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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
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Phone: 503-253-9633  

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"Algebra Course on Video or DVD: $30 Discount" is the subject
line of the e-mail accompanying and sponsoring this newsletter.

        You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.
        The Teaching Home E-Mail Newsletter #59
        Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

        December 12, 2003  /  Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

Table of Contents
Family Sketch
Part 2 of 3-Part Series on Computers: Use To Learn
     Use To Learn
     The Advantages and Many Uses of Educational Software
     Goals of Educational Software
     It's Not Just Fun and Games
     Selecting Software and Building Your Library
Recommended Resources
     AceReader Pro Deluxe
     Bayside Press
     Borenson and Associates
     Historic Prints
     Bible in Living Sound
Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote


     In this issue we continue our 3-part series on computers.  We
give you many reasons why you might want to consider adding
educational software to your teaching toolbox.
     See our Christmas Unit Study at
     Please notice the first of our "Family Sketches" in this issue.
We would love to hear from you too!

Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
The Teaching Home is a 23-year-old, home-school family business.

     Christmas Special!
     Give the Gift of Better Reading to Your Whole Family.
     AceReader Pro Deluxe -- Award Winning
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Family Sketch
     We are Michael and Mae with Mikaela (9), Makenzie (7),
Cassidy (5), and Carson (2), from California.  The Lord called us
to home school five years ago, and what a blessing it has been.
     We have used almost every method of instruction, but we keep
coming back to our eclectic mix of methods: classical education,
unit studies, and literature-based studies.  We now try to stick
with these because they work for our family.
     It's been hard limiting our desire to try everything and
wanting to buy all the curriculum available, while not being able
to afford it all!  Letting go of the mess around the house is
another problem for us.  But we know that the Lord called us
to home school, and He helps us with these struggles.
     We are grateful that home schooling provides us the
opportunity to teach our children's hearts, not just their
minds.  Now that's an awesome blessing!

     You are invited to send us your family sketch.  See
guidelines on your story and photo at

     Complete Line of Mel Bay Musical Instrument Methods
          Bayside Press offers the complete line of Mel Bay
     musical instrument methods for guitar, piano, ukulele,
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     * Many methods are available with an accompanying DVD
        bringing the teacher into your home.
     * Mel Bay is one of the most respected companies in the
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     * Whether your child is an absolute beginner or an
        advanced player we have products needed to continue
        that education.

3-Part Series on Computers:
     Part 1:  Learn To Use (Issue #58)
     Part 2:  Use To Learn (This Issue -- #59)
     Part 3:  The Internet (Issue #60)

     In our last issue we discussed how systematic learning and
practice can help you fill in the gaps of your computer knowledge
and develop new skills so that you can use your computer to its
full capabilities.
     Although we realize that it might take a while to complete
those studies, we are continuing our series on computers in this

Computers: Use To Learn
     After our children have learned the basic functions of the
computer, they can use the computer:
* To practice their skills.
* To learn subject matter.
* To improve their productivity.
     The computer earns a place as a teaching tool because of its
unique and powerful capabilities.  However, its potential can
only be released by the instructions the computer receives from a
software program.  Therefore, we will be discussing educational
software in this issue.

Educational Software's Supporting Role
     Learning software does not replace your teaching, but
supports and augments it.  It is a great way to enhance your
child's learning experience, but should only be used if it serves
your educational goals.
      In a support role to the learning process however, good
learning software can be a marvelous resource.

Parental Involvement
     Educational software is not a substitute for the human
interaction between you as a teacher and your child as a student.
He will still need some of your time and attention even while
using the best educational software.
     You need to be responsive and supportive as you guide your
child through the learning process in order for your child to
receive all the benefits a program has to offer.

     The first time your child uses the program:
* Explain to your child what he will be learning and/or
* Slowly and thoroughly show and tell your child how to start the
* Do a few exercises with him to show him how it works.

     Whenever your child uses the program:
* Be available to assist your child if he is having a problem.
* Occasionally watch him use the program and see how he is doing.

Determining Effectiveness
     Testing and monitoring your child's progress can let you
know if he is actually learning and benefiting from the software.
     Good programs provide performance tracking reports for each
student that show which learning activities or exercises he has
done and his level of proficiency in each one.

