In a culture where screens rule children’s entertainment it’s easy for parents to be wary of exposing them to more technology.
Kelly Tilby was one of those parents. The self-confessed technology naysayer credits her husband, Mike, for encouraging their son, Cody, take part in our Digital Immersion Programme at Whangarei Intermediate.
One year on and Kelly is one of the programme’s biggest supporters.
“You think having access to a laptop would make a kid isolated and game themselves silly but it completely doesn’t,” she says.
The Tilbys first learned of the programme during an evening information session for new students and, armed with “a good dose of information” and a pamphlet, signed Cody up shortly after.
Kelly says Taitokerau Education Trust made the sign up process seamless and set them up on plan where they paid $35 a month over a year to buy Cody’s Chromebook.
She says the trust makes it “completely possible for people in any financial position to be able to cover the cost”.
Within a week, Cody was the proud new owner of a Chromebook.
The responsibility of this new ownership and the lessons from the safety session on how to properly care for the laptop soon fed through to other equipment in the home.
“We were going through Xbox controller cords, cracked screens and all sorts. Now he knows how to take care of the cords and we haven’t had to replace any controllers since, which is fantastic!”
Cody uses his Chromebook every night and says he “actually enjoys” being able to finish off his work at home and keep in touch with his classmates and friends from his hockey team via email or through educational games such as Prodigy.
Kelly says digital learning enabled Cody’s teacher, Karen Hinge, to pick up on things that traditional teaching might have missed. When Karen noticed his reading had slipped, Cody was given educational games and online tasks to improve this and his reading soon went up two levels.
As full-time working parents, Kelly and her husband can log in at any time to see how Cody’s doing at school and awards he’s received.
“The people who have set it up have really done their homework to make it really stress-free for parents. If you’re a working parent and need to see how your kid’s doing, it’s right there in front of you.”
Over the year, Karen, Kelly and Cody’s extended family noticed a big progression in Cody’s maturity and confidence.
Kelly says this progress is due to the relaxed environment that digital learning creates.
“He had difficulty with handwriting but the computer made writing fun for him so, when he did pick up the pencil, he didn’t stress and his pen skills have definitely increased.
“Kids thrive when they don’t feel under pressure.”
Looking to 2019, when Cody starts high school, Kelly is glad that the he will be entering his next chapter “steps ahead” and with great confidence in learning digitally.
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