Homeschooling 101: Give your students time on the computer

I know this seems like a contradictory statement, just a couple of days ago I encouraged homeschooling parents to limit electronic use in their children’s lives. But they do need to be competent when it comes to working with computers, so it is necessary to prepare them adequately.

In the grammar school years, it is most important to build typing skills. We used Jump Start back in the days when my children were small. I know there are many newer and more effective typing programs and downloads available today – use whatever works best for your children.

When they have papers to write or notes to grandparents, have they type them on the computer to strengthen their skills. My children each took a re-writing course in their junior and senior years of high school. During the eight weeks, they typed as they had never before even imagined typing. It was amazing to watch all three of them as their fingers flew over the keyboard. They have all surpassed my typing speed.

Today, most public schools have computers in the classrooms. Some schools even distribute tablets to their students.  I do not think we should mimic the public school system by any means, but I do think our students will be expected to be comfortable going from one tool to the next taking advantage of unique capabilities of each. Our children need to be able to build a power point presentation, to download it to a flash drive, play it on any device they have access to, etc. They will eventually need to be familiar with Microsoft Word or other word processing programs, with Excel or other spreadsheet programs, etc.

I admit not every student will have to be a computer whiz by the time they graduate from high school, but it will be necessary for those who plan on going on to college. These days courses, homework, lectures, labs are done on computers in most if not every college and university in the country. If higher education is the direction your student is headed, then computer skill will be essential.

How do you teach these things? Simply and with games during the elementary years and more strategically during the junior and senior high school years. Online courses and classes at local colleges provide instruction in Microsoft Word, Excel and Power Point. My children took an introductory course at the state college in our town and they were competent within just a semester. It can be done inexpensively and adequately.

So my advice to you today, build those computer skills in your children… and then perhaps they can teach you!


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