Written by Shari Popejoy
Home Educating Family Magazine/2013 Issue 2

Dr. Jay Wile, author of the Exploring Creation series and Science in the Beginning, presented a workshop at our local homeschool convention: “Homeschooling – The Environment for Genius,” where he endorsed allowing children to play with electronics. At least that’s what I heard! Evidently, one aspect that people of genius had in common from their childhoods was hours of uninterrupted playtime, and Dr. Wile agreed that electronics might provide value to children.

So, in an effort to foster genius tendencies in my son, I actually schedule an hour of Snap Circuits some days.  Like education wrapped up in a toy, interchangeable components combine, creating circuits to build radios, fans, lights, and alarms.  I log all that creative playtime as science (magnetism and electricity), math (patterns and sequences), or reference skills (interpreting circuit diagrams).

Some creative ways to utilize electronics during the school day that even a truancy officer would admire:

1.  Turn the smartphone into a treasure map with geocaching.com.
2.  Log map-reading skills by using the GPS to find math problems hidden in the yard; the answers are the next coordinates.
3.  For reluctant writers, dictated spelling words can be typed into a tablet device (turn off spell check first).  Use spelling and flashcard apps instead of worksheets.  Let children text messages that include spelling words.
4. Delay intense handwriting assignments for students with poor motor skills by replacing them with coding; look into MIT’s programming language, Scratch.
5.  For children with developmental delays, utilize voice-recording devices and speech-recognition software to encourage creativity beyond capabilities.

Homeschoolers can get the same results in education, even when using very different methods – kind of like the commutative property of math where there’s more than one way to add up the answer.  Wendy Rondina used LEGOS to teach her ADHD son every subject.  When he combined his education with a passion for videography, it became a family business to launch their stop-motion animation films.

Other ways to foster creativity and a love of learning without a textbook:

6.  Explore online projects like creating a “spout bot” at Khan Academy.
7.  Utilize Skype for long-distance mentoring opportunities.
8.  Take advantage of online classes like CurrClick.
9.  Wisely use social media and forums to connect your children with others with the same interests.
10.  For safety and accountability, employ programs that monitor and limit the amount of time each child spends on the computer.

And don’t underestimate this creative way to utilize electronics to inspire your child:

“Sure you can play Wii – after you do thirty minutes of fractions.”

Add sessions to the daily schedule for anything your child is gifted and passionate about:  movie making, computer or video game programming, music, writing, mechanical tinkering, or robotics.  Log this creative playtime with a geeky name like “Genius Workshop” or “Gifted Student Hour” or “Brain Lab”, for a strategy that can create an equation of Einstein proportions as your child’s love of learning is multiplied exponentially!

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