If you’re sending your child back to school, technology can be intimidating. Should your elementary-age child have a computer? If so, what should you buy? And how do you keep it safe?
Here’s what I tell my K-5 parents about how to handle the stress of equipping the 21st century tech kid:
By third grade, children need a computer. Here’s why:
- There’s a good chance your child’s class has a website. All of my school’s classes from kindergarten up do. On those webpages, teachers list what happened during class, homework, resources, extensions, expectations and more. You’ll want to access those to stay up to date.
- It’s hard for you as a parent to keep in touch with all the ancillary teachers your child sees during the day AS WELL AS the classroom teacher. I’m talking about the art teacher, the PE teacher, language B teacher, technology teacher. A good way is to access their school webpages. Here’s my profile, which, if you were a parent, would link to my class technology page. All of our Specials (the teachers who cover subjects outside of the classroom) have their own webpages. This is likely true in your school, too.
- A lot of teachers choose to communicate with parents via blogs or twitter. Here’s my blog. It’s a great way to casually keep parents and students up to date on class activities. I haven’t re-started mine for the new school year, so don’t expect much today. Check back in a month!
- Much classwork integrates information from the internet. If your child is excited about something shown in class, s/he’ll want to revisit at home. That’s as simple as an internet connection and the website (probably posted on the class webpage). In tech class, students have a class internet start page and a class wiki (I’ve linked to my fifth grade wiki) that track everything done in class for follow-up at home. All are accessible from one location on my class webpage to make it easier on parents and students.
- As hard as parents try, it’s difficult to dig through backpacks and uncover test scores, grading rubrics, and their ilk. It’s likely grades will be available online. Take advantage of the ability to check your child’s grades. Know there’s a problem when there’s still time to fix it.
- Some classes may have their materials online. For example, my school uses a math program that is entirely internet-based–no books. The same is true of my technology program. This saves parents the worry of accessing homework, bringing books home, or losing them. Check to see if this is true of any of your child’s classes.
- Your school may provide digital lockers for your child. We do this for fifth grade and up. This means students can store material developed at school in a safe spot on the internet that is accessible from home.
- Much of the resource information for parents at a school is included online. This includes sports, lunches, school calendar, health information, applications, etc.
Convinced your child requires a computer in today’s digital classroom? Good. Click for what to include on that computer.
Any questions about all of this? Leave a comment. I’ll answer within a day. Good luck with the new school year!
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.