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Learning with Computers

Computers can't replace the reading games activities discussed in other parts of this site. But computers can be a great source of support and reading help.

Many computer programs (also called software) offer activities that can both grab your child's interest and teach good lessons. Children as young as 3 years old, though they can't read yet, may still have fun using some of the colorful, action - filled programs and games with enjoyable characters. Computer reading programs help your child:

  • Hear stories, read along and read by herself.
  • Play with objects and characters on the screen that teach the alphabet, simple words, rhyming words and other skills important to learning to read.
  • Command the computer with her voice, record herself reading and play back the recording so that she can hear herself.
  • Write simple sentences and make up stories.
  • Add pictures and characters to her stories and have them read back.
  • Make and print her own books.
  • Make slide shows.
  • Gain praise and see improvement in her language abilities.

Finding and Using a Computer

If you don't have a computer at home, ask your librarian if you and your child may use one of the library's computers. Your child's school or a nearby community college might also have a computer laboratory that you may use. Ask your librarian about good programs for learning to use a computer. Try a few. They can help you learn basic computer steps before working with your child. Your librarian also may be able to tell you where you can get computer training if you want it.

When sitting at a computer with your child, join in at first. Later, watch as he plays. Always praise and guide him when you need to. Make sure that you choose the right programs for your child's age. Often, one program may have activities for many ages. As your child grows, the program gets more challenging. In fact, if you have children of different ages, the same program can allow each to learn and practice different skills.

There are many computer programs available for children, but they vary in quality. If you can, try a program before you buy it. You also can check at your local library for reviews of children's programs. Don't hesitate to ask your librarian or your child's teacher for information and recommendations about good software.

Many computer programs are available through "Web sites," which are addresses on the World Wide Web, a part of the Internet. Organizations such as libraries, colleges, and government offices give people information through their Web sites. Businesses and other private groups also give - and sell - information over their Web sites. Good children's programs are available this way, but again, the quality of such material varies and you will need to be careful in your choices. For help on how you can use a computer to hook up to the Internet and find what you need, check with your librarian.

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