Laptops for homeschooling kids? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-16-2012, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've always been a very tech-friendly family. Bought our first computer in 1991, on the web since 1993, are big into digital media, scripting, website building, etc. etc.. But it seems like the wave of tech tools for kids swept past us when we weren't looking. We bought a laptop for ds a year ago when he started school in 10th grade, because he's dysgraphic and it was going to take months to get him an assessment to qualify him for a school district laptop.

 

So ds has his laptop, but the rest of us are still sharing two desktop computers. It seems like most of the reasonably well-off homeschooling families we know have purchased a laptop or an iPad for each of their kids over age 9 or 10. And most of the high school kids my middle dd goes to school with have laptops of their own. I'm taking on more out-of-home work this fall, and as a result dd9 will be needing to amuse herself for an additional 7-8 hours a week. She also travels a fair bit, because of her older siblings' extra-curriculars and would love to be able to have a computer in the minivan. She's very computer-savvy, and academically at about a 7th grade level. She's been saving her money for a laptop for a couple of years. We're considering sharing the cost of laptop purchases for both her and her older sister.

 

Does your homeschooler have a laptop? Do you find it helpful if they do? What sort of machine do they have? What do you think it's important to have in a laptop for a homeschooler? Do you think laptops are becoming, or are on their way to becoming, standard equipment for homeschoolers? Or for high school students, whether they attend school or not?

 

I'm starting to think our frugality has got in the way of use keeping up with the technology curve in education. My kids use computers a lot. But always sharing. 

 

We're looking at getting a couple of ultraportable units. My kids are small (dd9 is just 51 pounds) and they will have to carry their laptops, along with other stuff, when travelling or walking to friends or to my work. Not ultrabooks, something without a ton of power, but small and light. 

 

Any thoughts?

 

Miranda


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#2 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 05:23 AM
 
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Yeah, we're a highly tech-oriented family too. I've been a technology geek forever. whistling.gif

 

We just gave the boys (now 13 & 9) used laptops for their birthdays this summer. For our family it has become essential. Each of our three children have their own interests and passions and we were finding it harder and harder to support and assist their research when there weren't enough computers to go around.

 

I found ebay a good resource for their laptop shopping. I bough my used iBook from ebay almost 3 years ago as well. As long as you have a sense of what you are looking for and your budget you can find high quality used laptops on a budget. 

 

{not trying to advertise for ebay, btw, just passing along what worked for us...}


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#3 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 05:34 AM
 
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My dd is 12 and does not have her own lap top. She did have her own desktop computer but it stopped working so she has to share with me now. If we replace her computer we may get her a lap top.

She is not in a situation that she needs a portable computer of her own at this point though. She always has access to a computer at home and when we aren't home she is busy with other stuff so wouldn't be using a computer.


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#4 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 02:06 PM
 
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Based on what you describe wanting, I would consider an ipad and keyboard.  We don't have one, and I am typing this on a windows laptop, but for your purposes, the quality of an apple product and the lightweight & portability of an ipad might be ideal, unless she plans to program on it-- I don't think an ipad will let you do that.  

 

If you decide to go with something like a netbook, I would look for a full-size keyboard and keep in mind that not all websites work on a tiny screen.  We do have a netbook, and my kids so dislike it that they will wait for a turn on the desktop rather than use it.  

 

I think kids should have experience using computers before they go to college, but I don't think there's anything all that special about using a laptop over a desktop. 

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#5 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post

Based on what you describe wanting, I would consider an ipad and keyboard.  

 

I have a first-generation iPad and keyboard through my work, so I'm very familiar with it. Unfortunately it doesn't work well at school or on the road, because it won't take a memory stick, and doesn't have an ethernet port. That means there's no way for my middle dd to submit school assignments off the iPad, short of coming home, syncing on a home computer, uploading files, printing or transferring to a memory stick, and returning to the school. And for my exclusively-homeschooled dd, she'll be spending 8 hours a week in a music studio, where there's only ethernet internet access.

 

We're looking at 11.6" screens with full HD resolution, so I don't think viewing websites will be a problem.

 

I agree with you about the lack of a difference between a laptop and a desktop. I was wondering more about kids having their own personal computer. Guess I should have framed my question that way. 

 

Miranda


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#6 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 03:15 PM
 
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Sorry for misunderstanding!

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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I was wondering more about kids having their own personal computer. 

 

I have been struggling with this lately too.  There is a hand-me-down laptop my oldest (age 11) has been using a lot lately.  Although she's almost the only one who uses it, we are clear that it is not hers.  At the moment, I am uncomfortable with her having a computer that is officially hers because I feel like it's my job to monitor what she does with a computer, and it feels dishonest to me to say "Here, this is yours, but I get to look at it whenever I want, and tell you when you may and may not use it."  But I am not so sure that's right that I am going to advise anyone else to do the same.  

