Teaching math can be complicated and frustrating.  Math isn’t everybody’s jam, but no one should have to suffer through it!  That’s why we LOVE Teaching Textbooks!!  This online curriculum makes math fun to learn and simple to teach.  And the only thing better than using a fun math curriculum is using a FREE, fun math curriculum!!

In our latest video, I give a curriculum review of Teaching Textbooks 3.0 and tell you how you can WIN a subscription to Teaching Textbooks 3.0- any level of your choice.

Advertisements

One of the unexpected joys of homeschooling is watching our younger children learn from our older children. Sometimes, it’s on purpose. For example, I have had the older kids read to the younger kids (watch my latest YouTube video: How to Teach Kids to Read in Homeschool ). I have also had our oldest daughter teach grammar to our son. I found myself in a place where there just wasn’t enough of me to go around, so I leaned into Hannah to help teach Gideon. An added benefit was it was reviewing the basic parts of speech and diagramming sentences (she had been through the curriculum just a few years before). So while I was teaching one of her younger sisters, Hannah read the scripted grammar curriculum to her brother. Mind you, it’s not a perfect scenario. Siblings fight and so some days were a little hairy, but we got through it!

But I think what is most fun, is the many times where our two younger children have recited something that they had not been directly taught, but rather, have caught from watching and listening to their older siblings do school. Our youngest daughter is now seven years old and a third grader. Learning has come pretty easy for her because she has picked up so much from just hanging around while I taught school to the older kids: poems, grammar chants, times table songs, books of the Bible set to music, Bible memory verses, etc. Things that took the older kids weeks to learn, Izzy already knew when we came to it in the curriculum.

I see evidences learning by “catching” in my kids’ music lessons, as well. All four of our kids take piano lessons. My oldest has recently discovered that the music to the video games she loves is available in sheet music or through tutorials on YouTube. As her younger siblings have heard her practice and sing the songs, some of them have “caught” the fever, too. Finding music that they love has heightened their interest in playing the piano and tackling a level of difficulty that they would otherwise avoid. It has been really fun to watch!

One of the benefits of homeschool is not only that mom and dad get to spend more time with their children, but that siblings can interact more, as well. Homeschooling is a great way to give your kids more opportunities to positively interact with one another. Playing learning games together, teaching a younger sibling a school lesson, entertaining toddlers and babies while mom teaches… these are all ways to teach our oldest kids to consider the needs of others and act upon that in a self-sacrificial way, thereby learning and practicing kindness to those they spend the most time with.

How do you see your kids learning by “catching”? PLEASE, share in the comments below- we’d LOVE to hear from you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

calculator-calculation-insurance-finance-53621.jpegTeaching spelling might be a bit challenging, because I have to adapt to my kids’ different learning styles. (Click here to watch my latest video “How to Teach Spelling in Homeschool.)  But math…I am NO math genius. Though arithmetic never posed many problems for me, algebra kicked my butt on a regular basis as a teenager. I never flunked, but it certainly did not come easy to me. Looking back, I wonder if my brain was just not quite fully developed enough in that area to grasp concepts that came much easier to other kids. Who knows? Now that I have taken algebra at the highschool level, college level, and have to help my 13 year old daughter, I feel like I am FINALLY starting to “get it.” And now that I get it, she is starting to surpass what I ever learned.

Ugh.

Well, to all the mathematically challenged homeschool parents out there, there is good news. There has never been as many resources available to parents to teach their children as there are now. I have been so thankful to have a mom with a teaching degree to pass on tips and tricks to me, as well. And I am thankful for the many different curriculums and helps available. I’d love to share some of them with you!

