Screen time tends to get a bad rap these days but with careful supervision, your child can access more knowledge of the world than any textbook or worksheet can provide. Watching streaming content is relevant to our children and it helps them absorb information in a new way. For instance, if your child is studying world history, it’s the perfect time to add a video tour of Versailles! Streaming videos allow your child to experience new dimensions of learning from the comfort of your living room, no crowds & no passport needed.
I am what I refer to as a “third-semester homeschooler”, by which I mean I have three “generations” of kids, all of whom are or were homeschooled. I have two graduates, three teens, and a young child. Being in this position, I have watched the tools available to homeschooling families grow exponentially. What I would have given to have streaming media available when my older children were young! I didn’t know a lot about learning styles then, but what I did know is that neither of my kids responded well to anything that was considered “proper homeschooling”. I use streaming media as often as I can now, it reduces stress for both me & my children, and I know they are receptive to it.
YouTube is our go-to streaming service for several reasons. First, with three teens in the house, we need to have a way for them to quickly access very specific information and YouTube provides that. Second, my kids really enjoy learning from screens. One of our children is extremely knowledgeable about World War 2 because a video game sparked his interest and YouTube filled in all of the details. Third, you can find content for ANYTHING on YouTube. Take ukelele lessons, learn to sew, whatever strikes your fancy.
Bringing new and unexpected places into your home is perhaps one of the very best learning opportunities with YouTube though virtual & augmented reality videos. Some of our very favorite field trips have been spent in the depths of the Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand, riding waves with dolphins in California, and taking a journey to space. We weren’t just watching, we were interacting, immersed. These experiences cost you nothing and will leave a lasting impression on your child.
“But Meg, how does watching videos count as homeschooling?”
“What if they watch TV all day?”
These questions are, very rightfully so, at the top of parent’s concerns when I mention learning with YouTube. As for videos “counting”, you can always use the videos as an extension or basis for a unit study or have your child write a few paragraphs about the video. Be mindful in making screen time too educational, sometimes it’s ok to enjoy a video for the sheer love of learning and nothing else.
Parental supervision is the key when it comes to screen time and setting limits. Some individuals need more guidance when it comes to online activity than others, and you are the only one who can determine what guidelines are right for your family. YouTube is possibly the internet’s greatest accomplishment, an almost perfect educational tool. Don’t be afraid to let it into your home and see how much life springs into your child’s education.