Tips for Using the Internet: Guidelines for School Leaders and Parents
Published in partnership with the National School Boards Foundation.
Take a balanced approach to policies and practices for children's use of the Internet.
Initiate conversations with teachers, administrators, and parents, rather than set and implement rules that may be perceived as too rigid. Make sure all stakeholders have a chance to contribute to the decision-making process.
Pay as much attention to highlighting good content as to restricting bad content.
Remember that overzealous watchdog policies may inhibit Internet opportunities for students whose only access to the Internet is through school. Follow the example of the many parents who take a balanced approach to the Internet. Both at home and at school, set rules and limits on Internet use, but also guide children to good content. Avoid gender stereotypes, especially since girls and boys-in equal percentages-are making use of the Internet.
Develop a plan to help schools, teachers and parents educate children about safe, responsible uses of the Internet.
For example, encourage schools and families to place computers in rooms that are shared (such as family rooms, dining rooms, offices or libraries), where children can use the Internet with others around them. And teach children never to share personal information (name, address, telephone, or credit card number) online.
Foster appropriate use of the Internet among preschoolers and other young children.
Exposure to the Internet can help preschoolers and children in the early elementary grades master literacy and other cognitive skills and also can spur integration of these skills early in their development. Parents and school leaders who look for online opportunities for younger children can be guides to engaging, age-appropriate content. The Internet can reinforce everyday learning opportunities and be a powerful tool for fostering interaction among adults and young children.
Help teachers, parents, and children use the Internet more effectively for learning.
For example, suggest education-related websites for parents and children to visit together-and give them learning activities to do once they get there. Offer education-related help for students online, like after-school tutoring. Provide teachers with professional development opportunities to help them model effective use of the Internet as a tool for students' learning, including integrating Internet learning with regular classroom learning. If teacher training takes place outside of regular school hours, offer teachers incentives to participate when possible. If teacher training pulls teachers out of classrooms, let parents know why it is important to support this professional development.
Use the Internet to communicate more effectively with parents and students.
For example, launch school district or school websites or publicize existing websites in newsletters and places where parents are likely to be. Update websites frequently with relevant, timely information. Post exemplary student work online, with teacher commentary explaining why this work meets academic standards. Make websites interactive by soliciting comments or holding public forums about education issues online. Encourage teachers, parents and students to communicate with email.
Engage the community.
Consider holding computer and Internet training classes for parents or hosting convenient opportunities for parents, community leaders, librarians, teachers, and others to talk together about children's use of the Internet. Schools may want to collaborate with libraries, community computing centers, local colleges and universities, and other places that offer alternative access to computers.