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5 Most Important Internet Rules All Children Should Learn

5 Most Important Internet Rules All Children Should Learn

In the modern world of ubiquitous internet access, parents can no longer reliably keep their children off the web. Rather than fighting the presence of the internet, parents nowadays have had come to terms with the fact that children are growing up in a world of constant connectivity.

The best way to prepare your child for that reality is to teach them early on how to safely navigate the web without putting themselves or their family at risk. There are a number of safety tips your child can use to protect themselves on the internet, including five of the most important ‘internet rules’ all parents should teach their children.

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1. Everything stays on the internet forever

One of the most important lessons to teach your children is that absolutely everything you post online will stay on the internet forever. Even when you delete content you’ve uploaded, website servers will frequently maintain a copy of the content you posted, and multiple archiving programs maintain different versions of websites to preserve changing content. Your kids must recognize that any information, photos, or posts they share on social media or other websites may become permanently associated with them, and can harm future education and work opportunities.

2. Use privacy settings liberally

Your kids should learn about privacy settings on social media sites, how to control and maximize them whenever possible. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have options to post privately or to a controlled audience, but your kids may not realize that their accounts are unlocked and viewable to even users they’ve blocked. Instagram has a geolocation tagging feature that can pin the location of a photo down the exact address, often revealing someone’s exact home location unintentionally. Parents should review social media privacy settings with their kids, ensuring that nothing they post is publically viewable, including their location.

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3. Identify obvious signs of scams and viruses

The internet is rife with scams, viruses, and malware that aren’t always easy to identify. There are some classic types of scams that your kids should be prepared to face, including emails claiming to be from an organization or business. Kids should learn to double check a URL before logging into a website to ensure they’re not entering their login info into a scam website. They should also learn to avoid clicking on suspicious links that may download something onto a computer unintentionally, as well as how to install and use malware protection.

4. Internet behavior has real life consequences

Your kids should learn, along with how to protect themselves, how to conduct themselves online. Many children may unintentionally find themselves in toxic internet communities that encourage illegal behavior, insisting that it not be taken seriously because “the internet isn’t real life.” Worse, they might gain access to the so-called dark web where such activity goes unchecked. Internet harassment, trolling, doxxing, and scamming do have serious real life consequences, up to and including federal prison charges depending on the severity. Your child should learn to apply the same rules of using manners and treating people with respect during their internet interactions. They can learn to recognize signs of illegal behavior online as well.

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5. Recognize and report cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a problem that kids growing up with the internet face more and more frequently. Like real-life bullying, it has serious consequences on their emotional development and self-esteem. It can feel exceptionally worse, actually, because kids feel like they can’t get away from it wherever they go. Dozens of cases of teen and child suicide associated with cyberbullying have been reported in the past several years. Your kids should know where they can turn to report cyberbullying—and that should include you—as well as when to report it.

Teach your kids how to protect themselves online for their emotional self-esteem, their future prospects, and the safety of your computer. It’s an invaluable skill they will need as they grow up in the modern world of constant internet connectivity.

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Featured photo credit: Startup Stock Photos via flickr.com

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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