Harnessing the Power of Technology
October 25, 2017
Mercy Every Minute  
It is way too easy to check out of real life for the momentary pleasure of technology in all its forms. Tragically, we could let another day go by where we haven’t done something for the spiritual life of the home. We could procrastinate important tasks to scroll through the picture perfect scenes of other people getting life done around us. 

So, before you pick up that smartphone, hand-held device, or open up that computer, ask yourself if you’ve done the most important thing of plugging yourself and your children into Jesus Christ and His Word. Have you accomplished your goals for the family and the children’s education first? Is the television a distraction? It is easy to allow technology to harness us and keep us from real life. 

Conversely, we have the power to harness that technology. The power and promise of education technology is increasing and rewarding. What about technology and the homeschool? 

This plugged-in generation has access to everything good and bad. As the days grow more evil, so does the technology and the evil it produces. (Here are some guidelines our family has adopted.) Unguarded use of technology can be extremely dangerous to children. Access to pornography is a real danger now more than ever. 

Ephesians 5:16 says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  

Technology is helpful and saves us time when we use it for research, education, work, and productivity. But when it becomes an escape from those things that are waiting to be done or children waiting to interact in real life, then it wastes precious time. Sometimes we just have to say, “No!” to the technology that beckons us in order to ensure the best and highest use of our time. 

We need to be good stewards of the hours in the day that God has given us.

When it comes to technology, a timer is a wonderful thing and saves us from loads of guilt. Get into the habit of putting the screen down and looking at your children. Listen to them. Teach them by example. We have kids who grow up with their faces stuck in front of screens because they have learned by our example, or we have failed to set limits or guidelines. Make more time to look up in the sky instead of down to a screen. And teach your children to look up, too, as you keep them Home Where They Belong!

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Edna Latone
Harnessing the Power of Technology @ Your Public Library
Canada’s public libraries are hands down the geekiest community place to be, and it is amazing! Check out what your public library has to offer. You may find these tech supports: Computer Labs, Early Literacy Stations, mobile tech lending programs and Makerspaces or Idea Labs as some are called. 

Tech Things to Use: More and more libraries have both PC and Mac products available with a wide range of software for editing, accessibility, and of course, printers. Early Literacy Stations are computers preloaded with a wide range of educational software for children 2-12. These range in subject matter such as graphic art, typing training, early phonics, math, geography, and more! An exciting newer development is the lending of technology. I have seen lending programs for e-readers, iPads, accessibility technology and Wi-Fi hubs (which is great if you have no internet access at home). Ask about tech classes, too. Many libraries are offering them!

Tech Things to Do: Makerspaces are my favourite new development in libraries. Large and small libraries are embracing the Maker Culture. Some libraries have invested in software and hardware for video, audio, photography, and 3D printing. My favourite are the libraries with music studios. Yes, I said it—MUSIC STUDIOS. Classes and “training” times are available at all of these spaces. Lower tech Makerspaces involve fixing electronics, hacking old computers apart to create new gadgets, and craft zones. 

Tech Things Online:  It is a wide world out there at your online library. This is where you will again see a vast difference between offerings at large and small public libraries. Databases are pre-viewed informative sources that are online. Think online encyclopedia and more. Some databases are specific to education, and many are specific to a field of study. Health databases and those for genealogical research can be found as well. For language study you may find your library has some great resources online such as Mango Languages or Rosetta Stone. All free with your library card!

E-books and audiobooks are an amazing way to explore books. Your library probably has a bigger collection of e-books and audiobooks than they have of physical books. Keep in mind that these books also have due dates but—Wow! What a great way to read! Last, your library may have a group of links to other databases of interest to those using the library. These can include but are not limited to local resources, government sites, and links to online learning tutorials. 

As a homeschooler who is also a part-time Library CEO, I see public libraries through a unique lens. Today’s trend in public library work is to be community led—so lead the way and let your library know what tech resources you would like to see.
Like most parents, you may have experienced something like the following: you walk into the living room and your children are captivated by screens of all shapes and sizes. They are using a variety of devices—phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and even the television. If you’re like me, there are three thoughts that usually go through your mind. 

1) “Why can’t you just go outside?”
2) “Do something without a screen.”
3) “At least they are quiet, and I can get things done.” 

The problem is that most of these screens (such as watching television or YouTube) are hindering your children’s creativity by doing all the work for them. Development of their creativity is based on interactions with their environment, something tangible, or the people around them. 

How can you foster creativity and help their brains develop?

Guess what? We have the solution for you! Introducing—the game. Truly, any game, either on a device or physical, gives them the chance to interact with something, make decisions for themselves, and do it in a way they enjoy. If you add opponents to the game, it increases their development.

Ed Dieterle, senior program officer for the Gates Foundation, said this: “For a student sitting in the median who doesn’t have a game, his or her learning achievement would have increased by 12% if he or she had that game. . . In the world of educational achievement, 12% is significant."

You may ask, which is better: a device or a tangible game? They both have their benefits and their flaws, but when speaking of brain development, a tangible game is much more effective. It helps develop their sensory perception by gathering information about their environment through touch, sound, sight, and verbal communication with others around them.
So, the next time you see your children captivated by a screen, why not challenge them to a game?

