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Consulting with Computer Geeks

Do you love a teenage computer geek?  Don't you wish someone had a user's manual for them?  They can be as difficult to decipher as a JavaScript manual written in Chinese!  Let me throw a few ideas into the mix!  When I'm consulting with parents of computer geeks, I always try to touch on a few key topics:

Grab credits where you can

Your child may be learning computer languages or other highly technical skills that are often learned in community college or in a university.  If your child demonstrates mastery in a technical subject, give them credit on the high school transcript.  For example, if they are fluent in C++, you might give 1 credit and use the class title Computer Programming: C++.  If they are doing robotics competitions, you migth give 1 credit and call the class Robotics.  That class may even repeat every year!  If your child is an intern, then you can use that as their Occupational Education credit.  Again, that class might repeat every year.

Demonstrate success when you can
Lots of techie teens can find great competitions to interact with others.  There are some fabulous activities that look great on a transcript and can get kids around others with similar interests.  Check out First Lego League, and their Robotics League. Look into  USA Computing Olympiad , Science Olympiad , and other science fairs and competitions.  If your child earns a certificate in anything, from Ham Radio to Java, put that on the transcript.

Take tests to demonstrate knowledge
Techie interests don't often fit into CLEP tests, but you can sometimes find them in DANTES tests, so make sure you look there.  Those tests would make wonderful outside documentation for highly technical skills. There is also an AP and CLEP in a technical category, but not such a wide variety.  You can learn more about extra tests in this article: Two for the Price of One.

Cover what geeks need to know to succeed
Computer-loving geeks are going to need to know biology, chemistry, and physics.  They'll need to get them into Calculus as well.  Because they'll need these in an engineering or computer science degree, the more science and math they get in high school, the better.

Cover the core to get into college

To get into a college engineering/computer program,  you can't be JUST good at computers.  You also have to cover the core classes.  Make sure you get the other classes out of the way too, using their geeky pursuits for electives. In other words, they'll still need English, some sort of fine art, foreign language, and PE.  Computer geeks sometimes understand Latin and prefer it over other foreign languages, so check to see if that is acceptable to colleges you like.

Teach in a way that makes sense 
Techie teens can often be convinced to take Digital Photography as their fine art.  Sometimes they'll read classic literature that includes wild and crazy geeks or sci-fi genre.  Consider these books, for example: Alas BabylonWar of the Worlds, Brave New World , Metamorphosis ,and  A Wrinkle in Time.

Beware of Technology Pitfalls 
Because of excessive computer use, make sure you and your child are both familiar with Internet Addiction, so you aren't caught by surprise.  You can find many articles about it here: Pinterest Internet Addiction Resources. Discuss the appropriate use of technology, and how to determine if it is becoming a problem.

Don't teach what they already know

If your child is naturally learning math (don't laugh - it can happen!) you don't need to teach it again.  You can give a placement test in math using the Saxon website to determine what they have learned naturally.  Fill in any gaps with SAT Prep Books like  “11 Practice Tests for the SAT”.  Use prep books as short math worksheets to cover in any gaps they skipped over, as they hurried into calculus so they could start programming.  That way they will be filling in missing math and geometry concepts while studying for the SAT.  If they are learning technology naturally and for fun, you don't need to teach them "computer skills" because you think they might be missing something.

Go beyond the basics.
If your child is ready to go beyond high school basics in technical areas, there are plenty of resources out there.  In the beginning, you might find classes through Khan Academy online.  Later, when they are ready for college level classes in this area, you can look into or MIT OpenCourseWare.   Remember, you as the parent don't need to know the material, and you don't need to teach it.  Your job is just to find opportunities for your child to learn.I hope that helps!  I love a geek too, and I know it's a challenge.

This information was actually what I shared with my Gold Care Club member Kim, pictured here with the Robotics Team Mascot. She was so relieved to talk to someone who understands!  She wrote me the sweetest note after I sent her these resources.

It was so great talking with you today!  Thank you so much for all of your advice, your time, and your encouragement.  I am so excited to know I have someone so knowledgeable that I can go to for help with everything regarding homeschooling high school!  The email you just sent my way today is a treasure trove.  You really know how to listen and know what to recommend!  I have already sent my son to look at the Computing Olympiad site.  Thank you for all of the personalized links and are the best resource I've ever had!  Wow! I will definitely "do my homework" this week, and I look very forward to talking with you again next Wednesday.

Thanks again for everything ~ Kim

If you would like encouragement, consider joining the Gold Care Club. Members get 20 minutes of consulting each week, either by phone or by email, and can learn from 7 online classes each month that change regularly.  I'll be happy to help you too!


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Comments 1

Guest - Karen (website) on Friday, 28 September 2012 09:44

I have a computer geek for a son. When he was in high school I allowed him to take a networking class from the local high school. A lot of the students who attended the class were home schooled like my son. He enjoyed the class and received his A+ certification. For each networking certification there is a test that needs to be taken. He has talked about obtaining more certificates, but we have moved away from the city and the testing center.

I have a computer geek for a son. When he was in high school I allowed him to take a networking class from the local high school. A lot of the students who attended the class were home schooled like my son. He enjoyed the class and received his A+ certification. For each networking certification there is a test that needs to be taken. He has talked about obtaining more certificates, but we have moved away from the city and the testing center.
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