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Using a Kindle for Homeschooling

Wondering how to use a Kindle for homeschooling? Here’s how we’re doing it with our 11th, 9th, 7th, 5th, and 3rd graders.

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Using a Kindle for Homeschooling | Life as Mom

We are a device family. We play video games. We watch movies. I love my iphone like a seventh child.

But for about 15 years of homeschooling, we were mostly a pen and paper family. I wrote out all the homeschool to-do lists on paper. The kids did their work on paper. We did all quizzes and tests on paper.

I invested in a lot of paper each fall.

Until this summer when I invested instead in five Kindle Fires.

They were $33 on sale on Amazon Prime Day. 5 x $33 = $165, less than a new iPad. I figured we’d take the plunge. If anything, I’d be Mom of the Year for at least a day.

When I first heard about Kindles, I wasn’t impressed and had no desire to own one. Then I won one. And then it broke and I missed it. A few Christmases ago I bought one for our school, but it wasn’t until I bought myself a Kindle Fire this summer that I realized how cool the new devices are.

Initially I bought these Kindles for extra reading devices, but they’ve evolved into being a major tool in our homeschool. Here’s how we’re using Kindles for homeschooling.

How we use Kindle for homeschooling

Using a Kindle for Homeschooling | Life as Mom

1. For reading

The most basic use of kindles for homeschooling is, of course, for reading. Having kindles allows us to read on the go. If I pack a Kindle for an outing or trip, I know that we always have reading material on hand. No matter what.

Though I do think that paper books are an important aspect of our culture and I do purchase and cherish our favorites, I often buy Kindle books over paperback. One reason is for price, but the second, and maybe more important reason is that more than one of my children can read a Kindle book at the same time. This eliminates fighting over a book or someone saying that he can’t do a school assignment because he couldn’t have his turn at the book.

Giving my kids Kindles for homeschooling opens up their opportunities for reading whenever and wherever. You can’t really forget your book at home if you’ve got your Kindle along.

Kindle books can also never get lost. Ahem.

2. For book storage

We currently have hundreds of books in our Kindle library. That’s hundreds of books that I don’t have to store in our family library or keep track of. While I love our family library, it’s nice not to keep track of so many books.

As I thin our physical library, I will often check out Kindle Matchbook to see if the Kindle version is available of a book I’ve purchased and now want to discard. Kindle Matchbook will enable you to buy some selections for as low as 99 cents! You can buy the digital version and then give away the physical copy.

Using a Kindle for Homeschooling | Life as Mom

3. For library loans

I used to be notorious for turning in books late at the library and accruing fines. Now that we check out most of our library books via Kindle, our library fines are virtually nothing.

See what I did there? Virtually? 😉

Through our public library and Overdrive, I’m able to check out any number of titles (up to 20 at a time) via Kindle and Amazon. When the book is due, it simply disappears from our account. Voila. No late fees.

Additionally, we save money not buying books but checking them out from the library instead.

4. For educational games and apps

Kindle is Android-based. While I miss the syncing and familiarity of iOS — my husband and I have all Apple devices — I appreciate the fact that many of the educational games and apps we had on iPad are also available on Kindle. I’ve paid very little in apps, to be honest, because many of the educational apps are completely free.

I’ve loaded each child’s device with educational games to fit their age and capabilities. (And yes, they get to farm, too! Ha!)

5. For spelling quizzes.

Spelling has never been my favorite subject to teach. Having a spelling app has changed that. This year we’re using the mobile pass from Spelling City.

I can type the kids’ spelling lists into my online account; the kids can access their lists from their Kindles. The app reads them the spelling words and quizzes them on their accuracy. While this particular app uses a computer-generated voice that sometimes sounds weird, it’s freeing up space in this mama’s calendar.

Using a Kindle for Homeschooling | Life as Mom

6. For work control

This year I did away with paper to do lists for my kids. Instead, I purchased a subscription to Evernote and loaded the app to everyone’s kindle. (Evernote is free for up to two devices, but I wanted to sync my account to six different devices, so I invested in the year package.

I created notebooks for each child within the app. This serves as our work control system.

Each day the kids can consult their device for their to-do list and check assignments off as they’re completed. Since Evernote is widely used in business, I figure my kids are getting some real life skills to draw from later as a bonus.

