Thursday, May 27, 2010

A great gift you can give your child: information literacy!

We all want to send our children out into the world as well prepared as possible, but in today's technology rich society it is easy to suffer from information overload! Young people may be comfortable using technology (sometimes more comfortable than their parents are) but that doesn't mean they are always able to efficiently locate and evaluate resources or make the best use of the information they locate.

It's never too early to start modeling information literacy and supporting it in your own home! The more you can reinforce the lessons your children hear at school and demonstrate their applicability to real life problems, the more relevant and important they will seem.

Some of my previous blog posts about research describe things you can do to support these skills at home. In particular I would highly recommend developing a thorough acquaintance with the Big 6 steps for information seeking.

During library classes we have brainstormed real life (non-school related) situations in which people used the Big 6, and students have come up with a range of examples from, "My dad needed to choose a new car" to "I went on a hike with my family and saw a bird I couldn't identify." As you investigate a new recipe to try for dinner or start planning your next family vacation, try to let your child in on the steps you're taking as you look for and evaluation information. Modeling this process will help them break down their next big school project into logical and less intimidating steps.

You can use almost any situation as an opportunity for developing your child's information literacy, from advertisements you're exposed to (Can you trust the source? Can the claims be independently verified? If so, where and how?) to a spam email forwarded by a gullible relative (Is that dire warning really true? Can we believe everything we read? Where could we go to figure out if it's true or not?).

I'd also recommend this wonderful guide:

What Should Parents Know about Information Literacy?

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