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Keep Tabs on Your Young Techies
by Paul Wolf
Technology isn't supposed to replace the standard curriculum any more than a pen or word processor substitutes for writing skills, says Chantal Irvin, principal of Red Rock elementary school in rural New Mexico, where students are engaged in a multitude of interdisciplinary activities based on the Bancroft Arnesen Expedition.
Maguire offers tips for parents who might not be techno-geeks but still want to stay involved with what their kids are doing at the computer:
1. Know about the software, even if you don't plan on becoming an expert user.
Kids love having things they can lecture us about. Ask your child to give you a rundown on the game or activity that's been proving so irresistible lately. Give him a laugh by sitting down with him and actually trying to use it.
2. Never dismiss the importance of technology for your children, even if you have for yourself.
A resume for a summer job is more warmly received if accompanied by an e-mail address or, better still, a Web site address. Relevant work samples from school will pack more punch if they are presented on a CD-Rom.
3. Learn from teachers and fellow parents.
Teachers rely on the help of techno-savvy parents in the computer lab, Maguire says. Other parents are usually welcome to join the kids and get some instruction, too. Research shows that the presence of parents in any capacity at school is of tremendous benefit to children.
4. Don't let technology swallow up substance.
The value of all technology needs to be evaluated at every turn. Computer literacy doesn't substitute for the ability to think logically and creatively for oneself. High-tech work and play need to be balanced with low-tech activities.
5. Make house rules for technology as you would for any other area of your child's life.
You monitor what your kids watch on TV and make them wear helmets when they ride or skate. Have you set up house rules for e-chats, Web surfing and computer games? Consider looking into security programs that keep pornography and other objectionable material on the Net off-limits.
Whether or not you master the technology, you must always strive to be the master of your household and your child's education.
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