Using YouTube for homeschooling

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Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

Late one Sunday night while lesson planning, I discovered I’d neglected to obtain the books I needed for the following day’s lesson.

I couldn’t make it to the library and I wanted to keep us on schedule. So I did what any mother in the 21st century would do: I went to YouTube.

First, I gave myself a quick crash course on our topic:

The next day, I opened with this video to introduce Napoleon to the kids:

I followed that with another “Horrible History” feature about life in the French army:

Finally, I closed with some cartoon fun from Histeria (which was actually pretty accurate):

This was a nice change of pace from our normal routine and I’ve since returned to these resources for other videos on whatever our topic of the week. I keep our favorites pinned on my homeschool Pinterest board so I can find them easily on lesson days.

Admittedly, my children are young and these were very simple videos, but the Crash Course video I watched on my own would have been fine for older children to view.

And this same “teacher” has more in-depth videos on the subject here, which would be perfect for older students. (I would consider these PG and definitely suggest previewing them to make sure they suit your children.)

I first began using YouTube when my kids were preschoolers. We loved Cullen’s ABC’s and I was often motivated to actually DO things with my preschoolers just by watching the videos with my kids. I would also dash to the computer to search YouTube when my kids asked me, “Mommy, how do you make glass?” or some other question I didn’t know the answer to.

Despite its reputation for harboring millions of videos about cute kittens or sneezing Pandas, YouTube is an excellent resource for educators. YouTube EDU corrals many of its best educational videos into one portal for easy searching and viewing. You can search by topic or by level of learning, making it much easier to narrow down what you are looking for.

Furthermore, YouTube now offers educators a way to view educational content without being distracted in the sidebar by inappropriate material for little eyes. If you sign in using your school’s email address (create one for your own homeschool on gmail for free), you can use YouTube for Schools, which offers a more controlled environment for learning.

It filters inappropriate and non-education related content for you and turns off comments and related videos. Only YouTube EDU videos are searchable when YouTube for School is in use.

Even better, YouTube Teacher allows you to create your own page and playlists for viewing. You can also search educational playlists created by other teachers related to certain topics. All you need is a gmail account and you and your children can view videos in your customized viewer with your hand-picked playlists.

For other ways to use YouTube for learning, check out this list of 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers.

What are your favorite YouTube channels for learning? How do you make use of online videos in your classroom?

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