7. For audio and video

A lot of our homeschool curriculum is available or enhanced via audio and video files. These are accessible via the Kindles. I’ve loaded foreign language mp3s as well as audio books for history.

Via Amazon Prime Video, I’ve also selected a number of history documentaries to supplement our study of the middle ages.

8. For independence and confidence

When I handed my kids their Kindles on the first day of school, I was surprised what an impact it had on them. From the third grader all the way up to the high school junior, they felt empowered and independent having a device of their own.

Again and again they thanked me. So, I did get Mother of the Year — for a couple days, anyway. 😉

But what about kids goofing off? Giving your kids devices can be a scary thing!

Thankfully, the Kindle has pretty nice parental controls. I can set curfews, block certain functions, and even monitor usage. I named each Kindle in my Amazon account, so I can see who’s doing what when. The monitoring even tells me how many minutes each book was read or how often someone was farming during a school day.

Using a Kindle for homeschooling may not work for every family, child, or subject, but it does have the potential to be a very viable digital resource in your homeschool.

Do you use a kindle for homeschooling?

Using a Kindle for Homeschooling | Life as Mom

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Comments

  1. With such a wide range of children’s ages, you probably already realize another benefit–you are preparing them for college and eventually the workforce. My two oldest are doing dual credit classes at the local community college. All three take online classes from Landry Academy. Textbooks may be online now (with no paper copy available), lectures can be online, work is done on the computer and uploaded to a dropbox (not necessarily the company that shares the same name). My point is, they could potentially never touch a single piece of paper for the entire semester. Some schools issue students an iPad for all their textbooks, note taking, and homework. If we homeschooling parents do not help our students learn and use technology, despite their wonderful booklearning, they will be horribly unprepared for the “real” world. Kudos to you! I’m going to re-read this post and figure out what I need to incorporate into our school.

  2. While I prefer my idevices for myself and computing power, the kindle and its monitoring controls are ideal for my child! I love it, and so much less expensive than anything else I could purchase for her.

  3. Doh! Wish I would have read this before Black Friday- think they had them on sale again this year….:(
    Really love your idea of using Evernote for assignments!

    • I know! I’m sorry I didn’t get it up sooner. I have a feeling they will go on sale again before Christmas. I’ve found great deals on them at other stores, too, like Staples.

  4. This was a really helpful post. We’ve been contemplating getting kindles for our six (ages 10-14) but haven’t decided whether or not to take the plunge just yet. Thanks for all of the information!

  5. Did the device you purchased come with or without the special offers? It is cheaper to get the device with them, but my concern is that, if I am giving this device to my child to use, will they be able to “accidentally” purchase items without my approval?

  6. Lisa Suit says:

    My oldest is only in first grade, so she doesn’t do much independent work that she would be able to do on the Kindle, but we use my Fire a lot for her schooling! We use the curriculum from Ambleside Online, which uses many public domain texts that I downloaded straight to it. I also utilize lots of audio books and we use DuoLingo for foreign language! Our old library was in a very small town with not much to offer via Overdrive, but we recently moved to Pittsburgh and now I can rent practically any book we want! We are all super excited about that!

  7. Jessica,

    Do you use kindle free time? And do your kids have time limits on games? That has been one of my biggest reasons to not let my (12, 7, 5) to use the kindles as their own. They would play games in every spare moment if allowed…but I wonder if I’m being too strict.

    Love your site, enjoy your posts, you have encouraged me in the home school front more times than I know.

    Thanks,
    Becky

    • I do not use free time. It seemed more economical for me to use the parental controls. As for limits, it’s a day-to-day thing depending on behavior, attitude, etc. My husband is a gamer so I’ve learned to be a little more lenient.

      So glad I can be a help!

      • Do you have your kids set up as adult accounts or kids and just not subscribe to FreeTime? Trying to figure out how I can add my son to our “household” and not use FreeTime for him but my 3 year old loves FreeTIme. So confusing lol.

        • I just added their devices to my account. We have one Amazon account for everything (except my college son has his own) because I wanted things super simple for the purchases and people I’m responsible for.

  8. This was a great post. Just what I needed to read to get over the guilt of “learning through a screen”. I bought my four kids the kindle during prime day this year. You gave me new ideas! Thanks. By the way if anyone reads this today they are on sale for $40

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