What is the most effective way to teach your children? With something they enjoy! 
  • 97% of children play games, making games a smart way to keep students engaged.
  • 80% of learners said they would be more productive if their learning was more game-like. 
  • Students with a game are likely to increase their learning achievement 12% more than those without. (Source: Mindshift)

Introducing Historical Conquest , a card game proven to increase the engagement of youth with their learning of history. We are hosting a fundraiser and need your help. Please support this cause by going to www.KickstartHistory.com .
Ryan Defrates: Secret Agent: a new animated TV show created by homeschool siblings, Jeremy & Kendra White! 
Buy episodes & download free discussion guides @  ryansecretagent.com
Technology is a blessing and a curse. It can be used to make us more productive, to do experiments, to connect us with people, etc. At the same time, however, technology can be distracting, lead to short attention spans, and isolate us from the real world. When it comes to homeschooling, how do we balance the blessings of technology with its curses?

I think the first thing to do is limit how much we rely on technology. We shouldn’t eliminate it from our homeschools, but we shouldn’t fill our homeschools with it, either. So even though it is convenient and inexpensive to read books on a device, don’t read all your books that way. Make sure you read real books with real pages as well. The way we interact with a real book is different from the way we interact with a screen. We need to make sure our children experience both.

Do your children like video courses? That’s great, but don’t make videos the only kind of curriculum you use. If your children like video, choose video programs for those subjects that they find the hardest or least interesting. That way, the video aspect will help. For subjects that come easily or already hold their interest, use non-video programs. Once again, that allows your children to interact with curricula in different ways.

I love teaching online courses, and many students love taking them. That’s another great use for technology, but don’t overdo it. Your children shouldn’t be in online courses when they are in elementary school. Once they are in junior high and high school, they can take some online courses, but they should never have more online courses than other kinds of courses. Once again, there are many modes of learning, and students should experience them all. 

Another option for technology-oriented students is to incorporate technology into the laboratory component of a science course. My chemistry course, for example, has an option for you to use digital probes that communicate with your hand-held device. This allows you to measure data in real-time, graph the results, etc. 

Regardless of how you choose to integrate technology into your homeschool, remember that technology should only be a part of the experience. Real education depends on a wide range of experiences, including lots of experiences that have little or nothing to do with technology.

Dr. Jay L. Wile holds an earned Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry. He is an author, international speaker, and adjunct professor at Anderson University. His award-winning elementary curriculum teaches science using history as a guide, and he recently published a new high-school chemistry course, Discovering Design with Chemistry. You can see all of his books at Berean Builders Publishing,   http://www.bereanbuilders.com .
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Lainna Callentine, M.Ed., M.D.
Navigating the Middle School Abyss
Technology lurks in dark corners ready to pounce and unleash its potential for evil. In that same vein, it possesses the potential for great good. Without a doubt, technology is here to stay. It is a ubiquitous commodity that is difficult to escape. Technology addiction disorders are making their way into the annals of medical journals. The dangers are well documented from issues of compulsive checking of text messages, apathy with other activities that do not involve technology, a risk factor for obesity, seedy, unwholesome content, and the list goes on and on. Given the ever-present potentially harmful effects of technology, what is one to do? 

Technology can also have its positive benefits. It can help foster independent learning in students because it gives them access to a treasure trove of information. Gone are the days of thumbing through a card catalog at the library for information. Students can access web-based content to deepen their understanding of materials, preparing them for the future. Through technology, we can collaborate and communicate across the country and the world.

In order to harness the power of technology, it is important to have guidelines and boundaries for your family. As a pediatrician, I see many families struggle with lassoing this beast. It is important to create “unplugged” spaces and times in our homes. Devices can be taken anywhere in the home. It is important to create a “nursery” for your devices where they can be “put to bed” in one place for the evening. 

Computer use should be limited to a well-traveled area in the home. Computers, hand-held devices, and TVs do not have a place in children’s rooms. One helpful resource can be found through the American Academy of Pediatrics. A useful tool that will assist your family in developing a media-use plan can be found at www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan

Your family can gather tools for monitoring technology use and customize a plan based on the ages and media usage of the individuals in the household. Harnessing your technology use will not only make you more effective but will also free up quality time to be with those you most love—your family. In the words of Brad Henry, “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”

Dr. Lainna Callentine has a great love for teaching and has taught many levels. She is an author, speaker, pediatrician, homeschool mother, and missionary doctor. She holds a master’s in education and received her B.A. from Northwestern University where she studied in the School of Education majoring in Human Development and Social Policy while competing on a full athletic scholarship in basketball. She completed her M.D. and residency training in pediatrics. Dr. Callentine continues to have wonderment for the beauty of God's creation in the human body. She left formal medicine in the E.R. to stay home and homeschool her children. She is collaborating as an author with Master Books in a new exciting book series and hands-on curriculum for children showcasing the human body called “God’s Wondrous Machine.” She is also the founder of Sciexperience, an outreach ministry where she shares her passions about the biological sciences, children, education, families, and the God who created all things. Follow Dr. Callentine at www.sciexperience.com and https://www.facebook.com/Sciexperience/ .
Danika Cooley
We moved last school year. While we were packing the garage, my thirteen-year-old son saved my old dusty guitar from a box. He wanted to learn to play; so I grabbed his tablet, bypassed the monitoring software we have installed, and downloaded the Yousician app for him. A little over six months later, he's learned to play a wide range of songs, using multiple techniques. He's even been practicing worship songs with our church's worship leader.

