As a freelance writer, teaching writing in my homeschool has surprisingly been a bit challenging. Sometimes when something comes so naturally, it’s difficult to relay what we inherently just ‘know.’ Over the last few weeks, my 10-year-old and I had the opportunity to review Night Zookeeper in our home.
Disclaimer: Complimentary Product Received
As a member of the Melanated Gold Review Squad, I periodically receive products to use in our homeschool and share our experience with the curriculum so other melanated families have a library of curriculum resources to help them make informed homeschooling curriculum decisions for their families.
Night Zookeeper is an online writing program that instills a love of writing in kids, through creative games, activities, and challenges. It offers a parent dashboard so you’re always aware of how your child is progressing and your kids will even receive instant feedback on everything they’ve written, from a Night Zookeeper team member! This is so important, especially for homeschooling parents like myself, who are not only educating our children at home but also running businesses, facilitating Zoom meetings, and meeting deadlines.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, homeschooling families in America grew from 5.4 percent in the spring of 202 to 11.1% in fall 2021. The numbers for Black families across the states increased more than five times from 3.3% to 16.1% in late 2021. Homeschooling is on the rise and the data show that it’s not slowing down any time soon.
The challenge, however, for families who are working from home and homeschooling, is that it can be difficult to balance all the things, but the increased availability of resources for homeschooling families is changing everything. One such resource is the online writing program Night Zookeeper. This fun and interactive creative writing program for kids allows parents to be as hands-off (or as involved) as they are able or want to be.
Your child will receive two lessons per week that teach a specific skill or type of writing; to get the most out of the program, it is recommended that students complete all lessons. This makes it easy for you to track their progress in the parent dashboard.
Night Zookeeper is a Fun Online Writing Program
Children begin playing by creating and naming an animal. Throughout the game, they’ll be challenged to include specific parts of speech and punctuation in their writing and given prompts to help improve their stories. Your child will receive immediate feedback on their writing, so there’s nothing you need to do as a parent to keep them moving along. Children are required to write a set number of words per report so there’s no need to worry about them ‘fudging’ their work.
One of the goals of the game is to collect animals for their Night Zoo. This is done by completing lessons and challenges and collecting special animals. Competitive students will enjoy the variety of games that reward high scores with leaderboard spots!
The material presented to your child in Night Zookeeper is done so by age – which you enter when you first sign up – so if your child is above or below their age or grade level, this may be something you want to be cognizant of and make adjustments as necessary. It’s easy enough to change your child’s age to ensure the material is geared to their specific level.
How We’re Incorporating Night Zookeeper in Our Homeschool
While the goal of the Night Zookeeper program is to practice writing sentences, phrases and paragraphs, it often won’t feel like writing because while they’re learning they’re playing games and completing exercises to further advance and win battles throughout the game.
Geared for grades 1 through 7, Night Zookeeper is the ideal supplement to our homeschool writing curriculum. As noted, I’ve spent a lot of time finding just the right resource to teach writing skills to my youngest and as his needs change, we adapt and switch things around.
While we will continue to use Night Zookeeper as a supplement to our existing language arts curriculum, it does indeed cover a full language arts curriculum and can be a huge asset to homeschooling families whether they use it off and on, or consistently as their primary writing curriculum.
View this post on Instagram
My son specifically enjoyed the fact that it was less about ‘getting things correct’ and more about encouraging him to think outside the box when it comes to his writing. It served as a creative outlet primarily with a bit of ‘here’s how to make that sentence better,’ sprinkled in, here and there.
I appreciate this approach because my experience as a writer and my journalistic style tends to cloud how I teach writing. I want to ensure my son enjoys writing first, rather than worrying too much over the words he’s chosen.
There will be time later in his education to hone in on what he needs to, but for now, making writing fun and engaging, speaks to his personality as a math-minded student and my perfectionism as a writer.
Night Zookeeper is an online and interactive writing program that is also a safe online community where your child can interact and explore. Privacy and safety for all is important and to that end, Night Zookeeper moderates all content that comes through to ensure that it is safe and kid-friendly, comments are moderated and the company does not collect identifying information. If your child posts or writes something that is identifying, the team will immediately flag it.