Linux for kids
January 20, 2020 at 11:02 pm #39899ParticipantTippon@tippon
I was looking at setting up an old laptop for Alice, and was going to put Edubuntu on it. I’ve just found out that it’s been discontinued though.
Does anyone know of a distro that’s similar and suitable for a four year old? I’ve looked at Sugar, but really didn’t like it, and most of the others I could find seemed to be just standard distros, but with some kids games.
If there’s nothing decent, I’ll just set up Ubuntu or a derivative and go from there :)
January 21, 2020 at 8:02 am #39902
Lots of lists on line e,g, link
Many schools now start slightly older kids on Scratch – if you have a Pi you can see it there.
My own observation with my grandchildren is that they are far more comfortable using Pads, and that there are a lot of very good (some expensive) learning games. However beware there are many that look good but are US-centric e.g. color etc. Apple seem to have the best educational games .January 21, 2020 at 8:08 pm #39912Participantblacklion1725@blacklion1725Forumite Points: 3,338
Lots of lists on line e,g, link Many schools now start slightly older kids on Scratch – if you have a Pi you can see it there. My own observation with my grandchildren is that they are far more comfortable using Pads, and that there are a lot of very good (some expensive) learning games. However beware there are many that look good but are US-centric e.g. color etc. Apple seem to have the best educational games .
I would agree. I think as full size PCs/Monitors were replaced by laptops, those (laptops) are now replaced by pads and (increasingly) big phones. My two are 25 and 27 and do EVERYTHING on their phones – even when they come back home and a laptop is available.
As handy as phones are, it does feel like everyone is getting dumbed down computing-wise and that is a shame. I’m a bit old fashioned but the mobile/streaming model for me is (a) great/convenient and (b) worrying.January 21, 2020 at 8:17 pm #39913ParticipantThe Duke@sgb101Forumite Points: 11,583
I’ve never seen it as being dumbed down. The pc was mainly for geeks that liked to tinker. Then the Internet and social media took off, and if you wanted to join in, you briefly needed a pc, then laptops became acceable, then phones/tablet ls arrived.
I’d say the number of ‘tinkerers’ and ‘workers’ will still be the same if not greater, it just now they have gone form an almost 100% majority to probaly 1% of the digital users.
The geeky stuff and people are still tinkering, but the every day users (normal folk) use simple consumption devices, and no the creative devices (pc’s).
The issue always was that the pc was to complicated for people that just wanted to consume content, so it’s sales was over inflated for about 6 years until better consumption devices arrived.January 22, 2020 at 9:16 am #39920
Thinking about your question, four is maybe a bit too young for a laptop as the keyboard could be a barrier to learning.
I assume your daughter goes to play-school, so you should have some ideas on areas in which you can give help. Encouraging a good ‘tripod’ grip on a pen is normally a disproportionately helpful thing to do.January 22, 2020 at 5:16 pm #39938
Like Ed, I use the growing experiences of my grandchildren to educate ME! They are all 4 different yet similar in other ways, if that is not self-contradictory.
Eldest, now 26, Aspergers, had a bad time at Primary school. Very intelligent but tormented because of a lack of sociability and not taking part. I built him a desktop computer and opened Pandora’s box. At college he blossomed big time and now he is the right hand man to his boss in a very successful IT business. Now he builds and maintains family devices. Thank you, buddy!
His cousin, now 23, began as a chef and is now a bank worker. (No, really!) She still has our old 17″ HP Pavilion Dv7, think about 12 or 13 years old now, still works but rarely used as she is always on her phone, which probably cost as much as the HP when that was new. Just moved in with her BF to a new house and they are both always on phones, not big computer users, don’t Game, just music, videos and FB.
Her brother, 21 now and extremely dyslexic but also very intelligent. I built his first desktop, now he builds his own. A Gamer and an electronic correspondent with young people all over the planet. Likes to repair and maintain his friends’ devices.
Eldest gson’s sister, 14 and an A* student at Grammar. Very intelligent. Began with a 10″ tablet as a small child, then Big brother built her desktop with all sorts of bells and whistles. She is a Polymath: excels at everything but as a result is unsure what future work she wants to do. RAF cadet, Girl Guide, show dancer, taps and ballet. Uses the PC as a tool and her school allows phones to be used to take notes, which she sends to her desktop. My advice to her was don’t worry, just learn what you can and whatever floats your academic boat. (that made her giggle) Whatever you eventually decide, you must put the enjoyment of doing it before the salary. But always ensure you are fairly paid.
