Computers and Children
Computers can be great tools for our children to use, especially if used in great educational ways! When my children were young, I got sucked into buying a lot of "educational software". We had the Jumpstart Preschool program and Reader Rabbit preschool programs etc. My children loved them and I'm sure they learned some from them. But, they can be very addictive and I found my children needing that entertainment stimulation in their computer time. It became hard to control the use of it and was often more like entertainment than education.
While reading a book by Steve Maxwell called Preparing Sons, I read his suggestion to limit computer use to things that are truly educational. We cut out entertaining educational programs and allowed our children use the standard computer programs that come on the machine--the Microsoft Paint program, Home Publishing program, and Word program. The results have been GREAT!
My eight year old has just finished writing his second book on the computer. Both of them are his own made-up Curious George books. He uses our Home Publishing program and inserts pictures he gets from the clip art or off the web. His last story was 12 pages long with a decent story line and plenty of illustrations.
He also has gotten quite good at using the paint program. He knows how to open a picture in it, edit the picture, save it and re-insert it into his program. You go to www.google.com, click on Images and type in the word for your picture. Of course, as a parent you need to be right there to watch for inappropriate items through the internet or have really good internet filters.
After getting the picture off the web, he opened it in the Paint program and "painted in" Curious George onto the horse he got off the web. Then he inserted it into his "book". Why go through tons of workbooks and Language Arts programs when he learns more by this kind of schooling? He not only learns computing skills, but story telling, spelling, typing and layout skills! He now wants to save his dollars to buy his own computer as we all fight over computer time here.
One of my four year old twin boys also loves the computer.
He LOVES drawing on the paint program and typing on Microsoft Word. He recently taught himself his numbers up to 100 (by counting and following along in a Bible the chapter headings). Then I found him typing the numbers up to 100 (minus the spaces) and typing the alphabet from A to Z. This taught him his capital letters as the keyboard is in capitals. He was also trying to type the alphabet backwards one day. Now, he asks us how to spell words for him to type on the program. He’ll probably teach himself to read!
I don't share this to brag, but to encourage parents to limit the time their children use "entertainment" type programs on the computer and get them to do real computing.
Encourage your children to learn to type. Use a home publishing program for them to make cards, newsletters, stories etc. Let them do "art" on the paint program. Let them insert digital camera pictures onto papers to print out. These are all great skills for them to learn. I have Paint Shop Pro which is a fairly complicated program for working with images. I recently decided I should assign my son the task of learning all the different things that can be done with this program. Then he can teach ME how to use the program better!
With doing all this work they have to print out TONS of stuff! It can get expensive to print so much stuff which makes me grateful for our business as we refill all our own ink cartridges.
Mason, Wisconsin, USA
The Christenson website for ink refills is www.encoreink.com
On this website, Melanie also lists a free typing program on the Homeschool/Family section.