  • Saxon Maththe curriculum we used with all of our kids during the grade school years and beyond. Saxon is not colorful or fluffy. It’s been around a long time- I remember using it for pre-algebra in the 8th grade. But what Saxon lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in substance. It is extremely thorough- teaching kids mastery in math facts, slowly building skills as they gradually add concepts from one day to the next. Our oldest daughter used Saxon all the way through Saxon 8/7 in the 7th grade.
  • Teaching Textbooks (a computer math program that instantly checks and records grades) is available for all ages. We switched to Teaching Textbooks when our oldest was an 8th grader and she tested into Algebra 1 (with a history of Saxon Math). We now have two children using Teaching Textbooks and it has been a huge blessing to our family!! Both of our girls detested math more and more as they got older and the material became more challenging. But when we made the switch to Teaching Textbooks, their attitudes improved tremendously! This curriculum is visually stimulating, has little characters that encourage your student(s) whether they answer correctly or need to try again, immediately corrects their work, and keeps a record for you. Parents can easily go into the record book to adjust grades or erase problems so students can try again. This curriculum has preserved my homeschool mom sanity just a bit longer!!
  • Saxon CD ROMs Saxon does put out teaching CD ROMS for their 4th grade and above curriculums that you can purchase in addition to textbooks. These CDs contain a lecture, practice problems, and work through each problem found in the text, if desired.
  • DIVE CD ROMs– These CD ROMs also accompany the middle to upper levels of Saxon Math. They include a proposed syllabus to help you stay on track throughout the school year and finish the curriculum. The lecturer encourages students to write down problems as he explains examples and challenges students to keep a positive attitude. I really liked these CD ROMs. The examples are NOT the same ones found in the books.
  • Xtra Maththis is an app that you can purchase (currently $4.99 on the IPhone) that makes practicing your math facts fun and easy. It can be used for multiple students and sends mom or dad a weekly report so they can see the progress their kids are making. It takes 5-10 minutes 5 days a week.
  • Manipulatives– This is something that my mom tipped me off to very early in our homeschool experience- and I’m so glad she did. Several grade school curriculums will require that you purchase a set of manipulatives, which may or may not include a plastic clock with moving hands, plastic shapes, a balance, linking cubes, counting bears (or another animal for teaching arithmetic in a fun way), flash cards, etc. There are lots of household items you can use, though, to teach early elementary math concepts and make it fun: beans, buttons, grapes, tongue depressors, pencils, etc. These types of items help make learning fun.
  • Tutoring– Sometimes math can just be daunting- especially in the highschool years. If you find yourself in that place, consider calling a local highschool or college and talking to a teacher/professor. Ask if they can recommend students that would make good tutors. You can also seek out the many afterschool tutoring centers that are now available.
  • Khan Academy videos– I have never made use of this resource myself, but many people have recommended Googling these videos as another option for help with upper lever math problems.

So there you have it! Those are our best tips and tricks for surviving math. What recommendations do you have based on your family’s experience with teaching math? We’d love to hear from you! PLEASE, leave your tips below!!Sp

Keep Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

*I am not currently an affiliate for any of these products and do not receive a commission for any purchases made. We have enjoyed and appreciated these products and commend them to you based on our experience.

IMG_9868I KNOW that when my kids are having fun, they are more likely to remember what they are learning and to come back for more.  (My recent video, How We Teach Through Field Trips, shows how we used a trip to a nearby raspberry farm to teach our kids where food comes from and include them in the process of making jam.)  And yet, keeping learning light and enjoyable is admittedly something that I struggle with. There are lots of things that I can do well, but I am not, by nature, a clever or comedic personality. So creating a fun atmosphere or planning amusing activities is work for me. But, well, this blog is called Doing Life Deliberately for a reason. So I am convicted that this is an area I need to intentionally “step it up.”

I’ll share with you some ways that we have, over the years, truly enjoyed learning. I’ve asked the kids to share some of their favorites, too.

