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Teaching Home E-Mail Newsletter #59
Inspiration, and Encouragement
December 12, 2003 /
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors
Table of Contents
Part 2 of 3-Part Series on Computers:
Use To Learn
Use To Learn
The Advantages and Many Uses of Educational
Goals of Educational Software
It's Not Just Fun and Games
Selecting Software and Building Your Library
AceReader Pro Deluxe
Borenson and Associates
Bible in Living Sound
Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote
In this issue we continue our 3-part series
on computers. We
give you many reasons why you might want to consider adding
educational software to your teaching toolbox.
See our Christmas Unit Study at
Please notice the first of our "Family Sketches"
in this issue.
We would love to hear from you too!
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
The Teaching Home is a 23-year-old, home-school family business.
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We are Michael and Mae with Mikaela (9), Makenzie
Cassidy (5), and Carson (2), from California. The Lord called
to home school five years ago, and what a blessing it has been.
We have used almost every method of instruction,
but we keep
coming back to our eclectic mix of methods: classical education,
unit studies, and literature-based studies. We now try to stick
with these because they work for our family.
It's been hard limiting our desire to try
wanting to buy all the curriculum available, while not being able
to afford it all! Letting go of the mess around the house is
another problem for us. But we know that the Lord called us
to home school, and He helps us with these struggles.
We are grateful that home schooling provides
opportunity to teach our children's hearts, not just their
minds. Now that's an awesome blessing!
You are invited to send us your family sketch.
guidelines on your story and photo at
Line of Mel Bay Musical Instrument Methods
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* Many methods are available with an accompanying
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* Whether your child is an absolute beginner
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products needed to continue
3-Part Series on Computers:
Part 1: Learn To Use (Issue #58)
2: Use To Learn (This Issue -- #59)
Part 3: The Internet (Issue #60)
In our last issue we discussed how systematic
practice can help you fill in the gaps of your computer knowledge
and develop new skills so that you can use your computer to its
Although we realize that it might take a while
those studies, we are continuing our series on computers in this
Computers: Use To Learn
After our children have learned the basic
functions of the
computer, they can use the computer:
* To practice their skills.
* To learn subject matter.
* To improve their productivity.
The computer earns a place as a teaching tool
because of its
unique and powerful capabilities. However, its potential can
only be released by the instructions the computer receives from a
software program. Therefore, we will be discussing educational
software in this issue.
Educational Software's Supporting
Learning software does not replace your teaching,
supports and augments it. It is a great way to enhance your
child's learning experience, but should only be used if it serves
your educational goals.
In a support role to the learning process
learning software can be a marvelous resource.
Educational software is not a substitute for
interaction between you as a teacher and your child as a student.
He will still need some of your time and attention even while
using the best educational software.
You need to be responsive and supportive as
you guide your
child through the learning process in order for your child to
receive all the benefits a program has to offer.
The first time your child uses the program:
* Explain to your child what he will be learning and/or
* Slowly and thoroughly show and tell your child how to start the
* Do a few exercises with him to show him how it works.
Whenever your child uses the program:
* Be available to assist your child if he is having a problem.
* Occasionally watch him use the program and see how he is doing.
Testing and monitoring your child's progress
can let you
know if he is actually learning and benefiting from the software.
Good programs provide performance tracking
reports for each
student that show which learning activities or exercises he has
done and his level of proficiency in each one.
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The Advantages and Many Uses of Educational
Here are some of the reasons you might want
adding educational software to your teaching toolbox.
* To supplement your subject area or provide additional
* To give practice in a skill.
* To provide a change of pace in learning activities.
* To provide increased motivation to learn and practice skills
using an enjoyable format.
* To provide motivation for your child to finish his other school
work before he is allowed to use the computer.
* To provide encouragement from the program's immediate feedback
to his performance.
* To give experience in navigating software on a computer.
* To develop your child's patience and ability to understand and
* To build your child's confidence and develop his
self-discipline in working independently.
* To free you to work with other students while one is working on
* To teach thinking and problem-solving skills.
