The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests developmental screenings more a variety of milestones at regular intervals, including screenings specifically geared toward developmental delays at 18 months, and 24 months old.

However, if you are concerned your child may be autistic, don’t wait, set up an appointment to speak with your child’s doctor soon. While the diagnosis is may not be conclusive at first, what’s for certain is that children usually do better when issues are identified as soon as possible. Early detection enables early evaluation and management, which maximizes your child’s chances of enjoying the best possible outcome.

For more information, check out the Centers for Disease Control by clicking here.

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If your children have a passion for basketball or soccer, they can place themselves in a virtual playoff or world cup tournament where they get a shot at making a basket or scoring a goal as a reward for choosing the correct answer to a multple choice algebraic equation.

At http://wwwalgebra4children.com, newcomers to algebra may choose an easier level, while more advanced students may choose to select problems that are more challenging.

Fans of video games can enjoy the same type of excitement while learning through their en garde sword dual game and pirate game. Kids can develop their skills in subtraction, addition, multiplication and division games. Other skills include converting ratios to fractions, surface area, and volume.

The site is so diverse it can help students from grade school throughout their high school years. Other algebra topics covered on the site include: Simplifying expressions, absolute value, binomial theorem, and calculating the domain, among a variety of other things.

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Missing Letter Match, at www.kidsspell.com, is extremely customizable. Participants can choose from hundreds of spelling lists of varying degrees of difficulty to help students hone their spelling skills. The hundreds of lists cater to children just beginning to learn to spell, on through middle school and finally high school.

If your child gets tired of playing the game, but still could use some more practice, they’ve got you covered. The words can easily be plugged in to another game on the site and the child can embark on a brand new word game adventure within a few seconds. Similar to the word lists, the spelling games have a wide degree of difficulty to challenge students from first grade on through high school. This game is great for spelling practice for youngsters of all age levels, but, in my opinion, is particularly useful for children from preschool to third grade.

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FunEnglishGames.com offers a great virtual alternative to this standard educational tool in a drag and drop format that really brings the game to life for today’s youngsters. Located at http://www.funenglishgames.com/spellinggames/learntospell.html, it’s ideal for children in kindergarten, first, and second grade. On the left of the screen, there is a yellow vertical rectangle with a list of two or three consonants, such as “st” “tr” “sk” etc. To the right of the vertical rectangle, are many small empty rectangles and the remaining letters of the unfinished words. When a child places the mouse over one of these unfinished words, an image is displayed as a clue to what the completed word will be. An example would be a picture of a skateboard, next to the word fragment: _ _ ateboard.

When children choose the correct set of consonants in the gray rectangle, and drag them to the appropriate set on the right to form the word, they are informed of their accomplishment, and their scores go up.

When the game is over, a congratulatory prompt comes up, stating “Good Matching!” “Mix and Go Again,” with the score of how many words were correctly formed. The child has an opportunity to play the game over and over using different consonants to form different words. This is a great, interactive way for children to sharpen their spelling skills while they enjoy the colorful imagery and confidence-building gratification of seeing their scores increase with each correct answer. The game can help children build a solid foundation that’s critical to their future reading skills.

FunEnglishGames.com offers a wide array of other free educational games to help kids develop their skills in reading, writing, and grammar.

]]>At the top of the screen is a score board and a timer. An addition problem is displayed above the fishing pole and the child must solve the addition problem, then click on the fish that has the correct answer before it swims by. If the child clicks the fish with the wrong answer, he/she has many opportunities to try again for a correct answer. For every correct answer, the child gets 5 points.

At the end of the game, if the child gets a perfect score, he/she is rewarded by a big yellow fish exclaiming “CONGRATULATIONS!” in multi-colored letters scrawled across his side. The child’s score is displayed, as well as a “Play again” button to start over. I like this game because it gives children an opportunity to learn to add while engaging in a fun activity. Fans of this free educational game can also hone their skills in other areas by fishing for the right multiplication, and subtraction answers in this “sea of knowledge”. Start the learning fun now by clicking www.softschools.com/math/games/fishing_add.jsp.

]]>Featuring three different levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard), Color Your Vacation Multiplication can be challenging for a wide array of children from second to fifth or sixth grade. The game, which can be reached from: http://fun4thebrain.com/multiplication/colorvacmult.html, offers a virtual painting palette, with 14 “locked” colors, next to a colorless picture of a fun vacation activity, such as a beach scene, the pool, or an amusement park.

Children must attempt to “unlock” the colors by clicking the keys to the left of the paint palette. This action causes a multiplication problem to appear on the screen, such as “*5×0*.” The child types the answer into the adjacent text box, and then clicks “check answer”. If the answer is correct, a small prompt will notify the child and that color underneath will be unlocked. If the answer is incorrect, the child has an opportunity to try again. He/she will have an unlimited number of attempts to get the answer correct.

After a correct answer, the child may go on to the next math problem and then the next, until he/she has answered all the math problems correctly. When all of the colors are unlocked at the end of the game, the child has the opportunity to use the entire palette to “paint” the picture any way he or she wants.

There are six picture scenarios, and if your child enjoys the game’s format, he or she may want to try the addition, subtraction, and division versions of Color Your Vacation.

Fun4theBrain also offers a variety of other free educational games for kids, such as Chubz Diner!, Deep Dive, and Lucky Drops.

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The game is played on a virtual football field, where the yards are represented by a number line in the center of the field, with the “50 yard line” at the “0” position. The child is responsible for knowing where to click to place the football player. The number line goes, 40 units to the left to denote negative, and 40 units to the right to denote positive number positions. To play the game, the child needs to read the question that appears at the bottom of the screen to determine what direction to go for gain and loss.

