OTEC Home Page

About OTEC

Brief News Items

FAQ: IT in Education

Integrating IT Into Each Subject Area

Lesson Plans and Websites for Teachers

Oregon IT Organizations, Projects, & Contacts

Preservice Teacher Education & Continuing Professional Development in Oregon

Parents & Their Children

School Administrators

Special & Gifted Education


References (Annotated)

Parents & Their Children

"Don't worry about what anybody else is going to do… The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Really smart people with reasonable funding can do just about anything that doesn't violate too many of Newton's Laws!" (Alan Kay)

Updated 3/5/05

As of 2005, schools in the US have about one microcomputer per 4.5 students, and about 3/4 of students have some sort of computer access at home. The educational value of how these computers are used varies tremendously from school to school, and from home to home. By and large, there is huge room for improvement!

This Web Page has been designed to help parents whose children are using computers at home and/or school for educational purposes. You want your children to be getting a good education, and the resources on this Web Page can help you.

Perhaps you have heard of the word "educationalize." Educators, like specialists in any discipline, have developed special vocabulary to aid in communication with each other. As you explore the materials in this part and other parts of the Oregon Technology in Education Council Website, you will encounter educationalize. Click here for an excellent source of definitions related to "e-learning." For more general educational vocabulary, click here.

Here is a list of topics that may interest you:

Conversations With Your Children

Five Questions to ask your children. These will help start conversations that both you and your children will learn from.

Ergonomics (Avoiding Repetitive use Injuries).

A high percentage of people who regularly use computers are experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, back pain, and other injuries.

Informal Education

The Web is an excellent aid to learning about things that interest you and your children. Many of these can be categorized as Informal Education.


Click here for three important questions to ask yourself, and that will help you understand some roles you can play in your child's educational use of computers.

Perhaps one in ten children have significant learning disabilities. Parents should know about identifying such problems and what to do about them. CCLD has established a special Web site for parents and others who are seeking information about learning disabilities (www.focusonlearning.org). The Web site also explains where parents can go for help for their children.

Parents & Students

Two questions to think about as you and your children learn from each other.

Research on Children and Media

The National Science Foundation is funding five-university Children's Digital Media Center. Many good papers and other reports are available online.

Roles of Computers in Problem Solving.

Computers are a powerful, general-purpose aid to problem solving in many different fields. This free 48 page booklet provides an introduction to problem solving across all disciplines, and roles of computers in problem solving.

Talented and Gifted

Many talented and gifted children enjoy learning to use computers and then using them to further their formal and informal education. The link is to a section that provides an introduction to talented and gifted education and possible roles of computers in this field.


An annotated list of references of possible interest to parents. All of the cited references can be accessed on the Web. All of the links worked as of 3/4/05.



Important Questions for Parents

  1. What is your level of concern about your children using computers to access inappropriate materials, either at school or at home? Click here for a Website that addresses such issues.
    • Schools are well aware of the problem of students accessing inappropriate Websites and/or making other inappropriate uses of the school's computer facilities. Each school has developed mechanisms for dealing with such problems. A typical example is for a school to have an Acceptable Use Policy. Students are given instruction on what constitutes acceptable use of the computer facilities. They and their parents may be asked to sign a form indicating that they understand and agree to the policy.
    • Parents may want to develop an Acceptable Use Policy for their children to follow at home and at other times when they are using computers outside of schools. The underlying idea is good communication between parents and their children, and each educating the other in terms of their wants and needs.
  2. Are your children learning about computers and other IT in school, and how to make effective use of these IT facilities?
    • Warning sign: In many classrooms, the IT facilities are used for entertainment or as a reward for students who have finished their "seat work." The students mainly use edutainment software. (This is software that has a very strong entertainment component, but also has some low level drill and practice component. Students view the software as a game.) The IT use is unrelated to the curriculum.
    • Warning sign: Students go to a computer lab one or more times per week. There, the instruction is handled by a computer lab teacher, and is not closely related to what is going on in the regular classroom. There are few computers in the regular classroom, and their use is not well related to the overall curriculum being presented in the classroom.
    • Warning sign: Students are learning rather mundane and low level uses of computers. The computer uses do not significantly affect the content of the curriculum and they are not integrated into the ereryday curriculum content and assessment. Contrast this situation with computer uses in business and industry. there, the ways of solving the everyday problems and accomplishing the everyday tasks have been significantly changed throuhg making routine use of the poser of computers and telecommunication systems.
    • Warning sign: On a nationwide basis, over 3/4 of students have access to a general purpose computer at home. Relatively few teachers attempt to make effective use of this resource as an aid to student learning. For the most part, students use home computers for edutainment, for playing "pure" computer games, and for E-mail. The amount of time they spend on serious educational activities is modest
    • General comment: If you don't know the answers to the questions given above, talk to your children. If you detect some of the warning signs, talk to other parents, the teacher, and the principal. A few "voices" can lead to a significant change in a school.
  3. What can you do at home to help your children learn to make effective use of IT facilities as an aid to solving problems and accomplishing tasks?
    • Note how your children make use of the home computer(s). Gather baseline data on time spent on serious educational activities versus other uses.
    • Regularly discuss and explore with your children ways that the computer can be used to help accomplish homework and other school-related work.
    • Ask your children's teachers for ideas of educational use of home computers. Suggest to the teacher that you would like to see children being offered alternative versions of homework, so that those who have access to computers can be practicing making effective use of these facilities.
    • Be aware that the current school curriculum does not align well with the routine use of computers to solve hard problems and to accomplish complex tasks (as is common in the work world). Talk to your children and their teacher(s) about this. Indicate that you want to see your children learning about use of computers to aid in higher-order thinking and complex problem solving.

