Keys to Success: 2 Big Ways to Help a Digital Native Succeed in School

Back in the day when I went to school, classroom technology was limited to this:

It was mobile because it was on a cart. The little fan spun around in the back. That was kinda neat.

Technology in education has progressed leaps and bounds since the 1990s. If your school was anything like mine, budgets and administrative constraints meant that you couldn’t take advantage of all the latest advancements. It’s like the new joke that already sounds trite:

If your kids are like the “typical” Generation Zer, she’s probably already a whizz with mobile and digital learning. If they’ve been online at an early age, they’re already used to exploring the digital world around them. They’re comfortable with it and aren’t afraid they’ll break it. Even if their classrooms aren’t equipped with the latest holographic displays, they can take advantage of digital resources to succeed in relatively low-tech school.

Even if those ways require being less digitally dependent so they can better prepare for class.

This might sound like an old, but worth repeating: encourage your child to read. 

Here’s the catch: read print books.

technology in education_read

According to one study from 2015, many college-aged kids who grew up on Kindle and e-readers prefer buying print copies of their assignments. Even if the e-copies were given away for free. The answer: print books discourage skimming and scanning that screen reading makes so easy. No ads. No sound effects. No adjusting lighting and font size settings. No clickable pictures. No new web tabs. No writing made up of short and incomplete sentences or #impropersyntax. No sound bites like the sentences in the paragraph. Just you and a book.

But how can technology help with that?

By doing what it does best, open doors.

If your child likes to read already, then bravo! You’re a great parent.

But try this little experiment: Download a free e-book, say Harry Castelmon’s Our Fellow; or, Skirmishes with Swamp Dragons. It reproduces an old book faithfully, complete with original pictures and vintage ads from 1872.

Then, switch off the internet.

And have Junior read out loud to you. Just a few minutes, every day. And you can prove you’re paying attention by reading along.

Break a Sweat

Getting ready for school means getting back to large work loads. Homework. Classwork. Mental strain in general.

Sure, workout out problems can be good for flexing your brain power. But there’s a darker side: work overload can cause students to burn out. Kids go to school because they have to. But going to college is a choice, and freshmen who drop out of college cite stress, too many expectations, and depression. Students give up, drop out, or choose self-destructive choices instead of working them out.

So, what to do about it?

Work them out. Literally, by working out.

technology in education_work out

Exercise is one of the best ways to fight off stress. Working your body improves your mood by releasing “feel good” antidepressants in your body, and can help relax your brain. You can improve your sleep, improve your appetite, and burn off calories at the same time.

What’s in it for a digital native?

technology in education-video gamesVideo game exercising is one of the largest booming digital industries. Since over 90% of kids and adolescents play video games, the industry and nutritionists have teamed up with smartphone apps and traditional console games to get kids moving. Some of these exergaming programs are free and some aren’t, while some require specific equipment. But whichever ones you do, the game itself is less important than the benefits for the body—and the mind.

So, power up your screen with a book. And then relax by working it out!

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