The title of this article may seem redundant. Chances are, your child has already integrated technology into their everyday life and uses many forms of technology in his or her education. But are they the right types of technology for the right kinds of things? Just because the Internet, computers, e-books, and tablets are available for students to learn from, doesn’t mean that learning is actually happening.
1. Make The Facts Real
Okay, another case of redundancy in disguise. Facts are already real, but simply memorizing information is very boring and less likely to stick in your child’s mind. Making the facts real by using real world examples can demonstrate how subjects like math and science are important and exciting outside of the classroom. Fractions are a whole lot more interesting when used to bake chocolate chip cookies.
Many classes use the fun soda and Mentos experiment. In order to determine if you can generate electricity from such a reaction, have your child use a convertible netbook and a downloaded application to test his/her hypothesis. Educator.com also has engaging, middle school lessons on Chemistry, which can help give background information on the chemical reactions at work in this experiment.
2. Encourage A Multimodal Approach To Learning
That means allowing your child to experience different ways of interacting with technology. Multimodal interactions are a form of human-machine communication that uses multiple modes of input and output. Most laptops and tablets feature video recording, cameras, and styluses, which make learning more hands-on. Parents should encourage their child to be creative with these types of tools and promote a space where the child feels empowered by the device, rather than a passive consumer of information. This approach also can keep kids focused while making the lessons more interesting and fun. For example, read an article on reading thermometers and making weather predictions with your child. Then plan a trip to the park on a humid day and, using software integrated and available on convertible tablet netbooks, measure the temperature.
3. Let Them Own Technology
When I was little, I had a very realistic, giant, blue and gray “lap top” computer that had a variety of educational games and even taught html. Granted it was a toy, I didn’t get a real laptop until college, but I remember how excited I was to get one for my tenth birthday. I felt grown up, special, and I felt like I owned something important. The lap top gave me the ability to access educational activities that were appropriate for my age any time I wanted. Giving students their own technology, real or pretend, opens up opportunities for kids to really take ownership of their own educations and to be a part of the process. My toy laptop took a serious beating throughout the years I owned it, so I suggest looking for ones that are made for children and/or offer some sort of waterproof case.
4. Make Self-Paced Learning Easy
Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. Some children need more structured assignments and projects, while others do best when their creative energy is set free. Technology allows parents to provide the right amount of individualized discipline and support, and to make changes when necessary.
Educator.com offers many middle school and high school courses that allow students to learn at their own pace. Another example is McGraw-Hill’s LEAD21 reading program, which offers a personalized and interactive experience for various reading levels.
5. Make Technology Safe
The interesting thing about children is that when left on their own, they can independently explore, discover, and make learning more exciting for themselves. However, teaching them about Internet safety early will prepare them to make their own decisions about Internet usage in the future. It’s important to warn about predators, inappropriate material, and mature content, but hovering over them to ensure they are safe will only stifle them. That’s where parental controls come in handy.
When considering different devices, look for built-in safety tools in computers that allow you approve of certain sites and content. The Internet can be an overwhelming place and young people do not always know what actions are considered unsafe. According to a recent survey on kids and Internet safety, 68% of teens have at some point accepted Facebook friend requests from people they didn’t know. This type of behavior opens the door to sharing personal information — like where they live and where they go to school— with complete strangers. Safety software allows your child to have the freedom to learn and explore, and for you to have peace of mind.