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High-tech Home School

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  • Hathaway, Todd LTJG
    The following article by Jennifer Kaufeld was found in the Borders Bookstore magazine: More and more parents teach their kids at home these days. Whether they
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 23, 2000
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      The following article by Jennifer Kaufeld was found in the Borders Bookstore

      More and more parents teach their kids at home these days. Whether they
      undertake home schooling as a full-time venture or they augment their kids'
      instruction with after-school learning, it's not too hard to find parents
      all over the country who are educating their own children.

      Using a personal computer lightens the home schooling load. Although plenty
      of textbooks and reference books are available, parents and tutors feel less
      of a need to know and do everything themselves when they have access to the
      computer and its storehouse of knowledge. With the Internet humming 24
      hours per day and software available that teaches everything from history to
      computer programming, you can use the computer as an integral part of the
      school day, a research tool, or a lesson planner.

      Be creative as you add to your learner's knowledge base. Every class or
      topic doesn't require a textbook with that subject title plastered across
      the front. Spending a few moments watching an animated solar eclipse on the
      Web definitely teaches more than the pages devoted to the same topic in a
      textbook. When you use the computer for those things that it's really good
      at - crunching numbers, interactive instruction, patient practice - you
      capitalize on a good thing while you save time.

      Arm your system with a few good programs that reinforce what you're trying
      to teach. Keep in mind that children who enjoy themselves will be more
      likely to use the computer. Generally, a software package designed at their
      level and interesting to use sees more wear than one guaranteed to pour
      educational concepts into them. Edmark, Knowledge Adventure, and The
      Learning Company all release great programs that teach several concepts or
      skills in one package. Also, look to these companies for one-subject
      practice programs, like the Math Blaster series.

      Use the Internet to research particular topics in history, science, current
      events, and computing. Need a study unit on how to clean house for your
      darling, but messy, little gems? You'll find it on the Web! The Internet
      connects you with other home schoolers through chat rooms and e-mail lists,
      provides products and resources for your class with online shopping, and
      acts as a quick reference tool. Use your online connection to download free
      lesson plans, take a look at what other home schoolers are doing, or get
      answers to pressing classroom questions from a source like Ask Jeeves for
      Kids ( http://www.ajkids.com ).

      Computers particularly shine when the home schooler begins to incorporate
      electives into the daily schedule. Learn about finances when you spend some
      time mastering a spreadsheet or complete a year's worth of transactions in a
      program like Quicken. Consider making a class out of genealogy or digital
      photography. With genealogy students can track down their family histories
      at the same time they learn how to research a topic in-depth via the
      Internet. Using an online connection for a subject like genealogy saves
      months (if not years) of research time. Studying digital photography can
      open the way to a career in Web design or photojournalism.

      Take a topic like "starting an online business" and turn it into a school
      elective. If you hit on a possible lucrative idea, and decide to launch it,
      the business could go a long way toward providing pizza money.

      Investigate how the computer really works and pick up a programming language
      or two. In addition to strengthening skills like logic and system design,
      experience in programming looks great on a high school transcript.

      Some subjects work best with a combination software/Internet approach. A
      computer helps you teach practically any foreign language, for example, even
      if you don't know it yourself. Once the student gains a basic understanding
      of the language with a software package, use your Internet connection to
      investigate foreign language Web sites, read international online
      newspapers, and learn about the culture associated with the language.
      Strategy games provide another example. Although learning to play chess
      online is possible, your student is probably better off with a patient
      computer program. Then, once she understands the basics, several online
      game portals offer free chess games against live players.

      If your student wants to study a subject that seems a little overwhelming,
      you might want to purchase one of the available computing guide books and
      use it as your "text" for that class. Several universities use the ...For
      Dummies series as introductory texts in computing classes. With a working
      computer and a good reference or two, parents can feel confident about
      tackling almost any subject at home.

      Jennifer Kaufeld is co-author of America Online for Dummies Quick Reference
      (IDG, 1999). She home schools her two children and is developing a home
      schooling guide for parents.
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