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Oct 2010

The Role of Educational Video in Homeschooling

A Thorn in the Side…or a Jewel in the Crown

I received an email a couple of days ago from a friend. She asked me to comment on the following statement “…..you know, in the US, there is quite a bit of controversy over K-12 among homeschoolers …..many see it as taking away the parents teaching of the children and relegating it to videos”.

In this article I want to address the issue and role of using online educational video in homeschooling.

I find it a little hard to believe that if we sit down and think about it for a moment that anyone could reasonably suggest that “using video is taking away the parents teaching of their children” any more using a textbook might.

Using video to teach your child as a homeschooler is certainly no different to using a textbook in that it is simply a format in which to deliver the core information, or the facts!

However video is a format that has distinctive silver lining.

Firstly the textbook only offers the child one solitary option. It must be read. And if you then have a child that does not like reading, and on top of that they do not find the topic particularly interesting, then it can be a recipe for disaster.

Video however provides the child with 2 choices. And if you use subtitled video, as we do, then it provides the child with 3 choices. They can watch, listen or read. Every child absorbs and processes information in the manner that best suits them, and their abilities. So it is important to provide the child with the choices so that when we hope or expect them to absorb and process certain information, we give them the benefit of a flying start.

At the same time though video offers a much more dynamic means to deliver information, and as a result it rapidly captures the child’s attention and maintains their interest for a longer period of time. And guess what? It also introduces an element of fun at the same time. You make learning fun and watch the child’s motivation increase. That’s precisely why the most effective form of learning comes about when the child enjoys and is interested in the topic. I suspect this is exactly why few of us adults retire to bed early in the evening with a dictionary to relax! Hard work or what?

Another important aspect to video is that unlike a textbook it provides stop, start and rewind buttons. In other words, we are providing a form of information delivery that enables children to learn at their own speed. And by providing a child with the means to learn at their own speed it enables each child to achieve their greatest potential.

The next important piece of the puzzle again involves choice. Without exception each child has different talents, skills, AND interests. At Zane Education we provide a library of more than 250 topics across 12 different subjects and in doing so we hope that parents will use what is on offer, to allow the if child to explore what is on offer. Allow them the chance to explore and discover, and don’t be surprised if they start showing a particular interest in a Biology topic to do with animals, or a part of world history dealing with the French Revolution, or a how a symphony orchestra is constituted and manages to play together.

Most of us homeschool because we are concerned about other people wanting to fit our children into ‘their boxes’. At the same time we need to be wary that we as concerned parents are not trying to fit our children into ‘our own boxes’. We are talking about and dealing with young fertile minds all of which have the ability, in one form or another, to make their own dreams come true. So should we feed, or should we provide?

The most effective learning comes about when a person, child or adult, has a subject that interests them, and that subject is delivered in a manner that attracts and maintains their attention!

And so by using online video as part of your homeschool program are you allowing the teaching of your children to be taken away? No of course no! No more than if you take your hands of the wheel of your car on the highway and then expect it to drive itself.

The video is simply a far more dynamic and effective tool than a textbook, but is still requires the same individual interaction with a “teacher” for it to be used to procure the best result. It is one greatly improved ingredient to be used in the baking of the cake.

At the end of the day, the best comparison I can use as a homeschool parent of two children myself, is that it is somewhat like being asked to dig a hole in your back yard. What would you choose …a shovel or a spoon? And if the cost of the shovel is significantly cheaper than 10 spoons ….well you can decide the rest.

FOOTNOTE: For those of you parents that have reached the end of this article and want to discuss the importance of reading. I cannot argue! And that is precisely why we provide subtitled video …. it is used by a growing number of our parents in place of specialized more expensive reading programs to actual improve their child’s reading skills. If you want to know more about that then please contact me or alternatively research the Availll Institute whose 5-year research revealed the link between the use of subtitled video and improved reading skills. Otherwise it is the subject of one of my next blog articles.

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