They all started with desktops at school, only the 14 yo had a tablet, but became fed up with it at about 8 yo because it just was not fast enough and lacked storage for everything her mind wanted to learn. Personally, I think if the two boys had used a tablet first, it would have been advantageous to them, but tablets were not yet good enough when they were small. Eldest girl was never really into computing, except for pop, FB and friends.
What is always at the forefront of my mind, is that the two boys are at opposite ends of the Autistic spectrum. Perhaps that is why they get on so well together.
Observing children develop is fascinating. I used to be one, once… 😝😄 Missus says I still am.
When the Thought Police arrive at your door, think -
I'm out.January 22, 2020 at 11:48 pm #39950
Thanks for the replies guys :)
Alice is in nursery now. Some schools start here at three, while others don’t start until five. She was in playgroups until she started school this year.
We gave Alice a customised phone (OnePlus One with a kid friendly launcher and apps) at the beginning of the school year, expecting them to be using tablets if they were using any computing tech. She’s started using the class computer now for spelling words and some basic maths. They’re old Dell type desktops with a proper keyboard and mouse, so for now I’m planning on giving her something similar, but will use the touchpad on the laptop to get her a bit more used to using her finger to control it. She’s fine with using the phone, but so far there are no apps that she uses in school, so I’m guessing my way through it. I’ve got a touchscreen stylus, but can’t decide whether that or a graphics tablet would be better for getting her to use a pen.
Alice is very similar to me, in that she doesn’t like using a pen or pencil, but loves to type. I’ve got a little rubber grip that helps her to put her fingers in the right place on a pencil, and we’ve got a load of books and activities to help her get used to holding a pencil. I still want her practicing her spelling and word exercises in the meantime though, which is where I was hoping that something like Edubuntu would come in.
So far, the lists I’ve found online are either out of date, still showing Edubuntu as the main distro, or they complain about the state of educational distros these days. Some of them suggest the Pi as the way forward, but they seem to be aimed towards older kids and programming, which is a bit too advanced yet. I can obviously stick with Windows, but the last time I looked, the educational distros were a lot simpler and brighter, and more attractive to kids. Also, the laptop I”ve got for her is a bit old, so Windows may be sluggish. I haven’t had a chance to tidy it up properly yet to see how bad it is.
As an aside, we suspect that Alice is autistic / on the spectrum. She’s almost the stereotype for what most people think autism is – she’s very intelligent, but struggles socially. She could read the names on the coat hooks in preschool, and has been able to read childrens books completely independently since she was about three and a half. I started teaching her adding up around her third birthday, as she could already count to about fifty, or ten in Welsh and Spanish. She struggles with her social skills though, and was hitting and biting for the first few months of school. She loves other kids, and loves playing with them, but didn’t seem to realise that hitting them would mean that they wouldn’t want to play with her.
She tends to focus on what she likes, rather than what she needs to learn, so she’ll spell words out loud, or type them into the computer, but will draw squiggles if she’s using a pen or pencil and try to convince us that it’s actually letters and she’s done it right. This is one of the reasons that I’m hoping a laptop will help, and that she keeps practicing the things she likes while we’re convincing her to do the things she doesn’t want to.
Thanks again for the help so far :)January 23, 2020 at 8:04 am #39954
Has Alice been flagged by the Play School for assessment?
One of our grandchildren is just on the autism scale and was flagged as such by his Play School. That process triggered a lot of additional help when he entered proper schooling (for which the school got ‘special needs’ money). For the first couple of years he had a slightly older female ‘buddy’ from another group to help him through socialisation. Although he still has eye-contact issues and is a bit of a loner he now has a small circle of friends which I somehow think is down to the help he was given. The other thing that helped was his parents enrolling him in a weekly drama class. That not only improved speech and self assurance it also gave him a little insight into reading other peoples facially and stance cued emotions.January 23, 2020 at 9:14 am #39955
Has Alice been flagged by the Play School for assessment?
She has, yeah. We were lucky, in that the first playgroup we went to was council funded, and had targets for pretty much everything, so they had regular training and would keep an eye out for any sort of issues the kids might have. The staff were amazing too, and picked up on things that we hadn’t noticed. Alice had eye contact issues too, but tended to be a lot better when she was dealing with immediate family. The little bit that we noticed we put down to shyness around strangers. She also made up words and babbled when she was there, but very rarely did it with us, and apparently that’s a flag for autism in children.
