Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CD ROM or On-Line Learning?

There are so many decisions we have to make when working with our computers. The longer I learn about my computer the more questions I aquire. At the same time the more I answers I have as well. One thing that I struggle with is using software that I have to install. MAC does make it easier than when I use my PC, but it seems like there is always one glitch or another. The problem with CD ROM is that when something goes wrong I have to spend a long time troubleshooting the issue and sometimes end up needing to call the manufacturer to work it out. It can be a lengthy process. I have actually found that I prefer On-Line learning.

I wish everything could be as simple as signing in and logging on. For instance, my homeschool program is on-line. I love that I can access it from ANY computer. We’ve even let the boys do school at the library just to break up the monotony of our day. I love that if there are any glitches I can simply hit the e-mail button and they are on it. I don’t have to try to troubleshoot anything. Now, I have a friend who very much LOVES her CD ROM’S, but in the midst of our conversation though she had lots of pro’s, she also had lots of con’s. Mostly technical issue’s. The only negative she could come up with for On-Line learning was that we wished every place gave you the option.

How about you? Do you prefer CD ROM or On-Line?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cyber Communites!

When I began my home education journey back in 1998 I did not even own a computer. However, two years later we made the big purchase and I quickly found a love of cyber communities. As a homeschool mom who had lots of young children it was not easy to socialize at park day because I needed to keep a close eye on my little ones. I LOVED being a part of cyber communities. I have friends all these years later that I've never met in real life but are precious to me.

In our home we do have guidelines to keep us safe. I do not chat with men. I do not give out my address on a forum. I've learned that I don't have to express my opinion on everything. If there is a topic going strong and I am of a different mindset I just keep moving.

But for those times that I find like minded moms walking through this wonderfully, yet incredibly difficult season I LOVE investing time building those relationships. They make me a better wife and mother. Do you plug into cyber communities? If so which ones?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Special Needs- Thriving NOT Striving!

There I was minding my own business, washing dishes when my young son Seth walks up to me, “Mama did you know the sun is a star”? Pausing to look into his sweet little face I said, “Yes I did, but I’m so proud of you, where did you learn that”? He looks up at me as though I am a little dense, “Time4Learning”. (duh) I can’t help but smile as he walks off to go play.

My heart is so very full as I watch my children thrive like never before. You see, I am a homeschooling mom of four sons. Two of them struggle with Central Auditory Processing Disorder. Which means that when information goes into the brain auditorily it often doesn’t go where it should. It’s almost as though information is coated with teflon and it slides around making it difficult for the child to find it and use it when they need it.

From 1998 until 2007 I used a slew of homeschool programs. Some gave us wonderful results, but they were very teacher intensive. When a friend of mine shared Time4Learning with me it changed my life. You see Time4Learning is a computer based educational program that has strong interactive graphics which pull my children in. The vivid colors and sounds add “velcro” to information so that it sticks and stays put. At the end of our first year with Time4Learning my boys (all four) went up in math more than EVER before.

However, that was just the beginning. Once I found the POWER of media it began to change our lives. We now use Netflix to rent DVD’s that coincide with our history and science. It makes information come ALIVE! My oldest son used an on-line program for creative writing. The simple process of typing and sending helped him to focus more on the creative and mechanics of writing and less on the actual writing. (though we work on his writing) If you have a child that struggles to hang onto information try bringing in the internet and see if it doesn’t change your life? Here are just a few reasons we use on-line learning and multi-media in our home:

1- Information Sticks and Stays Put!

2- Children gain confidence as they become more independent.

3- My children learn how to research and become lifetime learners as they work independently.

4- I am better able to use my time to nurture my children by reading a loud great books.

5- Laundry and dishes don’t seem nearly as overwhelming as my time is freed up!

In a few weeks I am preparing to speak to moms and dads of special needs children at a homeschool conference. There are many MANY tips I share, but at the top of my list is the power of your computer. It helps you to work smarter and not harder!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Overcoming Technophobia in Your Child

Computers are everywhere and so much of our lives depend on our mastery of this machine and more specifically, mastery of the Internet. Both a blessing and a curse, the net can be our master or our slave to make our lives harder or easier depending on our computer self-confidence. So how can you safely encourage your child to develop this comfort? Here are a few tips to get them off on the right foot:
  1. Make using the computer a fun activity that you do together. Try asking some questions and then using a search engine to find the answers.
  2. Play simple, easy to win games together using sites such as Learning Games for Kids, Spelling City and Vocabulary Games.
  3. If your child gets stuck or makes a mistake, sandwich your correction between two thick slices of praise. For example, "Maya, you have done a great job to get this far, I'm amazed at how quickly you have picked this up. I see that you have reached a dead-end right now but I'm confident you have what it takes to get back on the right track as you have done so well up to this point."
  4. Augment their textbook lessons with online curriculum such as Time4Learning.
  5. Look into affordable online writing tutors offered by courses found at
  6. Write emails together to family members and include photos or links to videos that the 2 of you select from YouTube.
  7. Allow supervised use of protected kids social media sites such as Club Penguin and WebKinz.
The most important ingredient in how much self confidence your child has around computers is how much you display yourself. So be a good role model and mix a good dose of trial and error with genuine curiosity. Treat it like an adventure and you are sure to change fear to fun in an instant.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Loving On-Line Education

I just went through one of the busiest seasons of my life. I knew going in that it was going to be tough and it was going to be busy, but I also knew that it was not forever. The one thing that I am so very thankful for is technology and how it allows us to make our lives easier and more productive than ever.

As I've homeschooled my children over the past twelve years I have found on-line learning to give me more bang for my buck. I love that my children are able to work independently and yet they're not on their own. We use a specific program called Time4Learning that has interactive media. They pop on their headphones, type in their username and password and begin a wonderful journey of self education. My goal has always been that I would not fill a bucket, but light a fire.

Using on-line learning teaches my children how to take ownership of their education. I hope it never stops. I hope as adults they will continue to read books, watch education programs on television, go on the computer and research. I can feel confident that I've given them a solid start.

In the midst of my crazy busy life, on-line education has allowed our homeschool program to keep going STRONG in the midst of my craziness. Yes, I still have to be available to answer questions, to have discussions, to check their work and to cheer them on, but I can let go of having to make lesson plans, pull things together, sit down and do the teaching. On-line learning gives me the freedom and flexibility to take care of my home, to snuggle and read a loud wonderful books, to write and speak which is my passion and to do it all without losing my mind. (laughing)