Whether you’re constantly on the move or just need an affordable solution, there’s a homeschool app for that. Companies, now more than ever, are offering a variety of app-based answers for your homeschool needs.
In this post I’ll share our favorites that will make life a little easier – plus when used together, become a complete app-based curriculum for the short-term.
So I’m scrolling through Instagram, seeing post after post from uber-homeschool-moms who apparently have time to elaborately stage photos, homeschool their children outdoors in perfect weather, and keep all of their white furniture remarkably clean.
Meanwhile here in reality after five months of isolation, my kids have destroyed about 90% of their toys, ruined three rugs (not white to begin with), and already asked me for something twelve times as I wrote the above two paragraphs.
Can I hire somebody to put a rose-colored filter on my life?
Solutions for Not-so-rosy Times
Now, more than ever, we need some help. Real solutions for our stressful, messy, sometimes fun, always challenging reality.
We’re not talking about planning the rest of your child’s homeschool career. We’re talking about a few reliable go-to’s that make life easier – like today.
Enter educational apps.
Educational Homeschooling Apps
Look, say what you will about reducing screen time. But with pools closed and play dates cancelled, it’s pretty handy to be able to pull a full library out of my pocket.
But aside from accessing literally thousands of books from your phone, apps are also useful for:
• supplementing tough subjects
• extra summer practice
• accelerated learning
• exploring a new subject
• engaging your kids in learning that feels like a game
• getting your kids out of your hair for five freaking minutes
• covering subjects you don’t feel confident teaching
• a complete homeschool solution for the short-term
yeah, I said it
Complete App Homeschool?
Can it be done?
Yes, you can homeschool with just apps. Granted, it is not the ultimate solution for long-term homeschoolers, but when life takes a turn or you suddenly find yourself living out your dream of road schooling, it’s nice to have a portable solution on-hand.
Many families use apps to supplement and enrich, however we’re seeing more and more apps designed to teach all the skills your child need for a complete, standards-aligned curriculum.
Beyond that, many are programmed with artificial intelligence (AI) that is constantly adjusting to meet your child’s needs. That means every lesson – sometimes every question – is being adjusted to your kid’s pace and ability. That’s where apps have a leg-up on text book curriculum.
5 Benefits of App-Based Homeschooling
All you need is a device and a way to connect. Homeschool on the road, to-and-from appointments, court-side, at the gymnasium, or wherever your homeschoolers take you.
You don’t have to purchase brand new laptops for each kid, and you don’t need to commit to a long-term contract. Apps are super affordable and many companies offer month-to-month subscriptions so you can start and stop on your own schedule.
3. Emergency Homeschooling
When life takes a sudden turn or the whole world seems to be on pause, apps are a great solution for homeschooling short-term. You might not have enough laptops for your family, but it’s likely that you have enough devices laying around to set everyone up to get some work done – in the next five minutes.
4. Parent Reports
Log into parent dashboards on your own device and see what your kids are working on, how long they’re working, what they’ve completed, and where they’re struggling. Apps are great for keeping tabs on multiple kids and they make it really easy to keep up with record keeping for homeschool compliance.
5. Try Before You Buy
The key to homeschooling is “doing what works,” right? But, trust me, it takes a lot of experimentation to figure that out – especially at first. So instead of dumping expensive curriculum in the garbage next week, sign up for a few free trials to see if these apps will work for you.
Alone, they’re a great supplement or substitute teacher. Combined, they cover every core subject – and then some. Here are our seven favorite, go-to apps that you won’t regret downloading.
Starting with math because it can be a stumbling block for kids and parents…
1) BEST Math App for Homeschool
Ages 4-14, use on portable devices and your computer, free trial
Smartick in an intelligent app that teaches children Math and Coding in lessons that take only 15 minutes per day. The program works on critical thinking skills with logic, brain games, and reasoning courses.
Yes, 15 minutes – I don’t know why this one isn’t completely, insanely popular in the U.S. Maybe because people don’t trust that kids can really get what they need in 15 minutes.
Consider this – in any level of public school lessons are basically delivered in a series of short spurts: review, transition, instruct, transition, practice, transition, check.
Smartick removes useless transition time and combines review, instruction, and practice into an instant-feedback game with AI built in, creating a complete math curriculum specifically designed for your child.
Bonus, it’s actually fun, too. See for yourself with a 15 day free trial.