  • Science Labs- for several years we have joined friends bi-weekly for science activities. One of our dear friends took it upon herself to organize a schedule for the year (we were all using the same curriculum) and she would invite a handful of families. Every other week we would assemble in her home to wrap up each chapter. The kids would review the material together and complete a project or experiment together. The kids have made jello replicas of human cells to learning the periodic table through a game of battleship to adding mentos to a 2 liter bottle of coke. Every session was ended with a time of fellowship for kids and parents- we ALL enjoyed it!
  • Field Trips- who doesn’t love getting out of the house and letting someone else teach their kids for a day?? Some of the most fun field trips we have taken have been to a local nuclear power plant (they had a fantastic visitors program- it was fascinating!!) and a local park program that took half a day to explain to us how maple syrup is harvest (followed by a pancake lunch!). Not to mention zoo, local park programs, art museums, etc. Keep your eyes open- you’ll be surprised to find what’s available around you!
  • Guest speakers- Ask someone you know to speak to your kids (and invite others to join you) about their area of expertise. Better yet, have your kids tour where they work and make it hands on (if possible).
  • Museums- We have had great fun at many of our local museums! When we were studying human anatomy, we visited Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry wher they had a hilarious presentation on digestion that had us all rolling on the floor. Their human body section was phenomenal and hands on- tons of fun. We have also enjoyed Milwaukee Public Museum where they have a butterfly garden where they fly loose and you can observe them in a natural setting.
  • Videos- We don’t utilize a lot of videos, but once in a while, they can be great fun. One example I can think of is the video my friends made of their family processing the honey from their personal hives. It was an extended family affair where everyone came for a day to collect the hives and extract the honey. It was so much more fascinating to see it than to read about it in a book.
  • Mentorships- Do your kids have an interest in a particular skill set? Perhaps pairing them with a mentor would be a great way for them to learn in a hands on fashion. Whether wood working, computer programming, dog grooming or nursing, find a trusted individual to meet with your child who can share their passion in a personal and tangible way.

Well, now I am motivated to take a look at the calendar and plan out some fun experiences. I hope this encourages you, as well!

Do you have more ideas you’d like to share with the DLD community?? Please, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

School is so different from when I was a kid- in large part to the boom in technology. I remember typing English lit papers on our dinosaur computer (even by standards then, it was a dinosaur) with the spindled printer paper. The computer lab at my small-town highschool was fairly new, and I didn’t have the foresight to see how important taking a computer class would be for my future. Fortunately, I was a kid and a quick learner. My college years grew my skills immensely- from using email to word processors to the internet. My young married years quickly acquainted me with social media, and now, here I am, writing a blog and posting videos to YouTube (click HERE for a tour of our homeschool room!).

Fast forward to 2018, and here I am, a parent, and my kids can work remotes, video games and Minecraft in circles around me. Trying to navigate their technology usage is not only a challenge, but a chore. And yet, in some ways it is a beautiful blessing. Here are three thoughts that I have regarding technology in the home/homeschool classroom:

Benefits

As our kids are getting older, we find ourselves teaching more difficult subjects, checking more assignments, and recording completed work. For this reason, I have come to appreciate the technological resources available to us more and more. We have taken advantage of CD-ROM teaching cd’s: a Spanish program to guide the kids through learning a foreign language, and even entire math curriculums for our oldest girls. We did this: one, because they were struggling at the upper levels with their former curriculum; two, because it was far more captivating and rewarding to use the computer program; and three, because it automatically graded their day’s work, saving mom and dad a ton of time! As a bonus, the kids look forward to using the computer interspersed between their other subjects. It’s a nice break from textbook learning.

Accountability

If our kids are going to have access to the internet, they MUST have accountability. There are tons of ways to go about this, but some of my favorites are:

  • Kindle Fire Tablets: These tablets are inexpensive and have easy-to-use parental controls. You can set a curfew for your kids and control what hours of day they have the ability to use the tablet. You can easily limit what kind of access they have to the internet, videos, apps, shopping, books, music, etc. You create a parental control password and enter it to change any of the settings at any time. While this is not a perfect system for keeping kids safe or out of trouble, it definitely goes a long way.
  • Covenant Eyes: This is a web based company that can filter all your technology, as well as send emails to accountability partners of your choice, highlighting websites of concern. This allows parents to see and visit websites their kids are visiting and discuss with them the wisdom of their choices (or lack thereof). This is great accountability for parents, too.

