Our school recently expanded its one-to-one technology program to include sixth graders. My son will be in sixth grade next year, and he is thrilled. I am quite apprehensive. How can I best prepare for this?
As a family, read over the school rules for technology use at school. Emphasize your support of technology as a resource and a tool for skill application, and your support of the school’s restrictions. Together establish rules for your household. You may want to limit your son’s computer usage to an area of the house where you are present, or at least where you pass through frequently. Knowing that you have a watchful eye will help keep him from being distracted by games or social media.
Discuss social media at length. Emphasize the public and usually lasting nature of anything posted. Stressing kindness and consideration of others is a must. Explain that the simplest thing, intended as a joke, can explode into a major misunderstanding without the benefit of facial expression and tone of voice to make meaning clear.
Become familiar with how to check your son’s usage history and commit to checking it at random times. Even kids who are very responsible with exemplary behavior can happen upon inappropriate sites very innocently and become a victim of someone’s bad intentions. Your follow-up is critical to your son’s well-being.
Practically speaking, helping your son become familiar with his computer will save lots of headaches later on. Show him how to save documents, as well as how to back them up on a flash drive. These practices will be taught at school, but learning this early on will help proper saving of documents become a habit.
For your son to make the most efficient use of his computer, having some basic keyboarding skills will prove to be a great asset. There are many free practice sites with kid-friendly tips and games to familiarize your son with typing, a skill currently given very little school time.
Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students.