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Google Pixel: A Mom’s Best Friend

Google Pixel: A Mom’s Best Friend

I’m a mom, so I rarely buy myself anything new. When I saw the Google Pixel at the Google Event, I knew it was time to treat myself.

I had been using an old 16GB Samsung S4, one that had been handed down to me. Sure, it was still functioning, but it was getting slow, and I wasn’t happy with the photo quality anymore. I took the plunge and pre-ordered the Pixel, and in it, found my new best friend.

Meeting the Google Pixel

google-pixel
    Image by Google

    The first thing I noticed, after I unboxed my beloved new Google Pixel, was that there were no earphones in the box. It’s not a big deal to me, as I still have my good old Samsung earbuds, it’s just one of those things one has grown to expect when getting a new phone. One less pair of earbuds I have to hide from my child, I suppose.

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    Another thing I didn’t realize: The Google Pixel uses USB-C cables to charge, not the Micro-USB that many phones use. The Pixel comes with a wall charger and not one, but two cables. One is USB-C to USB-C, which plugs in to the wall charger. The second is USB-C to USB. This is great because I can leave one plugged in at home, and one plugged in to my computer at work. Not that I ever have to top up the charge on this phone part way through the day.

    The first full day I had the phone I played with it all day. I took pictures and video, changed settings, streamed Netflix, scrolled through Pinterest, asked the Assistant dumb questions, read an e-book. By the time I went to bed, it still had 58% charge. It was then that I knew I was in love.

    Picture Quality

    Google Pixel photo
      The morning sky, captured by my Google Pixel.

      The picture quality of the 12.3 megapixel camera is unlike anything I have ever seen on a cell phone. One of the reasons that I wanted to upgrade was that the picture quality on the older phone was noticeably poor. Because I am primarily using my phone to take pictures of my child, I obviously want these to be the best they can be.

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      While I did notice some of the lens flare that seems to be angering others, I’m not too concerned with it. Google is working on a software update that will reportedly be out in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m considering the occasional flare a bit of artsy panache added to my pictures.

      Video Stabilization

      The video stabilization in the Google Pixel is glorious. I have a toddler who doesn’t sit still, so I am constantly chasing her with the camera. You will have to take my word on how remarkably smooth it is. It really is as good as the demo at the Google Event.

      Google Photos

      Can we talk about unlimited online storage for photos and video at full resolution? Google Photos is obviously the best thing that has ever happened to parents who take far too many pictures of their children. This is perfect for me, because:

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      1. I rarely take the time to transfer the astronomical amount of photos I have stored on my phone to my computer.
      2. I am terrified that a natural disaster will wipe out the thousands of baby photos I have stored on my computer.

      Any time you need to free up space, you just go in to Google Photos and click ‘Free Up Space’. It will tell you if the photos have been backed up to your Google Photo library, and if it’s safe to remove them from your device. It couldn’t be easier.

      Google Assistant

      The Assistant and I are in the early days of our friendship, but I already like her. She makes it easy to schedule appointments and send texts when my hands are full of kid. She helps me build my grocery list and will give me a briefing on my day. I can even take hands-free photos!

      google-pixel-screenshot

        Google Assistant is able to remember the context of a line of questioning, so you can ask several questions in a row about the same subject. The Assistant, like Siri, also has some great scripted answers to certain questions. Go ahead and ask her who shot first. And don’t forget to try “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

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        It is, of course, a learning process, and not all answers are witty, nor is everything I say understood. I look forward to seeing what a more personalized experience is like as the AI gets to know me better.

        Reduced Bloatware

        I like my carrier, I’m with them for a reason, but I never use any of the extra apps they install on the phone. Sure you can disable some, but rarely can you uninstall them, only their updates. It was the same thing with the added Samsung bloatware. Here I was, stuck with apps taking up space that I could be using for other apps that actually interest me. With the Google Pixel, you can actually delete the pre-installed apps that you don’t want.

        Fingerprint Reader

        Having never had one, I am especially happy with the fingerprint reader. My daughter discovered a work-around to the locked screen on the S4: if you press the home button enough times, the phone will access S Voice and just unlock. Like it’s been broken under torture. This doesn’t happen with the Google Pixel. It’s really handy having the reader on the back of the phone, as you can hold the phone naturally and unlock it. And you can set up prints for more than one finger, so I can use either hand.

        I would definitely recommend this phone to those who are looking for something new, and a little different than what they are used to. I particularly recommend this to the Mama Tribe. The smartphone has become an important tool for modern mothers, and the Google Pixel makes using a smartphone even easier and more convenient than it has been in the past few years. You’ll want to keep this phone all for yourself, and out of the mitts, and mouths, of babes.

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        Published on November 7, 2018

        How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

        How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

        In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

        The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

        Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

        How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

        After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

        Figure Out the Laws

        Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

        The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

        Decide on an Approach

        Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

        Supplies/Resources

        Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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        A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

        Find a Community

        Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

        Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

        7 Different Homeschooling Methods

        1. School-At-Home

        Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

        The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

        • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
        • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
        • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

        2. Classical

        One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

        Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

        3. Unit Studies

        Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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        For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

        • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
        • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
        • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

        4. Charlotte Mason

        This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

        Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

        5. Montessori

        Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

        With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

        6. Unschooling

        Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

        For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

        7. Eclectic/Relaxed

        As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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        Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

        How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

        One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

        Email

        Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

        It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

        Google Drive/Calendar

        Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

        With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

        Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

        Ebooks

        Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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        E-Courses

        When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

        From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

        The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

        Some recommendations:

        Youtube

        Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

        Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

        Some recommendations:

        Final Thoughts

        Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

        Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

        Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

        Reference

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