My fondest memories of school as child, weren’t the times I had to sit in my desk for hours, listening to the teacher. They were the times when I got to listen to a story as I sat on the carpet. Or, when I watched a baby chick hatch from its shell, or I made clay models of different dinosaurs for a project. The smell of school with its crayons, pencils, and paper, had, and still have, a special smell that I find dear to my heart. We didn’t have computers, but the knowledge we gleaned was from books, and our teachers. Today, we have a whole new generation of tech-savvy children. Whether parents are homeschooling their children, or sending them into the public or private school system, they must learn basic skills. In the age of No Child Left Behind, our National Education Association now wants all children in school, no matter what the venue, to focus on improving children’s academic abilities. Such skills can be practiced or acquired at home with parental guidance, online for free, without costly tutoring programs. There are many educational websites run by government, public and private agencies, that want to and can help our children. A child’s overall education can be enriched and entertaining through the use of a home computer, online. Reading and Language Websites: Reading and language skills are a must on any webpage, but here are some fun sites that target these skills, and prepare children for a test or present a story. It can also spark their imagination through creative writing, or watching their favorite television characters come alive.
The British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC, has a site for testing practice for elementary age kids, 4-11, called ReviseWise. It practices English and reading, as well as math and science. It talks to them, and teaches them when they miss something. Wired For Books, a site that has an online book collection. Has a page for younger readers with the Beatrix Potter series, complete with pictures. And for those parents who often work and spend many days on the road, here is a wonderful modern way to read to their children from across the world. Bedtime-Story, is a site with read aloud stories, that their preschool and elementary age child can follow online while they read. Giggle Poetry, is a website with hundreds of silly children’s poems, with a few extra activities to keep them reading and writing. They can even print Reader’s Theater scripts to read aloud with their friends and family. The Public Broadcasting System for Kids, or PBS Kids, is a great site that improves various favorite shows on public television, with educational games, coloring, and music. Math Websites: As technology increases, so does our need for problem solving skills. We must solve financial and scientific mysteries, which in turn, requires us to know some fundamental skills before we do. The math websites I like to use, involve the problem solving, fun and challenging variety, and then the more straight forward drill and practice types. For those elementary age kids who need extra practice with math, FunBrain, has several math practice games, like Sudoku, and Math Baseball, as well as a variety of other educational arcade-type games. For more challenging, problem-solving type games for those in middle and high school, Brain Bashers, has different games and puzzles, that will challenge the mind.
For basic facts and computation, AAA Math, has a site with plenty of practice for elementary and middle school children. It also gives kids immediate feedback on their answers, as they solve basic computation problems on the screen. Fact Monster, has a several handy homework guides, but also has some good math games and practice games. It is geared to the middle school students, but has some interesting trivia and such, for the upper elementary aged kids as well. Science Websites: Another way to build reading and math skills is to find a science topic that interests them. It builds vocabulary, and allows them to formulate some of their own ideas about the way things work. They may even pull out their rulers or calculators, as they try to figure out how many feet are in a meter. The following sites include life, physical, and Earth sciences. For those avid animal lovers who need a challenge, Biology 4 Kids, is a website that kids can learn all about animals, their classification, and their biological systems. Since most kids like animals, many city zoos have websites, like The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, in Washington DC. These are extensive enough to challenge the elementary and middle school aged children. For the teenagers who enjoy science and social science information, Nova Online, has a variety of shows and their descriptions, podcasts, and other interactive lessons. They can pick their topic, and find out much more than what may be featured on the show. Zoom, a popular PBS Kids show, has a large data base of scientific experiments online that use basic household materials. The experiments listed have been presented on the Show, and the instructions are listed online for children to try at home. Also, for those space enthusiasts, NASA For Kids, has a fun game site with an adjustable skill level. There are also several Challenger Learning Centers around the country, with one opening in Canada soon, that provide both online and in person activities. Social Studies Websites: Social Sciences are also vocabulary builders. They help children look at how they relate to others. It allows them to look at the history of our society, and to ask questions about our future. These sites are a vehicle for interpersonal development through history and geography. For those American history buffs, websites like The White House For Kids, helps kids understand the government, and how it works, as well as tours of the White House itself. It has a variety of interesting facts about the current president and his family. Oracle ThinkQuest Educational Foundation, is an online encyclopedia of sorts, for students of all ages, written by students themselves as part of the Thinkquest competition. Its index begins with Arts and Entertainment, and extends through a variety of literature and world related topics, both modern and ancient.
The United Nations’ website, Cyber School Bus, has a variety of world subjects, and activities. Middle to high school students can peruse human rights issues, or cultural differences. They can access detailed world maps, or the United Nations’ news. It is a website that is not only informational, but allows students to participate in world view politics within a safe context. Finally, sometimes teaching government to elementary age children can be challenging, so The United States Government Printing Office, manages the Ben’s Guide To US Government. It is a step-by-step alternative to understanding government in grades K-12. Children can either access the booklet online, or parents can order it from the U.S. Government Printing Office for free. As we provide an alternative for our children through online technology and education, we are preparing them for their future. Learning doesn’t have to be boring, or require a test with paper and pencil; it just needs to be challenging and fun. Learning technology, through online resources and the like, allow our children to succeed in the era of No Child Left Behind, plus the added benefit of using computers, which most children won’t turn down.