I love finding new ways to help homeschool my boys. Thanks to Julia for sharing some apps that can work for many homeschoolers in this guest post. With the hopes of securing an iPad soon, I’m certainly taking note of them.
Take advantage of these simple tools to encourage learning
Home-schooling parents use every available tool to ensure that their kids get the best education possible, and mobile apps are no exception. With your smartphone, you can turn a boring wait at the doctor’s office or a long road-trip into a great learning opportunity. Here are a few of the best apps we’ve seen so far, for Android and iPhone.
1. Kindle (Android, iPhone)
The recent growth of e-books is a huge blessing for home-schooling families, as kids can have instant access to the very best of literature from around the world, for free, with a single click. Because book copyrights expire 20 years after the author’s death, thousands of priceless classics are available in the “public domain”, which means they are transcribed to e-book format as a public service and available for free download. We selected Kindle’s app because they have a wider selection and (in our opinion) a slicker interface than Nook, but either one is a great way to ensure that your children have access to a colossal library of classics. (Cost: free)
2. Wolfram Alpha (Android, iOS)
If your child struggles with confidence in math, Wolfram Alpha is a great tool to check work and view step-by-step solutions to tough math problems. Wolfram Alpha is capable of interpreting sophisticated commands in plain English: for instance, you might type “How do I find the X-intercept of 2X + 15 = 3?”, and it will know what you mean. More importantly, you can expand the answer to view the steps it took to get there. A calculator can help you find the right answer, but Wolfram Alpha helps you understand the answer, and how to duplicate it. Wolfram Alpha can easily handle your child’s math questions up to and including second-year university calculus, so it’s a must-have for any student, whether they love math or can’t stand it. (Cost: free)
3. Google Earth (Android, iPhone)
Google Earth’s mobile apps are one of the finest tools for teaching history, geography, and culture. With a virtual globe that zooms all the way down to street level, you can help children get a sense of the immense scope of the world and the people in it. With certain cities, you can even use a 3D flyover view, so kids can see complete interactive models of beautiful cities like Rome and Paris. One of the great benefits of this app is that it can be a good complement to discussions on so many topics, so you’re in the driver’s seat to determine where to take your curriculum. (Cost: free)
4. Brain Quest (Android, iPhone)
The little flip-cards from earlier home-schoolers’ memories are now available in app form. Brain Quest is a great way to keep kids’ minds engaged in the car or in a waiting room. The free version is a trial with 100 questions per grade level, and then you can either buy individual grades (600 questions per grade) or the full Brain Quest suite. The app has a slick, simple interface for kids to navigate, and the information comes from a trusted source with a long history helping kids learn from home. (Cost varies. Trial version—free; Individual Grades—$2.99; full Brain Quest suite—$9.99)
5. Project Noah (Android, iPhone)
If your child loves animals and being outside, this app is a great way to feed that passion, and even contribute to real zoological research (seriously). Any time your child sees an interesting plant or animal, he or she can take a picture of it, tag it, and send it in to the Project Noah community for analysis. The app uses GPS to show a “field guide” of all the plants and animals your child is likely to encounter, along with sightings from other users, so he or she knows where they can be found. Project Noah also partners with labs and environmental organizations, so your child can be assigned to photograph squirrels, track birds, or look for invasive species. It’s a great app for kids to learn by doing. (Cost: free)
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on T-Mobile used cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.