A home computer is a double edged sword. While there are opportunities for learning, there’s equal opportunities for “brain drain”.

When people find out we homeschool, the most commonly asked question is whether or not we use the computer /online curriculum for our schooling. Upon learning that we use very little of the computer in our formal schooling, they want to know how we handle computer use in our home. Do we allow our children to have non-school related time on the computer? How much and what do they do? Are there any programs that they utilize?

Admitted, I’m not a big fan of computer/online directed learning in the early years. I personally feel that there’s too much one on one time that is missed out on and have commonly experience a child’s “decompressing” from too much screen time in the form of unkindness and impatience with their siblings. We have tried computer/internet generated and powered curriculum in the past. We found that while these programs were splashy and lots of fun, retention was generally low. More importantly, my children missed out and craved one on one attention and interaction with their siblings. Ironically this manifested itself in an inability to interact with their siblings. In other words, meanness and chaos replaced love and kindness!

However, in sprinklings there are some valid use of the computer in schooling. Math drills, spelling programs, foreign language, drivers ed and even some social gaming in measured amounts.

There are some must-do’s that I would recommend to every household. In addition to a good filter, the family computer should be in a plain view in a high traffic area. This combination cuts down not only on undesirable content, but also the amount of time spent in front of the computer.

My children do have opportunities for free play on the computer. They can earn up to 60 minutes of computer time per day. 15 minutes for completing schoolwork, 15 minutes for completing chores, 15 minutes for good attitudes and a bonus 15 minutes for getting started early and staying on task. Oneline games include some areas of Webkinz, Poptropica, Lego.com and select Minecraft servers. They also have access to strategy games such as Axis and Allies and Age of Empires, pet care games such as Horses and brain teasers such as Mind Benders.

With a little bit of planning and oversight, the virtual world can add to your homeschool.

Check out these computer resources from Rainbow Resource!