Being a parent is a tough job. Besides the responsibilities of providing our children with basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and clothing, we must also take on the extremely important task of educating them. Even though children may go through many years of formal schooling, their parents are the most important teachers they’ll ever have. With that in mind, I do my best at home to guide my children both academically and behaviorally. Incorporating technology into my parenting has proven to make my job easier.
There are two specific types of technology that have enhanced my parenting: the Internet and our video recorder.
Using the Internet to Enhance Learning
When my first grader’s reading wasn’t progressing as expected during the first quarter of the school year, we began to worry. His teacher did her part by providing reading assessment results, flash cards, and leveled books for him to read to us at home each day. After a few weeks, we realized that the flash cards and daily reading practice were not helping very much. That was when I turned to the Internet for more help.
Specifically, I went to Learning A to Z for access to Reading A-Z.com and Raz-Kids.com. At Reading A-Z, I am able to print vocabulary lists and books geared toward my son’s reading level for extra practice. At Raz-Kids.com, my son is able to read and listen to leveled books, record and listen to himself reading, and take comprehension quizzes. With the help of these sites, my son is now reading at a second grade level with nearly 2 months left of first grade.
Since I now have access to these online resources, my 4-year-old has also benefited from using them. I began working with him on letter recognition and letter-sound correspondence in September. Once we completed the entire alphabet in January, I introduced him to materials from Reading A-Z.com and Raz-Kids.com. He is now able to identify high frequency words, such as “the” and “a,” and can figure out words based on letter sounds and/or picture clues.
Using a Video Recorder to Modify Behavior
Sometimes, when a child gets into trouble and emotions are running high, it can be difficult for him to process why certain behaviors warrant consequence. A video recorder is a great way to capture teachable moments for future reflection and discussion. We have found that our children often benefit more from watching their own behaviors on video rather than from us trying to discipline them or help them change certain behaviors.
Example Number 1
My 7-year-old went through a phase a few months ago during which he would wake up between 3 AM and 5 AM. This was a problem for many reasons. What was most troubling, though, was that it caused him to be tired throughout the school day. My son did not think it was a problem and would even deny falling asleep unusually early and being carried to bed most nights. To show him the effects of waking up so early, I recorded him sleeping during odd hours. When he finally watched the footage from various occasions, with time stamps that proved he was asleep before 7 PM, things began to change.
That video turned out to be the catalyst that helped him get back into a normal sleep schedule.
Example Number 2
More recently, we’ve been struggling with our children blaming their undesirable actions on others. This occurs especially with our 4-year-old, who often blames his older brother when he decides not to follow our house rules. A few weeks ago, he was upset with a consequence he’d received as a result of following his brother’s advice to eat candy early in the morning. I decided to record our interaction over the issue so that he could later watch himself. As I’d hoped, after watching himself on the video and listening to our conversation about his wrongdoing, he doesn’t seem to be blaming his brother as much and has been taking more responsibility for his own actions.
I have found technology to be of great value when it comes to parenting. The Internet provides easy-to-access educational information and learning tools, and my video recorder provides a way for my children to see their problematic behaviors more objectively.