Thursday, August 28, 2008

Filtering Software vs. Accountability Software vs. Time Limit Software

Thanks to a few comments on some recent posts, I am becoming increasingly intrigued by the different types of parental control software that is out there.

One kind is straight filtering software, that I discussed by proxy via my last post called Are You as Tech-Savvy As Your Child?

Another is called accountability software, which sends a record of every website you visit to an accountability partner, which I also mentioned and linked to in my last post. This is a great behavior modification tool if you are trying to conquer a pornography problem, but doesn't have as strong an application for children as filtering software or computer time management software.

This is interesting, because it is a software version of my whole Life Time Management Method, which includes a kitchen timer with a loud "ding!" This software claims to prevent Internet access when you are not home, solve IM addiction, resolve computer sharing angst among siblings, eliminate bedtime arguments, and avoid childhood obesity, and frankly, I believe it.
As a people,we don't self-limit very well, and discipline isn't genetically passed, it is learned, so this makes sense. I think it is a great idea and would be interested in trying it out.

And FYI, in case you do not have any kind of budget for purchasing software, here is a free way I found to set up a safe email for your child. This claims to ensure that your child will never receive a Viagra add. I'm all for that.

I would say that computer time management software and an an internet filter, as well as teaching and demonstrating safe and unobsessive computer use would, together, be an excellent recipe for healthy family internet use, but of course, nothing beats high-quality/high-quantity parenting.

Log those hours with your children!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are You As Tech-Savvy as Your Child?

There was a recent comment made on my post called It's Never Been Easier To Spy On Your Children, wherein a parent asked if there were any websites or forums that might help her to parent and protect her tech-savvy teen without taking away his administration privileges.

Admittedly, I am not an expert on this subject. I know a little bit about internet filtering, and have recently learned about accountability software, which, although it is intended for self-use by adults, may be an interesting approach to teaching older children about disciplining themselves to visit appropriate online content.

I don't know enough to address the subtleties of this particular issue, since it may (or may not!) include brand new restrictions on a child who is used to none, or have something to do with a child who is hiding things from his parents, so here is the point wherein I pass along another blog.
Teens Today with Vanessa Van Petten has a great post/advice column that addresses reviews of specific parental control software. It includes links.

I do not know of any specific forums that address this issue, although I think they would be interesting. Readers, if you know of any, please comment!

I believe that any parent's best bet is to get educated. Learn just a little bit more than your child, and try to keep the balance that way for a long, long time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

About Me

I am a parent who is interested in how and what children learn. This interest includes the various types of homeschooling, and "school-schooling" -- private, religious, charter, and government schools.

I like to read about the history of education -- am especially fascinated by time around the turn of the 20th century, when the government really started getting involved, and about educational theories in general. I collect antique school texts, and enjoy understanding the ways schoolbooks have changed as the structure of schools and education has changed.

My main goal is to create life-long learners out of my children, and to inspire other parents to do the same with theirs.

I have a blended family which includes three children who still live at home with my husband and me, and two stepsons who have been launched successfully into their adult lives. One graduated with a BA in Business from Carson Newman College , a wonderful private Christian school that had a great football program. He is now living his dream in NASCAR, working on a pit crew, and learning all he can about the industry. I have no doubt that he will one day own a team.

The other is saving lives in the US Coast Guard and is living his dream of making a living on the water. He protects our borders from illegal drug smugglers and gets people out of stupid trouble on a regular basis. Plus he gets to surf on his days off.

Of the three children still at home, the oldest is academically inclined, which is, contrary to popular belief, not much easier to get through school than a kid with a learning disability. Putting a revved up mind into the body of a little child is like putting a GT 350 engine in a riding lawn mower....too much engine for the vehicle makes the vehicle hard to control. Plus school is boring to her, she has no patience for bureaucracy, and she occasionally underachieves. We have to be deliberate in what we talk about, provide for her to learn, or expect out of her. She is led toward the study of rhetoric, politics, history, Latin, and mock trial, none of which can be addressed in schools in our area. We supplement.

The middle child of the three left at home is a girl who has many talents that are not recognized as such in the traditional school setting. Her gifts include many hands-on abilities. Athletics comes easy to her. She is lightning fast, and has been a superb defender on several soccer teams. She also has a gift with working with animals. She grooms them, cares for them medically, breeds them when she can, and trains whatever ones are trainable. She is working on Therapy Dog certification for one of her dogs so she can take her dog into hospitals to help people, as she also has a great compassion for humans. For her, school is something to get through so she can live the rest of her day. She is a reluctant reader who has terrible trouble with spelling and handwriting and spacial orientation on paper. Her eyes focus funny and she requires eye exercises and prism lenses. Why read when it hurts and you'd rather be riding a horse anyway?

The youngest child has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. Contrary to what Michael Savage says, Autism is real, and he really does have it. We have homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled, done OT, PT, and speech language therapy. We have done biomedical interventions, such as the GFCF Diet -- which does work -- supplements, DAN doctors, social stories, videotaping behavior, then role playing later, and Karate. Despite our best efforts this sweet child still struggles with making friends and struggles through school and life. Our goal for this school year is to make one good friend, and develop social skills to a level that helps him navigate comfortably at school and at home.

In order to offset the costs of Autism, which is very expensive, and is not really covered by insurance, I work as a writer and editor of various things. I currently do some work with a company that I think is pretty neat. We stumbled upon them during our homeschooling days when we were looking for a program that would help my son. I started out as a client of theirs, then someone I knew mentioned there was some work available at her company, and I was interested, without even knowing it was Time4Learning.

Whether I am connected with them or not, I believe in the program. My son used it quite successfully and had fun at the same time. It presented information in a way he could process, and he not only felt smart and successful, but he learned and retained what he learned. I have placed their ads on my blog, and will honestly recommend their program to anyone who has a pre-K through middle school child, but anything I write on this blog comes from me - they are my opinions, generated from ideas that I have.

Learning, for all of us is a lifelong process, and shouldn't stop when we leave school. I hope this blog can encourage you to parent meaningfully, and make the best out of your time with your kids! Have fun, expose them to much without much expectation -- some things you do together will stick, and some will fall by the wayside to become just a memory, but the time you spend considering their "big picture" needs and the time you spend with them will create the ties that bind.