Does AI belong in home schooling?

September 14, 2023

With the recent rise of ChatGPT, artificial intelligence (AI) has stoked both interest and fear. People speculate how generative AI will impact – or harm – sectors of the workforce, music or visual artists, and even education.

One group seems especially open to the potential uses of generative AI – home-schoolers.

Home-schoolers are adopting generative AI tools

According to new data, home-schooling families are quicker to adopt ChatGPT than even classroom teachers: 44% of home-school educators use ChatGPT, while 34% of classroom teachers use it.

It should not be too surprising that home-schoolers are early adopters. They are a demographic that is willing to do things differently. Plus, these families need resources to make possible the leap of faith into home schooling.

As more families investigate parent-driven education options, some face hurdles and hesitations. These include efficiently finding academic materials for their student and making home education work financially. Many new AI options can and do meet these needs already.

Generate lesson plans

A key, but challenging, step for home-schooling families is finding curriculum. This is especially true when parents are home-schooling multiple children. Trying to find personalized lesson plans and ideas for one student is daunting, let alone lessons for several. Luckily, many AI resources can help with this while also significantly cutting down on the time parents need to find and deliver learning.

For instance, ChatGPT can respond to prompts such as “create a lesson plan on photosynthesis for a sixth grader,” or “create a lesson plan on the three branches of government for a ninth grader.” It can also generate activities, writing prompts, or follow-up questions to ask students.

Curipod is another AI platform that helps educators create lesson plans and other prompts. It assists educators in creating presentations that they are already making, or – as generative AI is known for – it can generate lesson plans on its own for educators to use.

Access personalized tutoring

Personalization is something that AI makes possible in a tangible way. One-on-one tutoring for students is a major advantage that can be found on many AI platforms, which is something parents who feel underqualified or overwhelmed by home schooling may find very appealing. 

Khanmigo (a tool of the Khan Academy) provides many offerings, including one-on-one, open-response style tutoring. Students can get real-time answers to questions, gaining confidence in their coursework without fear of judgment. This can both personalize the learning of students and free up parents from answering – or knowing the answer to – every question.

Likewise, a tool called Cognii is considered an AI virtual assistant. It can give immediate feedback on assessments and student questions, analytics to understand knowledge gaps, and personalized one-on-one tutoring for students.

Another is called Plaito. It offers tutoring and acts as a coach to offer prompts and suggestions to students as they progress. Plaito can assist students with a variety of topics like math, English, social studies, Advanced Placement, or even SAT prep.

Basically, there is no shortage of personalized tutoring available. Home-schooling parents who may question their competency in any given subject, their ability to differentiate for different age groups or needs, or who are simply crunched for time, may be interested in AI tutoring.

Use AI platforms for unique interests

Every student is unique with personal interests, weaknesses and strengths. For some home-schoolers, this reality is part of the motivation for taking education into their own hands. Fortunately, many AI resources fit the more unique interests and modes of learning for students.

Querium is a platform that helps students who want to learn or master STEM concepts, though this platform may be best for those who are nearing a career.

Students who need help improving in reading could use tools like Readability, which helps students with comprehension or building their vocabulary. Likewise, other students who need help with grammar, spelling, tone, etc., may benefit from an AI assistant like Grammarly.

For history-loving students, platforms like Hello History or Chat Legends give someone the chance to interact with an AI version of a historical figure like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Aristotle or Florence Nightingale as a way to learn more about history. (Although there have been some ethical concerns around promoting historical knowledge through these means.)

Parents should empower themselves with knowledge about the different offerings for niche interests and decide if any work for them.

Support home schooling financially

Paying for home education can be a barrier for some families. Luckily, many states have made strides toward offering publicly funded education choice programs – like the Utah Fits All scholarship – that enable families to purchase private school tuition, therapies, tutoring, curriculum, tests and more. However, some states do not, which means financing home education lands solely on parents.

Even where states offer public funding for home education, parents are incentivized to get the most value out of their dollars. Many of the AI tools already available are free, or more affordable than other options. ChatGPT, for instance, is free for unlimited use. Some platforms are free for basic features. Many others offer free trials, which allow parents to test its usefulness without committing for the long haul, which is different from purchasing textbooks, software or tuition elsewhere.

The point is parents can access some options free of charge and use other options to the degree that works for them. They can also compare price points to make their home education fit within their budgets.

Use to empower – not replace – parents

Like every technological advancement, AI has its advantages and disadvantages. For home-schooling families, AI is best understood as a tool among many that parents can use. The more parents understand what their options are or how a platform works, the more likely they are to get the results they want. AI is not perfect and still presents potential problems (e.g., accuracy or ethics). This means parents should see AI as working for them, not replacing them.

AI is now and will continue to be a permanent fixture in daily life. It is good news that home-schooling parents are already open to accessing its potential. Other parents who might be contemplating home schooling in the future should consider how AI can help them dive in.

Insights: analysis, research, and informed commentary from Sutherland experts. For elected officials and public policy professionals.

  • Artificial intelligence is quickly making its way into many aspects of life, including education.

  • Home-schoolers are adopting AI tools faster than classroom teachers are.

  • There are many AI tools that can help parents generate lesson plans, provide one-on-one tutoring, and provide learning for students with unique or specific interests.

  • AI is best seen as a tool that can empower parents rather than replace them. 

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