Using TV and the Internet in Home Schooling

While both the Internet and TV programmes offer huge educational resource opportunities, some home schooling families can feel tentative about how to integrate these two technologies into their education plans.

One of the reasons that many parents have serious reservations about both TV and the Internet is that they both contain and screen content that may be wildly inappropriate for children. But by taking steps to make the Internet (in particular) a safer place from your computer, and by supervising online and TV-dependent learning, especially for younger kids, these technologies can really develop the educational resources available from your home “classroom.”

Talk Your Child Through Rules for Content Safety

Obviously there are parental controls that can be established on both the TV (for families who subscribe to pay-for services like Sky these are especially easy to access) and online. It’s highly likely that you will want to switch these services on – they’re easy to use and will help you ensure that your children avoid inappropriate material while hunting for educational material. But even more important – and arguably more effective – is talking to your child about the dangers online and on TV, and about why you are taking steps to protect him or her.

It’s important that you explain to your son or daughter that you trust them and their activities, but that sometimes situations beyond their control can put undesirable material in their path. Some extremely important rules that you should discuss include making it clear to your child that they should never physically meet anyone they “meet” online, and do not give out personal information online. Talk about the TV channels they are allowed to watch, and those that they are not.

Online Learning Forums

Online learning forums (often known in the US as ‘tutoring centers’) can be a really useful Internet resource for your home-schooled child. They may offer online games with an educational basis, as well as interactive activities. Some, such as the learning websites run by the BBC, are free; otherwise, mainly operated in the US, require a subscription. You may feel these are a worthy investment if the material works well for your child.

Learning about Current Events

The Internet and TV can prove exceptional resources for your home schooled child to learn about current affairs and events going on across the world. It’s a good idea to avoid unsupervised watching of programmes like the news, not least because it provides a wealth of educational opportunities if you are on hand to answer any questions that crop up from issues on the news such as war, economic concerns or human interest stories.

Learning Through the Television

For younger children especially, there are a wide range of learning programmes available; some are screened in schools. Programmes such as BBC’s Newsround, a kids-directed news programme, can help your child to learn more about the world around them. Older children might benefit from Open University TV programmes, which are broadcast late at night so you may want to record these for your child to watch at a more convenient hour. These can all prove a useful and interesting addition to the home schooling education schedule.