Homeschool Math

Well, this one is a biggy… ūüôā¬† There are many quality math home school¬†curriculum out there. The decision of which to use would depend more upon the level of instruction that you, the parent, wish to give. I have listed them in order from the most parental involvement – to¬† the least amount of parental involvement.

For example, the parent has a high level of responsibility teaching, grading, reviewing, etc. when using curriculum such as ABEKA and Saxon Math.¬† Yet, both of these are excellent curriculum that have been proven over decades. Another math curricula that has gained recent admiration is the Singapore Math.¬† I know that it uses a different approach, but I have heard good reviews. I have used Bob Jones Math several years ago, however, it takes a slower pace than ABEKA does. It is highly manipulatives based (why?), which with a child who needs more hands on…that would be great. Our children have always flown through most math, so we have stuck with ABEKA over the years.

A middle ground in this area would be the use of a workbook type curriculum such as Lifepacs or even Horizons by Alpha Omega Publications.  Another similar program is Math U See.  Perfect for students who have tried every other math and are frustrated.  This curriculum will get it across when all other math programs fail!

Alpha Omega also has just developed a new internet/computer based system called Monarch. This system lets your child have a computer based education – not much work for the parent – but it is rather costly. We previously used the Switched on Schoolhouse program also by Alpha Omega…well… let’s just say we used it for one year.¬† It is computer based as well – not much work for the parent – but there are many difficulties.¬† Students still must read most of their “instruction”, and the tests/quizzes were difficult to manage because it would mark problems completely wrong if there were spelling errors. Another online program that we began using this year is the Time4Learning program. It uses the “Compass Learning” software, and is great for homeschooling.¬† As I have mentioned in previous posts, due to our Christian beliefs and our view of raising our children, there are a few lessons within the T4L framework that we don’t appreciate.¬† We typically scan the scope and sequence, and note the ones that we don’t want to do… and skip them! The children really enjoy the program and its interactive lessons keep them interested. I wouldn’t rate the math as high as the language arts as far as “interest level” but it is an excellent program.

ABEKA also has a DVD curriculum and now internet streaming¬†– which you can choose¬†through their Academy.¬†This teaches the children as if they are in a classroom while they watch the DVD’s. If you choose the full option through the Academy, you can even send your tests to be graded by them.¬† Your child will receive a report card from Abeka Academy and upon graduation, will march in their graduation ceremonies.¬† Bob Jones also has a similar version – based on satelite.¬† Each student is given a satelite hookup with a touch pad – they are able to interact LIVE with their class via satelite. Both of these options give the parent less responsibility in the actual educating of their children.

Each family has their own- individual niche in the homeschooling world. This is the best aspect of homeschooling! You have the freedom to choose what you want.  Each of the math curriculum that I mention in this post are well acclaimed and have been around for at least a decade.  Hopefully, this post will help you find what you need for your homeschool!

Highschool math blues…

Does your highschool child breeze through math?  or do they struggle and need help at every turn?  I have noticed recently that many highschoolers  seem to struggle with secondary math.  Even those who were very strong in math in elementary school, often find themselves in a quandry in high school.  This very same thing happened to me.

As a child I was strong in math during elementary school, I went to Jr. High school and seemed to get most of Pre-Algebra, but the cracks really were beginning then.¬† Ninth grade math found me with bigger cracks and by the mid term the cracks were so big I was falling through them.¬† I had a terrible Algebra I teacher – he would put a few problems on the board and then sit down and tell us to work quietly.¬† I got NOTHING from that class.¬† My parents transferred me to a private school before the new year. It was amazing, but the private school was using the same book and was in the same chapter that we were at the public school.¬† The difference soon became obvious that I had a TOTALLY different teacher.¬† My new teacher spent time with us.¬† Each child was asked if they understood the section, and time was taken to make sure that we were able to complete the assignments. It wasn’t long before my F became an A.

Same book Рsame chapter.  What was the difference?

Some may say it was all the teacher – and to some degree it was. Yet, I believe it was the approach the teacher took. She presented each new concept in a straightforward manner. She explained it in as few terms as possible.¬† In essence, she streamlined it!¬† Along with her making sure we understood through almost a mastery learning approach.¬† It completely changed my life.¬† If it wasn’t for that teacher – teaching that way – I would not be where I am today.¬† She taught me math so well, and made such a huge difference that even then I wanted to share that experience with others who may have had the same struggle. I loved math so much after her class, that I went on to complete a Calculus course in high school, and then to minor in math in college.¬† Today, that is what I do – every week I tutor students who are struggling in math. Who are in the same situation I was in at the public school… and I have the opportunity to do what my great math teacher did. I guess you could say, I am “paying it forward.” I love it¬† – and¬†am reminded every day of what a priviledge it is to be able to¬†help these¬†students.¬† ¬†

My recomendation for – homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled…. pay attention to your children. Notice when they seem to be struggling, and get them the help they need.¬† It may take a completely different school- or it may just¬†take some extra help.¬† You may just be changing their lives forever. Mine sure was…

