Thursday, April 15, 2010

Computers and Word Processing

My dearly beloved son is learning the amazingly interesting and important skill of word processing on Mom's little computer.

Don't let his intense facial expression fool you. It is actually a look of deep concentration as he taps away at completely random letters in the creation of his first Word document.

My idea in this is to let him play with more useful, productive computer tasks rather than just educational games, since they are most often more "entertainment" than "education". For now, word processing and the ever popular "paint" program will be his main activities, but later on moving to more advanced photo and video editing, web design and computer programming. All, of course, as a fun game, and for the most part, teaching himself with me just there to give him a few pointers along the way.

I got the idea from the book, Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single Income Family. Not that I agree with every little piece of the book but it had a lot of useful information in raising responsible and hard-working, creative sons, this computer thing being one of them.

It also may have to do a lot with my own childhood. I used to spend hours carefully drawing elaborate scenes on the paint program. Word processing, too, was a big thing for me, as I literally taught myself how to spell well and write well with this program. You know the little spell check and grammar check? Being home schooled and for a large part of my education, self-taught, that was my biggest teacher in the English grammatical area.

So I'm kind of going along the same path with Hunter, as well. At this point, most spelling programs for his age are just phonics programs - you know, words like cat and sled. And while teaching phonics rules is great - especially for weird letter combinations like eigh and ough - I learned all that stuff in context, by reading it and writing it. And I would dare to say that I'm a pretty good speller, and that with probably less than 2% of the instruction time most kids spent on spelling lessons during their school years.

Unschooling? Sounds like it a little. But for right now, my plan is to just let him at it, encourage him to write words or stories, and show him a few things here and there, a little at a time (like how to change the font, or add a graphic, or change the margins, etc.)

The whole spell check / grammar check thing in this is a huge goal for me, besides the obvious skill of computer navigation and use. After his first time on the program tonight, and him writing a bunch of random letters, before closing it he wrote, "iluvmymom". I showed him how to use the space bar to separate the words and we watched as the computer automatically capitalized the "i", a little lesson in grammar.

Then with just one thing left, the red squiggly line under the word "luv". I showed him how to use the spell check and select the proper spelling from the generated words, and he felt so happy and accomplished afterwords.

Thanks, little guy. I love you too.

"Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee..."
Deuteronomy 4:26
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

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