If you have chosen to home school your child you may be considering incorporating educational software into your child's curriculum. Is it really beneficial? How do you know which programs to use? Can educational software replace teaching?
If you are home schooling you are obviously very concerned with your child's progress. You may ask "will using this software help or hinder my child's learning?"
HOW EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE CAN HELP HOME SCHOOLERS
Taking on the responsibility of educating your children is difficult enough when you are not a professional educator, without the added burden of finding ways to engage them and provide stimulating lessons.
New educational software programs help parents to provide quality education while also offering children a rich and entertaining medium to learn skills and acquire knowledge related to their curriculum.
Children learn more quickly and easily when they can be drawn into the experience. Good teachers know how to bring a subject to life for their students which helps children retain the information. Games, stories and other educational software provide the excitement and interaction children are attracted to while improving skills such as reading and math and building on their knowledge of history, science or geography.
Many programs also give instant feedback to the child, helping him or her build on previous experience or knowledge while also developing a sense of pride in accomplishment.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE
Not all educational software is created equal. Cute animations and popular characters will not build your child's skills or even hold their attention if they do not teach or challenge your child.
Most software for children will give an age or grade reference that can be used as a guide for finding suitable topics and are appropriately challenging for your child. Review the contents to determine if the curriculum is too basic for your child since every child learns at a different speed.
Games often have different levels to customize your child's experience to their level of play. Games may adapt themselves based on your child's performance or levels can be selected by the child for each game. Some programs offer an overview of the progress your child has made; showing which steps have been completed and which are still to be done.
EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE HAS ITS PLACE
Educational software is a great complement to the home schooling curriculum. It is especially helpful in providing an engaging format for practicing skills such as reading and math. Sofeware also enhances the acquisition of knowledge of science or geography. But it can never substitute for the attention and teaching of basic skills by an interested teacher.
Once basic skills are learned, games and interactive books can offer your child a forum to build their skill levels or delve deeper into a topic of interest. For younger children, these programs can introduce shapes, letters, numbers and teach useful computer skills. Older children can dig more deeply into the details of a special interest without interfering with the schedule of teaching.
Software can also be used to relieve some of the administrative burden of the homeschooling parent. The feedback given to the child may be a part of a more comprehensive reporting program to the parent that can assist with grading and help the parent accurately assess the child's progress.
This was originally posted here on May 26, 2006.
Photo Credit: Critelli Family Photo, 1995