From iPads to iPhones, from Facebook to eBooks, from S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M, the digital age is transforming the way we Access, Filter, Take in, Embrace, and Report information (or, “AFTER”). The AFTER-effect of this has led to rapid changes and advancements in the way teachers, students, and learning spaces interact. Homeschool families need to live and learn in the digital age, preparing students with the skills that experts say are becoming more and more important. But how do we keep up with the trends? It can be daunting to stay on top of the ever-changing technology trends in order to prepare them well. The good news is you most likely have an expert in your home: your child! Most kids crave and adapt to technology well, making it easier and more fun to be on-trend. 

Here are some of the top homeschooling trends to follow in 2019 to assure your homeschooler is as techie as they need to be!

STEM trends

Science, technology, engineering, and math skills are at the forefront of today’s educational movement, and for good reason! These skills can be taught at all grade levels, and are most likely already incorporated into your homeschool routine. With a few tweaks, your students will be ready to tackle these topics, and may even discover their passion and future career!

  • Elementary students, who are already tablet-proficient, will love Osmo, an iPAD program and kit that encourages hands-on learning in math, art, technology, and reading. They should also begin using basic Microsoft programs, like Word, Excel, etc. 
  • Middle school youngsters can find simple online programs that teach coding and HTML, and will enjoy creating their own web pages! One great trend is robotics. You can find kits for every age group, but the technology and engineering aspects really pick up at the middle school level. We love Ozobot! This fun top trend in homeschooling will keep your student coming back for more science, and prepare them to problem-solve and critically-think in every subject. 
  • High school students will need to learn touch typing; the old “hunt and peck” technique will only slow them down. Why not get them the latest typing app or game? They can also learn basic JavaScript coding, with a little statistical analysis thrown in so they can handle data.

Intercultural communications

Through the power of modern technology, contact with people of other cultures is easier and more accessible. From TED Talks to National Geographic videos on YouTube, the world is more understandable, relatable, and smaller than ever. Students need to learn about other cultures in order to be prepared for the world and be better world citizens, and are required to learn a foreign language in most states anyway. Why not take their cultural experiences up a notch by visiting local international festivals in your area, having an international dinner night each month (where your kids cook!), and challenging them to learn basic phrases, like “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I love you,” in as many languages as they can. A little healthy competition is good for the family!

Digital citizenship

is a top priority for homeschoolers in this digital age (and if it isn’t one of yours, it should be, so read on!). The moment your child types in the password on a device, he or she becomes a citizen of cyberspace. In the fast-paced, tempting and anonymous Internet, it’s easy to be careless about the consequences of comments and content. Digital citizenship teaches the rules of etiquette and decency that allow for a safe online experience. Kids jump at the chance to use their devices but must learn to focus on their studies and not be distracted by every text and call in the name of “multitasking.”

Teaching empathy 

This is, in our opinion, one of the most important top trends in homeschooling and education for 2019, and for good reason! Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s an easy trait to lose when interacting with inhuman screens and social media profiles. Empathy is one character trait that must be modeled and taught, and something that each generation seems to become increasingly disconnected from as a result of technology. But there is a growing trend for teaching and modeling empathy to students. The homeschool mom or dad is in an excellent position to model empathy in the family, the place of closest connections. Volunteering as a family, listening to the stories of others, TED Talks, and cross-cultural experiences, are all great ways to encourage and teach empathy. 

Gamification

is, in simplest terms, making a game out of learning. This is one of the most exciting top trends in homeschooling because it has a direct impact on student engagement and joy! Gamification makes learning fun and challenging by adding game elements, like badges, bonus points, role-playing, and quests to lessons. From toddlers to Einstein, playing games has been proven to stimulate higher-order thinking skills. Skills like creativity, evaluation, analyzing, and applying new knowledge.You can use storytelling, rewards and feedback, collaboration and competition, and rules to reinforce learning. Or you can find a great online learning platform to help you gamify learning without any effort on your part! Basically, students learn that if they do this, according to the rules, they get that. Good life lesson!

Blended (Personal) and Online Classes

bring it all together: traditional textbooks, face-to-face instruction, student collaboration, self-directed work, and access to the global learning community! It combines the best of all worlds into one souped-up, powerful form of education. When choosing a blended learning platform, make sure you have paper guides to support your student’s learning and to cue you in to any struggles or missing work. Visit the Bridgeway Academy website to read about our unique approach to Blended and Live Online Classes

We’d love to hear what you think are the top trends in homeschooling in 2019. Tell us your favorite new trend in a comment below!