We’ve all heard about living green.  It seems like every time we turn around we see an article on green living tips or ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  How many of you look around your house and see piles of school papers?  How about stacks of books piled everywhere?  How many of you have ever wondered how you can “green up” your homeschool?  Have you found yourself trying to find a way to climb out from all of the papers and books that seem to go hand in hand with homeschooling?

There are so many solutions to the paper woes homeschoolers tend to face.  Whether or not you were homeschooled yourself, our children are the beneficiaries of a massive amount of new technology that has come about since we were in school.  Let’s face it, kids think technology is fun!  How many times have you had to fend off your kids after you’ve gotten a new electronic device? How often do you catch your kids fiddling with the DVD player or the stereo system? How many of your kids are more computer savvy than most adults you know?  We can tap into this enthusiasm, use it to motivate our children, and to make their education more fun, flexible, economical, and eco-friendly.

Here are some ways we can use technology to our advantage while homeschooling:

  • Using e-books instead of bound books allows you to print only the pages you need saving on paper and ink costs.  Many homeschool curriculums include lengthy teacher manuals and introduction pages that can be read electronically eliminating the need for printing large, bound teacher manuals.  Children can also read through their lessons electronically and complete only their printed worksheets.
  • An e-reader can help a reluctant reader enjoy more books.  This also works well if you have a child who feels threatened by thicker books. They cannot see how thick the book actually is leaving them free to read and enjoy the story itself.  An e-reader also allows you to take many books with you.  It is easy to store school books for multiple children on one e-reader which would allow you to take school with you wherever you go without having to lug around a ton of books.
  • Given the high price of gas these days, enrolling your child in live,online classes is, not only an eco-friendly, but also an economical way to homeschool.  These classes offer a wide variety of wonderful learning opportunities in the comfort of your own home.
  • Many cell phones have voice recorders which can help a reluctant writer gather his or her thoughts before sitting down at a blank piece of paper.  Kids generally like to talk, but not all of them like to write. Giving them a chance to talk through their writing can help them get it down onto paper.
  • Tablets and smart phones are the latest craze with all of the apps available.  There are also tons of educational apps for these devices. Most tablets also have wi-fi or 3g allowing a child to browse the internet and placing a vast number of educational doors at their finger tips.  These make great tools for homeschooling families as it allows them to take their school with them.
  • Learning modules, small software programs available for purchase or on various websites, are a great way to teach children things in small bites.  Children can often be overwhelmed by the amount of information that comes at them. Learning modules can give children a chance to learn, process and practice concepts in a fun and interactive way.
  • Portable DVD players allow children to watch educational videos on the go.  You can find these devices built into many cars or you can purchase stand alone models.
  • Google offers some great tools for homeschooling – and they’re all free!  Google docs allows children to create documents, presentations, drawings and spreadsheets online. These documents can be organized into different folders to create an online portfolio without printing anything out.  Play around in Google Labs which allows for a huge variety of learning experiences.  For example, you can explore the human body, create 3D models of buildings and even create your own apps.  You can also read through newspapers, blogs and scholarly articles to get valuable information for reports or projects.

Our children truly live in a much different world than the one we grew up in and, as homeschoolers, we have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this technology to offer our kids not only the best education, but the most flexible and fun education too.  We can also do all of these things in an economical and eco-friendly way.  That is truly eco-homeschooling.

Do you have eco-homeschooling ideas?  We’d love to hear them.

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