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?

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 – same 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…

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 – touch, 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!