Today I am going to share a little bit about technology in the classroom – the homeschool classroom that is. I think this is an area where some of us fall down – just a little. Have no fear – I will offer you a little insight as to how you might want to be guiding your children in this area. It’s not unusual, I know, for many kids to be much more tech savvy than their parents, so yes – they probably know how to access the iTunes store and can download a movie on the tablet faster than you can say jack rabbit.
BUT how good are they are using Microsoft Word? Do they know how to create a folder on the computer where all the pictures for the science project they are collecting can be kept? Or have you experienced that moment when you open the pictures file on your computer so as to choose a picture of the baby’s baptism to send to the grandparents only to find hundreds of selfies of the 13 yr old and thirty photos of the disappearing Bengal tiger your 11 year old is studying mixed in with the baptism photos….
What about PowerPoint – do you children know how to create a PowerPoint presentation? (For that matter do you?) Ok – so we have established that there is a good possibility that some basic technological expertise might be missing from your homeschooling endeavors; so what do you do?
A good place to start would be to search for your state’s educational standards for technology. For North Carolina they can be found here. When you open it there are quite a few links on the page so I took a screenshot of the section you want to explore. It looks like this:
You can open up the grade appropriate description as a PDF or a word document. And yes – it is a little intimidating when you first look at it. Just take a deep breath and relax. Once you have scanned it over a bit you will begin to recognize a lot of what they are listing there and possibly realize you already do a lot of this already. (BTW – if you don’t want to go through the bother of determining what your state’s curriculum technology standards are, just use the ones I have linked to as they will be pretty much the same across the country. You’re welcome!)
I realize that exploring these lists of technological expertise your child should have by graduation can be anxiety inducing. I am going to start you off with a simple list that you can use to jump start teaching technology to your homeschooler.
As I hinted above, your adolescent child, despite knowing how to operate your cell phone better than you, is quite likely lacking in some basic computer skills so here is the promised list you can use to take inventory of their skills (or lack of).
Are your students are already proficient in the basic skills of:
- How to locate the document files and picture files on your computer.
- How to create a folder and name it.
- Learn how to save a document or picture in the folder of your choice.
- Know to pay attention when saving a photo or document from a search so as to direct it to a specific folder as to avoid it getting lost within the downloads or a folder you did not realize was open.
- Know where the download file is for when the above happens.
- How to search for files on the computer you are using.
- How to transfer documents and photos from one folder to another and/or to a memory stick.
- How to write an essay with an office word document (or similar program), name it, and save it to the folder of your choice.
Once you are convinced your student/s know how to do all of this, you are ready for the next challenge – a PowerPoint presentation.
I know how to use PowerPoint because I am married to the guy who teaches technology at our local school and we both worked for six months creating a PowerPoint presentation about safety on the internet a few years ago. (I’m lying – it was almost a decade ago but moving right along…)
If, like many people, you have never created a PowerPoint presentation you can go here to view the internet’s free version of PowerPoint for dummies online.
Or you can buy a copy of the actual PowerPoint for Dummies. (I have never read this book so I cannot vouch for how easy it is to read and or to follow their instructions but they offer you a free sample if you want to check it out) I have glanced at the free 27 slide PowerPoint presentation on PowerPoint linked above and it’s fairly complete and should give you enough confidence to create a small power point yourself before getting your kids to do one on let’s say – the history of your state, your family, or the even the baby’s baptism. Creating a PowerPoint presentation can and should be fun. This year my youngest four students are creating their own presentations and we will be inviting guests for coffee and treats to enjoy while each child presents their provincial projects ala PowerPoint.
Hopefully this post has stimulated your imaginations and built your confidence in your ability to introduce technology to your home school experience. If you are already experiencing success in this area please share in the comments section what you have incorporated in your schooling, as well as any resources you have found online to help with this. For example have you found free typing classes online or instructional site or videos about different technology skills you have introduced to your children.
Last but not least – be sure to teach your children about internet safety and if you don’t already have one – create an internet safety contract that you and your children can sign and agree to abide by. Here are some sites where you can brush up on internet safety:
Netsmartz and safekids.com and here is a good example of an internet safety contract for your younger children and here is one for your teen. Don’t feel restricted by these samples those though. We have actually had our older children write their own contracts after discussing what we need to do to stay safe online.
(photo credits: kid with laptop was taken from a post about setting technology rules for kids)
Christi Gareis is a homeschooling mother of thirteen, with four children still at home. Her youngest child can boast that she was an aunt before she was born. Christi has been blogging since 2005 and has three blogs. In addition to blogging, Christi has been published on Catholicmom.com as well as in CCL’s magazine Family Foundations. She also wrote the section on How to ‘Prepare Your Child for First Reconciliation’ in the book '101 Stories of Reconciliation' by Sister Patricia Proctor.