I am homeschooling a high schooler now. I can hardly believe it. Where did the time go? I’m almost certain I started homeschooling him yesterday when he was just a little blond-headed bundle of energy and words. Now he’s a 6’2″ blond-headed young man. And while he’s still full of energy and words, he has grown into himself and I see glimpses every day of who he will someday be. It is so exciting!
With this being Blake’s second year in high school, I feel like we are starting to settle in to a routine that is guided and focused on a goal. Blake knows where he is going and how he is going to get there. He has his classes mapped out and he’s determined to finish strong and early. A big chunk of that roadmap includes computer work, both online and off.
Until recently, we had 2 computers in the home. One was mine, used primarily for blog-related work and household stuff, and one was a school computer used by the oldest two children ages 12 and 15. However, with both children using the computer for multiple subjects (Math, French, Spanish, Composition, Guitar), I found they were both required to chunk up their school day to work around each other and both children were feeling frustrated by the disconnectedness of their day.
Had you told me a couple of years ago that a laptop was a NEED for homeschooling high school, I probably would have laughed at you, but as my children have gotten older, I realize NEED is not so relative of a term. Our children were born into an internet age. It’s not wrong that we use the internet for schooling and life, as long as we stay aware and engaged as parents and diligently teach them how to navigate its sometimes murky waters.
Before I give you my reasons for believing a homeschooled teen needs a laptop, let me give you my 15 year old son’s thoughts:
I recently got a new Toshiba Laptop from Staples.com to use for my homeschooling. Here are 3 ways I believe a homeschooling teen can use a laptop to enhance their homeschooling education.
1. Everything separated and in one place:
I really enjoyed being able to keep all my school work in one place. As a teen my school work has increased dramatically and it is great to be able to have everything easily accessible without having to sort through others€™ documents or school work. The amount of time I use a computer for school work has also increased and it is nice to be able to have a separate computer that is always ready when I am, allowing our school day to flow better.
2. Staying informed and organized:
I liked being able to check the news or weather quickly when I need to plan something. It is also nice to have my own calendar. In a large family it is sometimes difficult to get an open computer when you need one, so having a separate workstation is an effective way to stay on schedule. Also there are many helpful apps in Windows 8 that can enhance school, like the dictionary or the Khan Academy app.
3. Prepared for college:
As I move into my junior and senior year my work load in school will continue to increase as I prepare for college. My own laptop gives me a tool to stay on track and be able to keep up with new projects.
I really enjoy the freedom and functionality of having my own laptop. It has allowed me to take the initiative and customize my homeschooling to me. If you have a high school student preparing for college, a separate laptop for him or her may be a very valuable tool to add to your homeschool.
Blake touched on most of the points I would make as a mom. I like the portability of his laptop and the fact that he “owns” his school work more than ever before. But buying a computer always creates questions, so here are a few that come to my mind when I’m looking at computers…
How much should I spend on a laptop? Laptops have become quite affordable in the past several years, so even your teen could save up for one themselves. Purchasing one that could carry them on into college is a fantastic investment. Most of the time, they don’t need a high dollar machine to serve their needs (unless they are going into a computer-related field). Blake’s Toshiba laptop is around $350 and it is plenty of computer for his needs.
How do I choose the right one? I’ve realized along the way that there is no such thing as a perfect laptop, so buy one with mostly good reviews and don’t fret over it too much. I have spent hours reading reviews and have come to the conclusion that no one machine is going to make everyone happy all the time. Buy the best one for your needs. If something isn’t right about it, send it back. You can easily shop online and compare computers to find one that fits your budget and needs. There are regular sales online, and I actually prefer to buy this way as opposed to going out and trying to navigate a crowded store with all the children in tow!
What about office software? We chose not to buy anything extra because Google Drive is FREE and includes a word processor and spreadsheet program that eliminates the need to purchase additional software for your computer. Blake and Megan send me their work to grade this way. Megan also sends her work via Google Drive to her French teacher who happens to live in Nepal (you can read more about that HERE).
We have been quite pleased with having another laptop in the house. It has definitely cut down on the time it takes my older children to do school and has warded off potential arguments over who gets the computer first. Thank you Staples.com!