Top of Page

Important Questions for Students

  1. Are you taking personal responsibility for your own IT education? That is, do you know what constitutes having good knowledge and skills in IT use throughout all of the areas that you are studying in school, and do you then work to gain the needed IT knowledge and skills? Do you continually push your own envelop?
  2. Are your teachers helping you to learn about computers and their uses in subjects you are studying in school?
  3. Do you use computers and other information technology in all of the subjects you are studying?
  4. Do you help your fellow students to learn more about uses of computers and other information technology?
  5. Do you help your teachers learn more about computes and other information technology?

Top of Page



Important Questions for Parents and Students

Computers are a great aid to creating a home environment in which parents and their children learn from each other. Many parents have learned a lot about computers form their children. Many children have learned a lot about computers from their parents. And, some parents and their children learn together through joint efforts using the Web and other computer facilities.

  1. How are you and your children working together to help each other learn more about computers and other information technology?
  2. What can you each learn from the other?

Top of Page


Alphonso, Caroline (February 18, 2004). Do video games breed violence? Globe and Mail. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/story
. Quoting fromt he article:

Violent video games have a much more damaging effect on children than parents would like to believe, leading them to perform poorly in school, argue with teachers, condone aggression and get into physical fights with their peers, according to a series of new studies.

The four studies, published in the Journal of Adolescence, serve as a warning to parents and educators as video games become a greater and greater part of children's leisure activities

Calvert, Sandra et al. (2005). Age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic patterns in early computer use: A national survey. Accessed 3/5/05: http://cdmc.georgetown.edu/papers/

nomic_patterns.pdf. Quoting the abstract of the paper:

Parents were interviewed about the media habits of their 6-month to 6-year-old children. For children who had used computers, linear increases in computer usage occurred across this age range with a shift fromusing a computer on a parent’s lap at about age2 1/2 to autonomous computer and mouse use at about age 3 1/2. There were almost no gender differences in early computer patterns. Families with higher incomes and higher education levels were more likely to own computers and to have Internet access from home. Latino families were least likely to own a computer; Latino and African American families were less likely than Caucasian families to have Internet access at home. Parents perceived computers favorably for children’s learning. No relationship was found between the frequency with which children play computer games and the likelihood that they can read, but increased nongame computer use was associated with increased likelihood of reading.

Children's Partnership. The Parent's Guide to the Internet Superhighway. (Second Edition, 1998) Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.childrenspartnership.org/pub/pbpg.html Quoting from the Website:

The Children's Partnership is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

We undertake research, analysis, and advocacy to place the needs of America's nearly 70 million children and youth, particularly the underserved, at the forefront of emerging policy debates.

The hallmark of The Children's Partnership is to forge agendas for youth in areas where none exist, to help ensure that disadvantaged children have the resources they need to succeed, and to involve more Americans in the cause for children.

DiscoverySchool.com [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/.

Find hundreds of original lesson plans, all written by teachers for teachers. Use the pull-down menus below to browse by subject, grade, or both.

Early Connections: Technology in Early Childhood Education [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.netc.org/earlyconnections/. Quoting from the Website:

Connecting technology with the way young children learn: resources and information for educators and care providers.

Review our new How Technology Can Enhance Early Childhood Learning publication (also in downloadable pdf format).

Early Childhood Resources [Online]. US Department of Education. Accessed 3/4/052: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/. Quoting from the Website:

Thank you for visiting the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) Website. It is our desire to provide you with useful and timely information that will enhance your knowledge of elementary and secondary education programs and issues. Your questions and comments are always welcome.

The mission of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education is to promote academic excellence, enhance educational opportunities and equity for all of America's children and families, and to improve the quality of teaching and learning by providing leadership, technical assistance and financial support.

Exploratorium [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.exploratorium.com/.Quoting from the Website:

Online since 1993, the Exploratorium was one of the first science museums to build a site on the World Wide Web. Our site now contains over 15,000 Web pages exploring hundreds of different topics. We currently serve fifteen million visitors a year. That makes us one of the most visited museum Web sites in the world.

Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood [Online]. Alliance for Childhood. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.allianceforchildhood.net/projects/

Quoting from the Website:
The Alliance for Childhood released its 99-page report, "Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood," at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on September 12th. The report has been praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as "thoroughly grounded in the scientific understanding of human development."

