Thursday, August 16, 2012

When to use online programs or software

I have a natural adversity to web based programs for my children which is pretty ironic considering how much time I spend online myself.  I just know that even as an adult, maintaining healthy boundaries in this area can be soooo difficult - and even more so for our children.  And yet I have found some really awesome programs - like Reading Eggs and Memrise - which all my children loved and argued over every day.
Homeschooling is all about discovery and learning
We have rich full days and most of the time I wonder how I can fit in all the opportunities for discovery and learning, never mind the more demanding book work.  Part of my daily challenge is to decide what to include and what to leave out.  Online programs and software is something we use almost every day.

* To supplement something we are already learning
It's great to use software that will add to what you are already learning, we use all sorts of software - some online and some that have been downloaded onto our computers.  

*  For busy or sick days
A doctor's appointment with one of the children, fielding business calls for my husband when he is out training the masses, an unexpected visitor, the days when I am still in my fluffy pink gown at 11am and desperately need to go and shower and get dressed - these are the days where online activities are a God sent strategy!  We are very blessed to have 2 fairly old laptops and a desktop and so these keep the older 3 boys busy and Ruthie gets the chance to watch one of her favourite video's like Strawberry Shortcake.

I know that I could leave them with other book work but I find that I have to have a multitude of conversations through the shower door, interruptions on the phone and with visitors or an endless stream of questions for work that they don't understand.  With this they are so busy - you could hear a pin drop.

* To change the pace of the day
Some days just don't work.  Nothing seems to be running smoothly.  The children are lethargic or distracted, my patience is running thin and I have explained something three times with 4 blank faces looking back at me.  Sometimes I need to change the pace.  Change the focus, so I can take a moment, and they can gather themselves.  A bit of fun and a learning experience for 30 minutes and then everyone is back on the same page.

*  Sneaky learning
I often feel frustrated because there is just so much to learn about and so many fun things to find out about but there are just not enough hours in the day.  We do screen time over the weekend but on rainy days when sport is cancelled or when the children have free time and they ask to play on the computer, I occasionally let them on condition that they only use the learning software I have.  Though it's not just games, the activities are so much fun that they don't even notice.

* Academic Feedback
A number of the programs that we use have assessments included, which is a great way for me to see how they have grasped a specific section of work and some of them even email me the results of what they have done, how much time they spent doing it and how well they have done it.

* Ensure that non busy students don't disrupt the rest of them
When one of my children are working very quickly in a section of work I allow to them to use the relevant software, while we wait for the rest to finish what they need to do.  It stops them from causing distractions and disrupting the rest of the children.

* Motivation and Rewards
Working slowly and getting distracted is one of my biggest challenges with the children.  They like to chat and discuss what they are doing, retell a story about what happened yesterday or just deviate to every other subject under the sun.  Computer time on these programs is offered as motivation for hard work and work done quickly.
Online activities keep little ones busy while you are teaching their older siblings

* Keeping little ones busy
Ruth who is 4 cannot sit around while her brothers are busy with one on one times with mom.  She entertains herself with toys and the like for short periods of time but sometimes I need to have some dedicated time with one of the boys.  I have a few excellent programs I use for her which are fun, read stories to her, and even sing songs and teach her riddles.  It makes the day a lot easier to manage when I can use these resources, this mom is under far less pressure.

I am always on the lookout for new web based learning activities and programs (which is probably why I love reviewing them) because when I find a good one, we just dive right in and use it until the children can't bear the site of it anymore or something better and newer comes along.

When do you use online programs and software in your homeschooling day?

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