To Laptop or Not to Laptop: A Parent’s Dilemma

Impossibly, my oldest daughter will begin middle school next year.

We are fortunate to live in a Bay Area community not unlike Lake Wobegon where all the children are high achieving (and schools are great, parents are involved, etc). All three of our middle schools offer a Laptop Program. Enrolled students use their laptops in their block (social studies and language arts) and science classes. Each school has about 150 students in each grade level in the program.

So I’m wondering if I should enroll my daughter.

She’s a good, well organized student who is computer literate. I don’t think we have to worry about our children lacking computer skills. This generation is composed of digital natives.

On the positive side (at least in my opinion), the teachers in the program say that the students use their computers to research, create projects, write assignments, and more. Unfortunately, they still have to print their work and turn it in. Teachers assured parents that the kids will still have textbooks and plenty of opportunity to use pen and paper.

One negative is expense. The schools requires parents to purchase Apple laptops since they’ve had bad experiences with PCs. By the time we buy the computer and insure and accessorize it, the cost will be almost $2000. Ouch.

Another negative is that the kids carry their laptops in their backpacks all day. I’m envisioning leaky water bottles and sticky snacks making their way into the keyboard crevices. Or my daughter leaving her backpack on the side of the basketball court and having it pummeled by kids and balls.

I won’t push my daughter to do the program if she doesn’t want to. She wants to be with her friends so if they do it, she will, too.

But since I have the best minds in the middle school world at my fingertips here, I’m wondering how you feel about school laptop programs? Would you enroll your child in one? What advice do you have for me?

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