Supporting Students’ Technology Skills at Home

As an elementary school Technology Teacher, I get asked all the time, “What can I do to help my students at home?” My answer is usually short and simple – let your children see you using the computer.  If you use the computer to send emails, pay bills, create your shopping list, edit photos, etc., let your children sit with you and explain what you are doing and why.  Many of my students only see the computer as a game because that is all they are allowed to do on it at home.  They need to see their parents using the computer for work or household chores to see how valuable a tool it really is.

The computer can also be a very helpful tool for students to practice or extend their learning from school.  Students can practice typing their spelling words in a word processing program such as Microsoft Word or Pages.  This gives them practice with their words as well as keyboarding skills.  Have them write emails to family members to improve their writing skills.

Many parents are afraid to let their children do Internet searches for research because of the inappropriate content that exists on the Internet.  While Google is a great tool, it wasn’t designed for children.  There are dozens of child-friendly search engines that your children can use instead.  One of my favorites is www.kidzui.com which can be installed on your computer for free.  Parents create a free account and then set up log-ins for each of their children.  Best of all, it sends parents an email each week showing exactly what their children have been searching for.  Another great tool is Nettrekker.  Nettrekker is a subscription service which your school or district may have purchased a license for.  Ask your school’s Technology teacher for the log in information.  A third option, which is great for older students, is www.sweetsearch.com.  All three of these Internet search engines are checked frequently to ensure that sites are kid-safe, relevant, and updated.

Don’t underestimate the power of creativity also.  In fact, the first of the National Education Technology Standards for Students is Creativity and Innovation.  Give students time to create their own projects on the computer.  This can be anything from drawing a picture in a program such as Microsoft Paint to creating their own websites using a safe environment such as www.Glogster.com/edu.

Games do have their place also.  Many games build critical thinking and problem solving skills which are needed throughout life.  Www.kidzui.com mentioned above has several kid-safe games, as do websites such as www.pbskids.org and www.funbrain.com.

Another way to protect your children when they are online is to use Google Chrome as your web browser.  Google Chrome has a special Kid Mode as well as several free educational games and apps you can install for your children.

Leave a Comment

For your photo to appear next to your name, be sure you have a Gravatar.com account created matching your email address.