Technology today is amazing, and it can be a positive tool in our lives as homeschool parents. For homeschool educators, there are so many wonderful resources we can harness through technology. For instance, there are a good deal of curricula and supplemental resources available online now. Resources can come in the form of downloadable PDFs, mobi files for the Kindle app, or even interactive programs designed to interact directly with students. You can access homeschool encouragement and tutorials through blogs, webinars, and even your e-mail inbox. You can also utilize planning helps like Pinterest to find supplemental lessons and activities. Oh, how I love Pinterest! I find art lessons and printables galore there.

The resources available directly to students are also exciting and increasing daily. Your children can take advantage of educational streaming services and videos to learn directly from experts in different fields. Gone are the days of holding up monotonous arithmetic flash cards. Now you can register each of your kids for math drills online where they'll be quizzed for five minutes a day until they can recall each math fact in under three seconds. Your children can find additional tutoring online, as well as take full courses from other homeschool parents or even from professors.

Technology today affords homeschool parents amazing opportunities and resources. We can access wonderful supplemental resources, full curricula, and one-on-one tutoring in subjects we may not be prepared to teach ourselves—like the guitar. Harnessing the power of technology involves little more than an internet connection, a computer, and a printer. With those three tools, we can open doors for our children that will allow them to explore and broaden their world. We can prepare them for a lifetime of serving Christ in the gifts He has given them.

-Danika Cooley

Harness the power of technology right now by downloading your free Bible Road Trip™ Year One Sample Pack .

Danika Cooley is an author and homeschool mother of four. Her passion is equipping parents to teach Scripture and Christian history to their families. You can learn more about Danika's popular  Bible Road Trip™  curriculum   and teen historical novel  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther   at  Thinking Kids.

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One of the best things about SchoolhouseTeachers.com is that YOU are at the controls. You determine what courses your child takes, and you set the schedule. Don’t want too much screen time? Download and print many of the lessons. Is it easier for your kids to work online? They can view the PDFs easily on the screen and record answers in a notebook. You can mix and match to best fit the needs of each one of your kids. Plus, they can learn technical skills such as how to use Microsoft Word, how to design web games, how to use relational databases and SQL, and more. 

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in the latest issue of
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Contest Corner  
For the month of October

I am always on the hunt for good, clean, wholesome books for my kids to read. When I found the Sonrise Stable Book Series eight-book set, I was ecstatic. The entire series consists of eight titles all written by Vicki Watson. Each book costs $8.95, or the entire series can be purchased for $58.95, which is a very nice discount as an entire package. The Sonrise Stable Series includes: Rosie and Scamper, Carrie and Bandit, Clothed with Thunder, Tender Mercies, Outward Appearances, Follow the Leader, Rejoice with Me , and the Christmas book, Operation Christmas Spirit .

These books are geared toward children ages eight through thirteen. I feel like this is an accurate age range, although truthfully, older children would likely enjoy them as well. Younger children may enjoy hearing these books read aloud. I enjoyed reading them as an adult, so really the age stipulation is just a suggestion. The entire series was written because of Vicki’s love for horses at a young age. She wrote the books to share many of her life’s lessons with young readers.

The entire series is about an extended homeschooling family. Each chapter book has an overall theme based on a scriptural principle. Throughout the series the family lives, learns, and loves together. The main characters are Rosie and Carrie. Together with their families by their sides, these girls have many heartwarming adventures. There is just enough excitement from chapter to chapter to keep the reader guessing and wanting to continue reading. Each book contains some special lesson pages in the back related to the theme of the book.

While we didn’t read the series in order, the books still made complete and perfect sense to us. There were a few times that a previous event was referenced, but enough information was given that we were able to still understand the plot of each novel. What I really appreciate is the attention given to detail in the stories as well as the additional activities in the back of each book. The discussion questions alone are valuable if you wish to use this series as a reading comprehension tool for your horse-loving children. 

Since Christmas is coming up, here is a bit about Book 8: Operation Christmas Spirit .

The children all decide to work together to produce a Christmas play depicting the birth of Christ. They learn and study joyfully together, each digging into the scripture. The theme of this volume in the series is obviously about Christmas. Other events challenge the family as well: Grandma along with Rosie and Carrie hope to purchase a pony and a cart. They choose a run-down, well-worn cart that seems somewhat useless. When it is restored, they all realize the beauty that it contains. The back of this volume contains discussion questions for each chapter.

We really enjoyed reading this wholesome series. The books are easy to read and understand, making them perfect for any horse-loving child. If I had known about these books several years ago, I would have purchased them for my daughter. I highly recommend this series if you have an eight- to thirteen-year-old who just can’t get their hands on enough horse books.

YOU can WIN this full set of books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER : Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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