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Why Parents Shouldn’t Totally Ban Their Kids From Using Technology And How To Strike A Balance

Why Parents Shouldn’t Totally Ban Their Kids From Using Technology And How To Strike A Balance

The last time you took your son on a walk to the park, you saw tons of people glued to their phones. You tried waving hello to one of them, but he didn’t even notice. He seemed completely disengaged from the world around him. Naturally, you want to protect your son from these negative effects of technology, but is avoiding technology altogether the best answer?

The Potential Risks of Technology

Researchers at UCLA conducted a study about the effects of technology on children’s social development. The study focused on children’s ability to accurately identify emotions in others and how that ability was impacted by technology use. The researchers compared two groups of sixth grade students, one of which attended a five-day camp with no exposure to technology like Smartphones, tablets, or laptops. The other group just went about their day normally.

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Even though the first group of children only went without technology for five days, they were far better at identifying emotions in the photographs the researchers showed them.[1] Being able to accurately identify the emotions of others is a key part of social development. Without this ability, relationships suffer and children can become isolated.

Choose Wisely

Not all technology is created equal. Games and apps for children that are highly interactive provide more opportunities for learning than passive activities like watching TV. At the same time, these interactive programs for children are also more likely to cause problems in excess.[2] Children can become addicted to them, much like their teenage counterparts can become addicted to video games.

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Used in moderation, interactive technology can benefit kids with innovative learning experiences. The key is moderation. Just like the food we eat, the type and quality of the technology we use matters. Take care to choose wisely what your child consumes through tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Use Technology Together

While it’s tempting to distract your little one with an iPad and enjoy a few minutes of silence to yourself, shared technology experiences are more desirable for young children.[3] Using technology in isolation can cause a child to miss out on important social experiences. Playing digital games together, however, helps your child see technology in a more social context.

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Not only will you be able to protect your child from inappropriate content, but you can also help him develop a healthy mindset about technology use. Playing games becomes a chance to bond and create shared memories.

Limit Technology at Night

The blue light that comes from devices like computers, tablets, and phones interrupts the natural production of a necessary sleep hormone called melatonin. As a result, kids and adults who use screens right before bed often experience trouble sleeping and/or poor quality sleep.[4]

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Children are also highly stimulated by interactive technology like tablets and smartphones. They have trouble transitioning from the high-speed world of technology to the soothing environment necessary for a good night’s sleep. It’s almost like letting your child jump up and down on all the furniture with a bunch of his friends and then expecting him to fall asleep immediately. The stimulation from a smartphone may be less obvious to an observer, but the child still requires a similar amount of time to unwind before bed. 

With technology use only increasing, it’s important to introduce kids to the digital world in healthy ways. Avoiding technology may not be practical or completely beneficial. At the same time, the overuse of technology can have a negative impact on young children. To find a healthy balance, focus on making your child’s experiences with technology interactive. Make using your tablet or smartphone a playful time for the two of you to bond. Also, use technology early in the day and turn off all screens long before bedtime. That way, your child will enjoy the benefits and opportunities technology has to offer without missing out on social interaction or a good night’s sleep.

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Lindsay Shaffer

Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

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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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