Seven Steps to Internet Independence

Instead of putting filters or a net nanny on our internet we chose to help our children learn to guide the web to find what they need in their own way. It takes a little time investment to get started, which is well worth the independence and joy that comes from this life long skill. Filters are meant to keep young children from seeing things that may bother them, that is understandable. Filters become problematic when they filter out the things that you do want to see.

 

Step 1: Sit down beside your kid(s).

Be connected and engaged. When my children were young I would sit nearby and be present and available. Sometimes enjoying watching their work and other times doing my own work. I would be quiet and contained.

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Step 2: Give you child the mouse or allow them to be in charge of the touchscreen.

Put the power in their hands. Let them do the searches while you sit there and support. If needed you can show them how to use a mouse, there are some really fun games to practice mouse skills. My kids started around 15 months old. Touchscreens can make navigating feel more natural for younger kids; if your child has a hard time grasping the function of a mouse or trackpad, see if you can find a tablet or other device they can more directly point and click on.

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Step 3: Observe.

When they come to a point of a decision needing to be made (such as the end of a video) observe. Quietly. If they don’t ask for your help they may not need it. If they seem frustrated let them be frustrated for a short period of time before jumping in. Sometimes we humans are not patient. Frustration is not giving up, it is part of getting through. They are strong, let them know they can weather uncomfortable feelings. They will ask when you are needed.

 

Step 4: Listen to them.

Hear their words and reflect them back. Find what they truly need without assumption.

 

Step 5: Discuss

Ask questions only if you need to about how they are coming to their decision. They probably already have excellent critical thinking skills but it is ok if they don’t. Making mistakes is part of learning and a awesome thing. Allow them to lead the discussion.

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Step 6: Problem Solve

Sometimes problems come up. You’ve listened. You’ve observed. You’ve had discussions. And now your child has come upon an issue that are unable to resolve quickly or easily. Ask open ended questions to figure out what ideas and options they have for solutions. Most of the time they will come up with great ideas without help. Some things may require more technical or life experience skills and you are there to help with those.

 

A common problem is needing spelling help. I give that freely and with love. However I am not always there or immediately available. There are ways they can do this on their own. Google voice to text is great. My kids loved to play with this to dictate stories and say silly things to see how to spell them. We also have a bulletin board for each person in our families. We put unfamiliar research word on small cards. They are easy to see and allow more independence.

 

Step 7: Trust

Kids generally know what they are looking for and are not easily fooled. With these skills they can safely and effectively navigate and explore the web with little input from you with lots of connection. Trust that in time you child will learn to explore the web without you assistance. Trust that there is very little that could actually harm them. Scary images can be talked through. Information that is mature usually flies over their heads. These mistakes made with you being present are excellent opportunities for growth and connection.

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Education Work Paradox

It seems as if the Western World is made up out of paradoxes, and everywhere I turn I find them. I got to thinking about “work” after writing an article for Life Learning magazine a while back. Work is the single most valued thing in Western society. When you meet someone new,the first question will be: “what do you do”. We are a folk that defines themselves through their activities. If you do not “do” anything – or at least anything that complies to the general definition people hold, Westerners donʼt really know where to put you, and it generally ends a conversation dead on track.

When it comes to kids in Western society, we are most worried about their “success” in life. And success, of course, is defined by their capacities of landing a well paid job, later on. So – from a young age – parents stress about “raising the bar high enough”, getting in the right schools and following the right courses. As kids get older, and get to go to college or university, they are told to choose a path that will ensure good (read well paid and available)career opportunities.

Now even though (paid) activity is so very valued in Western society, children are to be kept faraway from it. We even made laws to keep them out of it. Children are kept off the work market on purpose, for years. That is the whole purpose of collective schooling anyway: initially, to keep them safe while both parents are at work and secondly to keep them off the market and dependent, so both parents have to continue working.

So even though we are most concerned about our kids getting a good job, and every step we take from the day they are born is directed to ensure that we do everything in our power to ensure that super magnificent well paid job, nothing, not one thing on their perfectly laid out trajectory towards that job prepares them for actually having that job. Nothing prepares them for the responsibilities that go along with that job. And nothing prepares them for controlling the money they earn from that job, which was, after all, the big goal of the scheme.

Now maybe that’s also a piece of the puzzle: to make them “ambitious” and have them make as much money as possible, and then to have them spend it as swiftly as possible to get the economy rolling, because they never learned to manage it.

Anyway, it seems really strange to me how so little people in the Western World see how much pressure we put on children to eventually get “a good job” and how little we do to actually prepare them for that job.

By Mamapoekie

Creating a Portfolio

I was recently introduced to a fantastic FREE tool for unschoolers who want or need to keep records of their children’s learning. Evernote is a free application that helps you keep track not only of all your online activity (websites, games, videos), but also personal notes, photos, sound clips, text documents, etc. I think Evernote can be the entire portfolio–you can even scan documents (drawings, writings, etc…).

After you download the program, create “notebooks” to hold the information you gather from websites, games, interesting online videos, etc. Put Evernote on all your computers and smart phones, that way if your partner is out with the kids and someone asks a question, and your partner can looks up the answer, that info can be sent directly to the appropriate “notebook”-same with photos or notes that are made. { Read the complete article }

Unschoolers on Twitter

Joanne, at An Unschooling Life has a wonderful resource page of Unschoolers on Twitter. Do you tweet? Check it out, add yourself, find some cool folks to follow!