In many school districts in the area, students are returning to classrooms that not only have traditional textbooks, but also some kind of digital device.
Some districts are giving students low end Chromebooks, while others are deploying higher quality laptops like MacBooks, while others are handing out iPads.
Whatever the device, there are a few things you can do as a parent to help your child use the device wisely. Here are some simple things you can do as a parent to help your child and their teachers with whatever device they have been assigned:
Remember That The Device Is For Academics, Not Entertainment:
These devices are academic devices, provided to your child to help with their classwork. The device is NOT provided to give your child another way to play video games or watch meaningless Youtube videos. You need to make sure that your child understands the difference.
Keep The Device Out Where Everyone Can See It:
Your child should be doing homework out in a common area, such as a dining room table. That way, you can keep tabs on what your child is doing on the device. See a lot of videos being played? Go over and ask to see what is being shown.
Know The Warning Signs:
If your child closes the lid to their laptop whenever you walk by, or always answers “Nothing” when you ask what they are doing on the laptop, then chances are there is something they don’t want you to see. Are they sitting in the corner or in their room away from your prying eyes? Not with these devices. If your child doesn’t want you to see what they are doing, that is a big red flag that something is wrong. Remember, the devices are academic ones. There should not be a single thing on these laptops that your child should not be willing to show you.
Learn The Tools The School Provides:
Many districts provide students with a large array of tools, both on the device and online. For instance EPISD provides students with the full set of Office 365 tools: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, etc. Many districts provide students with Learning Management Systems, such as Schoology as well. Learn what the district is providing, then you will be able to tell if your child is using the tools. Have your child show you the tools that the teachers are asking them to use. Ask your child’s teachers what they want their students to do with the devices.
Never Go To Bed With A Device, Charge It:
No student should go to bed with a device. At the end of the day, the routine should be that the laptop is left in a common area (like the kitchen) where it can be recharged overnight for the next day. The device should be ready to go each and every day.
Spot Check What is on the Device:
Periodically, have your child open up the laptop and show you what they are doing. Have them show you their browser history, which shows you where they are going on the internet. No browser history? That is a red flag that your child may be hiding something from you. Have them show you their online storage files. Check their emails. You are not invading their privacy. You are making sure that they are using the tools properly.
Do a Monthly Inventory:
When your child was issued their device, chances are that it also came with some additions as well: A charger, a carrying case, etc. Check every month to see if these are still accounted for. If something is missing, especially if it is the device itself tell your campus administration immediately. Most devices have some kind of tracking software that can be turned on of the device is ever lost or stolen. The sooner the administration knows the device is gone, the better the chance of recovering it.
Learn Something Everyday:
Have your child show you one thing each day that they can do on their device. If you get into a routine of learning from them on a regular basis, seeing the device daily, they will be less reluctant to show you what is not it when you randomly ask.
Be a Good Role Model:
You need to be a good model of responsible technology use. If you ask your child to recharge devices overnight, why not do the same with your devices? If you ask your student to turn their devices off at certain times, you need to do so as well. “No devices at dinner” is a good rule to keep so that everyone can occasionally speak to each other!
Limit Screen Time:
Set limits on the amount of time that your child can be on their devices. If you say 9:00 PM is the cutoff time to stop using devices at home, then stick to that. Don’t hem and haw and change the rules. Remember, you are the boss at home.
Read Those Handouts:
How many times have you received something from school that you just glanced at and forgot about? Chances are, when your child received their device, there was information for parents handed out as well. Did you get it? Did you read it? Can you remember what said?
Although some of these rules may seem a bit Draconian, the proper use of school digital devices is very important for our children’s future learning. You are the school’s eyes and ears when students are away from school.
Only you know if your child is using these laptops properly at home. The school cannot be with your child after hours or on weekends. You have to help the schools with your child’s success. If you don’t help then you are skirting your duties as a good parent.
A friend of mine once explained it this way: The job of parents is not to be best friends with their children. It is to make sure that they successfully make it into adulthood. Sometimes that requires a set of rules and to stick by those rules. You are as much a part of your child’s digital learning as the school. Set rules, set expectations, work with teachers. Student digital academic success takes more than a teacher and school.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.