Friday, January 22, 2010

Homeschool and Technology

Depending on your method of homeschooling you may use anywhere from no technology to having 100% online based curriculum. Every family is different and has different needs and since you are the expert on your child you know what they need better than anyone. This isn't to say that those with teaching credentials do not know a lot or have things to offer but generally if parents choose to be involved and care, they know best.

A startling statistic I heard on the news the other day (can't remember the source) was that kids spend 7 hours per day, outside of school, using some form of technology. This took in texting, computers, video games, television, mp3 players and other forms of technology. I was astounded at this number. Either these kids get up really early or they stay up very late. My kids are all put to bed at 8 p.m. The older children have reading time but no video games aloud. If they finish school work at 3:00 p.m. that only leaves five hours. They are only allowed video games on the weekend and the four children share one cell phone. Hopefully my own situation will not become one of technology saturation.

On the flip side, as pointed out on the news, if parents learn to text they can have opportunities to be closer to their teens and tweens. It was also pointed out that if parents will sit down with children of all ages and watch television it can be the subject of some great conversation and teaching moments.

Video games have their place and their is even a pilot program school that just started in New York that is 100% technology based, using games to teach kids their usual school subjects. I suppose it is how you use technology.

The same news segment pointed out (I now believe that it was the Today Show) that we needed to help our children to have face to face conversation and interaction so that they are well rounded. Because some technology is so new, we cannot know the true consequence of the many hours spent say - texting.

Personally I believe that "everything in moderation" is a great way of thinking. I know families that ban video games (which is great, to each his own) but when the student goes to a friends house that is what they want to do, like forbidden fruit! I know parents who are 100% anti-television and then I think about my own children missing the PBS virtual field trips from Colonial Williamsburg and it's hard to imagine not having had so many hours of fun with them and even learning a lot myself.

Most things have their good side and their bad, this can even be said of homeschooling. As we consider the fact that we are in a technology saturated world we may want to consider making sure that our students are at least somewhat fluent in word processing, browsing the internet, using a cell phone at times and perhaps even playing a video game or two. You never know where their passion will lie and what job skills they will need and you surely want to help them be prepared.

For our family we are lucky. Our children are part of a homeschool program that has some online schooling and some text. The teachers involved do virtual classroom activities as well as face to face activities. Today my boys came home from a technology class (held once or twice a month) where they learned how to put a slide show together starting with taking the digital photos right to saving it to a thumb drive. Some of the slide shows were even set to music. They were so excited to share their creations and to show off what they did. It was a fun day for them and for me.

I guess the bottom line is the same as most of my posts: do what works for you and meets your families needs. I will say though that you should be careful of being too close minded and therefore cheat your children out of some wonderful things that were put here for us to enjoy and learn.

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