* To allow individualized progress. For students who grasp
concepts quickly, educational software gives them the
opportunity to advance faster while still mastering the
* To provide repeated exposure, review, and practice when a
concept is difficult for a student. (The computer
gets tired or frustrated by students who need time to
repeatedly go over concepts and lessons in order to master
* To give remedial opportunities with extra learning and practice
in a subject that your child needs help in.
* To present material in a different learning mode (visual,
auditory, kinesthetic/tactile) for students who have
difficulty learning from other materials or methods.
Early Learning Software
Educational software for ages 3-6 is usually
comprised of an
assortment of games that can be played repeatedly without
requiring the ability to read. In addition to some of the uses
and advantages listed above, early learning software can deliver
the following benefits.
* Foster a positive attitude towards learning and towards using a
* Teach children how a computer works and skills in operating a
* Teach basics such as letters, matching, numbers, shapes, and
* Help develop children's thinking skills.
* Teach how to understand and follow instructions.
* Entertain children through their own interaction with an
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The Declaration of Independence. Original
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Two Goals of Educational Software
Educational software is usually designed either
knowledge of a subject or to provide practice in a skill. Some
programs combine both purposes.
1. Knowledge Programs
Knowledge-based programs introduce new content
history, geography, and science). Such programs can awaken or
encourage an interest in a specific area of knowledge and/or
enrich your children's understanding and interest in what they
are doing in class.
* A good knowledge-based program will have an index, so it can be
used as a reference tool as well.
2. Practice Programs
Practice-focused programs provide practice
acquired skills (e.g., reading, writing, or mathematics). The
drill-and-practice forms of computer-assisted instruction have
been proven very effective in producing achievement gains.
* Some programs teach concepts and principles as well as
providing practice and reinforcement that ensure the skill
Types of Programs
Educational software falls into these categories.
* Specific subject area or skill practice.
* Multi-subject by grade level. A variety of skills and subjects
for a specific age or grade level.
(See information on Alpha Omega's Switched-On Schoolhouse,
a complete Christian curriculum, below.)
* Thinking and problem solving. Develops logical thinking
processes and encourages creative thinking through solving
problems or constructing an on-screen model.
* Music and creativity.
* Simulation. Asks you to make a set of choices and run the
simulation which shows the results of your choices.
be done over and over using different choices with different
Age and Skill Levels
Children's software is categorized by either
age or grade.
It is important to choose the correct level so that your child is
not frustrated by a level that is too difficult or uninterested
because the level is too easy.
Children need software which challenges their
abilities, yet retains their interest and involvement. They like
to play educational games and win; they don't
want to win too easily, but they don't want to be repeatedly
Good programs have at least three levels of
offer multiple levels of challenge that are calibrated to the
user's skill level and provide an appropriate level of challenge
for children of different ages or capabilities. The software
might automatically adapt or it might allow the user to set his
own desired skill level.
* Check the topics covered by a program to see if your child is
ahead or behind the curriculum.
* Choose a program that offers a range of skill levels that your
child can move up through.
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It's Not Just Fun and Games
Many learning programs are structured as a
game or a
collection of play activities interwoven with learning
The enjoyment of the game provides motivation
to do the
learning-related activities. The instantaneous performance
feedback scores are also a great motivator.
In some educational software, to play and
advance in a game,
the program presents a series of challenges that are designed to
exercise existing skills or to provide knowledge learning.
In other programs, specific skills are taught
step-by-step modules, interspersed with practice sessions and
games that are fun and develop the skill. Subject areas in
knowledge based software might use a text-based approach and then
introduce activities to engage the student.
Two common types of game action in learning
"activity" and "mission adventure" action.
Activity action offers a variety of activities
bite-size tasks or problems with instant gratification for
* This action is ideal for young children and those with short
Mission Adventure action presents a series
of problems or
puzzles to solve in order to achieve the goal.
* A child who loves problem solving and investigation would
probably enjoy this type of action.
Book Format. Some programs have a format
very similar to a
book with a variety of interactive elements that allow the child
to learn or test his retention of the material presented.
Programs for Older Children and Adults.
