A Plea to Homeschool Parents: Get a Bit More Tech-Savvy

I like homeschoolers.  I was one of them, grew up around them, and spend a decent amount of time interacting with them now.  I have tremendous respect for homeschool parents.  They have work-ethic, courage, and deep and genuine care for their children’s well-being.  But they leave something to be desired when it comes to digital engagement.  They seem to assume learning Latin is more valuable than navigating today’s tech.

It is in the spirit of respect that I offer this plea to all the good homeschool parents out there: Learn to use technology!

It’s easier than most things you try to impart to your kids because you don’t even have to teach it to them.  They’ll pick it up in no time if they’re around it and allowed to explore it.  But if they never see you use try to or get the most out of it they may fail to realize its power and potential.  If they sense an abiding fear of newfangled things in their parents they might pick it up too.  Here are some ways to get started…

Homeschool dads: If you’re still rocking a pager, give it to your kids.  Let them dismantle it and play with the innards.  Call it science class.  Or history.  Time to upgrade to a smart phone.  Get a protective case so that when your kids drop it you won’t stress too much.  Use it a lot.  Test out some cool new apps to enhance your personal productivity and have fun with some games.  They’ve got chess and Scrabble and other wholesome stuff.  You might bond with your kids when you need them to help you figure out how to use it too. (Oh, while I’m talking to you, you might also reconsider the whole socks with sandals thing.  Your kids will thank me later.)

Homeschool moms: Get your own email address (Gmail please).  Same goes for Facebook.  You and your husband are a well-oiled team, I get it.  But if your online communiques always come from TheRickandDSniderFamily@AncientRegionalISP.com, chances are you’re not getting the most out of the digital world.  And no one knows how to comment on posts from two people combined into a single “Blessings from Deb and Harry Jones” profile on Facebook.  Set yourself up with a few basic accounts, keep your inbox clean, and meaningfully engage the wonderful world of the internet.

Homeschool family budget-setters: Splurge a little on tech.  Your frugality is one of your great qualities.  I’m not telling you to stop buying 50lb boxes of mail-order organic bread with Bible verses on it so the savings can be applied to classes or sports.  That’s good stuff.  But if there’s one area worth spending into the slight discomfort zone, it’s technology.  To connect it to an old school medium you already dig, put it this way: I don’t have a budget for books.  If my kids really want one, we buy it.  You’d probably agree it’s worth it.  I think the latest tech is a close second in this regard.  Upgrade your laptop every few years.  Hand the old ones down to the kids, but make sure somewhere in the house is a pretty new machine.  Get a tablet at least within a generation of the newest.  Upgrade the smartphone before it needs duck tape.

I know it’s hard.  You’re busy making meals and running errands and sewing dresses and milking goats all while trying to convince your neighbors you’re perfectly normal.  But if you can lead by example and show your kids you’ve got an unrelenting spirit of adventure and a curiosity and tenacity to grab the new world by the horns and learn from it, it just might rub off.