People say having twins is double the trouble. No debating that! But I wouldn’t shrug off the challenge of having babies just one year apart like it’s an easy task. They’re at different developmental stages, but they’re both dependent on me to keep up the fun. No lessons are just right for both of my children, and no two online reading programs are built for the same age group.
When it comes to how to teach reading and measure results, the benchmarks start early. My 5-year-old daughter will have to demonstrate sight mastery of 120 words at a minimum by May — “big” and “blue,” and “red” and “run” “which” and “because,” and “number one.”
When she’s done, my husband and I will start again with her 4-year-old brother. Yes, preschool online education has commenced.
Children have more information than ever before, delivered in very entertaining ways. And our household does not subscribe to cable television service, making our job as “parental entertainers” even more challenging! Our home does enjoy 1 Gig fiber, high-speed Internet service. From Ryan ToysReview to Homer the reading app and other online reading programs, our broadband connection isn’t just delivering our video streaming at night — it’s a portal for our kids’ literacy.
Today, people come into the Kinetic by Windstream store to sign up for home Internet service for the very first time. Surprisingly, there are a few who have never used Internet outside of a library or school. Most have leaned on their smartphone browsers over the last decade. A report last year said that, after rising steadily throughout the 2000s, home broadband service connections leveled out: only two in three Americans subscribe today.
Some of the new subscribers at my store are young parents like me who’ve leveraged their smartphone 4G for Internet access when they were single or in an apartment but now must connect their homes if they want reading programs for kids. I assure them, broadband inside the Seely household is so central to our recreation and education (even our safety with smart doorbells and lighting!).
As a parent, I enjoy sharing ways for fellow parents to encourage digital learning. I talk about what online reading programs have meant to my kids and to our family as a whole. I also share the best learn-to-read programs for my family, as well as a few general education tools (and one fun kids’ YouTube channel!), like these:
- HOMER: This app for iPad (any connected touchscreen device) combines cartoons, game play and puzzles to teach kids letter sounds, sight words, reading aloud and mixed concepts. What’s best, you can set users and lessons, and games will be tailored to their developmental stage, so both my son and daughter use it. My daughter has already mastered the 120-word minimum sight word vocabulary for moving on to first grade in no small part thanks to HOMER, and before it, ABC Mouse.
- ABC Mouse: In our household, ABCMouse.com was our awe-inspiring introduction to how far the Internet will take our little learners. It’s a complete expression-based curriculum, some hundreds of thousands of lessons, from painting and singalongs to farm and zoo animals (not strictly sight-word literacy). It’s meant to compliment any real-world pre-K through third-grade curricula.
- Ryan ToysReviews: One part of language and concept development is entirely social; it’s what experts call cultural literacy. If you’re 5 and 4 years old, Ryan ToysReview is cool. Ryan is a 7-year-old YouTube reality star who talks about toys with exuberance and warmth. My son loves him — and any toy he endorses. (NOTE: Ryan is not going to help my kids read, but he helps them make friends. Once, at the store, another set of siblings had a Ryan toy, and my kids got together with them and geeked out over the toy and Ryan videos. As a mom, that’s important to me!)
- PBS Kids: This app of course does much the same as the others, but we’re using it more and more in the Seely household. It incorporates a lot of reading and STEM learning games with characters from popular books (re: trademarked!) they’ve read, like “Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.”
- Remind: This app is how my firstborn’s first teacher keeps me apprised of happenings and progress. She sends texts like “Your daughter forgot her towel.” She doesn’t post lesson plans online, and my daughter doesn’t have “homework.” With Remind, I don’t have to worry about getting picture day and pajama day mixed up. Parents can also reach out to other parents through it.
- Google / Cyark historic sites: Finally, my young ones and I can sit down and visit a historic site virtually with Open Heritage, a collaboration between Google and Cyark, a preservationist tech company. I mean, with Google Earth, they can visit anywhere in the world and see what it looks like, but Cyark sites are particularly cool! This isn’t literacy-focused, but, like Ryan ToysReviews, is a cultural asset I’m happy to see them get enthusiastic over.
Our high-speed Internet service at home connects everything from our handhelds to our big screens. It doesn’t replace school — and we never let an online reading program replace story time — but it supports education in a big way and is critical for my children to stay at the top of their class.
Whether you are in the market for a faster Internet connection or just need advice on what devices and network connection may help you with a task, feel free to stop in any Kinetic by Windstream store and ask.