Confessions of a DreamBox Teacher/Parent

I am a DreamBox teacher as well as the parent of a pre-schooler. I must confess there are times I have a hard time not helping him play DreamBox. He really enjoys playing and he is learning a lot. But there are times when the games are challenging for him. The parent in me hates to hear my son frustrated or struggling. But I know it is good for him to learn to persevere and work through difficulties in order to learn. I feel like the “baby whisperer” but instead of trying to decipher the meaning of my child’s cries, I am deciphering his reactions to DreamBox. I am becoming a “DreamBox whisperer”!

DreamBox+Online+Math+Learning+Game+ScreenshotBy helping my son through problems that may be challenging for him, I am not allowing the program to work as designed. The GuideRight™ technology adapts the lessons depending on the students responses to each problem. Even helping with a few questions could quickly put him in lessons that are over his head.

Learning Math the DreamBox Way

So, how do I avoid helping too much? I’ve set him up to be as independent as possible. When he wants to play DreamBox, he clicks the icon on the desktop and he signs in to his account. I sit in a chair close enough to see the screen but not close enough to touch the computer. I always have either a book or the newspaper to read. This helps set the tone for independence.

And then I listen. I listen for what games he is choosing. I listen for whether he is getting answers correct or incorrect. I listen for his reactions.

I try not to react the first time he says something. But I do take note of what he says, what lesson he is working on and where he is at in the lesson. If he is at the beginning of a lesson, he often just needs help understanding the directions. This is where the Help Button is useful. My son loves reminder rhymes, so we came up with “Clicking twice is nice.” When he asks for help, I remind him that “Clicking twice is nice” and he checks the help before asking me. This has also helped me to not just jump in but to let DreamBox do its job.

If he continues to complain about something, I start to evaluate what is going on. I’ve had a couple AHA moments. One is that there are a multitude of reasons for him to whine or complain while playing DreamBox and many have nothing to do with the program! He often likes to play when we get home at the end of a long day. At first this seemed great; he can play while I make dinner. But nope! I’ve found he is tired, hungry and cranky. He has also asked to play first thing in the morning. Again, this seemed like a good time to play. But nope! He is not a morning person. He wakes up hungry and cranky. I’ve found the best time for him to play is right after lunch or dinner.

Because he is a preschooler, there are times when he gets a lesson that challenges him. He doesn’t like to be wrong and often grumbles when he gets something incorrect. If I continue to hear grumblings on a particular game, I talk to him about what is frustrating him. Sometimes he just needs me to restate the directions. Other times I need to encourage him to take a break from the lesson map and try some of the carnival games.

And yes, sometimes I realize he’s four and I’ve let him play WAY too long and he needs to log off the computer!