Once they figure out the answer they click the corresponding point on the yard line (number line). The answer immediately comes up so the child knows if it’s right or wrong. For example, If there is a 10 yard penalty or loss, the player must count 10 points to the left. If there is a 10 yard gain, the player must count 10 points to the right. If your child makes a mistake, he/she has an opportunity to correct the mistake. I believe this game is a good teaching tool for third to fifth graders. Check it out at: http://www.mathgoodies.com/games/integer_game/football.html

]]>Located at http://www.funbrain.com/math/index.html, the Math Baseball game is a great way to use your child’s favorite pastime to reinforce these vital math skills. The game is simple to understand and puts the child in the position of the player at bat, and he or she is “pitched” a math problem. If it’s answered correctly, the child advances through the bases or gets a homerun. Incorrect answers count as one out.

With its high degree of customizability, your child can progress from solving simple problems to “knocking it out of the ballpark” in more challenging “major league” caliber problems.

Students may choose to focus only one of the mathematical skills be selecting only adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing problems, or mix it up with problems from all four categories. Difficulty levels are Easy, Medium, Hard, and Super Brain. Children may also choose to solve algebra-style problems.

**Two-player Math Baseball**

Choosing two-player mode makes the free educational program even more fun, and uses a creative way to encourage children to practice the most challenging skills in order to win the game.

At the beginning, each player enters their skill level, so older and younger children can play together without one having an unfair advantage over the other, simply by selecting an easier level for the younger child.

Similar to regular baseball, the players take turns at bat and pitching, switching sides after the batter gets three outs for answering problems incorrectly. As pitcher, the player can throw a “fast ball” in the form of an addition problem, a “curveball” subtraction question, a multiplication “changeup,” or a division “slider.” In the nature of competitiveness, the child pitching will most likely discover the opponent’s weakest skill and pitch problems in that category to increase the chances of the batter striking out and ssuming a position at bat again, to increase his or her own score. This leads to both players receiving more personally challenging problems and engaging in more effective skill-building fun.

If your child is just starting in school or is struggling with these skills, this game may be a valuable resource.

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Located at http://www.phschool.com/webcodes10/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.gotoWebCode&wcprefix=ate&wcsuffix=0775, The Prentice Hall Homework Video Tutor lessons give the viewers a sense of being at a desk in front of a piece of notebook paper while they receive individual instruction from the teacher. Each algebra video is about five minutes or less, and it begins with short descriptions of the key points, and the steps required to solve the problem at hand. Each item is color-coded, which greatly improves one’s ability to digest the key points. The teacher gives audible explanation while simultaneously setting up the problem on the virtual note paper.

At a certain point, the video automatically pauses to allow the students to answer the rest of the problem on their own, so they should make sure to have a pencil and paper handy. Once they’ve finished, they have the option to continue watching the video as the instructor finishes solving the equation onscreen. Students who don’t understand have the option of replaying the video before the solution is revealed.

Topics are broken down into the following chapters:

- Chapter 1: Variables, Function Patterns, and Graphs

- Chapter 3: Solving Equations

- Chapter 4: Solving Inequalities

- Chapter 5: Graphs and Functions

- Chapter 6: Linear Equations and Their Graphs

- Chapter 7: Systems of Equations and Inequalities

- Chapter 8: Exponents and Exponential Functions

- Chapter 9: Polynomials and Factoring

- Chapter 10: Quadratic Equations and Functions

- Chapter 11: Radical Expressions and Equations

- Chapter 12: Rational Expressions and Functions

The site also provides an extensive help section of short videos explaining the very basic algebraic definitions and functions that are critical to solving problems in the lessons.

The Prentice Hall Homework Video Tutor does a great job of teaching kids to take an organized approach to solving complicated algebra questions. It stresses the idea that each seemingly tough problem is solved by performing a series of relatively easy steps, which can be a powerful tool for those who get intimidated by the subject matter. For parents with kids who are easily discouraged if they don’t grasp the material quickly, this site can be a lifesaver!

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While he’s taking a well-deserved vacation, I’ll be spending some time this summer finding sites to help him practice his skills for next year. Through past experience, I know I’ll appreciate the fact that I took the time to research these topics now, instead of on those late nights right before homework is due!!

One great free educational resource I’ll definitely be referring to in the future is Reflections – Line and Point by Oswego City School District Regents Exam Prep Center. This section of a comprehensive site offers lessons on the concepts behind line and point reflection, and has corresponding practice tests.

The multiple choice problems in these tests are well constructed and they usually include graphical illustrations, which can be a crucial part of understanding the concept of reflection. The quiz creators took into consideration that something as subtle as a misplaced negative sign can be the difference between correct and incorrect answers, and set up the quizzes so kids could get immediate feedback.

Whenever a question is answered, a popup is activated, informing the students if they answered correctly, with an option to click on an explanation button if they are unclear about an answer. The section also provides tools to help teachers communicate these skills to their students.

Similar lessons, practice quizzes, and teaching aides are available for other geometry topics, including Geometric Relationships, Constructions, Locus, Informal and Formal Proofs, Transformational Geometry, and Coordinate Geometry.

Beyond Geometry, the Regents Exam Prep Center offers study aides for Algebra, Algebra 2 and Trig, Earth Science, Living Environment, Chemistry, and Physics. Although we won’t be using all of these topics in the upcoming year, they’ll definitely be useful in years to come. Thanks Oswego City School District!

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