Computers can be great educational tools for young children. Kids develop better eye-hand coordination skills by controlling the mouse, and working with the keyboard reinforces letter and number recognition. But aside from learning those basics, there is a great deal more to be gained from allowing your child to have computer time each day.
There are, of course, many computer programs that parents can purchase to help their kids learn such things as shapes, colors, reading, math, and more. But I have found that these types of programs can be somewhat of a headache for two reasons. First of all, these programs require you to install at least a minimum component of the program into your hard drive. And, if you have more than one program that your child likes to use, these installed components can end up using a good deal of space. Secondly, each time your child wants to switch to a different program, you need to switch which disc is in the player. Sure, you can teach your older children to do this themselves, but this probably isn't a task you want your kindergartener doing.
So, what can you do instead of purchasing computer programs? Simple-bookmark several good learning websites! There are hundreds of websites out on the internet now that are devoted to helping children learn. Because of this widespread availability of educational websites, you no longer need to purchase computer programs at all!
But, how can you find good learning websites? How can a parent know which sites are trustworthy? Which sites are worthwhile, and at the same time, fun? Look no further than the list below.
This is actually one of the educational websites that is used in my son's kindergarten class. It is mainly focused on the subject of reading, and has sections for beginning readers up through to advanced readers, from pre-kindergarten to second grade. There are lots of stories for kids to read through themselves, with assistance as needed at the click of the mouse. Early readers may need help with navigation at first.
Prongo is a really fun website for kids of any age. There are separate sections for ages 3-6, ages 6-9, and ages 9-12. Each section has a variety of games available, and the sections for the older kids have quite a few math-based games. The graphics on Prongo are very kid-friendly, very bright and fun.
This site is loaded with fun games for kids in grades K-8. There are math games, word games, and more-and navigation on this site is incredibly easy because you can search for games by grade level. FunBrain also has a few different blogs kids might enjoy reading-there is a blog for girls ages 6-10, one for boys ages 6-10, and one each for boys and girls over the age of 10.
A Walk in the Woods
This is a site developed by the University of Illinois. It is just as the title suggests-a video tour of a walk through the woods. There is a narrator who talks kids through the walk, and kids will see many different species of plants and animals. The walk is designed for children in at least third grade, but younger kids can enjoy watching the tour even if they do not completely understand everything. The video footage is quite beautiful.
I Know That
You can find activities for several different subject areas on this site, including math, science, language arts, and social studies. Navigation might be a little difficult for younger kids at first, but there is a toolbar at the top where parents can help find activities by grade level, from grade pre-K through grade 6. Your kids will like the fun graphics on this site.
Here is another site which has a variety of subject areas. Learning Planet has games and activities about the alphabet and phonics, math, geography, and more. Younger children will need help with navigation, but parents will find it easy to click on the desired grade level to find activities. There is a premium service which parents can subscribe to which will allow access to everything on the site, but even without subscribing there are dozens of available games and activities.
There are, of course, many other children's educational websites. And to some degree, it is a personal choice (both for you and your child) as to which sites you will like the best. Some sites offer a subscription service or a premium membership for a fee-think carefully before deciding to pay for this because many sites simply do not offer enough for the fee to be worth paying. You also need to decide if you want to pay for any sites at all-I don't. For me, there are enough quality free sites out there for me and my children to explore that I don't find it necessary to pay for any site. Perhaps that may change when my kids get older-maybe there will be some sites for older kids for which I will want to pay for membership, who knows? But for now, free is good enough for me.