Now that we are all returning to school routines, take the time to make a few 21st Century family decisions — choices that can help the device-users in your family grow more careful, thoughtful, and serious about their connected world responsibilities. With so much going on the digital world, parenting today is a bit like riding a roller coaster. But some carefully considered decisions can set the stage for fewer digital world scrapes and bumps in a family’s life.
1. Where will digital devices be charged at night? Most educators recommend that families charge devices in a centralized location away from bedrooms. Many parents also set an evening time limit after which mobile phones, iPads, and even the Internet cannot be used.
2. If students have significant amounts of online homework, where will they work? Dining room table? Family room? Den? Most educators and pediatricians suggest that students do homework on computers that are located in places where other people also spend time and not in the bedroom. Check out How Does Multitasking Change the Way Kids Learn over at the KQED Mindshift website.
Even in today’s fast-paced virtual world, these tips never seem to age. Help kids learn to make good choices.
1. Who made the site? Is it from a university or other institution? Is it for-profit or non-profit. Corporate? Look for an “about” link that describes the site.
2. When was the site made and how often is the site updated? Somewhere, usually at top or bottom it should tell. Is this site updated recently? If not this may be a reason to check out another website on your topic.
3. Is it possible to contact the webmaster or the sponsor of the site? Is there a “contact us” link somewhere on the page?
4. How much advertising is on the page, and how aggressive is it? Good sites that use advertising are careful to keep it from being “in your face.”
5. Does the site state its mission? Why was it set up?
If you haven’t read the article, GWU Launches Online Prep School, appearing in the January 22, 2011 Washington Post, check it out. The piece, by reporter Daniel de Vise describes the digital school, but he also explains how a dramatic shift — toward digital learning — is occurring world of education as more and more people take computer-based online learning courses. The article also examines whether online learning is a good learning tool in the world of adolescents. The jury is still out on this question, because of the strong organizational skills that are required to complete an online course. You can visit the GWU Online High School website and also the Stanford University Online High School website.
Does someone in your house need an occasional grammar review? Do occasional questions about word use or punctuation come up as a family member writes important essays and reports? If so, check out Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. It’s amusing for kids and adults, too, but there’s a lot to learn along the way. We listen to these podcasts just for fun, and I know a family that downloads the “casts” to listen to on family car trips (okay, it’s my family).
Grammar Girl posts regular podcasts — free and never more than a couple of minutes long — and they are chock-full of interesting information about usage, punctuation rules, and accepted practices. She uses humorous examples, not unlike the understated but clever examples found in Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, a revered but unpretentious reference first published in 1918 and still widely used today.
Yesterday (November 21, 2010) a New York Times article, Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction, described the increasing problems that adolescents experience when choosing between computer entertainment and school assignments. Moreover, a fair number of students find it more and more difficulty complete reading assignments because they prefer short-lived digital activities. One compelling point in reporter Matt Richtel’s article stands out and makes me wonder — is the digital divide expanding before our eyes, even in families that can afford basic computer equipment and access?
Parents and teachers are always on the hunt for a reliable Internet site that children can visit time after time and be certain of the quality and reliability of the content. The Internet Public Library (ipl2) fits the bill, a resource that is just as good for adults as it is for children. With a motto of “Information You Can Trust” the IPL2 is a searchable, subject-categorized directory of authoritative websites with links to online texts, newspapers, and other resources. Librarians review everything in the collection.
Summer is over, but your family can still travel virtually to out-of-town museums by visiting one of the web-based museum portals described below. Each leads to a wide range of museums close by and around the world. Some of the sites feature travel information as well as museums.
While it is easy to search for the larger, most well-known museums, these search sites can help people find hidden museum gems. Becoming familiar with these museum portals gives parents and students an additional bonus — museums are great resources for students to use when they work on school reports and projects. Below are four sites that provide hours of fun, not to mention unlimited information. Continue reading “Museums: For Schoolwork, Fun, and Even Travel – Bookmark It!”→