Information Technology and Home Schooling

Information technology (IT or ICT) has a big role to play in home schooling. If you are learning at home, there is no doubt that IT skills will enable you to access a much richer educaitonal experience.

But that is just one aspect of IT’s importance in the modern world and children of every age need to develop their IT skills if they are going to enhance their life-chances.   Fortunately, most kids enjoy using computers and this gives them a natural aptitude for learning new IT skills.

For that reason, many home-schoolers will find that they race through Oxford Home Schooling’s new IT Key Stage 3 course. The course starts from first principles but many of the youngsters who take the course will already have a wide variety of experience of using information technology. That experience may be unstructured and play-oriented but it provides a big head start.

Perhaps the most important challenge when IT becomes a subject of formal study is to introduce and clarify the language of computing. There are hundreds of new terms to learn at various stages of the learning process and adults tend to forget how few of these terms are “obvious” to the newcomer. Each must be introduced carefully and preferably in the right sequence.

Most home learners will start with the Key Stage 3 Year 7 IT course. Although it is targeted at 11-12 year olds in Year 7, it is suitable for children of other ages who are ready to begin formal study and extend their use of computers.

There are, of course, dangers lurking in the world of computing – dodgy websites, viruses, inappropriate contacts, etc, so it is important to establish safe, supervised practices at the outset, in order to minimise the significance of any of these risks.  An important aspect of the Oxford Home Schooling IT course, is the help it gives parents to support their child’s studies and monitor progress effectively. There is an important three-way relationship between student, parent and tutor, designed to ensure steady, safe progress for each child.   OHS encourages parents to be actively involved at every point.

As well as the language of computing and safe practices, it is important to learn how to use the common tools of computing. The second half of the Year 7 course is devoted to those skills – word-processing, presentations, spreadsheets, databases, etc. These skills are gradually developed in the Year 8 and Year 9 IT courses,  so that by the time the student is ready to embark on GCSE studies (not simply IT GCSE), he or she has a full range of tools and techniques at their disposal.  Nor is it necessary to purchase expensive software – all the tools you need are available for free, notably in the excellent Open Office software.

The Oxford Home Schooling Year 7 course is designed to form part of a well-rounded educational experience for 11-year olds, sitting alongside well-established courses for English, Maths, Science, History, etc. The opportunities have never been better for home education in this age-group.

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