As they were council run, they had access to all sorts of specialists and assessors, so would get them in whenever they picked up on any possible issues. We’ve had Alice seen by a few teams, and she had a one to one in both playgroups, and we’re waiting for the neurodevelopmental team to approve an official one to one in nursery. She’s got someone who works closely with her, but deals with the other kids too. For some reason everything’s slowed down since Alice officially entered school.
Strangely enough I was looking at a theatre group for Alice last night. Our local working men’s club has been sold and repurposed, and the new owners put an advert for classes up yesterday. One of her problems is concentration, so I may try her for a few classes and see how she goes.January 23, 2020 at 12:32 pm #39956
Butterflying between interests is quite common for some A-spectrum kids. You will find that if she likes something she will concentrate on it to the exclusion of all else. (including you!).
Based on my (limited) experience I would not worry too much about the academic side, getting the social side to a point of comfort is far more important for her overall development.January 23, 2020 at 1:27 pm #39957ParticipantRichard@sawbomanForumite Points: 6,517
Please pardon me for arriving late, but it all sounds terribly familiar. Twenty-five years ago the state of knowledge was weaker than now. Support groups can help you and your wife during what can become an isolating and difficult time. Imaginary friends (and enemies) often feature in children on the spectrum. Though they might not feature in all cases. I suspect it is better not to break their belief, but to remember that it is often their private world and not to intrude unless welcomed in.
Ed is totally correct in all he wrote, early help can assist in building the bridges between younger children who find socialising hard. This will be a huge help for them to deal with the other sides of life. After years of struggling our youngest has started to build social links and, in parallel has thrown her energies into studying with the almost all consuming drive the Ed also spoke about. The sooner socialising assistance can help young children who struggle find social groups more tolerable, the sooner they will be able to learn and progress. The alternative is that they may block out the world and become very isolated and probably resentful. In the worst cases this can be hugely negative.
This is not to doubt your daughter’s reading skills. Hopefully they will continue to flourish and help her to progress, though reading alone can also be an isolating pursuit. Our granddaughter having read her entire class’s reading list within the first few months of term, asked to sample the books of several classes above and participate in their reading project because it was more interesting than her completed set works. That did not fly well with the staff.January 23, 2020 at 3:46 pm #39960
I agree with Richard in that Ed’s two paragraphs are completely correct. This comment especially resonates with my experience of my senior grandson: ” You will find that if she likes something she will concentrate on it to the exclusion of all else. (including you!). ” Spot on, I found that as soon as he found that one thing, our gs was away and flying, totally immersed in computers, computing, how it worked and what it took to learn how to do more. To the exclusion of everyone and everything else, it was a form of “Tunnel Vision” – pursuing a task exhaustively, until it’s done. He is still like that now at work, his boss has learned to leave the keys with him if he has not finished a job to his own satisfaction. Boss has learned what I knew before the lad was a teenager: it is less harmful to let him finish what he begins, than to send him home and have him agonise over it until the next working day.
His father was a wastrel, a bad husband and even worse parent, missing from his toddler years on. I became his replacement, trying very hard from a perspective of an almost 50 years age gap to steer him along. As a result, we remain very close and I still get the “Don’t tell mum or grandma, but… ” conversation.
The only advice I would give Tippon, is don’t let the educational establishment put Alice in a box made of their own preconceptions: don’t let them label her. My daughter and I fought to get our lad recognised for what he was: an extremely intelligent individual, who just needed to be guided on the right path. Having some part of the spectrum, does not mean that one child has exactly the same difficulty as another: they are all individuals. I have said this here before and I still believe it – the human brain is still evolving and of course it will show up in the latest generations. The difference now is that there is recognition and help.
When the Thought Police arrive at your door, think -
I'm out.January 23, 2020 at 4:53 pm #39963
Bob, the way schools now treat A-listers may possibly have improved over the years.I think they now have a tried and tested methodology.