Super Kids…

Have you ever noticed how amazing our children are?¬† They can learn so much – so fast!¬† Sometimes what they learn – is not exactly what we want them to learn…¬† like all of the dialogue in certain movies!¬† This past week – I convinced myself that if they could memorize all of the dialogue in their favority movies – they could be memorizing and doing so much more in school.¬† It is funny but the easiest way to get your children to learn – is by getting them to learn via a fun method!¬†¬† So, among many other things that I incorporated this week- I also purchased the full 46 song version of schoolhouse rock – every song they ever made.¬† I think my kids will be learning alot of things in the next month! Maybe the presidents – or how about the parts of speech – remember “Conjunction¬† – junction – what’s your function…”¬† I think almost every child in America remembers that one!

We also decided that we would spend more time doing educational games instead of playing meaningless computer games or watching crazy cartoons.  We have seen one of our children get a better understanding of a certain subject matter in just this short space of time Рbecause of an online game that he was using!

And oh… if you are worried that your child couln’t possibly use the computer – HA!¬† Just try them…¬† think they won’t be able to manipulate it – or use the keyboard… they will – and FAST!¬† Especially if you use a online keyboarding game.

Yes, we must admit – though parenting and homeschooling is not easy – are kids are amazing!

Web Winks…

I thought that I would take a moment to post a few of our favorite homeschooling web sites.  We use many and hope that some of these may become your favorites as well.

Today we are participating in a online math contest with others from all over the world at www.worldmathsday.com.

We like to use this site for online learning games.

I enjoy this web site for articles and encouragement in homeschooling along the way.

For the big people at our house we use Academic Earth to take FREE courses on things we are interested in.

We like to use Librivox for online classics – you can listen while you work.

See stars with this great astronomy resource.

Use Whyville to play games and earn “clams” to purchase online incentives.

Great for beginner preschool phonics and letter recognition is Starfall and we also use Time4Learning Preschool.

For your teens that need writing and grammar helps Grammar Girl and Time4Writing are great tools!

For great spelling word help… try Spelling City.

Of course, these aren’t the only ones we use – maybe I will post more later –

Do you have a favorite homeschooling website?  Please share!!!

Math woes… and helps!

With six children schooling at home, it never fails that I have some “issue” each week that I am researching out. I have spent over 10 years in college and still at times don’t have a single answer. Currently, I am trying to understand why children struggle with math even though they have a good foundation and seemingly fine mental acuity? What is the mystery here?

Well, I didn’t uncover any astounding new revelation, but did realize some important truths. There are so many areas that a child could find pitfalls… for math itself covers so much territory. However, most often when a child has a math struggle, it is not a struggle with everything that has to do with math, but a particular area within the subject of math. Math is also very interconnected with other subjects such as language arts – making for other possibilities for struggle. I have summarized a few of the most basic and common concerns that seem to plague the math sufferer. I have listed some of these below, but please understand that this is in no wise a complete nor comprehensive list. I am just trying to pass on a bit of what I learned this week!

The first thing that I did in my search was to ask myself some questions about my little learner. The following is based on that format and a few webites¬†( here’s another)¬†that were a valuable help.¬† Does your child fall into any of these categories?

  1. If  your child struggles with:
  • recalling basic math facts
  • being slow in their recall of math facts
  • difficulty remembering previous math experiences
  • forgetfulness in the middle of a math problem

Then they may have a deficiency in fundamental concepts such as their addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division family facts. Each of these facts are foundation stones to build the rest of their math experiences on.

 

       2. If your child is:

  • easily distracted or unfocused while doing schoolwork
  • easily tired during math work

They may have a genuine attention problem.

        3. If your child has difficulty:

  • grasping abstract concepts
  • making connections between related math concepts

They may have a foundational math difficiency. Math skills need to be learned based on concrete (or real life Рtouch, taste, feel)  examples. Children who have difficulties in these areas are often missing this concrete foundation.

        4. If your child has trouble understanding math language or math vocabulary then thay may have an underlying language arts need. If a child has difficulty with lanuage arts (reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, etc.), it will be much more difficult for them to understand the rarely used math terms. 

        5. If your child has trouble with:

  • recopying problems correctly
  • reading the “hands” on a clock
  • ordering the steps on a multiple task problem
  • geometric shapes and translations
  • anxiety when given a large paper pencil assignment

They may have an underlying spatial difficulty. This will affect how they are able to order steps, and understand objects in space and depth.

Though I haven’t completely formulated my “plan of attack” on this week’s issue, these questions really helped me to see some areas that we do have weaknesses in.¬† I plan on sitting down and making a ordered plan on how we will address and hopefully improve our math skills deficiencies.¬†Don’t despair – though you may have found yourself or your child in some of the descriptions above, you can work through it.¬†¬†Once you pinpoint the area – and know what the underlying problem is – work on that problem.¬†I hope that this may give some of you much needed hope that most math difficulties are able to be overcome!