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          Hands-On Equations® is a visual and kinesthetic
     teaching system for introducing algebraic concepts
     to students in grades 3 to 8.
     * Complete program for one student - only $35
     * Also available: 26 lessons on the The Hands-on
        Equations® Instructional Videomanual.
     Borenson and Associates

The Advantages and Many Uses of Educational Software
     Here are some of the reasons you might want to consider
adding educational software to your teaching toolbox.
* To supplement your subject area or provide additional
* To give practice in a skill.
* To provide a change of pace in learning activities.
* To provide increased motivation to learn and practice skills
   using an enjoyable format.
* To provide motivation for your child to finish his other school
   work before he is allowed to use the computer.
* To provide encouragement from the program's immediate feedback
   to his performance.
* To give experience in navigating software on a computer.
* To develop your child's patience and ability to understand and
   follow instructions.
* To build your child's confidence and develop his
   self-discipline in working independently.
* To free you to work with other students while one is working on
   his own.
* To teach thinking and problem-solving skills.
* To allow individualized progress.  For students who grasp
   concepts quickly, educational software gives them the
   opportunity to advance faster while still mastering the
* To provide repeated exposure, review, and practice when a
   concept is difficult for a student.  (The computer never
   gets tired or frustrated by students who need time to
   repeatedly go over concepts and lessons in order to master
* To give remedial opportunities with extra learning and practice
   in a subject that your child needs help in.
* To present material in a different learning mode (visual,
   auditory, kinesthetic/tactile) for students who have
   difficulty learning from other materials or methods.

Early Learning Software
     Educational software for ages 3-6 is usually comprised of an
assortment of games that can be played repeatedly without
requiring the ability to read.  In addition to some of the uses
and advantages listed above, early learning software can deliver
the following benefits.
* Foster a positive attitude towards learning and towards using a
* Teach children how a computer works and skills in operating a
   software program.
* Teach basics such as letters, matching, numbers, shapes, and
* Help develop children's thinking skills.
* Teach how to understand and follow instructions.
* Entertain children through their own interaction with an
   educational program.

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Two Goals of Educational Software
     Educational software is usually designed either to impart
knowledge of a subject or to provide practice in a skill.  Some
programs combine both purposes.

1. Knowledge Programs
     Knowledge-based programs introduce new content (e.g.,
history, geography, and science).  Such programs can awaken or
encourage an interest in a specific area of knowledge and/or
enrich your children's understanding and interest in what they
are doing in class.
* A good knowledge-based program will have an index, so it can be
   used as a reference tool as well.

2. Practice Programs
     Practice-focused programs provide practice and reinforce
acquired skills (e.g., reading, writing, or mathematics).  The
drill-and-practice forms of computer-assisted instruction have
been proven very effective in producing achievement gains.
* Some programs teach concepts and principles as well as
   providing practice and reinforcement that ensure the skill
   is acquired.

Types of Programs
     Educational software falls into these categories.
* Specific subject area or skill practice.
* Multi-subject by grade level.  A variety of skills and subjects
   for a specific age or grade level.
   (See information on Alpha Omega's Switched-On Schoolhouse,
   a complete Christian curriculum, below.)
* Thinking and problem solving.  Develops logical thinking
   processes and encourages creative thinking through solving
   problems or constructing an on-screen model.
* Music and creativity.
* Simulation.  Asks you to make a set of choices and run the
   simulation which shows the results of your choices.  This can
   be done over and over using different choices with different

Age and Skill Levels
     Children's software is categorized by either age or grade.
It is important to choose the correct level so that your child is
not frustrated by a level that is too difficult or uninterested
because the level is too easy.
     Children need software which challenges their skills and
abilities, yet retains their interest and involvement. They like
to play educational games and win; they don't
want to win too easily, but they don't want to be repeatedly
defeated either.
     Good programs have at least three levels of difficulty or
offer multiple levels of challenge that are calibrated to the
user's skill level and provide an appropriate level of challenge
for children of different ages or capabilities.  The software
might automatically adapt or it might allow the user to set his
own desired skill level.
* Check the topics covered by a program to see if your child is
   ahead or behind the curriculum.
* Choose a program that offers a range of skill levels that your
   child can move up through.

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It's Not Just Fun and Games
     Many learning programs are structured as a game or a
collection of play activities interwoven with learning
     The enjoyment of the game provides motivation to do the
learning-related activities. The instantaneous performance
feedback scores are also a great motivator.
     In some educational software, to play and advance in a game,
the program presents a series of challenges that are designed to
exercise existing skills or to provide knowledge learning.
     In other programs, specific skills are taught in
step-by-step modules, interspersed with practice sessions and
games that are fun and develop the skill.  Subject areas in
knowledge based software might use a text-based approach and then
introduce activities to engage the student.

Action Types
     Two common types of game action in learning software are
"activity" and "mission adventure" action.
     Activity action offers a variety of activities consisting of
bite-size tasks or problems with instant gratification for
correct answers.
* This action is ideal for young children and those with short
   attention spans.
     Mission Adventure action presents a series of problems or
puzzles to solve in order to achieve the goal.
* A child who loves problem solving and investigation would
   probably enjoy this type of action.

