Safety Land

Give your children specific do’s and don’ts to follow by using an Internet Safety Contract. Create your own contract with guidelines designed to uphold your family’s standards, or use a contract found online. Both you and your children should read and sign it, and then hang it next to the computer. A sample contract can be found online at Once again, strive to establish a cooperative, instructional attitude with your children. We want their use of technology to be safe and creative, not repressed or legalistic.

Free Software Downloads

There are several free word-processing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs, similar to Microsoft Office, and one of them is called OpenOffice. Yes, it is free and can be downloaded and installed on your computer from The word processor is called OpenOffice Writer and is similar to Microsoft Word. The multimedia presentation software is called OpenOffice Impress and is similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. The spread sheet program is called OpenOffice Calc and is similar to Microsoft Excel. When working with OpenOffice software, you can open files created using Microsoft Office. You are also able to create files in the OpenOffice software and then save files using Microsoft’s format. Manywebsites explain how to use thisfree software, such as In Pictures( or Tutorials for OpenOffice (

Internet Security

Maintain a safe environment for your child by securing the information stored on your computer and computer devices. Each computer and technology device has different equipment and technologies, so here are a few items to consider when keeping your information safe:

• Think about anything on your computer that you want to keep secure from malicious hackers.

• Secure private information by using encryption, and remember to back up your data.

• You may need to install a firewall, anti-virus software, or anti-spyware software.

• Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters.

• In some cases, you may want to use encrypted drives for computers that contain sensitive information.

Have fun instructing your child about technology.

Holly Poteete is the founder and president of Living Water Homeschool Cooperative and currently homeschools her two children. The Computer Lab Teachers Survival Guide: K-6 Lessons for the Whole Year, Second Edition was released in January 2010. Her newest book, Kids, Computers and Learning: An Activity Guide for Parents, was released in June 2010.

Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, Spring 2011.

Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at  to view a full-length sample copy of the print magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at