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Archive for the ‘education’ tag

September 26th, 2012 at 8:46 am

Unleash The Inner Geek in Your Child

Once upon a time being referred to as a geek was a putdown. Now, it’s a compliment, a badge of honor.  It’s only logical that we admire those who really understand the technology that is now such a dominant part of our every day.

We all need to know how to use the gadgets and devices that are such an integral part of our daily lives. Internet on your tv, tv on your phone, phone on your computer. It takes effort to stay current and fluent, even as a casual user.

Moving forward, it’s only going to get more integrated. No doubt about it. In the future, we need to make sure we have enough really smart people to understand the technology on the inside, not just as end users. What we also need is to make science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula more attractive and encourage more of our children to follow these career paths.

One way to do this is to start them young. Get them interested in science by removing the fear of how difficult it all is and make it more fun.

Wired magazine, the geekiest magazine that isn’t a technical journal, is a great source of inspiration for this. Even if you don’t get the magazine, you can still take advantage of their geekmom and geekdad blogs, which are chock full of ideas and projects that can help you unleash the inner geek in both you and your child.

I got inspired by this when I read a feature this summer on How to Be A Geek Dad by Adam Savage from Mythbusters. It was a great article with some easy and practical projects that provide a perfect springboard for getting your geek on.

The Wired website has a ton of great links and resources for exploring technology from the ground up. It’s never too early to inspire your child. Our future competitiveness depends on a well educated and tech savvy population that not only uses technology but understands how it works and can build the next generation of products and applications.

It’s cool to be a geek.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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August 20th, 2012 at 10:27 am

Parent Involvement in your Child’s Education

The start of the school year means new opportunities at school. I get to decide whether I want to help in the lunch room, serve school lunch, help in the classroom or office, volunteer during events, or even pop popcorn on a friday.

When I think back to when I was growing up, my mom always helped make copies for the teachers and also ran classroom parties. I loved seeing her at school, so I try to volunteer for my kids during the school day also. My oldest, loves seeing me at school and getting a mid-day hug. I am fortunate to have that opportunity because I work at home. If I worked outside the home, I would have to help over my lunch hour, if possible, or at evening school events. Helping at school is only one piece of the school puzzle. Showing that education is important in your family is the most important piece.

I once read that a home environment that encourages learning effects a child’s education greater than income level, parents’ education and cultural background. Our family fosters that environment in addition to volunteering at school. We have always made it a priority to read with our children and make endless trips to the library. It warms my heart to see my oldest now read on his own. I’m finding he seems to be a history buff and his latest book is an early reader on the Declaration of Independence. I love to discuss the books he is currently reading and the facts he may be learning.

Another way we show the importance of education is by setting a homework time in our daily routine. While doing this I like to challenge my child and set goals for him. This may be all the points on a weekly spelling test, or striving to reach a certain reading level. We also talk a lot about school – what he may be reading or learning and how he did on the latest quiz. I feel an important way to find out what is going on at school is reading the school newsletter, website, or even talking to the teachers. An easy example is keeping track of events at school. We have a “Kindness Connection” once a month where the school assembly focuses on what the kids did to fill each others buckets. I always try to make sure to ask what some of that month’s examples are. We also carry the “bucket filling” into our home.

It truly is a lot of work to help your child succeed while in school, but watching them meet their goals and succeed is so much fun!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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December 13th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Could This Start the Revolution in Education?

Depending on the age of your children, you may or may not be enjoying (what?) helping your child with their math or science homework. I can tell you stories about how well it didn’t go in my house on some occasions. Not so fun. I managed to do well in algebra in my day. But my algebra expertise had an expiration date that has long since passed.

If you are in the position of trying to help with the homework, you’d be interested in knowing about khanacademy.org. This is a website populated with 2700 videos that provide instruction in math, science, finance, history and other topics. That’s a lot of content. And the videos are paired with exercises that allow you to test and master your comprehension.

Imagine having a homework tutor at your disposal, 24/7, free. Say your child is learning fractions. And somehow your explanation isn’t doing the trick and she’s still not getting it. You can go to the website and watch a video that explains it in simple form with handwritten diagrams, just like a teacher using a blackboard to explain.

This is the premise of khanacademy, started by Salman Khan as a way to help his cousin with her math studies. What began as a few YouTube videos posted for her to use has become an international phenomenon.

Sal himself explains it in a TED talk that you can watch here. It’s an excellent presentation of a profoundly common sense approach.

What I love about this is the concept of a class using the instructional videos as the homework and in-class time for problem solving and exercises, where the teacher can give one-on-one assistance where needed, and students can move ahead at their own pace. The videos can be watched over again as needed until the concept is grasped. And the exercises can be continued until the concept is mastered. Then the student moves on.

Khan Academy is not just about math. I was perusing the site and came across some videos on Art History and Finance that were great for just learning more than I knew. Want to understand the credit crisis? Check out the videos. It’s really a remarkable resource.

What started out as a one-on-one tutoring assignment has turned into a fantastic compilation of learning tools that can be of use to the entire world. I hope that Khan Academy (which is now a non-profit organization) continues to find funding that allows Mr. Khan to keep making these videos and that there will be more widespread adoption of its methodology in schools. This could make a huge difference in how we educate our children.

Too bad my son is beyond needing Algebra help. We both could have learned with this.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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