The reader of this report should be aware that many of the ideas expressed in the report are not backed up by high quality research.

However, there is a significant amount of literature arguing against children making extensive use of computers at school and for entertainment. Click here for more arguments against children making extensive use of computers.

Future of Children [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.futureofchildren.org.

This is a Website funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. A number of topics are addressed. See, in particular, Children and Computer Technology, Vol. 10, No. 2, Fall/Winter 2000 [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.futureofchildren.org/pubs-info2825/
. Quoting from that document:
Virtually all of our nation's children have access to computers at school, and over two-thirds have access at home. Although a wide consensus prevails among parents, teachers, and policy makers that children need to become competent computer users to be prepared for life and work in the twenty-first century, questions are being raised about the effects of the expanding role of computers in children's lives. This journal issue examines the available research on how computer use affects children's development, whether it increases or decreases the disparities between rich and poor, and whether it can be used effectively to enhance learning.

HomeworkSpot.com [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.homeworkspot.com/site/about.htm. Quoting from the Website:

Welcome to HomeworkSpot.com! If you are a student, parent or educator, this site was made for you. Thank you for stopping by. We hope that you find HomeworkSpot.com to be a useful, engaging and educational resource for homework help.

HomeworkSpot.com is a free homework information portal that features the very best K-12 homework-related sites together with engaging editorial in one high-utility, educational spot. With the help of students, parents and teachers, our team of educators, librarians and journalists has scoured the Web to bring you the best resources for English, math, science, history, art, music, technology, foreign language, college prep, health, life skills, extracurricular activities and much more. For your convenience, we have made every effort to organize these resources into grade-appropriate categories for elementary, middle and high school.

How Stuff Works [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.howstuffworks.com/. Quoting from the Website:

HowStuffWorks.com is an amazing, award-winning, online destination for anyone who wants to know how anything works! Originally started by author and entrepreneur Marshall Brain as an entertaining and fascinating place for people to learn about the world we live in, the site has grown to be one of the top 500 Web sites in the United States.

Internet Public Library [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.ipl.org/ . Quoting from the Wesite:

The Internet Public Library is a public service organization and a learning/teaching environment at the University of Michigan School of Information.

Who says learning can't be fun? Created especially for children, Kidspace features resources to learn interactively about a variety of subjects. Young or old, please visit Kidspace...

Ivy's Search Engine Resources for Kids [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.ivyjoy.com/rayne/kidssearch.html.

This is a personal Website maintained by an interested grand parent. It provides assess to a large number of sites, search engines, etc. that the Web Master feels are appropriate for young kids.

NASA [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05 http://education.nasa.gov/.

Contains lots of high quality material for students, educators, and others.

National Collation for Parent Involvement in Education [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.ncpie.org/. Quoting from the Website:

At NCPIE, our mission is simple: to advocate the involvement of parents and families in their children's education, and to foster relationships between home, school, and community to enhance the education of all our nation's young people..

NSF News Release (February 11, 2005). Children, TV, Computers and More Media: New Research Shows Pluses, Minuses. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?
. Quoting from the article:

A consortium of researchers has reported that very young children’s interactions with TV and computers are a mixed bag of opportunities and cautions, while teenagers’ Internet use has changed so much that the myths of several years ago need to be debunked.

Said Amy Sussman, program manager for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds the five-site Children’s Digital Media Center (CDMC), “Reaping the benefits of various media while avoiding pitfalls is no easy task. Parents and policymakers need to inform their decisions about whether and how to guide their children’s media use through scientific knowledge. Different developmental stages call for different strategies. These and other research studies can help create needed guidance for children at all ages.”

Pathways to School Improvement [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/. Quoting from the Website:

"Critical Issue" is a multimedia document that examines a particular issue being tackled by educators engaged in school improvement. Currently, more than 75 Critical Issues are available in the following 10 areas: Assessment, At-risk, Family and Community, Instruction, Leadership, Literacy, Mathematics and Science, Policy, Professional Development, and Technology in Education. For example, under Literacy, you'll find the Critical Issue "Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction," as well as several other Literacy-related Critical Issues.

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) began online publication of Pathways Critical Issues in 1995. The initial selection of topics was the direct result of extensive surveys of national and regional educational policymakers, administrators, teachers, and researchers to elicit issues of critical interest to those engaged in education..

Scholastic: Lesson Plans and Reproducibles [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05 http://teacher.scholastic.com/ilp/index.asp. Quoting from the Website:

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing and media company, has a corporate mission supported through all of its divisions of instilling the love of reading and learning for lifelong pleasure in all children. Recognizing that literacy is the cornerstone of a child’s intellectual, personal and cultural growth, Scholastic, for more than 80 years, has created quality products and services that educate, entertain and motivate children and are designed to help enlarge their understanding of the world around them.

U.S. Department of Education [Online]. Accessed 3/4/05: http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml.

This is a good starting point for a huge amount of educational information of interest to parents, teachers, children, and others.

Top of Page