Builder BoyA popular choice among some homeschoolers and steadily gaining ground in the private education sector, the Waldorf Method of education frowns upon technology in education according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Is technology in the early years really such the hindrance that Waldorf educators and parents suggest though, I think not. Just as we carefully choose the best curriculum for home schoolchildren to fit their learning styles and needs, I find it equally important to choose what and how much technology to include in their education. Keeping a balance between natural learning and creativity and modern day methods is key.
I’m going to use my son, eight year Builder Boy on the High Functioning end of the Autism spectrum, today to explain that balance and the benefits technology can provide.
Creating a Voice
Imagine your child at the age of two only speaking 20 words and half of those, only you can decipher. Now imagine, that after a lot of work, now at the age of eight, that child is able sit down with you and hold conversation better than some adults with a vocabulary well beyond his years. His little head is full of wondrous thoughts, grand ideas and he has so many stories to tell. Then picture the look on his face because he is unable to express these thoughts, ideas and stories onto paper because memory issues beyond his control do not provide him with the capability to yet transform those thoughts into written word.
That is the face I had to see on numerous occasions, longing to share, but unable to and it broke my heart. Because, though we spend more than a fair amount of time shaping his creativity with drawing, movement and more, much like the students in a Waldorf school, embracing his creativity does not give him the means for written communication. What did finally give him his voice however was speech to text software on the computer, a simple piece of technology, but a powerful tool in our home.
Now Builder Boy can easily dictate his thoughts to the computer and read back eloquently written sentences that he created rather than simple 3 to 4 four words expected of a kindergartner that he was previously able to create.
Breaking Away From Intimidation
Watching your child learn to read, that moment when you know they truly understand, is a feeling like no other. However, that feeling can quickly turn to frustration when you notice your child hitting a roadblock because they continually choose books below their reading level. This is what Builder Boy did, and not because he was having difficulty progressing in his reading, but because he was intimidated by the size of the books in his hands as moved along.
Again, one simple little piece of technology, the eBook and an eReader allowed him to quickly jump over that roadblock. No longer were the text in hands, a thick and scary chapter book, they were on a screen and the amount of pages no longer held a bearing. I will never forget the look on his face when he devoured two Magic Tree House books in one evening and was able to answer questions to test his comprehension with ease.
Again though, it requires balance. We still have 20 minutes of independent reading from good old-fashioned books along with our daily read alouds in history, science and literature. But by placing the technology of the eBooks in our home and allowing Builder Boy to utilize them he has gained the confidence he needed to read at his level.
We are a Blended Family
Now, these are just two examples of how technology has helped my son’s education in ways that I may not otherwise have been able to. We are a blended family, in that we equally embrace technology and wonder of letting our children learn naturally. As with all things in life, there is a ying and a yang and you must practice balance. It is my belief that denying your child one end of the spectrum because you fear its influence is foolish as the same could easily be said for the side you have chosen.