4 Shocking Ways the Internet can Parent your Children
Today's guest post comes from Jenny Wise. Jenny created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families. She enjoys providing advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their kids.
As a parent, you probably feel guilty when you let the internet do part of your parenting for you. That’s fair, but it’s important to know that there is a difference between turning your child loose with an iPad and using the best of the web to open fun, educational doors for your child. The internet, as it turns out, is a marvelous resource for parents - especially those with cooped-up kids - if it’s used correctly. It’s also a cost-effective way to keep your kids busy. Here are some ways to get your kid physically and mentally active when the weather outside just isn’t cooperating.
Let YouTube get your kids moving
How does a child, restless from being unable to go outside and burn off some energy, keep from bouncing off the walls? There can be no productive, educational time if your child is getting no physical activity. Burning off steam must come first. Thankfully, YouTube (and to a lesser extent, other free video sites) has you covered. Yoga? Dance? Fitness? There’s a channel for all that. So, clear some room in front of the TV or computer and let your kid go crazy - in a controlled, productive manner, of course.
Let the web teach your child a new skill
The amount of online courses, tutorials, and skills tests is innumerous. If your child is interested in learning a new skill or fostering a talent they are still developing, there’s a close to 100 percent chance that there is some sort of free instruction for it online. Artistic kids can access drawing, painting, or model-building tutorials. Kids that love reading and writing can find tutorials and classes for almost any foreign language, or even American Sign Language. Musically-inclined kids can find resources to learn piano, ukulele, flute, and about any other instrument under the sun. In order to work for online consumption, most of these learning tools must be very clear and concise. This means that even resources not specifically designed for kids can be of use.
Let the internet expand your child’s interest in a subject
Anyone over the age of 30 remembers what it was like to be obsessed with something and turn to books - and only books - to help further your knowledge. Whether it’s space travel, dinosaurs, movies, or the Civil War - a world of knowledge is at your child’s fingertips. Let them explore. If your child has talked about wanting to be an astronaut, NASA’s website has more cool stuff than you could get through in a month. If you have an especially imaginative little one, you can both research a topic that intrigues them (like medieval knights), then create a story about it as a family by taking turns adding to a tale of your own (read more on storymaking and other great indoor activities here). For even more fun, help your child write down and illustrate it. Learning online can be fun if you let your child explore what truly interests them - not what you want them to be interested in.
Use online resources for offline inspiration
All of the fun and learning that the internet can provide doesn’t necessarily have to take place on the computer or tablet screen. Despite their love for all things digital, kids can still be wowed by a hands-on activity - as long as it’s interesting. The internet is a great place to find ideas for at-home science experiments, like this lava glass project, for example. There are also many fun science experiments that you and your child can do with common household products. You can also print off images and outlines for some hands-on art time. Don’t be beholden to just the keyboard and mouse. Translating online resources to real-life fun is easier than ever.
Bottom line: you don’t have to feel guilty about giving your child some screen time. As long as you do your research and regulate what (and how much) they’re taking in, the internet is an invaluable resource for fun, educational activities to help your child weather the bad weather - and come out smarter on the other side. And you can save money as well!