Other Types
     Book Format.  Some programs have a format very similar to a
book with a variety of interactive elements that allow the child
to learn or test his retention of the material presented.
     Programs for Older Children and Adults.  These can be very
sophisticated, constructing a complete learning path for the
learner defined by his specific learning interests.  Programs
like these rely more on the quality of learning content delivery,
interactivity, and instant performance feedback rather than
game-type activity

     Regardless of the overall design, the intent of educational
software is to engage the learner to the point where he is
willing to participate in learning or skill-building exercises.
The program's quality of design and depth of content can enhance
the learner's desire to use the software.

     Please Thank & Support Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
          These free newsletters are made possible financially
     by the fine suppliers who advertise in them.
          Please remember those that have advertised in our
     last issue (below) as well as the ones in this issue.

     The Teaching Home Back Issues

     Christian Book Clearinghouse. "Edifying Gifts of Christian Books"

     Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series:

     Historic Prints.  Christian and Early American Art.

     Structured Writing.  New Writing Method.

     AceReader Pro Deluxe. Reading Improvement Software.

     Bible in Living Sound. Dramatized Bible Stories.

Selecting Software and Building Your Library
     A well chosen and accessible library (of both books and
software) is a key feature of the rich learning environment that
will benefit and motivate your students.  You can profit from
software reviews and recommendations by others, evaluate some of
the many educational software programs yourself, or use a
combination of these two methods.

Criteria for Evaluating Educational Software
     First, children do not need the latest and greatest
software.  A quality program does not need lots of bells and
whistles.  Look for substance, for programs that will stimulate,
challenge, and teach your child.
* Christian Worldview - What subtle values and interests might
   your child pick up from the atmosphere and setting of the game
   or program?
* Platform Requirements - Do you have the hardware and software
   to run the program so that it will be stable?
* Educational Content - Are the objectives and content
   educationally sound?
* Teaching Methods - Is the program balanced between play and
* Ease of Use - Can your child start and operate the game without
* Cost - Is the cost worth the depth/extent of the content or is
   it as cost effective as another program (e.g., a $50 program
   for just easy addition vs. a $25 program for all levels of

Alternatives To Buying Software
* Your local library might loan out educational software.
* Your home-school friends or support group might want to start
   a software lending library or exchange so families can use
   programs for short periods or sample them before making a

Making Your Choices
* You will probably need to experiment with different programs to
   find what works best for your children.
* Your children will probably not all enjoy or benefit from the
   same programs.
* Choose software with subject matter that interests your
   students or that complements your educational goals.

Websites That Review and Recommend Software
School House Software Review.
Discovery Channel School Best Educational Software.
Education World Software: The Best of the Basics.
   A selection of 22 top software picks.
SuperKids Educational Software Review.
Kids Domain Software Reviews.
Mathematics Education.  Reviews of Math Computer Software.
All Star Review.  Educational Product Reviews.
Children's Software & New Media Revue ($36/year).

Specific Programs To Consider

Research Tools
* Multimedia reference CD-ROMs on various topics.
* Electronic encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases.
   Comparing Encyclopedias.
* Bible reference software.

Computer-Related Subject Areas
* Typing
* Programming

Alpha Omega's Switched-On Schoolhouse
     This complete curriculum for grades 3-12 provides an
interactive learning experience with animation and special
effects.  The core subjects are Bible, Language Arts, Math,
History and Geography, and Science. Electives include Spanish,
French, Health, Consumer Math, College Planner, State History,
and Story of the Constitution.  See more information at
Request a free demo at

Learning Activities from the Bible.
   Set of four CD-Roms, (preschool through grade 2) for $10.
Marvelous Math for Windows.  Teaches math facts.
Artes Latinae self-teaching Latin program from Bolchazy-Carducci.
Digital Interactive Video Education.  Math and science lectures.
Ace Reader from Stepware. Improves reading speed.
Safety Tots.  Child safety.

Sunny Side Up:  And a Time To Pray
     Our 4-year-old wants to say the blessing before our meals,
but he usually repeats the same short prayer: "Thank you, God,
for this gracious food.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen."
     One evening our son thanked God for the birds, trees, and
each of his friends, asked Him to watch over his family, and
prayed that we would be good.  I rejoiced that he was praying
from his heart.
     After the "Amen," our son tasted his stew and gasped,
dropping the spoon into the bowl. "I should have said a longer
prayer," he said. "My food is still too hot."
     Submitted by Catherine J., Texas
     You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

The Story of God's Love
     A loving God is seeking a personal relationship with you and your
family through faith in Jesus Christ, His substitutionary death for
you, and His subsequent resurrection.
     "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life" (John 3:16).

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