Whenever my children and I go somewhere for the first time, I remind them about their manners. I remind myself people will be watching them to see how homeschooled children act, not only in the physical world, but in cyberspace.
  1. Know the house rules. Just as I expect my children to adhere to the house rules regardless of whose house we're in, I know that I must adhere to the rules of any email list, chat room, or bulletin board I join. Welcome letters and frequently-asked-questions pages are written for a reason—read them; they're not all the same!
  2. No yelling. Using ALL CAPS is considered shouting. Don't do it unless you really are shouting.
  3. Be polite—don't pick a fight. Remember to say "please" and "thank you" when necessary. If something you read causes you to feel strong emotions, do not reply until you feel calmer. Weigh your words carefully. If you must write a response, save the draft until the next day.  Read your response again, and then edit it as needed before sending it.  By letting your response sit overnight, your mind has time to mull over your words and analyze the author's intentions.
  4. Introduce yourself.  Just as you like to know who you're talking to, so do others.
  5. Don't talk just to hear yourself talk (and don't gossip!). When you get a note that says: "pass this to all of your friends," please don't! There are many email-go-rounds out there that are rumors and hoaxes. Trust me, deleting an email message is not really bad luck.
  6. Don't interrupt. Finish reading the whole email message and replies, or the whole bulletin board thread, before you reply. Someone may have already said what you were thinking, or you may be reminded of something else to say.
  7. Ask. Even if someone has asked the same question recently, go ahead and ask it again. Repeating the question is okay. Email lists, bulletin boards and chat rooms are designed for discussion. Ask your questions—you may get a different answer than others have received because new people are joining the conversation all the time.
  8. Use good grammar. Perhaps I'm being picky, but I cringe when an adult uses 'Net slang and poor grammar, like typing "ur" instead of "you're." Acronyms are perfectly acceptable in many cases like writing "dd" or "dear daughter" in place of your child's name for privacy matters, but poor grammar leaves a bad impression.
Remember, what we do and say reflects our character. Let's reflect God's glory.
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Kelly Huckaby is a Christian/Wife/Mother living in Oklahoma with her husband and five homeschooled children. Visit her at www.unofficialweaver.com for more homeschooling support.