Teaching technology at home
 
           The pace of technological advancements has accelerated in recent years, and there is no sign that they will slow. If anything, we can expect that today’s elementary school children will have increased involvement with technology as they advance through school and head into the workforce.

          The range of machinery outside of school is significantly greater than that inside. Therefore, it is parents whose facility with technology will pave the way for their children’s comfort in this arena.

          What can you do?
          * Point out and explain the machines that you use in your family’s life. There is bound to be a tremendous variety: telephone, computer, car, television, VCR, thermostat, clock, and radio are just a few.
          * Let them explore machines. If you have a broken appliance, hand it over to the kids, along with an assortment of screwdrivers and other tools. Giving them an opportunity to take apart and experiment with the variety of pieces in your household appliances will help them to make an approach in much the way scientists begin their own experiments.
          * A wonderful book that kids of all ages, as well as parents, enjoy is David Macaulay’s The New Way Things Work (a 1998 revision of his earlier work). He has also written and illustrated a dazzling array of books that give behind-the-scenes peeks at the construction of many objects (titles include Cathedral, Castle, Mill, Pyramid, Ship, City, and Underground). Each tome contains narratives, diagrams, cut-aways, and explanation of the building process.
          * You can share the same understanding in person with your child as you take the time together to examine the construction of a new home in your neighborhood or of a building project in your own home.
 
         An important concept that your child can learn is that construction must be accomplished in a pre-defined number of steps. Each step builds on a previous one.
 
         It is the hands-on work that gets children fired-up about science and technology. Give them a chance to find out, “How does this work?,” “What’s under this?,”  and wonder, “What would happen if....”
 
    This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents.

 
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