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

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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.

There are lots of challenges when it comes to homeschooling: kids’ bad attitudes, keeping learning fun/interesting, assessing various learning styles, being patient as a teacher, choosing curriculum, etc. I could go on and on. But something that has taken me by surprise is just how difficult it can be to stay on top of checking the kids’ assignments. I have found that as the kids get older, it becomes increasingly time consuming to check the kids’ schoolwork, tutor them through the corrections (because they often need help) and recheck their corrections. Our oldest two children are in 7th and 9th grades, and with each passing year their homework is more time consuming and challenging.

To see the system we use to keep track of assignments and hold our kids accountable to getting their work done, watch my video: How to Manage Homeschool Assignment Books

This was a big struggle for me last year. After a couple weeks of school this past fall, I recognized that this was going to be an even greater struggle this year. So I took my concerns to Principal Martinez (aka, my husband, Joe). Our mutually agreed upon solution: to divide and conquer. Joe would check the older two girl’s schoolwork and I would check the younger kids’ schoolwork. Now is it a perfect system?  It rarely ever is. Do we do it faithfully? No. Some weeks we are more on top of things than others. Ideally, we would like to be checking the kids’ work daily. It takes less time that way, rather than letting it all build up for us to check. It is also less overwhelming to the kids to correct one day’s worth of work rather than five days work. So this is what we aim for.

How about you? Have you run into any unexpected challenges? If you haven’t begun homeschooling, what challenges do you anticipate? Write in the comments below! We’re sure to have some great dialogue and helps as we discuss!

Keep doing life deliberately,

Trisha