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Educational Software: Learning at Play

May 18, 2008
Now that computer programs have become easier to make and use, more parents and teachers are taking advantage of their incredible educational value.

Children really enjoy having fun while they learn and this is the main factor that makes educational software such an effective tool. With innumerable ways to include graphics, sound effects, games and other activities in educational software, it is little wonder that children are excited to spend time learning.

For example, I was always excited to use one of the math programs at my elementary school. As I remember it, every time I solved a math problem correctly, my race car got to move further around the track. Even though I didn't enjoy doing math at my desk with paper and pencil, I learned the skills that I needed because I enjoyed playing that game. This shows that with the right incentive any child can be eager to tackle the next problem. And, by making learning fun, you can actually help cultivate a love for learning in your child.

Using a tool that children enjoy also eliminates a lot of the energy previously needed to persuade students to focus on their work. And, because of its availability, educational software can be used in either a school or home setting. This means you can improve information retention by reinforcing the things your child studies at school. For example, instead of buying a game with little or no educational value that promotes violence and blowing things up, why not invest in a game that teaches math skills, new vocabulary words, geography, science or history.

Working with educational software will also help children develop useful computer skills. Typing, opening programs and saving material will all help prepare them for using the computer in future education. I have seen this increased ability in my own little sister. Even as a five-year-old, she really knows her way around a laptop. She is much more computer savvy than I was at her age and it probably won't be long before she passes up my parents.

Once children learn how to use the program, reviewing material can be done independently too. This will not only improve self-confidence and independence, but it will free up some time for parents and teachers too.

When you shop for educational software, pay attention to both the grade level and the skill sets that it has been designed for. Even fun programs can get discouraging if the problems are too advanced.
About the Author
Scholastic is a leading provider of teaching materials like books, pictures, flashcards, and educational software. To learn more about the products they offer visit http://www.teacher.scholastic.com/products/product_info/extended_learning.htm. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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