Certainly in my grandson’s case they have been extremely adaptive. They have tailored their social skills program to match his improvement, and stimulated the areas where he tended to lose concentration. That said it depends on the teachers and their enthusiasm to get the best out of their kids. Imo in his case this wasn’t to meet some arbitrary target but because the teachers seemed to take a pride in their work. The Head Mistress was an inspirational character who got the best out of her staff and children. Unfortunately she has now moved on to bigger and better things. Time will tell whether her (male) replacement has the same abilities.🙁
Therein I guess lies the rub. Not all schools, teachers or localities are equal, and I can quite imagine that some inner city school A-listers are left to sink inside themselves.January 23, 2020 at 6:04 pm #39972
That story Ed, is similar to my senior gson’s old college. When he started there 15 years ago, he was given a very good female one-to-one tutor, who gave him a great deal of support and helped with his diagnosis. In time, he also had one IT and maths tutor who took a great deal of interest in his welfare and education. Eventually, this tutor (ex-industry) had just two students in their last two years: our gs and his mate. That is how he was able to obtain CISCO and Microsoft qualifications without going to University, which would have affected him I know: twice we took him to Aston, the second time he was sick, I took him out of mum’s earshot and he told me he did not want to go. He was obviously terrified. He managed to find a great job where he is highly valued and it could not have been “Apron Strings Syndrome” because he now has his own apartment and can completely fend for himself.
The college has not fared as well. Its Head was originally a great man who believed in his college and his students: he worked to get as many educational benefits as he could. For example: in the summer holidays when our gs was 16, the Head got him a job working with a company installing CCTV and TV screens across the college, designing and installing them along with the control centre. A few years later that Head, a was Head-hunted (sorry!) by Cambridge University. The place has gone downhill, his replacement is not half the educator his predecessor was. A science tutor and an IT tutor were allowed to leave and never replaced. A very good local educational establishment became less than ordinary and it shows in the students. Before the first head left, he would not allow any students out of college at lunchtime. Now they come down to the local cafes and chippies in droves and some are not well behaved.
When an establishment loses its way, it is a sad day for its people, teaching staff definitely but students most of all.
When the Thought Police arrive at your door, think -
I'm out.February 7, 2020 at 8:29 pm #40426
Sorry guys, I thought I’d replied here, but I didn’t get as far as typing it out >.<
We’ve been lucky so far in that Alice isn’t too bad for excluding people. She does block you out if she’s doing something that she finds more interesting, but tends to respond after a few calls. Give her a phone though and she’s awful. We’ve taken hers away this week as she was completely blanking everyone, and wouldn’t even eat or drink when she was zoned out. I know that kids zone out with phones anyway, but we couldn’t even get a grunt of acknowledgement out of her. I’d cover the screen to get her to eat etc. and I noticed a few times that she’d seem to snap out of it, as if she genuinely didn’t know that we’d been talking to her. She’d have a meltdown if we turned the phone off or took it away, but we’ve been very lucky in that she follows me and if we could get her to focus on something else for a few seconds, the meltdown and tantrum would be forgotten.
Richard – I was the same as far as reading goes. In the first year of junior school, s0 7 – 8 years old, I’d raced one of my friends to read the school books, and we finished the lot. At the time they were grouped by age, with the highest being 13+, and we got through them and the associated exercises by about halfway through the year. Luckily for us the headmaster was fantastic and found us some decent books from the school’s very limited library. As far as I can remember it, he was the one who encouraged our race too. He made sure that we understood the books though, and wouldn’t have let us take any shortcuts. Our education system could do with more people like him :)February 8, 2020 at 10:53 am #40439
I agree with the need to encourage high flyers, all too often they are allowed to get bored and disruptive.
Although imo the US Middle School years are a very boring grind of the basics, they allow the more prestigious colleges such as John Hopkins to set pre-SAT exams which are specifically aimed at identifying high flyers and through these they award college entrances/scholarships at an almost too young 14 years old.
I wish we had a similar talented youth program in the UK.February 9, 2020 at 10:26 am #40460
I’ve been on grandparent duty this weekend (just been relieved of three young ones). during this time I was able to sit down and chat with the seven year-old. His school introduce Chrome books to that age group. Scratch programming does not feature much at that stage, instead they concentrate on the use of computers in things such as creative writing. e.g using font size to emphasise small, big, getting smaller, getting bigger etc. They also introduce simple layout, headers, footers etc.
Due to funding as much as anything else a lot of this is done in cooperative groups sharing one computer and sparking ideas to one another. (Useful in itself to him as he is just on the A-spectrum).
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