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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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So, Your Homeschooler Wants to
Make a Website?

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006


Resources and advice to help children make their own websites...

Maybe your child has a hobby they would like to organize into a website;
or a creative streak that needs an outlet; or maybe your child is a young
entrepreneur, wanting to start an Intenet business?  Whatever the
reason, you find that your child wants to learn about making websites, and
you are the one who needs to find the information for them.  Yikes!

The good news is that kids can create websites without using any fancy
software. They can also make and view their own websites without
publishing them to the Internet.  Free online tutorials by
Web Monkey
(start with "Authoring" in the How-To section in the right-hand menu) will
get them started, and they will quickly be on their way to creating a
website.

If you want to help your child publish their website online, you will need to
help your kids purchase a Domain Name, the official name and address
for their website, (such as www.homeschooldiner.com) and help them
choose the right web hosting service for their needs.  

Domain names can be bought from many vendors.  It can be less hassle,
though, to buy them from the web hosting company you intend to use.
Some web hosts offer free hosting but they will post advertisements (of
their choosing) alongside the website.  If you're willing to pay a small fee
each month, you can get an ad-free website for you child.

Help your child choose a web host based on cost vs service.  Single page
websites may be free (with ads), limited size ad-free websites can be
found for under $10 per month.  Full service web hosting (that will allow
you all the room and applications you may ever need, including Paypal
sales) can be found for around $15 per month, and up.  

Although your child can build a website without using any special
software, you may eventually want to purchase a professional software,
such as
Dream Weaver or Microsoft Expression Web (previously
called Front Page), which makes the process much easier, once you
master the use of the software.  Both of these offer free limited-use
downloads to try out their software.  

Some web hosts (such as Yahoo!, Tripod, and Homestead) provide their
own, free HTML editor software.  Using their free software can save you
time and money in getting your website up and running, but may not, in
the long run, be "robust" enough for a seasoned website builder, and it
ties you to using that web host for publishing.  But it may be good enough
for your beginning websites.

The Homeschool Diner was created with Yahoo! Web Hosting's free
SiteBuilder software.  I do recommend it.  You can download it for free,
and create a complete website on your computer, without knowing HTML
language, and without publishing it to the Internet.  If you decide, later,
that you do want to publish it, though, you must purchase Yahoo! Web
hosting service to get in online -- It will not work with other hosting
services.  Only high quality software, such as Dream Weaver and
Expression Web can be transferred from web host to web host.  

I was able to create the Homeschool Diner with no more knowledge of
websites that you get from going thru the Web Monkey tutorials.  In fact,
when I found the free Yahoo! Sitebuilder software, I gave up on the
tutorials and used SiteBuilder to instantly create my website.  But, I'm a
relic from the pre-computer days (always looking for the least "techie"
options ;-) ... and I don't care about making state-of-the-art  websites, and
I won't be making websites for a living.  If you think your child may have a
long-term interest in making websites, you should definitely consider
purchasing professional level software for them.  

One note of caution -- if you decide to let your child publish their website
online, do have a talk with them about Internet safety and the dangers of
posting identifying information on their websites.  You may want to restrict
their use of personal photos, in general, and review their work before they
publish each new page.  Even older kids have trouble realizing the
magnitude and immediacy of the danger, and you may want to routinely
monitor their work.

Making a website and sharing it online can be a an exciting and very
educational experience.  I have seen wonderfully clever and creative
websites produced by kids -- everything from poetry to Lego space ships
to dragon resources to Roman history.  If this is something your child is
interested in, be sure support their endeavor and encourage their
creativity -- website development is a marketable skill and can lead to
exciting careers in multimedia communication.    

Visit the Homeschool Diner
Computer Resources page for more ideas  
on building websites, making video games, programming, and other
computer-related activities.
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