Having written about the ‘amishness’ or not of homeschoolers I thought I would take a look at how we use computers and the TV in our family and any other bits ‘n’ pieces of technology.
The computer is a wonderful tool for a homeschooler-until it eats the poor kids work or wont work at all; then I get tempted to chuck the thing out of the window. However, we use the computer a lot.
So how do we use it and what are da rulz?
Starting with the youngest member of the family; Heleyna who is nearly walking now. She is not allowed to use the computer although she would very much like to drool and chew on it.
Avila (3) doesn’t use the computer.
Ronan (5) uses the computer on very rare occasions. We might use the Cbeebies site occasionally for things such as ‘Something Special’ or time telling games. I also use the Usborne quick-links site for our work on the Planets. I do have other sites we have used and will do so again-but not at the moment. I am teaching Ronan to be familiar with a qwerty keyboard. Typing skills are very important and I also believe a basic understanding of how a computer works is very important. Unless something drastic happens in the future he will need computer skills for just about anything he does. Ronan does not use the computer without me, and he is doesn’t use it every day or for long periods of time when he does use it with me.
Iona (14). Iona uses the computer for Powerpoint presentations; Publisher for her magazine and Word for essays or worksheets. We haven’t started using Excel yet, but she will need to for the Sweet Shop Business Plan. She uses the net for research and is a member of an online forum dedicated to the work of Eion Colffer. It is fully moderated. She does not use MSN and the computer is in the lounge. She is not online unless supervised and I know each and every site she visits and for what reason. The Internet is a great tool giving her access to books, information, music (no she isn’t into nasty stuff) and art. A lot of the books are free to download and there are some excellent up to date articles on historical research. A great deal of this sort of thing is simply not available in the library. It is a blessing to have easy and free access to so much.
She is also learning to use Movie Maker for her filmwork.
While she does use pen and paper for a lot of work, finished pieces are usually produced on the computer. The layout and standard of production are much higher and it is what will be expected of her if/when she goes to college and later if she chooses to attend university. She does quite a lot of her work at the computer although she also likes to be in her room and read and write.
Alex (16) is now in college. He uses the computer for homework, research and his art work. He is learning more and more about the intricicies of Photoshop and a 3d annimation programme he was able to download for free. He gets help with the artwork from people who use the Deviant Art website. He has an MSN account in which he keeps in touch with friends NOT STRANGERS. I know who they are and I know when Alex is talking to them. I am aware of the general content of conversation although nowadays I give a little privacy (not a lot).
Da Rulz for Alex are that he only visits sites for fun that I see and approve of. He is a member of a forum which I have seen and is moderated. I have never had to ban him from any sites.
Josh (18) is a bit cursed when it comes to ‘puters. It must be his electric personality, but they don’t like him. Nevertheless, when the computer lets him Josh uses it for letter writing, essays and job searching as well as websites he enjoys that are within da rulz. Again I’ve never had a problem here.
The computer is off at night. Although I have a laptop no one is allowed to take it upstairs to go online.
Da Rulz have always been there and the kids have always understood why they are there. So far I haven’t had a problem.
We have one TV which is shared with all the family. No TVs in rooms EVER. The only time I have met resistance on this was when Alex would have prefered to use his Wii upstairs. The answer was no and he accepted it. Once he got a job and was earning his own money he bought himself an Xbox360. He is allowed games for older children but he is not allowed to play them when the little ones are around. This works well at limiting him game playing time. It’s naturally limited by being at college and work and also by the fact that we have one shared TV.
Da Rulz on TV are No TV in the mornings. On a Sat and Sun the smalls are allowed an hour if they are up early. No TV during Homeschool time. The smalls are allowed up to hr in the afternoon if they want it and nothing else is happening.
The TV does tend to go on after the little ones are in bed. Usually (at least at the moment) it’s for a DVD. We have the Babylon 5 universe to watch. Sometimes Al wants to watch Norm Abrams build a table, or Mike Holmes rebuild parts of someones home. Sometimes there is a series such as House that we enjoy or a Jane Austin series. Iona and I like to watch some cookery shows for ideas. You get the idea. NO soaps, NO nasty stuff such as Big Brother and that kind of thing.
There’s a lot of really well made educational TV programmes. You have to pick’n'choose between some of the less educational and more silly stuff.
Finally there’s the question of MP3 players and mobile phones. Josh has a phone and MP3 player. He’s in charge of both although I know what he has on the MP3 player. This isn’t because I have policed it particularly closely; we just like the same music.
Alex has a phone that is also an MP3 player. Now, he’s only 16 and some of you might be thinking I’ve let my standards slip; but he is in college and working and sometimes I need to contact him. He keeps in touch with college friends events and pays for it himself. I know who he phones/texts and he doesn’t have the phone switched on during meals or other family time. I have never actually set that in da rulz- he just knows.
Iona has no phone. She doesn’t need one and anyway she’s only 14. She does have an MP3 player. I know what’s on it. Some pretty good stuff actually. I can also give her programmes I want her to listen to.
So that’s this homeschool family and technology.