Boundaries

There are a lot of great reasons to limit the amount of time that kids are in front of screens: increasing physical activity, the addiction factor (the addiction factor of screen time has been compared to the addictiveness of some illegal drugs- you can Google it), the radiation concerns of people being in proximity to tablets, phones, lap tops, etc. for hours a day and the concern for a link to cancer and disease, the lack of social interaction with others sitting right next to them, and the list can go ON, and ON, and ON… Even at our kids’ annual checkup this week at the doctor, the information sheets sent home with them recommended no more than 1-2 hours a day of screen time. So, that being said, there is good reason for creating limits for the use of technology. Some ideas we have employed are:

  • We have a designated hour each day when the kids can use tablets or computers. This includes video games, email, video chat, etc. This way we can easily keep track of when they are on technology and not taking advantage of our inattentiveness.
  • Before the kids can utilize their hour for technology, they must complete all of the day’s assignments, do their daily chore, practice their piano homework, and read silently. If they fulfill their responsibilities, they get their hour or so. (They can and will take advantage of mom and dad’s failure to hold them accountable- so I have to be diligent to check over their schoolwork. This is an area we are constantly working on.)
  • Extra hard work in school will gladly be rewarded with a bit of extra time on technology. For example, our son is extremely self motivated to finish work quickly so that he can have more time on the tablet. We are happy to oblige a bit more time if he has worked hard, worked well (quality work) and with a good attitude!

So there you have it. We are learning and growing right with the kids. What benefits, boundaries and accountability tools have you used in your home with technology?PLEASE, comment below! Your thoughts and experiences are of value to us and can be a blessing to others.

Keep Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

That’s a big title, I know. And I bet you didn’t know that God requires that His people homeschool their kids. But it’s there. Just look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9~

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Ok, so He’s not talking necessarily about academically educating your children at home. BUT, He is talking about educating your children at home. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not to be a one day a week experience. God commands parents to not only walk with Him themselves, but to teach their children to walk with Him, as well. It is NOT the Church’s primary responsibility to disciple your children- it is primarily the parents’ responsibility to train up their children to know and love the Lord. There is so much rich instruction given in these verses. God does not require that our kids go through a formal curriculum or that they go through a confirmation class- though those things are good and worthy of our time. But God desires for Christian parents to saturate their homes with talk of His goodness, His love, His instructions, His promises. Above all, He wants parents to teach their kids not to be good people, but to be people who can’t help but do good things because they are so consumed by their love of God which permeates every aspect of their being: their heart, soul and might.

It is our conviction, that one of the best ways to convey this love is by home educating our children. This is our strongest motivator for homeschooling. The public school system is certainly NOT going to teach our kids to love the Lord. Their peers at school (on the whole) are not going to teach them to love the Lord. But if we educate them at home, for better or for worse, we (their parent’s) get to be their biggest influencers. And you better believe, we feel the weight of that responsibility.

The curriculum used public schools (and most private schools, for that matter) will not teach them to love the Lord. When homeschooling, we get to choose what curriculum we use. We opt to use Christ-centered curriculum that points our children to the truths of God’s Word- whether we examine the character and choices of men throughout history, examine science through the lens of scripture, marvel at God’s orderly character through math, or read literature examining the worldview and choices of characters.

Finally and most importantly, we can open up God’s Word every day together, pray, discuss what the Word means and how it applies to our lives (and your kids don’t have to be academically educated at home to do that!). It is our greatest delight to intercede for others with our children, to hear them ask questions about God’s Word and to see them choose to seek Him on their own. But these beautiful jewels of love for the Lord and character growth are not accidents. They are also not works that we can fabricate or magically produce as parents. They are gifts of grace from God- a beautiful blessing as we pour the love of God into our kids and watch Him grow them from the inside out.

