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I was never a big fan of report writing, especially the research portion. But when I could make it into a dazzling project, then it was kind of fun. My mom helped me with this big report on the Black Rhinoceros. I remember facts about that creature today (26 years later- ouch).
But the tools of the time were the photocopier, the clear plastic sleeve, the one-inch ring binder, and clearly-written labels.
Blogging for Kids
My friends’ oldest son just started a blog. He’s six. Mom and Dad help administer the blog, and probably keep him safe from inappropriate comments and the like (oh, and he’s a comment FIEND- loves them!). But here’s some interesting behaviors and why I think this is a neat hack for parents with younger-than-you’d-expect-to-be-thinking-about-this kids.
- He’s six.
- He likes changing the colors of the words every bit as much as the research.
- He must be using Google to research, or Wikipedia.
- He’s using blogging tools.
- He’s observing social software (his love of the comments).
- He’s getting good follow-on feedback from readers, which drives him to research more.
- He’s actually planning posts.
Do it Yourself
It’s easy to set up a blog, and easy to set it up with protection from typical spam. If you maintain the admin rights, you usually can keep the blog safe from things that will bug you as a parent. If you can disable urls in comments, all the better (to prevent malicious pointers).
So, what would using the shiny fun of a blog do to teaching your kid how to research? How does the adoption of social software and other new and emerging web applications impact how you might share knowledge with your kid?
Go further. Would a home wiki be useful? Even offline (like GTD Tiddlywiki), wouldn’t getting kids in the habit of using technological tools be another step up in their future abilities to use web tools for research and expression?
Is this “kids growing up too fast” fodder? I don’t think so. I see a blog being far more useful as a way to promote learning, sharing, and developing broader perspective on the world.
The Same Tools
You know why lots of tech gadgets and sites fail to reach kids the way they intend? Because they make the products DIFFERENT than what the kids see their parents use. My daughter loathes kid versions of adult things. (This becomes tricky around scissors).
Why NOT cook them a Blogger.com or WordPress.com account? The tools are usable, laid out relatively simply, and if they’re not getting all tricky (I haven’t used blogger in a few months, but how is he changing those colors?), it’s easy to teach them how to use the basics.
You can choose privacy levels appropriate to your take on the internet. I put my kids on the net, and others don’t. That’s not the primary issue. That’s an internal-to-your-house debate.
It’d be interesting to know your thoughts on this one. What would your kids do with a blog like Aidan’s? Would it drive some other use for their time? Would it promote research and presentation skills?
–Chris Brogan had to go out and buy his own computer, after surrendering the other to his four year old daughter. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to write [chrisbrogan.com]
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