Mothers of Invention

I swear there are a bunch of them; boredom, dissatisfaction, outright frustration, etc.

My kids all LOVED PBS Kids Play for about a year, then it got boring.  I can relate; there are very few pieces of software that can keep me engaged for longer than that (notably Civ, naturally), so I don’t begrudge them turning away from it.  I’m hoping to go back and milk the last benefit out of it between now and June, and then we’ll likely cancel it.

Then we played Wizard101 for a bit, as a family.  My girls got better at taking risks, but the more involved elements of the game were beyond them.  We cancelled our subscriptions in lieu of just letting the kids run around the free areas, which is mostly where they felt safe and wanted to play anyway.  I’m hoping we can go back to it in another year or two when the math and problem solving skills are more in place to take real advantage of the software.

I just checked out Time4Learning, and, well,  $50 a month is just WAY too much for us (PBS Kids Play had one account that four kids could use, even simultaneously, as ours often did), the artwork could be significantly better, and the non-inclusion of science in a kindergarten curriculum is just pretty darned inexcusible in my mind.  I LOVE that it is actually – gasp – secular in focus, but, yo, that doesn’t mean that we are made of money, like cheesy art, and don’t think science is important, eh?

So, the search continues.  Yes, I really DO want some educational software that my kids can play independantly, since (esp for Big D) that is a modality to which she responds really well.  (I never know where her zone of proximal development is, since I can rarely get her to evidence her strongest skillset when we work together, but I’ve peered over her shoulder online and been stunned by what she could do when pixels are involved.)  I also like the idea of having something that one or two of my kids can work on while I take some one-on-one time with the third.  (Also, quite frankly, there are days when I could use the prep and/or downtime and they are all just *clamoring* at me, and yes, we have three computers we can set them up on.)  It also seems to me that some one on one by the computer can do some of the rote work that is needed to get real facility accomplished without putting strain on our personal relationships.  Yeah, we aren’t all love and roses.  Go figure.

Yes, I’ve looked at Jumpstart, and while I might utlize them for Spanish (since there doesn’t seem to be any other software out there for kids and I don’t speak the language myself), I *really* don’t like their emphasis on competition and external motivation for learning.   There is some inexpensive Reader Rabbit stuff available on Amazon, so we might give that a go.

One other note:  all these testimonies that say things like ‘my kids were having so much fun, they didn’t even realize that they were learning!’ make me want to hurl.  My kids WANT to learn, and BEG for homeschooling time.  Any software or system that is going to rob them of that will be binned at the first opportunity; I won’t recycle or resell poison.

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