Our kids are not perfect. They are as flawed and sinful as their mom and dad. Homeschooling is not perfect. Every homeschooling family struggles in different ways. But it is a gift from God to spend quantity and quality time with our kids, influencing them to love and follow hard after the Lord who loves them so much, “He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

If you would like to hear more about WHY we chose to homeschool, click on this link to see my latest video: The Top 10 Reasons Why We Chose to Homeschool

How do YOU deliberately influence your kids to follow Christ? We’d love to hear what that looks like in your family, so PLEASE, share in the comments below!!

Until next time, keep doing life deliberately,

Trisha

Everyone has a different mental image of what homeschool is like. I’ve seen several amusing memes on Facebook and Pinterest. People who don’t homeschool often make assumptions about what it looks like- I definitely did. I was not homeschooled as a child- I attended public school for all of my education. My husband attended parochial school for all of his elementary and secondary education, so neither of us had any experience with homeschool prior to trying it ourselves. I envisioned a relaxed family reading books in their pajamas, with lots of freedom in their daily schedule to go and do as they pleased. My preconceived notions have proven both right and wrong in our own family.

If you are interested in homeschooling, but have never done it before, it can be difficult to picture what it actually looks like to homeschool.  And even if you are an experienced homeschool family, it can still be fun to see what others are doing and gather ideas. You might find yourself wishing you could be a fly on the wall in someone else’s homeschool classroom.  I sure felt that way before we got started.  So today, I am inviting you to join our family for a typical homeschool day. Not all (or even most) homeschools look like ours.  Each family’s homeschool takes on the personality of it’s teacher/principal/family: organized or spontaneous, orderly or messy, a room set aside for schooling or a kitchen table, a web-based program or a stack of library books, home-made curriculum or purchased lesson plans.  How one runs their homeschool can look a thousand different ways- none of which is right or wrong- to meet the needs of their family.  So… with that in mind, join us for a brief day in the life!

Day in the Life of our Homeschool

Post your questions and comments below- we look forward to hearing from you!

One of the things I found myself wondering early on in homeschooling, was how did other families schedule their time?  So today, I am sharing with you how we schedule our time (no need to wonder anymore)!  😉

7:30- Family Bible time

8am- PE

8:45- Xtra math (Hannah and Sarah), math assignment (Gideon and Izzy)

9am- Everyone works on math assignment

9:30- Math assignment (Hannah and Sarah), Xtra Math (Gideon and Izzy)

10am- Science (Botany- Gideon and Izzy), General Science (Sarah), Biology (Hannah)

10:30- History, vocabulary and read aloud

11:30- Writing (Gideon and Sarah), Writing and Grammar with Mom (Izzy)

12pm- Lunch

Our afternoons consist of piano practice, Spanish on the computer, quiet reading, and finishing up any remaining school work and chores.  We held pretty tightly to this schedule for the first few weeks of school.  But it didn’t take long for Gideon to figure out that if he worked ahead, he could have more free time during the day.  He is generally up around 6am and gets to work on his assignments around 6:30 or 7am most days. (What can I say? He’s an easy student!)

Our schedule always changes a bit from year to year as I evaluate what worked well the previous year, and what needs tweaking.  But this seems to work well for us now.  We start the day off by giving the first part of our day to the Lord.  It seems to work well to have PE next because we burn a little energy and then we can focus on the harder subjects of the day: math and science.  This worked a little more neatly at the beginning of the year when I held everyone to the schedule, but now it’s a lot more flex.

If you want to see what a day in the life of our homeschool looks like, view our YouTube video by clicking on this link: A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

So how about you?  If you are currently homeschooling, how do you schedule your time?  I would love to hear what works well for you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha