We are wrapping up another busy week of homeschooling! Mr. M is working this weekend – the Dancing With The Stars Premiere is on Monday (in case you didn’t know!) – so he is in overdrive to get ready for that!
Meaning: I’ll probably sneak in some school this weekend with the girls while he’s at work. Haha.
This week we had many exciting things happen! We did all our regular homeschool stuff (which I won’t bore you with) – and instead, I wanted to focus today on a topic I know people want to hear about – and that’s how we use Educational Apps and Technology in our homeschool.
Yes, this deserves its very own series of posts (I know!) – And likewise, I’m not using affiliate links for any of the Apps because I’m half lazy and half in a hurry this morning…so if you buy an app or what have you, just know I’m not going to make any money off of it! LOL.
It’s no secret that we are always at the park, and my kids get A LOT of outdoor time. So, it’s not like they’re stuck in front of a screen 24/7. As some of y’all know, we got rid of our television 7 years ago (when Paprika – now age 8 – was one year old) because she used to watch children’s videos (like Sesame Street) on our TV and after one viewing, she would repeat them back to me in their entirety – and then, later – she would only speak to me in pre-scripted phrases from television shows she’d watched. This was when she was ONE.
Let’s just say that FREAKED ME OUT – and I didn’t until later realize that she probably had Hyperlexia (Type 3) – which is just a fancy way of saying she had enhanced language skills at a young age. Because of her repeating back phrases (scripting) and her Sensory Issues, I was pretty sure she had Autism, but after lots (and lots) of testing by various doctors and experts, none of them came back with an Autism diagnosis and I felt really stupid for putting us all through that.
Years later, I would read an article in Scientific American that would explain pretty much everything – ahhhh, wish I’d had this when Paprika was a baby – but better late than never! Haha.
Anyhoo – we got rid of our TV eons ago, but it doesn’t mean we are a low-tech household. Not at all! The kids each have their own iPads – yes, even Violet got one when she turned 2 (I know…) And the girls also have many programs we use on the computer for learning. Note: when you give a 2 year old an iPad, make sure to get a good case…I like OtterBox Defenders
…just sayin’!!! Note 2: We have bought all our iPads on Craigslist or Ebay used and that’s been very successful for us…your mileage may vary!
Now, the thing about these iPads is that they are used ONLY as a learning tool in this house. I really think that the technology is what you make of it. I am the only one who can download apps (I have the password) – and so the “fun” games on the iPad consist of drawing, reading, and algebra apps. Ha!
The girls really don’t know any different, so they embrace the apps I give them and will get really excited about a new Math or Reading app. I’ve seen them squeal over a College Anatomy app, and go crazy for Physics apps. They’ve never heard of SnapChat or Instagram (or any social media) and I’d like to keep it that way, for as long as possible!
(This is just Daisy being cute…carry on):
Now the other thing that is probably shocking to some of you is that I go site do not limit their iPad time (very much). Once they have their regular school work done, they can be on their iPads as much as they want. When we leave the house, the iPads stay home, so obviously they don’t have them when we’re out and about – that time is for seeing the world!
I DO restrict the streaming media they watch (tv shows/movies) – because they can all get sucked in, so tv programs/movies are very limited in this house…and consist of shows like Little Bear or Sofia the First on Amazon Streaming – one or two short episodes/day (if at all).
It may sound like they would be on their iPads 24/7 when we’re at home since I don’t restrict their time on them, but that’s not the case AT ALL. They use their iPads for a little bit, then move onto drawing, playing outside, or reading regular (paper) books.
One thing that has been hugely enlightening for me is finding out each child’s learning style (I have been doing a lot of studying about that lately). Basically, there are three distinct types of learning styles (Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Visual) – and most people are a combination of all three types.
Paprika is almost entirely a visual learner (I mean, every quiz she takes on learning style she comes back 90% for or more for visual). Ginger is fairly balanced with a large helping of kinesthetic (she learns through movement). And Violet (age 2) – well, time will tell, but I’m betting she’s highly kinesthetic.
I had been banging my head, wondering why certain things work for Paprika and yet they don’t work AT ALL for Ginger. Why? Ginger and Violet don’t like to be in front of a screen. They self-regulate their screen time VERY well and in fact, sometimes I wish they’d spend a little MORE time in their iPads so I could get stuff done around the house. Haha.
Because Paprika is more of a visual learner, she likes being on the iPad more – so that is why I am very careful which Apps we have available (mostly reading, drawing, foreign language, science, and math apps) – and I also will limit her use more than the other girls since she is naturally more drawn to technology.
So, for example, the reading program that I used for Paprika (computer-based) did not work for Ginger because she had no interest in sitting in front of a computer. Probably how Ginger learned to read so well at age 3/4 – and I’m not joking – is that whenever she watched a streaming media TV show (Little Bear, Sofia, Doc McStuffins, etc.) – I put the captions on. Seriously. I know, Mother of the Year here. 😉
My kids never watch a show without the captions on (it makes me feel like it’s almost like reading – I am delusional, I know – hahaha). Anyway, I do think Ginger (now age 5) learned to read (in part) by watching the captions on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Sofia the First. Just a guess.
Paprika, highly visual, learns extremely well from visual media. I have tons of apps for all the kids, and Paprika takes the most advantage of them. Her favorites are Brain Pop and BrainPop, Jr. (we’ve been subscribers for 4 years) – she loves FarFaria (reading app), Reading Rainbow, Epic (digital books), and this week I found a new app called BrainFeed that is JUST fantastic!
Usually once a week when the girls are practicing piano, I go through their iPads and I curate them. I move apps around, I delete apps, I add apps (we have hundreds in our cloud). I have different ways of sorting for each child, to highlight the things I want them to focus on during their iPad time.
This week, I re-downloaded our Chess Apps (they had been deleted for awhile) – and I was so pleasantly surprised because Dinosaur Chess – which used to be a really disappointing app, has gone through some changes and is now fantastic.
This week, I put Dinosaur Chess and Chess Academy front and center on both Paprika and Ginger’s iPads – and what do you know, by the end of the week, Ginger had taught herself chess and is beating (yes, BEATING) Mr. M and I in full-fledged chess games. She just picked it up like a duck to water.
(This is Paprika Skyping with her Guatemalan Spanish tutor – she had three sessions this week, so she has been hablar-ing mucho…haha)
Anyway – if your kids do have an iPad or other device (Kindle, etc.) that you use for educational purposes, do yourself a favor and sign up for email alerts for Smart Apps for Kids Free App Friday.
I used to do a Free App Friday post here on UrthMama – but then I realized that Smart Apps for Kids does their own Free App Friday – and it’s way better than what I put together! Haha!
Lots of apps go on promotion for free occasionally (for like 12- 24 hours) – and if you’re signed up to their alerts, you can get them for wayyyy discounted or for free. I once got a several hundred dollar speech app for FREE from Free App Friday, so I am a huge believer. 🙂
In general, most apps only cost a few dollars – but they do add up – so getting them for free has saved me hundreds (possibly thousands?) of dollars – and honestly, it’s why I have such a huge App Library sitting up in the iCloud.
So – that ends today’s LONG post on our homeschool technology use. I could actually write a thousand pages more – but ain’t nobody got time for that.
When my kids’ aren’t hanging from the monkey bars at the park or sucked into their iPads (hahahaha) – they spend a lot of time drawing and writing letters to each other. Ginger loves to write notes, cards, and letters (totally on her own) and leave them as surprises for the other family members. This week she did probably two hundred different drawings and cards (what can I say – homeschool kids have a lot of free time…LOL) – and this one I thought was cute:
Have a wonderful, magical weekend! 🙂