Computers and Home Education
© Beverley Paine, Mar 2002
Our family began with using a computer mostly for word processing, especially for the production of homeschooling newsletters. Soon the kids were playing all sorts of games. They found the so-called educational games dull and boring, and felt the 'shooting' ones provided enough learning opportunities in language and maths skills.
After eight years of 'playing' with the computer all three children are proficient with managing files, word processing for letters, brochures, advertisements, stories and a range of applications, as well as finding their way around complex role playing or simulation games.
More recently Thomas, eleven years, has developed an interest in letter writing using email. This has improved his writing skills and given him confidence. The best thing about email is the speed with which a reply returns, boosting motivation to write!
Families don't have to spend a fortune to 'get' into computers. At seventeen April purchased an IBM compatible 486 with a CD ROM drive for $300. Although a computer this 'old' won't play the latest games, it is good enough to run useful applications such as Microsoft Word and Publisher and spreadsheet programs like Excel. April can produce top quality essays and projects, incorporating photographs and artwork, to equal anything put out by a publishing company. This really helps motivate April in her studies, and helps her to become familiar with the world of computers.
Roger, at fifteen, is more interested in the hardware side of computers, and how to integrate them with his other love - Lego! He is pursuing studies in personal computer upgrade and repair and hopes to start a business with his father in a year or two. Understanding computer jargon is essential in his life. It is a whole new language! Roger's problem solving skills and deep understanding of computer systems and programs astound me.
Thomas insists that playing computer games has been the main vehicle for learning to read for him, as increased playing time has coincided with his increased reading ability. The games he plays all require a great deal of reading, and his brother is often off doing something by himself, and unavailable to read for Thomas.
I marvel at the speed in which both boys scan the screen and locate information, and make decisions based on that information. Often there are complex tables to be read, or key words to be found in scrolling text.
Computers have stimulated learning in very many different areas in our household.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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