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.

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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