Homeschool Math – Manic Mania or Amazing?

Homeschooling math can be fun or frenzy. There are always topics that even the most gifted math students have trouble with. What do you do when your homeschool students have trouble with something?

My first response is to reteach the whole lesson. This is usually my go to method. I’ll reteach the lesson in a different manner than the first time I taught it in order to make sure that I cover everything in a comprehensive manner.

Another approach is to go through the lesson again with the use of manipulatives. Using manipulatives to make connections to real world applications can make all the difference.

A third option is to actually take the math to the real world. Find some way that you can immerse the child into a project based method of learning. This is a great way to make the math “real.”

Finally, learning math facts as part of a foundation of understanding can be very beneficial in building upon those foundational math facts. Make sure that kids know their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts and math will be a bit more easy to build upon.

Homeschool Math Doesn’t Have to be a Headache!

Homeschool math drill and practiceAh… the infamous math class… a bit disturbing even for the veteran homeschool parent! But don’t despair there are some awesome homeschool helps out there that really make learning/teaching math a cinch.

First of all… keep a good attitude about math. Your child imitates everything you do… even your attitudes. So, if we have a bad attitude about math that can easily be transferred to our children. When in reality math hatred isn’t genetic… your child could be a physicist even if you hate math! 🙂

When you set out to plan your math instruction, you first need to be aware of how your child learns. Designing your math study around this can make all the difference in the world. If your child does well with abstract thinking, you may be able to use an independent study math program. However, if your child needs a little more interest led learning using a hands on program such as Math-U-See may help. Finally, if your student just gets bored and easily distracted with learning math a curriculum that is highly motivating, engaging and fun might be the answer… and Time4Learning has you covered with homeschool math.

When I teach math, and I teach it in many ways and using several different curriculums… I usually want to include some drill and practice. Just writing down math facts or answering questions with a pen and pencil isn’t fun. Yet, doing some computer math drill and practice can make a big difference. For some reason, when a child is playing a game… they really don’t feel like they are learning or working. This is my favorite way to teach… be sneaky! Sneak in that learning while they are having fun and it is all relatively painless… even enjoyable!

Teaching a Kindergartner without Losing Your Mind!

kindergarten curriculumI am finally on my last kindergartner… I almost can’t believe it! It seems like yesterday my oldest daughter was struggling her way through kindergarten. One thing I have learned with my six children is that every angle one of them is TOTALLY different. If you think that you can just teach each of your children the same way, you’ll be disappointed. It would definitely be easier… But it just doesn’t work out that way.

I had to learn that lesson the hard way, but I did eventually learn that each of my children would require a slightly different learning regiment and thus I became an eclectic homeschooler. So, as I’ve gone though the last several years we have come across a few great pieces of curriculum that do work for most kids. These are typically our staple pieces, and we add additional resources as each individual child’s needs demand. Resources that allow your child to learn flexibly are perfect.

1.Remember that the kindergartner is still only 5. Their bodies still need lots of movement, and they still learn almost solely from “doing.” If we try to fit them into the same mold as older children – we as well as they – will be frustrated.
2. As your plan your kindergarten homeschool curriculum… Or change it if it isn’t working… Make allowances for lots of activity. Your little one should not be spending several hours sitting in a chair writing or sitting still at a computer. (Though using the computer is a great resource!) Break things up… Fill your day with variety! Go outside for science… Write your letters in the sand… Add with mom while she cooks…
3. Use learning resources that your child ENJOYS! If they constantly say they hate doing something…lay off of it for a while and come back to it after they have a bit of a break!
4. Get to know your child…find their strengths and weaknesses. Plan your learning around what these are.

Catching Up with Homeschool

At the end of every year, I always go back and review the school year that just passed. With this retrospection comes the painful realization that I missed something.  No matter how hard I try, there is always a few skills or sub skills that I neglected. This can be easily remedied…

The summer is a great time to catch up with problem areas or get ahead in learning. I like to use easy and fun ways to learn during the summer to get the kids interested and keep them interested. When there is so much fun outside and inside…they tend to ask “Why…?” If you can gather a set of resources that makes the learning painless… and actually enjoyable –  the complaints will more than cease. For example, with homeschool math I have a few things that need to be reviewed.  We like to use things like IXL, online math programs,  and even fun brain. These make for great summer learning that’s fun and exciting. Your wild things will be sure to catch up and even prepare for next year’s math.

Do you have any summer learning resources that you’d like to share?

Keeping Them Going…

One of the most difficult things that I have found while homeschooling, is the ability to keep my kids on task when there is something else they are interested in. Right now, it’s the beautiful weather that I seem to battle every day. They all want to be out in the sunshine, enjoying free play. While in itself it really is a good thing, but when you have a good bit of work to accomplish to meet your goals, that good thing can turn into my arch nemesis. 🙂

Through much trial and error, I have found that if I give my children a variety of things to do within the parameters of schooling, they will be more apt to maintain interest throughout the day. During these beautiful temptingly sunshine-y days… I try to incorporate online activities like using an online vocabulary quiz instead of paper/pencil work, making a project that corresponds to what we are studying in science, using workbooks for a while, and then accessing some interesting online math games to round out the day. By using a variety of methods to complete what we need to accomplish in our educational goals the kids are not as easily bored with one thing.  It seems to be working right now, and hopefully will get us through to summer break!

Do you have a secret method for keeping your kids on task? Comment to share with us!

