Beginning kindergarten in this millenium is very different from what it was even twenty years ago. Children today are much more aware of the adult world around them, they are much more sophisticated and certainly they are more aware of technology and the internet than was imaginable even a few years ago when they were born. It becomes essential to take these changes into consideration as a child approaches the first day of school, because there is really no part of his or her life that will be unaffected by computers and technology.
You can begin by visiting the school and talk to the child’s teacher. Understand that it’s not a matter of a school forcing students to learn about cyberspace. Schools are simply utilizing the internet to teach children, since students begin school already acquainted with computers and the world wide web. In most any kindergarten class, there are dozens of computers, giving students access to the internet and allowing them to use the internet for anything from research to communications to playing games — even exploring the galaxies.
Much is written today about the dangers of the internet. These concerns are certainly real, and many times accurate reflect a particular situation. But the internet also offers tremendous resources to educators, and a savvy teacher will take advantage of what the internet offers, taking students to wonderful new places using safe and carefully prepared web sites that enhance education.
It’s important to be aware of what your child already knows about computers and the internet. If you allow your child access to a computer at home, and permission to wander around the internet, she may have been exposed to much more than you ever planned. Initiating a conversation with your child or by sitting at the computer and exploring some basic web sites together, you can gauge her level of skill and knowledge. In this context, there may be times you as the parent will be teaching her as the child and then roles may reverse and she will be the teacher and you the student learning things that even very young children already know about the online world.
Be sure when you begin to allow your child access to the internet that you have also put protections in place. Create a protected, specific account on your computer just for your child and make sure that it is heavily restricted. There are excellent tools available (“net nannies”) that protect children from accidentally going to sites they should not see. You can even set up a set list of restricted web sites to protect them further.
Helping your child build savvy internet search skills will jump start him or her into the modern world of school. Other computer skills will also assist in developing higher efficiency, even in this very basic level of schooling at kindergarten. If you open the world of email and IMing to your child — on kid safe web sites where conversations are with other children only, a five year old will actually learn typing skills through these online conversations with other kids.
Another tool to consider is an office suite; an important tool set to begin teaching your student, even in elementary school. Learning to use the powerful resources of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint will give your child ways to complete school assignments. And because they are on the computer they will think it’s more fun — and it’s so much more efficient than the old pencil and notebook method.
By thinking like a twenty-first century parent, you can begin as early as their kindergarten year to see your child’s school experience as one that will be greatly influenced by proficient computer skills and the internet. By effectively equipping your child to be ready to use those tools from day one at kindergarten, your child will begin school farther ahead and be better equipped to achieve greater success throughout the education process.