TURNING volunteers into useful classroom helpers takes time and patience. Turning computer nerds (like me?) into effective teaching support in the early years sounds like an even taller order.
Undaunted, the Early Years Working Group of the British Computer Society has distilled its experience and wisdom into a set of guidelines and suggestions at www.bcs.org. ukeducatschoolshelpersindex.htm
"Using Adult Helpers in the Classroom" is aimed at early-years teachers and the parents, governors, classroom assistants and visiting students who want to help children bu who don't necessarily know what to do next. There are pages of practical hints. For example, young children should be encouraged to understand that mistakes are OK. They need time to work out their own answers and should not be rushed; and eye-contact is important even when the computer threatens to dominate.
Assistants should listen to children and help them share their ideas. If they do, they may find they are learning almost as much as the infants.
Readers can e-mail suggestions on future Internet Insights to Sam Saunders at J.P.Saunders@leeds.ac.uk