Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday's Toolbox: THE Internet

I LOVE my computer, and I have given this love to both my kids. It's amazing that we use our computers for almost all entertainment, but we also use them for the great love of learning that we have going on at our house! 

I remember the days when the internet took a long time to sign on to with a ringing sound that occupied our phone line and long codes were needed just to get online. Not today, as all sorts of speeds are available to get us ALL on quick! And because it's so convenient, we use it everyday~

Are you wondering WHAT AGE to let your kids begin their facination with the net?  Do you worry about them getting into junk/gunk that is awful on line? 

These are good concerns, as very young children are sometimes allowed to foster a love of the keyboard, mouse and screen, and older kids and even adults are left to their own divices getting into TROUBLE!  Children's games and learning systems are readily available online and FREE!

Check out Starfall.com for a preschool net reading/phonics program that littles will enjoy!
Games can be found. I don't play them, but I know my mother plays one called "Strike A Match." Check it out, she recommends it!

Our family has some ideas in our house regarding internet accountability. We learned some time ago to keep our computers~we have FIVE computers that include three desktops and two laptops that run from our high speed wireless router~PUBLICLY in public spaces! We don't allow anyone to slink off into private spaces where temptation can be great to get into content that is not appropriate, so our work stations are in the living room and history is checked often.  Loads of instruction and encouragment is given regarding limitations and boundaries for our family where internet usage is concerned. There is an open trust with an open eye concerning internet access.

As for the age when we began computing, my kids were on the keyboard with just cd games around preschool.  They were given typing and strategy math type games that encouraged propper keyboard usage with loads of fun. It was a nonpressure fun educational time. They didn't even KNOW they were in school~WHICH IS WHY I will say, if a child is old enough to WANT to play with the keyboard, why not?  This probably occurs no earlier than two or three, but you know your little one best.  Of course, the younger the child, the more you will want to be available to help.  Littles can sit in our laps while they use a mouse. 

Now that my kids are highschool, they not only love the net for fun, but also for information. Believe me, I've had to reign in the research done this way in favor of the methods of traditional research.  Wikipedia isn't the most accurate source of information, and due to sources not being necessarily authoratative, it's best to diversify them in general.  I had a professor for a class in college refuse internet research for what is considered "scholorly" research.  I would agree that printed materials make more credible research.  While not the best for papers which definitely should require scholorly research, on line research is a quick and effective way to look up "stuff." I personally LOVE to do research this way! I get interested in something and go looking for as many internet sources as possible about the subject. I like to research famous people too~you would be amazed to know what's out there!  But of course if I were researching for a formal reason, such as a paper, I'd go to printed materials that would include journals and other published works.  Since the net allows anyone to post up almost anything, the internet provides "a piece" of the POSSIBLE truth that is very fast and fun that may require authentication of information if required by the purpose of the investigation. 

Since the net is entertainment, I want to say that all sorts of stuff is out there for FREE to watch instead of television. In many ways the net can be a personal choice type of television because one can find things geared individually, but of course if one wants to do something with another or more, the computer can be plugged by a patch cord into as large a screen as is owned. Our 32" television will play what is on our computer screens. This makes watching a film on the net something we can all watch as a family. We also can watch streaming live video such as news and special reports. Our family watched in inauguration of President Barack Obama in this way so we could discuss the event together.  I have written  TV For Less to share about some of the FREEbies of net television, but there are free games and all sorts of music, patterns and information to be had too.  Are you sick of dusting those cook books? The net as any recipe you may want.  No KIDDING!  This is amazing to me! I no longer print stuff out as much either, but I put it up on screen and go from there! I look for instructions on how to do all kinds of stuff too. I love crochet, and there are tutorials, patterns and even inspiration! Search engines give us so many options for finding this knowlege at the click of the mouse!

Learning is exposure, and the net is one huge learning tool!
I find that I am constantly reading something online whether it's email, a blog, or an instruction or information or more! No wonder my eyes hurt sometimes!!

The interenet is a very useful tool for home education for every age of learning!  Check out my right lower column for links with resources for learning. I am particularly excited about     How To Write An Essay        
that I found tonight! It's very detailed!

What's your fave in Net learning?

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