Homeschool Language Arts Confession
I’m going to confess a point of contention to you today. I do not like grammar as a subject. Not even a little bit. It never made sense to me beyond the basics, I never successfully diagrammed a sentence, and to this day I despise trying to explain the “rules” even though I am adamant about using them (except when I’m writing conversationally).
I also know that learning these rules are necessary for nurturing competent communicators. I was fortunate to have access to excellent literature from my early years on that helped cultivate my language usage and in high school and college I had a few exceptional writing professors that were wonderful for helping me to fine tune my writing abilities.
But it has been another beast entirely trying to teach my boys. We have amazing discussions about what we are reading and they are both excellent oral narrators – but there have been some challenges. Between dyslexia/dysgraphia for one boy and perfection induced anxiety in the other, writing has been like pulling hens teeth. (Hens don’t have teeth, in case you didn’t know.)
So when we were given the opportunity to use a fun, online platform that includes games, challenges, tutors, and incentives- I was ecstatic!
Enter Night Zookeeper – an awesome and homeschool friendly online language arts program.
After a few weeks, I’m completely convinced that this is a great addition to our homeschool curriculum and we will definitely be using it long term!
Disclosure: We received complementary access to Night Zookeeper for review purposes and were compensated for our time. All opinions are our own and we promise never to recommend anything to you that we don’t believe could benefit your homeschool!
Getting Setup with Night Zookeeper
We received our login information and I read through the super thorough and easy to follow parent guide. It took me less than 5 minutes to get each boy setup on their own computers.
Within 10 minutes, they both designed their Zookeeper and started exploring their Zoo, creating their magical animals, and learning all kinds of awesome writing skills!
There are all kinds of settings you can adjust, ways the kids can make friends and compete on the global boards, and even places they can submit their writing for peer review and comment.
Seriously – after the first day both boys were telling me all about adjectives, punctuation, and all the things I had been trying to convey to them on paper for the last 18 months that just weren’t sticking. Why?
Let’s talk about Language Arts and Learning Differences
Dyslexia and Dysgraphia
Mr. T has severe dyslexia. He loves to read and reads well, but slowly and with a lot of re-reading and audiobook usage.
We worked really hard for several years to remediate his dyslexia challenges. The program that finally made all the difference was MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach, which uses audio, visual, and adaptive learning to provide a complete remediation program.
Reading was our whole focus. Learning to read, learning to listen, learning to narrate. Decoding came slowly but because we kept it fun, Mr. T has never lost a love for reading or being read to.
That means, however, that other than copywork and occasional notes that I helped write, Mr. T still struggled to write and spell. The dysgraphia needed remediation, too.
We have tried several different programs and he becomes super resistant to using them after the first few weeks.
While I love Charlotte Mason methods, I am not a purist and I think part of recognizing our children as persons means admitting that sometimes we need to try something new, different, and completely out of the box! Night Zookeeper has been a total game-changer!
Because you can adjust the level at which your child is learning, I was able to set Mr. T up at a lower level than his age so he can continue to learn more of the basic skills that he doesn’t know yet. This feature is excellent for parents homeschooling around learning difficulties.
There is a great article on the Night Zookeeper site here: How you can help your child with dyslexia or dysgraphia to enjoy writing that has some wonderful tips, too!
Perfectionism and Anxiety
Mr. F is gifted. That doesn’t mean what most people seem to think it does. Math comes easily to him and his mind works like a typical engineer.
He reads well, but refused to admit he could read till he was almost 8. We knew he could, but he was afraid of not being right so between 5-7 years old he basically acted like he couldn’t read in front of us even though we’d catch him reading often. His version of “I can’t read” complete with tearful insistence was actually him believing he couldn’t read if he couldn’t do it perfectly.
Anxiety and perfectionism are both pretty common challenges in the gifted community. These challenges can cause a plethora of responses and reactions. For Mr. F it usually means shutting down and not trying again for a long time or ever.
There are two things that will almost always convince him to try something. Video games and incentives (stars, stickers, words of affirmation, etc.) are things he loves.
Night Zookeeper is in a video format that includes games, challenges, and lets him be the hero and he loves earning orbs and saving the animals! And he doesn’t mind trying again when he misses something because he is having fun.
Mr. F asked to narrate to you all about the activity section of Night Zookeeper. It’s his favorite part! So here he is, sharing with you how it works.
Utilizing Computer Learning in Your Homeschool
While many of us (the parents) prefer books and paper, our children learn in many ways.
Utilizing computer programs to help with learning challenges, subjects we are not comfortable teaching, or to use as fun incentives for reinforcing learning is a good thing. We obviously need to use discernment and decide on the limitations we will set depending on each child’s needs and personality, but these incredible technological tools can be very valuable assets to our homeschool.
Our family has had great results with Night Zookeeper and we look forward to much more learning fun with our magical animals and zoos!
About Night Zookeeper:
Night Zookeeper is an award winning and award winning creative writing platform that helps improve the writing skills of 5-12+ year olds.
By signing up, children will get
- Improved Core Writing Skills
- Personalised Feedback from a dedicated team of tutors
- Weekly Lessons that incorporate interactive video elements and games to teach your children key skills.
- Publishing Opportunities and weekly competitions with real life prizes!
- FREE Monthly Educational Printables
This costs $59.99 for the year for a single child subscription
Find Night Zookeeper Online:
Website: Blog and Sign Up
Facebook: Night Zookeeper
Instagram: Night Zookeeper