These can be very
sophisticated, constructing a complete learning path for the
learner defined by his specific learning interests. Programs
like these rely more on the quality of learning content delivery,
interactivity, and instant performance feedback rather than
Regardless of the overall design, the intent
software is to engage the learner to the point where he is
willing to participate in learning or skill-building exercises.
The program's quality of design and depth of content can enhance
the learner's desire to use the software.
Thank & Support Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
These free newsletters
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by the fine suppliers who advertise in them.
those that have advertised in our
last issue (below) as well as the ones in
The Teaching Home Back Issues
Christian Book Clearinghouse. "Edifying Gifts
of Christian Books"
Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series:
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Structured Writing. New Writing Method.
AceReader Pro Deluxe. Reading Improvement
Bible in Living Sound. Dramatized Bible Stories.
Selecting Software and Building Your Library
A well chosen and accessible library (of both
software) is a key feature of the rich learning environment that
will benefit and motivate your students. You can profit from
software reviews and recommendations by others, evaluate some of
the many educational software programs yourself, or use a
combination of these two methods.
Criteria for Evaluating Educational
First, children do not need the latest and
software. A quality program does not need lots of bells and
whistles. Look for substance, for programs that will stimulate,
challenge, and teach your child.
* Christian Worldview - What subtle values and interests might
your child pick up from the atmosphere and setting of
* Platform Requirements - Do you have the hardware and software
to run the program so that it will be stable?
* Educational Content - Are the objectives and content
* Teaching Methods - Is the program balanced between play and
* Ease of Use - Can your child start and operate the game without
* Cost - Is the cost worth the depth/extent of the content or is
it as cost effective as another program (e.g., a $50 program
for just easy addition vs. a $25 program for all levels
Alternatives To Buying Software
* Your local library might loan out educational software.
* Your home-school friends or support group might want to start
a software lending library or exchange so families can
programs for short periods or sample them before making
Making Your Choices
* You will probably need to experiment with different programs to
find what works best for your children.
* Your children will probably not all enjoy or benefit from the
* Choose software with subject matter that interests your
students or that complements your educational goals.
Websites That Review and Recommend
School House Software Review.
Discovery Channel School Best Educational Software.
Education World Software: The Best of the Basics.
A selection of 22 top software picks.
SuperKids Educational Software Review.
Kids Domain Software Reviews.
Mathematics Education. Reviews of Math Computer Software.
All Star Review. Educational Product Reviews.
Children's Software & New Media Revue ($36/year).
Specific Programs To Consider
* Multimedia reference CD-ROMs on various topics.
* Electronic encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases.
* Bible reference software.
Computer-Related Subject Areas
Alpha Omega's Switched-On Schoolhouse
This complete curriculum for grades 3-12 provides
interactive learning experience with animation and special
effects. The core subjects are Bible, Language Arts, Math,
History and Geography, and Science. Electives include Spanish,
French, Health, Consumer Math, College Planner, State History,
and Story of the Constitution. See more information at
Request a free demo at
Learning Activities from the Bible.
Set of four CD-Roms, (preschool through grade 2) for $10.
Marvelous Math for Windows. Teaches math facts.
Artes Latinae self-teaching Latin program from Bolchazy-Carducci.
Digital Interactive Video Education. Math and science lectures.
Ace Reader from Stepware. Improves reading speed.
Safety Tots. Child safety.
Sunny Side Up: And a Time To Pray
Our 4-year-old wants to say the blessing before
but he usually repeats the same short prayer: "Thank you, God,
for this gracious food. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen."
One evening our son thanked God for the birds,
each of his friends, asked Him to watch over his family, and
prayed that we would be good. I rejoiced that he was praying
from his heart.
After the "Amen," our son tasted his stew
dropping the spoon into the bowl. "I should have said a longer
prayer," he said. "My food is still too hot."
Submitted by Catherine J., Texas
You are also invited to submit your humorous
The Story of God's Love
A loving God is seeking a personal relationship
with you and your
family through faith in Jesus Christ, His substitutionary death for
you, and His subsequent resurrection.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave
His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life" (John 3:16).
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