2) Ultimate Library-in-your-pocket App
You get such a wonderful selection with this app. From audio books to picture books, novels and non-fiction. The site and app are both really easy for kids to use – we started around age 5 and are still going strong.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve whipped a book out of my pocket. In the car, sitting in waiting rooms. Once at the DMV, yikes. It’s much better than handing them Candy Crush or those awful YouTube unboxing videos!
This app is SO worth it. Sign up for the free 30 day trial on the site, then install it on all your devices.
3) The Language Arts App Homeschoolers LOVE
Ages 2-13, use on portable devices or your computer, free trial
Reading Eggs is an online language arts game (actually, there’s like a million games in there) that will support your child from pre-reading ages through middle school. You’ll find interactive activities, games, songs, and over 2,000 ebooks in the included online library.
The self-paced lessons adjust to your child’s level as they go and have the look and feel of high quality games. They will practice age-appropriate phonics skills and comprehension, learn new vocabulary, play spelling games as they progress through interactive worlds.
You get reports of how your kids are doing and can even print out little certificates and rewards for them. It’s really a cute app.
This is a good one to support LA skills – and/or cover for you when you need it. Try it first to see if your kids like it. I bet they will!
4) Your Own Portable Teacher
Any age, any device (uses Zoom), sign up for individual classes
Offering a huge variety of classes, camp, and tutoring options, Outschool is a great place to find the instruction your kids need and an affordable instructor to teach it.
I’m always surprised at the volume of options on Outschool. You can select anything from Beginner Greek for high school and middle school American History to STEM classes for elementary students – and pretty much everything in between. Kids can attend classes on their phone or any portable device or computer from anywhere with internet access.
This is great for designing an extra curricular learning track for kids with a variety of specific interests. On the flip-side, you can also sign up for core classes as a support or short-term substitute for parent-guided or traditional school instruction.
Your kids will have some established times to Zoom in for the class, so it’s not quite as flexible as some of the other options. However, each teacher provides a very detailed look at the class and what is required – so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
You can browse current class offerings on the Outschool website.
5) The Powerful, Free Curriculum that in Your Pocket
Any age, use on portable devices or your computer, free
I can’t make a recommendation list for online education without mentioning Khan Academy. They are the trailblazers of free video-based learning for all.
Khan offers courses for K-12 in nearly every core class (LA is still in development) plus art history, computing, life skills, and AP.
It’s totally free, but there is a catch.
Unlike the other apps on this list, Khan takes a bit more parent oversight. Each course has a learning path with topics, videos, and quizzes. It’s less personalized than, say, other apps that offer AI programming that adjusts as your child masters the concepts. You receive reports on how your child scored and what they completed; then it’s up to you to re-teach, adjust, or add to the program.
Khan is an excellent resource for homeschool – especially if you’re using it as a temporary fill-in or in conjunction with other materials that you buy or source. Check out the courses on the website.
6) Access Your Local Library from Your Phone
The OverDrive & Libby apps are fantastic for older homeschoolers. Depending on where you live, your kids can access all kinds of library books for school or pleasure – for free.
There are a few pros & cons for these apps.
First, your selection is based on your local library’s purchases. If you are close to a city, it’s likely you’ll have a much larger (and more up-to-date) collection than smaller towns and rural areas.
Second, these apps aren’t great for younger readers. There usually aren’t many picture books, and books with any pictures can get pretty funky as far as formatting.
Last, your kid has access to all of the books in the library. I mean all the books – lookin’ at you, steamy romance section. There are some parental controls to limit search options for younger kids, but if your 15 year old son or daughter needs is looking for professional photography books or chemistry resources, that kind of restriction isn’t going to work.
Check with your local library to see what kind of online service they offer.
7) Most Trusted Test Prep App for College-Bound Homeschoolers
High school, use on portable devices or your computer
Last, but certainly not least – the most trusted source for college test prep since I was getting ready for college (and I’m sure before): The Princeton Review.
I know what you think of when you think of The Princeton Review – studying from massive textbooks from that one special, low shelf in the library. It’s not like that anymore.
In keeping with the times, your kids can now get their PSAT, SAT, ACT and MCAT prep right on their phone. The parent portal will report how your kids are doing – you can even connect them with a live tutor right through the app.
Head over to the website and search by test to find what you need.