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Classical Homeschooling with Mobile Apps

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As classical homeschoolers (14 years and counting), our home is filled to overflowing with good books, and we spend the long winter days curled up with our favorite literature. However, one of our best family homeschooling purchases is our iPad, which we rely on as a companion for each subject of study. The iPad functions as an e-reader, research tool, teacher’s assistant, and key instructional component for our academic pursuits. With the iPad, we take our classical studies to a whole new level, as we experience dynamic interaction with our learning. At first, it may seem incongruent that modern technology, through the iPad or other tablets, would have much in common with classical education philosophies with its origins from times past. Yet, surprisingly, new and emerging technologies are quite compatible with classical methods.


Classical education methods are based on the three ways or roads of learning, known as the trivium in Latin, which include the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages. The grammar stage, approximately at the elementary level, covers the foundational base of knowledge whereby new information is memorized and stored in the learning pathways of the brain. The dialectic stage, occurring roughly in the upper elementary and junior high years, includes the phase where assimilated learning is processed in a logical manner and deeper understanding is gained. The rhetoric stage, typically achieved during the high school and collegiate years, takes place when the student is proficient in expression and can teach wisdom gained to others. Through each stage of classical learning, our family finds that the iPad offers unparallelled access to educational resources, all available right at our fingertips.

Here are just a few examples of the grammar level explorations we have taken with the iPad:




Language Arts

In our classical homeschool, we use educational apps to supplement our core curriculum for each subject of study, and the apps play a huge role in our success. The iPad is a tremendous positive reinforcement to the structure of our day. On focused days, when attitudes are cheerful and eager for our studies, we complete our usual assigned tasks, and then enjoy educational apps that support each subject. The kids look forward to using the iPad each day, and most often will work towards a focused time of study. On days when we have grumpy attitudes pop up, we take a break from using the iPad and other media. To maintain healthy boundaries for technology use, we do limit the amount of “screen time” that each person has each day. But it is amazing how just a few minutes of an educational app offers an interactive dimension to our traditional books and resources. By adding this new tool into our homeschooling, we avoid the boredom and monotony that can arise in different seasons of the year.

Our greatest blessing with the iPad is that our ten year old, who once cried (frequently) over her classical math textbooks, now considers math a favorite subject. We did not eliminate the classical math program, but we took a short break from the text, and began using several high quality math apps on the iPad. Our daughter thrived with the interactive nature of the educational apps and mastered several basic grammar levels of math in a short period of time. Just recently, she announced at dinner that she loved algebra and polynomial equations, which she tinkered around with in a higher math app. This is a huge step of growth and learning for someone who once loathed math, and cried profusely when faced with a math textbook. I attribute our conquering of math anxiety to the benefit we gained from using math apps on the iPad.

Do you currently incorporate mobile apps within your homeschooling day?

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About Carlie Kercheval

Carlie Kercheval is a happily married stay-at-home homeschooling mom. She and her college sweetheart have been blessed with 3 precious children to raise while traveling the world as a military family. Carlie is the founder of Today's Frugal Mom™, So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?™ and Managing Your Blessings. Carlie and her husband co-author the Learning to Speak Life™ family Bible studies and together they co-host the Learning to Speak Life™ Radio Show. When she is not busy enjoying her family and the great outdoors, you can typically find her cozied up somewhere under a blanket with a good book. You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


  1. Love this! I am always conflicted about using apps as I think of classical homeschooling as more of a stick-in-the-sand approach, but we are in a Classical Conversations community and CC released an amazing app this year for the Foundations memory work. Plus my kids love playing with the iPad, so even educational games are a great way to liven up the school day!
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    • Hi Jen! We love the CC app too. I have a small CC community here in Central Indiana. I do find that a healthy balance of media usage really compliments our academic studies. Our daughter memorized the US Presidents within just a couple of days of playing Presidents VS. Aliens. It is easy for our family to have control over screen time when the children are 10, 6, and 2. We will have to continue to guide them so they will make healthy media choices in their teen and adult years. Many blessings to you!
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  2. Thanks for sharing these great ideas with us at Trivium Tuesdays! Right not my young kids are way too obsessed with the idea of technology, so I definitely pause at the introduction of apps and that sort of think. I like to let them use things like that, but then usually regret it when I see an attitude change in them immediately =( Hopefully as they mature they will be able to handle these things too!

    Can I ask, what math text do you use?

    • Hi Amy! One thing that we do is take 15 minute turns using the iPad except for math when we take 30 minutes after completing our text. Our daughter is working on Saxon 65 this year. Last school year, she was intimidated by the bulky Saxon text. I figured out that it overwhelmed her to see so many problems at one time. We started using math apps and they present one problem at a time. This really helped her ADHD and math anxiety because she could focus on one problem at a time. Math was once the dreaded subject in our home. She loves math now. I give all of the credit to using math apps. Now she works on her Saxon math without any complaint or issue. We did have to take a short break from the text until she mastered her basic math facts. My nephew is 6 years old and we use Splash Math Kindergarten for him.
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  3. Linda Bolt says:

    Interesting article.
    You might want to flip around your “rhetoric” and “dialectic” stages in your explanation of classical education.


  4. On the math you speak about in the last paragraph (algebra, etc) could you share what apps you use for that? I have a math “hater” as well, and we are in Pre-algebra and would love anything that might help.

  5. I am looking for an educational ap or program that my children can use, they are going into k and 2nd grade. I want an ap that can help with reading,math and as many other subjects as possible. I really want one they can log into separately and that tracks there progress. So they are not repeating same questions over and over. Thanks Jamie cell 5022490416