This summer, I will have the opportunity to teach a blogging class for middle school students at Parkland’s College for Kids. I am so excited to share my own hobby with students in the Champaign-Urbana area. Since beginning my teaching blog in 2014, it has undergone lots of changes. Some of those changes were productive, and some were merely a reflection of my indecisiveness. However, it was all part of a creative journey that I had begun, which now serves as the basis for my top three reasons your child should try blogging.
1. Cultivate Creativity
As a middle school teacher, one of the biggest hurdles I face when beginning a new school year with my students is that they lack creativity. It is hard to teach kids to be creative because it requires that they start something of their own accord—a project, an essay, a presentation, a website, a design, etc. When they don’t have any initial inspiration, it quickly becomes a game of monkey-see, monkey-do.
A blog is your child’s body of work. It is a space for them to take creative risks and test out their ideas for design, writing, and photography, all under one domain that allows for pretty immediate change whenever your young blogger sees fit. In short, it gets the creative juices flowin’, and that’s never a bad thing!
2. Reflect on the Self
Kids (and adults, if we’re all being honest) who routinely narrate their thought processes are more prone to self-reflection and self-awareness. Blogging is an avenue that kids can use to explore their perspectives. Each post is an opportunity to identify a new viewpoint or explore thoughts. It’s a chance to organize the chaos that often plagues the adolescent mind.
Best of all, rereading old posts can be an experience in itself for kids. I know it is for me! That then becomes cause-for-pause to reflect on where I used to be and where I am now, in many senses of the idea.
3. Connect with Others
While it can be scary to think about allowing middle schoolers to connect with strangers on the Internet, it can also be a way in which students widen their own perspectives. In my classroom, my students explore the idea of an echo chamber. Online, this is often referred to as a filter bubble.
The concept is basically this: Everything we know we like and agree with surrounds us and reverberates back to us on a daily basis. Online, algorithms “get to know” our online presence by keeping track of what we like and interact with, and they fill our social media accounts and even the ads on the websites we visit with more content just like that. This creates a tiny bubble that is very difficult to burst without making a conscious effort to seek other perspectives.
As a blogger, kids have access to other perspectives from anywhere in the world, which can effectively burst that filter bubble and give kids a window through which to view the stories of other cultures and more. On top of that invaluable experience, bloggers then have the opportunity to write for different and authentic audiences with a unique diversity they probably aren’t getting from their classrooms throughout the school year. Imagine the possibilities! Lastly, it provides opportunity for conversation around safe practices online, and also the development of a digital footprint, along with the space to practice safe habits routinely.
I hope you are excited by the idea of blogging for your child. I am certainly excited to be delivering such relevant content to our young writers in the area! To me, blogging is more than just a hobby. It’s a way to create, reflect, and expand my own perspective to include the stories of writers all over the world. I hope you’ll explore this class and the many others Parkland has to offer this summer. We’re looking forward to meeting you!
See you this summer!
College for Kids Teacher
How to Be a Blogger, Adventures in Stories and Snacks
College for Kids registration is open now! Check out our classes by visiting www.parkland.edu/btceRegister. Classes will be held Monday–Thursday, June 19–29 and July 10–20. Class times are 12:45–2:45 p.m. and 3–5 p.m. Tuition for each class is $159 and includes all supplies. You can register online or in person at 1315 N. Mattis Ave., Champaign. CFK inspires students to develop a lifetime love of learning and exploration.
Questions? Call 217/353-2055.
[Terry Thies is program manager for youth education with Parkland College Business Training and Community Education.]