When the Internet first materialized from the ether and teachers discovered its potential as a research and educational tool, it became a teacher responsibility to educate students on the “Good, Bad, and the Ugly” of the Internet. Even today, students still have difficulty discerning fact from just plain garbage on the Internet. They still believe that everything they read there is TRUE. Now I am discovering that many adults have the same trouble. My biggest concern with this is in the area of educational materials.In the real world, most people still feel that teachers should be held to a higher standard and that schools should be “doing right” by their child. Parents are quick to complain if something goes wrong. Teachers today have to be fingerprinted and go through extensive background checks–even teachers who have had perfect records for 30 years.At the same time, parents are buying “educational materials” from the Internet with just the assumption that these materials are appropriate for their child and are correct. Parents are also reading articles and looking at websites and accepting that what they are reading is fact without doing any research of the topic or checking into the background of the author.I recently read an article about becoming a psychologist. Since I have a degree in Psychology, I was interested in what the author had to say. I was shocked to see him write that you can become a psychologist with a 2-year Associates degree. This is simply NOT TRUE! His article ended with a link to a site pushing Psychology programs. It was not his site-he had misread some of the information from the site-and he is not a Psychologist himself. I suspect he has no Psychology training at all.I read a large number of tutoring articles all written by the same person. He had terrible grammar and spelling (he needed a tutor) and some of his articles contained information that was inaccurate. Surprise! Every article ended with a link to an online tutoring site.I don’t have trouble with the concept of using articles to drive traffic to a site to sell products like eBooks on how to get you ex back or how to market an online business or search engine optimization. You, the buyer, realize these sites and/or authors have a vested interest in getting you to buy their product. The important issue is that if you get taken for a ride, only YOU suffer the consequences.This is not the case for educational materials being purchased by parents for their children. If parents buy materials that are not produced by educators, are not based on sound educational practices, or are actually bad materials, it is the CHILD who will suffer the consequences. What you do to yourself is your business, but what you do to a child is everyone’s business. Online educational sites and materials need to be held to that higher standard. Parents need to know that the producers of these materials are “up to date” with their knowledge and can be trusted.A few years ago, when the home-schooling movement began to grow quickly, there was an increased demand for materials they could use. The Internet is now “littered” with sites trying to make a buck off this demand. Typical worksheets are easy, quick, and cheap to produce. But just because someone can type two columns of addition problems doesn’t make the worksheet good for your child. Current science is showing us that worksheets are contrary to the way the brain learns. I have found virtually no websites offering worksheets that are actually good for children. Many sites don’t show examples of their material so you don’t even know what you will be getting.I realize that many people are still going to purchase worksheets and/or other educational materials online for the convenience. For your child’s sake, do research before you buy. Know who is writing the material (is their background in education?), why they are writing it (for a positive impact on your child or to make a buck?), what they are writing (that you can see it and evaluate it), and whether it is brain-friendly. You probably need to research this concept, but at the very least: (1) have lots of color, (2) have many different activities, (3) involve some physical activity, and (4) have NO SKILL AND DRILL! (That’s lists of similar problems.)Remember: (1) Educational materials should be held to a higher standard, and (2) there are much better (for your child) and more effective ways to teach your children. The vast majority of these educational materials are unnecessary. Don’t waste your money.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism there are a few changes you are going to need to make in order to help your child through this. One change begins with unique education. This is a critical time for learning and a child needs both parents and teachers to work together in special education. Parents can prepare their autistic child at home before they begin special education classes in the fall.Routines are ImportantSomeone who suffers from autism relies on routines and may have difficulties if the routine is changed in any way. When school starts, your child will need to readjust to the new routine of getting up and getting ready for school, eating breakfast, going to special education class, and then returning home. In order to make the transition easier, you may want to start this routine a few months earlier. If you don’t work or take your child to a sitter during the day, go through the routine of driving to the school. There are many summer activities for children to get into around the area so check into these activities to see if your child shows some interest in them.If not, at least get your child on a routine of going to bed and getting up at a particular time. You may want to go online and pull some lessons off of the computer and have your child learn by sitting at the kitchen table or a desk. As you go through your lessons tell him that this is what he will do when he goes to school. Special education lessons are listed online and can help prepare your child for learning this fall.When the new school year starts, go to school and introduce your child and yourself and keep in touch with your child on a weekly basis. Working together in special education is vital. Your child is going to spend the day with the special education teacher and it is important that he feels comfortable with her. If not, he may have some set backs that you will need to work out before he can feel safe enough to stay and learn.While your child is in special education classes you want to avoid attending school and disrupting the class. If your child sees you there he may think that it is okay to go home when he still has more time in school. Ask the teacher if your child can carry a picture of you with him or something that belongs to you in case he needs to feel secure at some point in the day.Special education courses will vary depending on the school, the teacher, and the grade that your child is in. However, you can strengthen the learning process by reviewing what the teacher went over that day over a snack. Special education courses take time to help the child learn in their own unique and individual way. The more you work with him at home the more he will feel comfortable in learning.