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Remember, helping your child with a computer at home isn't exclusively about using so called `educational software' like they do at school to teach spelling, maths or geography. Parents can often provide more help by encouraging their children to simply use computers more actively and creatively as they are, or will be, used in real world and to develop creative study and research skills that will complement and enhance their learning experience at school. To do that, you need to give your kids their best chance possible by getting them a really good multimedia PC.
But to prepare your children for future, you need more than hardware and software. The most important thing is to think about what they do with PC and what you can do to help. Don't worry about starting children too early. As soon as they can control their hands, children will find things to do with a computer.
It's not unusual to see three and four-year old happily working with paint programs and even creating and saving files. In many respects, having a computer at home can help older children with their school work in nearly every subject, just as having books at home helps them with reading and research. And because of its increasingly multimedia and interactive capabilities, a PC can provide a creative focus or outlet for even difficult children with no apparent interest in traditional education.
This concern about `giving kids best' for their education is an emotion that computer manufacturers are more than happy to exploit, with many of them offering PCs that are hyped as `ideal tool for education'. Then, of course, there's fact that more than a few parents use their kid's education as a way to justify buying a PC so they can play Doom. But hardware you buy is only half story and where home computers are concerned, bundled software is just as important as hardware.
It used to be that computer manufacturers interpreted phrase `for educational use' as meaning `last year's leftover stock with a copy of Encarta chunked in'. However, as home market has boomed, some manufacturers have come to realize that education has its own needs, and are producing systems that combine powerful hardware with a good range of bundled software with an obvious educational or informative bent.
Dr. Adnan Ahmed Qureshi holds a Ph.D. in IT with specialization in the induction of information technology in developing countries. He is the former Editor of Datalog, Computech, ISAsia and columnist for The News International. At present he is working as Senior Industry Analyst and IT Consultant.