 

To some extent, I exert control over many things that are hers-- she can't get on her bike and go wherever she wants whenever she wants, for example (I'd almost certainly say yes to whatever she wants to do, but she has to ask before taking off).  But to me, the kind of supervision I need the authority to do seems a lot more invasive, and I don't want her to have the impression she's got complete privacy on the laptop just because she's the only one who uses it.  

 

Those are my thoughts, take them for what they're worth! 

 

For your other question: the only families we know who have a laptop for every child are either affluent (the kids have iphones too) or they're in virtual schools that provide laptops.  I think that in the more affluent school districts, it's not uncommon for most of the high school kids to have laptops, but I don't know how they're used.

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#7 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 04:39 PM
 
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Mine are younger (my oldest is 5 1/2) but I don't intend on ever buying them their own computer/laptop. If they need to use a laptop/computer for any reason they will be able to use the family's computer. I don't think its safe for a young child or even a teen to have unrestricted access to the internet. Any computer use can be done in the family areas, in full view of DH or myself. I guess Im a bit paranoid about it shy.gif

 

When they are older if they want to save up and buy themselves a computer they can but the internet will still only be used in family areas in full view of DH or myself until they are 18 at least.


~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#8 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by OkiMom View Post

I don't think its safe for a young child or even a teen to have unrestricted access to the internet. 

 

As a parent of older kids I would guess that your stance on this will probably soften as your kids grow up. Mine already have relatively unsupervised unrestricted access to the internet, so having their own computers wouldn't really change the equation. They range in age from 9 to 18 (and the 18-year-old has been living on her own for a year already), so I've dealt with this issue right through to the transition to independent adulthood. My kids know how to keep themselves safe and have always behaved above reproach on the internet, so I'm comfortable with supervision the way it is now. 

 

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#9 of 11 Old 08-17-2012, 08:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OkiMom View Post

Mine are younger (my oldest is 5 1/2) but I don't intend on ever buying them their own computer/laptop. If they need to use a laptop/computer for any reason they will be able to use the family's computer. I don't think its safe for a young child or even a teen to have unrestricted access to the internet. Any computer use can be done in the family areas, in full view of DH or myself. I guess Im a bit paranoid about it shy.gif

 

When they are older if they want to save up and buy themselves a computer they can but the internet will still only be used in family areas in full view of DH or myself until they are 18 at least.

A challenge with trying to limit older kids' access to the internet is that a lot of useful devices connect to the internet, and that's only going to become more true as time goes on.  It's not as simple as keeping computers in the family areas.  My kids' kindle and ds can both connect to the internet, and so does our PS3, my ipad touch, etc...  I don't have a smartphone, but I'm not sure the simple cell phone I've got will even be available in 5 years.  

 

For me, I am not concerned about my children's access to the internet now, but if it seems like things aren't right with them, I maintain the right to monitor their internet usage if I think it's necessary to figure out what's going on with them.  I haven't raised a child through the teen years yet, and so I don't know for sure how we will handle things.

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#10 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 05:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View PostI agree with you about the lack of a difference between a laptop and a desktop. I was wondering more about kids having their own personal computer. Guess I should have framed my question that way.

 

I only have 1 child but each member of our household has had their own computer for years. Dd got her own computer (desktop) when she was about 5 years old. Dd's personal computer did not ever have internet access though so she had to use a shared computer for anything involving the internet. She didn't really need her own computer but it was a gift from a grandparent.

 

I think that laptop or desktop most kids probably do not need their own personal computer and can share one with siblings or other family members. Obviously if one child needs to use a computer and another child usually needs one at the same time then sharing one computer is not going to work. That doesn't mean that each child needs to own a computer for their use only just that more than one computer is needed for the family to use.


Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#11 of 11 Old 08-19-2012, 03:25 PM
 
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Uhhh we intend as our children get older to get them each an iPad or the like.  Dh has one and loves it so much that it was his idea for us to just pass down our computers to the kids as we upgrade.  We will probably let them all have 3G or whatever it is by then on them as well since we love looking things up on the way to wherever we are going.   We bought my MacBook and his iPad last year- so by the time we upgrade DD will be able to use his and hopefully we will just keep passing them down.  I am sure we will keep filters on them and of course give it with the condition that we can and will monitor and revoke privileges as we see fit. I have no problem with conditional gifts to my kids.  I don't think that many kids need top of the line new high dollar computers though- but internet and computers are here and are necessary.  I would much rather they type their work than handwrite it...


Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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