Does your teaching methodology encourage character building, confidence building, and stimulate your child to want to keep learning and achieve the highest possible level of learning?
Posted by Ingrid Griggs on 5 January, 2022
This post is written for homeschool parents but it's very applicable for teachers too as online games can become a problem if not supervised correctly.
The discussion of online games within the classroom is nothing new and I covered it more than a decade ago as a freelance writer for Teaching Treasures Publications 2011/value-of-online-games. That article has since been taken down from the internet. It was aimed at teachers in the public and private school systems but now I would like to highlight the need for concern within the homeschool community as mobile phone usage has skyrocketed.
I would like to express a slightly different unsettling point of view here because I see and hear it more and more that homeschoolers literally spend hours and hours online while mum is on her mobile... probably on Facebook, Twitter or whatever!
Personally, I believe that mobile phones should be switched off during official homeschool study hours, but they are present and switched on, nonetheless. A very disturbing and distracting piece of hardware being used in the wrong place at the wrong time. When I home educated my children, we didn't have mobile phones like we do today so that distraction simply wasn't there. I really can sympathise with the challenges parents face these days. It must be very difficult for you from time to time. Our first PC was purchased way back in 1996. A chunky 386 Windows 3.1 so our children could start learning this wonderful technology which has come a long way since.
So how do we cope with this excessive bombardment of technology within our home and how do you deal with this issue? Should playing games on mobile phones or any other electronic gadget be allowed during your homeschool hours? Perhaps it's not the games that are the problem but rather Social Media Platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. How do you deal with restrictions, or should there be no restrictions? It is a difficult issue for parents as some students, and parents too, can get rather aggressive and impossible to deal with should conflicts arise over playing games during school hours.
Should students be given a certain amount of time during school hours risking they take much longer, or is there a serious need for a total ban on any online device during school hours? Mums included!
Many parents believe that a certain number of online games can be beneficial but only when these are of educational value and I tend to agree with that opinion however... I am more of a fan of written work and art. Instead of playing electronic games I prefer younger children to write stories, poetry, make an art piece or get creative outside making something out of natural materials like bush sticks for example.
Student’s artwork. Boat made from bush sticks.
Student’s write-up about bees.
Once children are in their teenage years they may like to delve into IT or computer gaming development and no doubt they'll be spending a lot more time in front of the screen... reading, learning, developing their skills. In the meantime, and for the health benefit of any young child I truly believe that the use of a mobile phone, iPad, or laptop should be limited. Don't use it as a babysitting tool! Tempting... but not recommended as it could create a problem and a burden for you in the near future.
How can I use the computer as a learning tool?
There are six key elements of learning any subject matter. If a learner is able to answer the 6 questions below, then a demonstration of higher level thinking skills has been applied and the key teaching strategy in all this is to encourage higher level thinking skills so that learners are pushed beyond their limit as much as possible. It may seem frustrating for both learner and parent at times, but it produces results worthwhile.
The 6 questions are:
1. What did I learn?
2. Which Learning Outcome did it address?
3. Which activities enabled me to learn this?
4. How will I use the learning?
5. Why will the learning help in my development?
6. What references support my claims to the questions above?
Now ask those above questions bearing in mind that your child has just played some online game.
It might be safe to state that most children or learners will not be able to answer the above questions. However, some learners will be able to answer the questions and aid you as their teacher in developing an appropriate curriculum for the future which includes the use of their favourite online games.
Over the years the content and nature of any homeschool curricula has changed, and no doubt will continue to change due to factors such as advancements in technology and the electronic media like the Internet and interactive (electronic) whiteboards for example. As a home educator it is your professional ability to intelligibly communicate key aspects of these changes regarding what currently constitutes ‘best practice’ in teaching and learning.
Therefore, as you identify, analyse, synthesize and evaluate aspects of let’s say Technology, you need to document and justify your ideas about what constitutes the ‘best’ curriculum and teaching practices for helping your students learn this subject. Sitting the child in front of a computer playing games does not count in my opinion. It needs to be more than that!
Consequently, it is up to you to keep up to date with technology, probe around places such as Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube in order to assess the possibility of either using these platforms or not. It requires forethought, discretion and wisdom to make sound judgement in order to make a safe decision for your children. Are these platforms necessary for your children to learn or do they chew up valuable time, create more headaches and leave a trail of destruction behind for some.
Remember that education is the process by which all people learn no matter what background they are from. Instruction refers to the facilitating of learning, generally by a teacher or in your case the parent. Teaching encompasses the actions of imparting learning to the student and learning is to impart specific knowledge, skills, or abilities that can be applied immediately upon completion by the learner. You are the teacher and how you define learning will reflect in your children.
When considering the development of any curriculum one must place emphasis on the fact that curriculum is more than a collection of activities. It is essential that the curriculum you are going to use is coherent, focused on importance, and well-articulated across the learning levels for your child to succeed. For example, a Technology curriculum should focus on Technology content and include all processes that are important and worth the time and attention of your learners.
Certain Technology topics are more important than others for various reasons. Putting more emphasis on certain topics may be necessary for preparing students for college, University, the workforce, or citizenship. It is quite logical and certainly should never become shrouded in mystery for any parent-teacher or learner for that matter.
When designing a new curriculum for your homeschool think about the following key elements.
1. Does your curriculum meet the needs of your child?
2. Does the learning theory and other cognitive psychology that you are implementing, reveal findings on how your child learns?
3. How does your curriculum determine developmental readiness or developmental appropriateness?
4. And most importantly; are your methods and purpose of assessment for your child's learning to build them up or to break them down.
In other words, does your teaching methodology encourage character building, confidence building, and stimulate your child to want to keep learning and achieve the highest possible level of learning? If your child is not stimulated nor encouraged by the curriculum you are using, then you are not using the best teaching methodology and you may need to revise either your teaching strategies or your curriculum.
My following statement may seem a contradiction but take time to understand what I'm conveying here...
Curriculum can be lousy but if you are vibrant, enthusiastic and capable of enthralling your children then no matter how poor your curriculum is... your children will learn.
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