homeschooling boy and mother at computer

3 Ways Parents Are Using Smart Speakers for Homeschooling

Let Amazon Echo Dot, Bose Home Speaker or Sonos One become your little helper.

Amid the chaos of working, schooling and playing at home that is life during a pandemic, parents are discovering that there is a lot to like about smart speakers. It turns out your Bose Home Speaker  or Sonos One smart speaker can be a total lifesaver when it comes to caring for children.

Previously reserved for playing music and a few convenient party tricks, parents are finding that the voice assistants of this world (Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri) have a lot to offer in the childcare space. Do you have a toddler pulling at your trouser leg mid Zoom call or a teenager needing help with a maths problem that’s causing your high school algebra lessons to come back to haunt you? Stress no more, your voice assistant is here.

Whether it’s entertainment for your little one to focus on while you nail that presentation in front of your boss or an alarm that acts as a school bell to keep homeschool rolling, the voice assistant living in your humble smart speaker is the ultimate little helper you never knew you needed until now.

Once you have one, you won’t know how you ever lived without it. It’s no wonder that Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker broke Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales records.

So take a break from lesson planning and let your little helper takeover in these three great ways.

1. Entertainment

If you haven’t yet discovered Sonos’ or Echo’s noise capabilities, you are in for a treat. You can ask your smart speaker to play any kind of animal noise. Simple right? Wait and see your preschooler’s reaction. A lion’s roar, a pig’s oink or a horse’s neigh can be dialled up in mere seconds, but the entertainment? It can last for hours! Want to make your child laugh? Ask Alexa to dial up a fart. You can just imagine the joy on a five-year-old’s face as they realise they can summon huge, hilarious farts from the innocent-looking cylinder perched on their kitchen bench.

And if playing noises can’t keep the boredom at bay, you can always use your mighty smart speaker to play games with your children. From educational quizzes to just-for-fun experiences, smart speakers have games for children including Jeopardy! and even hide and seek with Elmo on Amazon Echo. Your toddler just needs to say “Alexa, ask Sesame Street to play hide and seek.”

After all that entertainment you may need some respite from the chaos. You can always try calming your child by playing ambient sounds such as white noise, rainstorms or ocean waves on your smart speaker.

2. Learning and Development

Your voice assistant is like a talking Google and can answer just about anything, especially when you’re not in a position to. Say you’re busy working on a proposal with a daunting deadline and your 8 year old wants to know how to spell “onomatopoeia”. You don’t have the time or the brain capacity to spare on this, so who do you call on? Your little helper of course. And that’s not all she’s good for. Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant can handle maths problems, capital city questions, pronunciation and so much more!

For maths skills, get your homeschooler to try some of the following commands on Alexa

  • “Alexa, open Math Facts
  • “Alexa, open 1-2-3 Math
  • “Alexa, open Smart Math

Encourage your child to think of their own questions to ask your voice assistant as children can come up with some pretty interesting questions. Smart speakers are also a great learning and development tool for children that may find traditional devices with a keyboard and screen challenging. A smart speaker gives them the opportunity to navigate the online world and experience the benefits of connected technology using only their voice.

3. Routine

One of the best parts of sending your children off to in-person school is the structure it brings to their day. The school bell marks the start and finish times for each period of the day. But schooling at home can go a little haywire as there are many distractions in your home drawing your child’s attention away from piano practice or homework. If this sounds like your household, it’s time to employ a little helper to keep things on track – your smart speaker.

It’s as easy as using your voice to command Alexa or Google to set reminders, timers and alarms to keep your children (and yourself) on task for set periods of time. Whether Google’s Family Bell or Alexa Reminders is your method of choice, the smart speaker school bell is especially useful for reminding your children to move on to another activity.

  • To set up Family Bell, open the Google Home app on your iOS or Android device and tap your profile photo in the top right corner. Tap Assistant Settings > Assistant > Family Bell > Add a bell and enter the details (including what you want the “bell” to say).
  • To set up Reminders, open the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device, tap the menu button in the upper left corner, and tap Reminders & Alarms > Reminders. Hit the plus symbol to create a new reminder, and enter what you want Alexa to say. From there, you can also edit the time, frequency and devices that broadcast the message.

Your homeschool routine will be completely transformed. Although, there is always a risk that your voice assistant scheduling may be rendered useless if it can’t be heard over your child’s relentless wailing. Of course if that happens, well, you’ve got bigger problems to deal with anyway.

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