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Parent's Prep: New Technology In Schools; What Parents Need To Know

Technology offers new and exciting ways for your children to learn and for you to increase your involvement in your children's education. Children given technology opportunities at home watch less television, improve problem solving and critical thinking skills and excel in written communication skills, math skills and computer skills according to the Department of Education. Parents have found that new technology in schools increases communication with their children and their children's teachers. Be sure that as a parent, you stay up to date on the evolution of technology in education so that your kids can reap the benefits.

The integration of technology and education has encouraged enthusiasm from students, elevated achievement levels, created richer classroom content and has improved retention rates for students according to the National School Boards Association. Students who use technology in school can enhance their communication and research skills as well as become more analytical in their thought process. If you give children the tools to research their interests, their education could be limitless. Not to mention that having even basic technological skills can exponentially increase their value in the job market.

School districts and administrators across the nation have been focused on advancing their services through technology.

Schools across the nation have implemented online, progress-monitoring solutions to track students' scholastic progress and help identify areas of struggle for individual students. The Yearly ProgressPro™ program by McGraw Hill integrates each state's standards into the tracking system so educators can compare each student's progress with state accountability exam standards. This program also gives teachers the freedom to build their own assessment for each classroom of students.

Teachers have begun to use YouTube to record the steps in solving math problems, easily accessible to students and parents at home. Renee Shaver, a fifth grade teacher, introduces both her students and their parents to how she uses a document camera and smart board while teaching. She then posts the lessons on YouTube. Parents and students can access the day's lessons for a review, homework help or in the event of an absence, watch a lesson from home. Ms. Shaver states, "Technology saves teachers time because children learn to help themselves at home."

Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Blackboard and Schoology are tools that connect students, teachers and parents through a social-network platform. Kids can reach out to one another for homework advice or collaborate on special projects while communicating any potential road blocks with teachers. In addition to the networking function, educators can manage their classrooms online through LMS. They can set deadlines, give quizzes and even post homework assignments. Think of LMS as a Facebook for school but with the added security and services that school districts require.

Get your kids familiar with technology so it's not as intimidating when they start school.

Giving children a head start in technology is just as important as starting them off reading and writing at an early age. The more comfortable children are with technology, the less of a shock it will be for them when they are introduced to it in an educational environment.

Technology in schools is a teaching and learning tool that is always evolving. With this brings a new type of parenting. Diana Bender, an Educational Technology Specialist who works with elementary-school children each day, states, "Parents need to be teaching their children responsible digital citizenship."

Children need to come to school with a respect for the technological world. Just as parents have rules about crossing the street, they need rules about Internet use. First and foremost is the emphasis to maintain privacy. No matter where they are, children should never post personal information and never divulge passwords to anyone, including friends.

Even the most well-behaved children check their good judgment at the keyboard. Talk to them about their integrity and reputation by considering long-term consequences. Children are used to hitting delete and their words are gone. They need to understand their digital footprint; the idea that their words may not disappear permanently when delete is pushed, as some social networking sites archive information. Ask them how they would feel if a college admissions staff member or employer were sitting beside them as they typed? Check that their words in emails reflect the way they want to be understood.

The responsibility for teaching digital citizenship is not solely on parents. Schools actively engage in teaching digital citizenship as well as technology skills. However, parents are key players by maintaining a dialogue with their kids and creating guidelines for safe Web use.

Rhonda Cratty has been a teacher, instructional coach and writer since 1983. Rhonda enjoys writing about ways parents can improve the quality of their children's educational lives. She has been the National Parent & Education at since December 2008. Her work can be found on

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