As they got older, computer games became more involved and complicated, and because the computer was in an open area with the screen visible to others, siblings became drawn into what was happening on the screen as well. some single player games became a group effort just by nature of people being there. And the subject matter of some games marketed for "fun" were educational as well. We spent a few years delving through history by way of games such as Age of Empires and Civilization. Other simulation games were a big hit, and the kids learned all kinds of things that way – planning, budgeting, marketing, math – and I find most people miss the obvious: you have to read the instructions on the screen.
After play time another important thing is discussing and *listening*. I would ask the kids how their game went, but more importantly, I *listened* to them tell me what they did and how ti worked. Sure, I helped them when needed, but I resisted the urge to do it for them or turn it into some sort of learning experience. I think that’s real important, to stand back and let them explore. I’d already set the boundaries up, I didn’t need to give them a hand-guided tour of the place. Unless they asked.
Since we were big into computers, we naturally had a lot of them around and people would dump their old ones on us. The ones that were too outdated or too broken to be fixed, well – we took them apart and showed the kids. And yes, we let them touch it.
This process has seen the most results with my two oldest – Sarah & Addison – because they’ve been at it the longest. It’s one of those things that takes time, and we’re in a society that expects clear and measurable results. Sometimes you have to wait.
Addison, having spent innumerable hours of screen time, especially as a teenager, decided to go on to college and take the same computer program we did. He’s in his second and final year, about to start the work co-op section, and has consistently made the Dean’s List. While there, he also tutored other students and worked part time in tech support at the college. Even before he left for college, we would talk about his interests in programming, particular techniques, new things we found and discoveries he made new to him, just like we would a fellow programmer.
Sarah has gone off in a slightly different direction. she’s more interested in music and graphics. Have free and unrestricted computer access has led to her exploring both audio and graphic programs. recently she was paid by a local business to create posters for them based on photos they had taken. When the owner saw the first one, she was so happy she almost cried. The biggest thing we did was allow Sarah the time and space to figure out the program and how best to use it.
Naturally at some point, they both became interested in how to make a web page, so once I found a couple sites they needed, I pretty much left them to it. Unless and until they asked me a question. All my kids have blogs and we (Ron and I) read them.