Those that know the intricacies of raising children also know there isn’t a day that goes by where we — as parents — aren’t judging.
We might be judging other parents, other children, other families, our better half, our own children … whatever the scenario, we’re judging. For the most part I hope we judge as a way of learning; questioning the ways and methods of others to better ourselves as a parent and as a human being. But, there are times we judge in somewhat cynical ways yearning for mistakes or saying to ourselves, “see, I told you so.”
If you weren’t aware of it, are you now judging us?
If you were aware of it, are you still judging us? And is it a positive judgment or a negative one?
Why do we encourage (and ultimately allow) three young children who technically aren’t allowed to be on Facebook yet to publicly and openly blog?
There are a few reasons, so let us try to help with the rationale.
- Writing, Motor and Memory Skills
- First and foremost, this is a chance for the wee goats to practice their writing skills. Now we know the naysayers will say, “isn’t a pad and paper in a diary just as effective?” Sure … we encourage writing on paper as well through the creation of stories, booklets and cards. But hammering out a blog post using Gutenberg’s invention (whether on a laptop or their iPad) is both a writing skill as much as it’s a motor and memory skill as they learn the nuances of the QWERTY keyboard.
- Motivation and Reward
- The thrill of both pressing the button ‘publish‘ and knowing others might read their thoughts is both motivating and an intrinsic reward. Secondly, when a comment comes into their site as a result of their post from relatives, friends or yes even strangers, it both reinforces the motivation to write and it too creates a human connection reward. (plus the comments often have some form of learning in it as well for the goats)
- Blogging inspires creativity. At least in our house, there are no rules to what they might write about … so long as they are writing. Claire may write about a science experiment she conducted at home, Cole might want to create a presentation about sharks or Cate might want to regale you with her love of gymnastics. Whatever the case, they are encouraged to be creative and think ‘outside the box‘. There are no rules to what they can write about.
- Everything is a Teaching Moment
- Before you think Denise and I are complete lunatics, each post is vetted by the parents and often it’s a group writing exercise. With Denise and I both being educators, we’re using the act of blogging to help reinforce life values alongside life skills. Claire wanted to write about Rosa Parks (how cool is that?) and we had a great discussion about the Civil Rights movement at the dinner table that night. The same thing goes for War, which Cole wrote about once. Everything is a teaching moment.
- Digital Literacy Skills
- Of course, one of the easier skills we’re teaching is digital literacy. Claire started blogging when she was 7, Cole when he was 6 and Cate when she was 5 … and in each case, the goats are learning the ‘in’s and out’s’ of researching online, finding photos, checking facts (if applicable) as well as using the WordPress application on a laptop or as an app on the iPad.
- Memory Keeper
- As they continue their journey on the train of life, we reckon the blog posts that they write will (or perhaps can) act as a new way of documenting life itself. We hope it becomes a looking-glass to the past for each of them; a 2.0 way of tapping into past memories AND learning.
Each comment that comes into the sites are first vetted by the parents. Each post is ultimately pre-approved and there is a grammar and diction lesson that goes with it before publication.
And yes, we teach the goats about not only digital citizenship but digital safety. Sure, their names are ‘out there’ on the Internet for all to see, but safety goes hand-in-hand with our teaching efforts not only online but in the physical world too. To us, digital safety is an extension of physical safety.
We’re proud of the goats. We’re proud they love writing on their blogs. We don’t judge other parents for NOT encouraging (or allowing) their children to blog. But, if you are judging our parental choice on this particular matter, we hope you can now see (openly and publicly) why we’re encouraging it in the first place.
Thanks for reading.
Love, Dan & Denise