needed to sit beside him during the first few lessons, then he was able to do them independently. After almost two years, we transitioned Liam to an in-person teacher. This year, we're using Hoffman Academy for Lanie (8) and Bear (6). There are two options: a free version and a Premium (paid) version. We have enjoyed the Premium version because it includes resources for extra practice (like theory worksheets) that are not included in the free version. I print these out at the beginning of each unit and place them in independent binders, and the kids work through them alongside their weekly lessons. These lessons are packed with valuable teaching and are affordable for families... they're truly a fraction of the price of in-person lessons! I highly recommend trying it. Use code LEARN for 10% off!
Brighter Day Press watercolor classes - Before becoming a mom, I taught acrylic painting classes for several years. After having kids, I fell in love with watercolor painting because of the easy-to-setup supplies and endless possibilities! I've used those skills to create two sets of watercolor classes for kids (Nature and Summer) that we use in our own home. Once you grab the supplies and set up the computer or iPad, children can work through these watercolor classes independently—I guide them every step of the way. This has been a wonderful activity for our kids while I'm cooking dinner or needing them to do a quiet activity on their own.