Help Your Children Learn with YouTube

My college freshman son called me from campus to thank me! He was grateful for the time I had allowed him on the computer, specifically YouTube, during his high school years.

He used it for learning.

During his time as a homeschooler and now in college, he has found Youtube to be a resource and a part of his learning process.  (Khan Academy for math and sites to learn coding...even cooking)

  • It is an immediate assistance for the moments he is most engaged and ready to learn.  
  • It allows him self-paced learning.  He can pause, rewind and replay.
  • Its cost-effective...FREE! (And now I am seeing the ROI.)
  • It often makes the viewer a student of the most incredible "teachers." 
  • It has near-effortless searchability.
  • It can provide delight-driven rabbit holes of learning.

He/we are not the only ones that feel that way.  Studies show that most of us prefer to learning by watching and via video.  My husband fixes things around the house after watching video how-tos. I watch cooking and photo editing tutorials.
"Forrester Research estimates one minute of online video equates to approximately 1.8 million written words. In addition, 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. This indicates visual education aids like video can improve learning styles and increase the rate at which we retain information." SOURCE
Internet access and YouTube does have its challenges for parents.  There are very real concerns and discernment, filters and culling necessary.  But, this is a success story.  

The story starts in our first years of homeschooling.  We sat around a large round table and my laptop was in front of me.  When a question came up, when we were reading about a person, or an historical event or time period, or practicing a poem's recitation, we would gather around my screen and google together.  

  • When we are reading about a period of history and a famous character, that character can come alive to us via newsreel footage ...Mussolini's smug head nodding speech...Hitler and his heil hand that's what they look/sound like... 
  • We'd watch and hear the poetry The Charge of the Light Brigade recited by its author, Alfred, Lord Tennyson thanks to YouTube. When my children are directed to memorize poetry or Shakespeare they are assisted invaluably be hearing it done by others, even famous actors. What a context and cadence it brings to them!
  • We watched science after the other...following the sidebar down a rabbit hole. 
  • We searched new ways to explain math problems. When we had a pre-schooler that needed a few minutes to stop distracting older students, she watched phonics clips, Aesop fables, preschool power skills and Schoolhouse Rock.
  • When my children's curriculum suggests a piece of classical music to listen to I can not only play it but show them the symphony and alternate versions!
  • We've learned about life skills, watched artists create, listened to inspiring TedTalks and had priests and saints before us, sharing their sermons and biographies.
Probably a day doesn't go by where we don't utilize YouTube as a search engine.  YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world. 

Created by Mushroom Networks CLICK ON THIS to enlarge these fascinating statistics.

I started keeping a list of what we watched and used in our visual, video learning. I wrote posts about it, too.

LINKS OF INTEREST TO HOMESCHOOLERS is one of the most viewed posts on my blog.
How To Use Social Media for Learning
And my YouTube channel homeschool playlist , which I really need to add to.  When Pinterest came along, I made a visual filing cabinet of all the links and what grades and course of study they applied to....23 Pinterest boards of learning/homeschool resources!  More of my homeschool YouTube links are there.

During that phone call I asked my son for some advice I could share:

  • Watch the video in full screen
  • Watch in highest resolution
  • Listen with headsets on for best sound quality and reduction of distraction
Additionally he texted, " I believe the internet is unquestionably the most powerful learning tool in the world.  I also believe that learning on the internet builds a lot of self-discipline due to the inevitable distractions.  I don't think learning on the internet is easier than anything else.  In fact, I think there's a struggle to it, but if I look hard enough, I always find what I need." 
Then he quoted Sal Khan: " Your intelligence CAN grow. The best way to grow it isn't to do things that are easy for you.  What really helps your brain is struggle. Your brain grows the most when you get a question wrong."
And my TIPS are:
  • Model to your children how to search for best resources and what's reliable
  • Have a filter blocking adult content and a frank discussion with students old enough to use a computer of your monitoring their searches and keep computers in open, family areas.
  • Pre-screen videos you recommend
  • Discuss what makes a good video, how material is presented, speaking skills - from this practice, a lot can be learned about how to present material well....a good skill to develop in a progressively visual media world.
  • It's a tool.  There are times to pick it up and times to put it down.
I believe you can make YouTube work for you in the education of your children. We've truly found its benefits in our homeschooling. Like most treasures, it takes time and care to find the gems....but they are there ..... and the "struggles" CAN help you grow.


Patty said...

THIS is when technology is so amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

Sterling Jaquith said...

Thank you for this awesome post! I've only recently been diving into YouTube myself and wondering how I could incorporate it into homeschooling. I appreciate how you laid it all out and gave me confidence that it wouldn't fry the brains of my sweet children but rather open them to new information!

Melissa said...

I am going to spend sometime looking over the homeschooling with YouTube link. I love using technology in the curriculum. Thanks for posting this!

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