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Daisy Finn

Homeschooling Fun: Games That Worked For My Son

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Before I decided that I would rather homeschool my now nine-year-old son, I homeschooled him anyway. The material they learned at school simply went past my boy because of his extremely dispersed attention (he is ADHD kid). Therefore, we had to cram everything at home as well. PLUS the homework. It seemed a terrible waste of time, so I tried to optimize our learning as much as I could.
Heard the saying “There is an app for that?” We did have an app for every subject and activity. I had a selection of reading apps because he struggles with reading in particular. Here are those that proved to be most helpful for us. I plan to proceed with them as additional aid after we have chosen our homeschool curriculum for the upcoming year. Hope they will come in handy for some of you as well!


The Human Body
This interactive app is very engaging for kids because it is entertaining and funny, with all kinds of bodily sounds. I particularly appreciated the fact that there is zero text in it. Everything my kid learns, he learns from poking, prodding, watching and laughing. This is exactly the case of a picture that is worth a thousand words. If he asks for an explanation, he is really interested and will catch my every word.
The Human Body is not only about the anatomy. It’s about understanding how your body works, what causes what, what is good and healthy and what is harmful to your stomach, your teeth, your eyes.

Toca Nature
From Toca Boca open-ended exploration games this is the only one that fits the school curriculum because it actually teaches kids about nature and even some things about ecosystems (other titles are mostly about social interactions). Only the basics, though, because you cannot really learn about predators and prey when animals are all fuzzy, friendly and non-violent. The great thing for my ADHD fidget is that learning is done through doing: creating a natural environment and seeing critters move in.
The strong cause-and-effect element of the game has helped Josh with planning and time-management that are not yet his strong sides. The gameplay is calm and slow, so it he developed some patience, too.

Dragon Box Algebra
This is the best example of the educational game I’ve seen so far because it teaches through the gameplay. It is not simply a pack of animated flashcards or a game where you get to watch a cartoon when you get the answer right. Your little learner does not have to possess any specific math knowledge to start a game – it will feed all he has to know on the go. Josh played without even realizing he was doing math! Equations, to be precise. Again, thanks to the interactive touch interface and timed games it was highly engaging for him. Now his skills and math intuition outgrow school curriculum.
I wish someone taught me algebra this way, maybe I’d be better at it and increased the number of women in STEM

Rhyme to Read
This app has been a great aid with our biggest learning challenge, namely reading. The program uses rhymes and colors to help the reader in recognizing different patterns (“word families” within the app). Another great option is sounding the word by a tap. We played our own little game: Josh had to read the word aloud before tapping and then tap to check. There are also short simple stories with the words that are learned. They helped Josh to gain some fluency and confidence. We still have much to work on, but he made progress. It is great because he is easily discouraged when it comes to reading.

Blue Planet Tales
This storybook is still a work in progress for us. I already see, however, that it is a bunch of subjects in one package. Stories tell about great discoveries and other cultural events in a simple and entertaining form. This is a great way to learn about history, science, nature, culture and geography (there is a map showing where the events took place). If a child is not yet ready to read, he can choose to listen and follow. I also like the multiple choice quizzes that ensure comprehension. This way I can check did Josh pay attention or did his mind wonder, as it often happens when he must listen to something longer that for 30 seconds

Technology, however, is a double-edged sword. Another reason to homeschool Josh was this huge issue with bullying. For being a slow reader, Josh was called all kinds on names by his classmates. It took off from there. You know kids – once they started, they can never stop. But what is the worst, bullying penetrated even our home. They used to taunt him on his phone, send him horrible, ugly messages. Josh was upset and tried to hide it from me. I had to get a child text monitoring app for his smartphone to investigate and protect him. This issue prevented us from using his gadgets for learning for a while.
Now things getting back to normal and I look forward to discovering new educational apps that will suit his unique learning style.

Updated 03-29-2017 at 12:07 PM by Daisy Finn



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