Thursday, November 29, 2012
Challenging the kids at home
My 5-year-old is really enjoying kindergarten. He's a social little boy, and likes being around other kids who are not his younger siblings. Riding a school bus turns out to be tons of fun, as are certain life experiences like taking money to the school book fair and choosing a book that fits your budget. Since he came into kindergarten reading and doing two-digit addition and subtraction, however, there hasn't been a lot of opportunity to move beyond that in the roughly two hours of daily instructional time that half-day kindergarten provides. So we're working on challenging him at home. The first thing I thought I'd try was DreamBox, the adaptive math program. I'd heard good things about the program, and my son was initially interested in it. But he doesn't really like playing on the computer that much. When he gets computer time, he'd prefer to look at Google Maps and find photos linked to different spots ("Mommy, there's the Sydney Harbor Bridge!" and "Mommy, look at this village in Kenya!") So I'm not sure I'll be buying the program after the initial trial period just expired. He will do math problems straight up, however. He spends a few minutes in the morning working with our sitter on math worksheets. In his perusals of map books, he's come across charts on precipitation, temperature, etc., and so he's been making his own graphs for fun. As for reading, this seems a bit more straightforward. He is checking out books from the library to read, and is writing and illustrating his own. At the moment, they seem to resemble the Magic Tree House books pretty closely, but hopefully Mary Pope Osbourne won't mind the copyright infringement... :) We've tried to encourage him to tackle more challenging books, for instance reading the text in an atlas under pictures he finds interesting, and puzzling through what the words must mean. I welcome suggestions on any other ideas for keeping the brain stretched. What books or software programs have you found helpful for early elementary school aged children?