What's the first questions we face when telling new people about our Roadschooling Adventure across Europe.....? Well it's almost always 'How did you set about teaching your kids?'
With experienced teaching backgrounds behind us, we were pretty confident we could structure the daily learning using more traditional methods (workbooks, daily dairies) alongside the obvious educational benefits of visiting places like the WW1 trenches, Chateau des Engimes or Postojna Caves. All of which made it into our 'Top 10 Educational Experiences across Europe'... but what else have we used to help the girls learning?
Well, we've spent hours researching and experimenting with various apps, until we got it down to these 5 'easy to use' apps below, so we hope they help others considering road schooling/homeschooling their children
The app monitors their progress introducing 'Added Extras'. This explanation includes 15 questions on a topic they have regularly been making mistakes on. There are also 'New This Week' add-ins, again an explanation and 10 questions on a new topic once a different topic has been fully understood. The explanations given are clear and easily understood. Catherine adds "We've opted to go through them with our girls, but they are generally self explanatory with the option for the children to read the information themselves or have it read to them."
For those that love to quantify progress, there is a parents' online monitoring site where topic understanding can be checked and it shows the progress each child has made via their individual dashboard. This includes how well they have been understood and what level they are working at. In addition to all this, it works perfectly offline and syncs when back online, which is crucial for a journey around Europe as internet access can be sporadic. It is also worth noting that they also do a very good times table app too!
LIFEINOURVAN's VERDICT - Although costly, it's an investment that has given us peace of mind and a clarity about topics understood or where extra work needs to take place. Plus both girls happily use it daily without any pressure so you can't ask more than that can you...?
Once they are confident on the words they are then able go onto the tests. There are three levels of these. On the first level all the letters are given and you need to put them in the correct order. This system works well and gives both girls a clear structure to work through
The second level indicates how many letters are needed but are now typed onto a 'qwerty style' keyboard. On the third and final level you just hear the word, with no additional clues. At the end of each test you get a list of the words you have spelt incorrectly with the correction. For each test completed you achieve stars which can be used to buy different monsters. Again incentivised learning has proved successful.
LIFEINOURVAN's VERDICT - In a highly competitive market, there are plenty of apps that are good to look at but lack a simple structure behind the cosmetic facade. This app just works! Nothing more, nothing less... it just makes spelling simple & fun!
Catherine writes "We've found Duolingo brilliant for teaching both the girls and ourselves new languages, in fact we have met many people of all ages across Europe using Duolingo to help improve their language skills." So this one is definitely one for the adults and kids alike.... nice simple graphic interfaces work well with the chance to hear, speak, write and understand new languages. There are plenty of languages to choose from via the 'easy to understand' menu
LIFEINOURVAN's VERDICT - Languages are so vital to understanding a countries culture and people... there's nothing better than feeling a part of a new country and Duolingo makes this easy, fun and engaging for the whole family to learn together. If we're honest, we're not sure where we'd have been without it at times!
The easy to see 'Leaderboard' keeps a running commentary on the player with the highest ranked word, who hasn't played for a while (useful for prompting a little extra spelling practice!) & some funny graphics... The girls love adding new words, trying to strategically move across the board to get L3 (letter bonuses) or W4 (word bonuses)
LIFEINOURVAN's VERDICT - Sometimes overlooked as more popular games like 'Trivial Pursuit' or 'Monopoly' took centre stage, Scrabble (or in this case Word Chums) is a brilliant way of keeping spellings ticking over but in a fun, informative way that also allows interaction between online players (NB we never allow the girls to play anyone we don't know the username for....)
Although this app does not feature the levels of detail that some of the above apps do, it more than makes up for it in its simple but methodical user experience. We've added to the Science learning with magazines like 'Whizz Pop Bang' which add another creative side to our approach to learning Science in the van
LIFEINOURVAN's VERDICT - Science is such an easy subject for kids to love, it's hard to pinpoint just one app that covers it all.. so rather than attempt the impossible, why not settle for a really in depth understanding of one aspect? Our girls have now grown in confidence knowing they've grasped a concept and look forward to challenging themselves on others..
INTERESTED IN SEEING WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE FOR EACH SUBJECT?