Is an iPad worth the investment for your homeschool?

There is not a simple answer to this question. In general, I would say the answer is yes–if your child does not have a problem with self-control and electronics/screen time. There are so many great apps for education, and more being released every month. There are many moms who develop apps to help their kids learn, so it’s not just stuff being put out there by corporations looking to turn a fast buck. Some homeschool publishers are moving into app development, too.

iPad

If you are thinking about getting an iPad, spend some time looking in the Apple iTunes store to see what is available. Don’t limit yourself to the Education category. Games, Entertainment, Photo & Video, Productivity,  and Reference all have apps that can be used in education.

Here are some questions to think about when considering the purchase:

  • How much do I spend on curriculum each year? If you typically spend a lot on curriculum, see if you can use items you already own for the upcoming year and shift the money you would have spent on curriculum on an iPad. Once you invest in the iPad, most apps are very inexpensive. There are many free apps, and paid apps that are free or offered at a reduced price for a limited time.
  • Is frustration a big factor in my homeschool–either you or your child? I know what it’s like to try to teach a child to read whose not really ready for first three years. There are many pre-reading apps that can help. Your child can work on the alphabet, phonetic sounds of letters, even the Bob Books are on the iPad.
  • Do you spend a lot of money on therapy but don’t really have a lot of time or energy to do all the therapy exercises? With my special needs daughter, I have been able to use the iPad for speech and occupational therapy (OT). There are many speech apps developed by Speech Language Pathologists. For OT, we use it to work on fine motor skills. For example, we used a maze to learn directional movement.
  • Do you have a large family and one or more preschoolers? My daughter learned most of her preschool concepts by playing with the iPad. I still sat with her on some days and played with her to see how she was doing, but the repetition part came with simply playing with different apps.
  • Do you have a need to do school while out of the house? Starting with the iPad2, you can purchase one with 3G capability if you need internet access while on the road for things like research and apps that use internet access to run. Most apps run without internet access, but some apps from places like National Geographic that rely heavily on video require access. All iPads come with WiFi, so you can always access the internet that way.
    iPads are also light and easy to work with. Everything is done on the screen. Apps that require typing provide a virtual keyboard that is only slightly smaller in the landscape position than a regular keyboard.
  • Do you have a child who has problems using a mouse? You can purchase a $5 app that mimics your computer monitor on the iPad. This turns your monitor into a portable touch screen!

Case Study: We’ve had our iPad for over a year and a half now and it has made a tremendous difference in the life of my special needs daughter. She is six and doesn’t speak. Not being able to speak means that I can’t always figure out what is going on in her mind. With the iPad, I can see what she has learned and how she applies it. I have also seen her learn new skills on the iPad and then use them in the real world.

Leave and a comment about your iPad experiences or ask questions. For more info on iPads and apps, subscribe to my newsletter.

 

Photo Credit: Image: adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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