Battling Spring Fever

It’s contagious!!! Have you got it yet? We sure do… I really can’t believe that it is that time of year again… It seems like it was just Christmas a few days ago. My children are loving the warm sunny weather, and are begging to be outside at every chance. I can’t blame them, but we still have tons of work to do before we meet our elementary home school curriculum goals. Our umbrella school requires that we meet our yearly goals by May. I’m facing a daily dilemma of trying to get the kids focused on work when they are really focused on the sunshine! I’ve tried a few simple tricks this week that did improve our concentration. Here’s what we did:

1)Start the day with a walk, jog, or run with your kids! We did that this morning. It was definitely invigorating… Enjoy the beautiful outdoors for a minute and then sit down to work. Our focus and attention was much higher.

2) Take your school outdoors. That’s the fun of homeschooling… make it fit your needs… take advantage of the freedom.

3) Incorporate out door study into your lessons… I’ve found this easy to do with science and history!

Top 10 Tips for Making Math Meaningful

Math is one of the more challenging subjects for most children. Because of this math is often viewed as the “subject I hate.” Yet, in math achievement U.S. students are far behind most of their international peers. In fact, the US is not producing near enough engineers to fulfill the global demand. So, other countries are stepping up to the challenge. In our day, math undoubtedly is a vital part of education. Many of the requirements from when we were in school no longer hold true. A heavier mathematics load is now considered basic in most US states, with Algebra I being completed in 8th grade. With the increased demands for better prepared students, our children need a stronger math foundation. As homeschooling gows in various forms from unschooling to roadschooling, staying on top of the educational demands of our day is a relevant issue. We need to prepare our primary/elementary age students by:

1) Using manipulatives, manipulatives, and more manipulatives… the more hands on and concrete examples you can use for math, the better your child will understand it.
2)Equipping them with a complete memorization of all basic math facts will give a foundation that will help them transition easily to higher math. This doesn’t mean all fact cards…start with concepts and then work on drill as they age.
3)Make cool experiments, conduct surveys, and make charts and graphs.
4)Use estimation to help kids think through the problem first.
5)Use mathematical tools such as scales, weights, protractors, compass, calculators, spreadsheets, and graphs.
6)Encourage them to find ways to earn money saround the house and then how to budget that money.
7)Allow music to help instill mathematical sense. Learning how to play an instrument is the best way to do this.
8)Get involved in math competitions. This will help children with problem solving strategies.
9)Use family games to incorporate mathematical reasoning.
10)Point out how you use math in everyday living, and encouarge them to help you. Things like sorting clothes, dividing desserts, clipping coupons, planning grocery lists within budget, doubling recipes, and even making a purchase.

Internet Homeschooling

I love homeschooling, but I love homeschooling using the computer even more. The awesome amount of knowledge that is waiting at my fingertips each time that I turn on the computer really boggles my mind. In fact, this week I ran across a new term for homeschooling using google… homeschoogling… cool huh??
In each area of my child’s education, I can augment it through computer use. Whether they are advanced in a subject or need a remedial reading program… in any case I can access resources on the internet to give them the needed drill and practice. What’s even better, is that most of the time this extra help doesn’t cost me an extra penny… can’t ask for better than that!
Here are some great places to get a little extra help without spending that extra penny…
IXL is awesome for math help…

Reading Rockets helps struggling readers

Primary Games

Learning Games for Kids
Vocabulary Review

Mathematics Tips for Elementary Students

Many people use developed or prepackaged materials for math study. This is often beneficial when the parent really has no inclination towards math. Yet, is using just a math curriculum enough? Math is the subject that teaches us to reason logically. It is what gives way to abstract thought. So, a basic curriculum might not have all the application your child needs. Here are a few tips to bring it all together.

Use manipulatives to give your children concrete representations of mathematical concepts. They can be purchased or made (wooden stick, beans, counting charts, etc.).
Children should be able to quickly rattle off basic math facts. These facts are the foundation of higher mathematical thinking.
Make mathematical charts and games. Conduct surveys and compile the data.
Use the various tools that mathmaticians use such as calculators, weights, measures graphs, and spreadsheets.
Give them real life practice handling money. Don’t just give your child money, give them opportunities to earn money.
Practice estimating answers to math problems when you’re out at the store, restaurants, yard sales, etc.
Study an instrument. Music is essentially mathematical.
Play strategy games such as cards, dominoes, hink pink games, checkers, and chess. Logical reasoning and math skills will greatly benefit.

Making Independent Learners

In this day and age when children are accustomed to being spoon fed entertainment, knowledge, and even life… it’s hard to make independent learners. Yet, it is possible to establish a few routines in your homeschool day to turn a dependent crowd to independence. Since we are going back to school, and starting a fresh new year, let’s talk about it.

Yes, I know- I am the mom. But that means different things to different people. To some, being the mom means that you are catering to every miniscule need that your children have, answering every homeschool question they run across, and even teaching them each subject in school. Personally, I find that I am not Wonder Woman and just can’t keep up with those demands. Instead, I am attempting to get all of my children into a state of independent learning.  I say attempting, because it is a work in progress. My two oldest are just about there, while my two youngest are still pretty needy.  From homeschool language arts to mathematics and every subject in between – you can adapt it to be conducive to indepedent learning. I am teaching them- along with all of the other things they are learning- how to gain knowledge without my help. This involves a few simple guidelines.

  • I am trying to choose only curriculum that promotes self learning. By this, I don’t mean that I leave my children alone to take care of their own education, but instead I am instilling in them skills that ENABLE them to learn without aid.
  • We have a simple rule, If you have a question about something in your school material  – look it up. Find the answer in the book, in another book, or online. Knowledge is at your fingertips – simply look for it!
  • Facilitate abundant reading! Have great books available to your children at all times. Foster a love for reading by showing them the example of a good reader in yourself!

Teaching them to be independent learners will not just help them here and now… it will ENABLE their future!