Our Reasons for Home Education:

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Although he was achieving good results, he wasn't reaching his full potential because his love for learning had been destroyed & hence his grades were steadily declining.

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Completely failed by the system, he hated school, was always tired & homework time was a major frustration for both of us. He was severely frustrated & quickly heading to become yet another ADHD statistic.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #10

~ Math Focus

math confused logicpuzzlesI still have vivid memories of Maths going wrong for me during my school days. I had an ex-university lecturer for Maths in Standard 8, but although she knew the material she had no clue how to teach… Within the first term of that year my Maths dropped from the high 80% to below 70% on higher grade. Eventually I dropped down to standard grade but it wasn’t going to stop there. By the time I got to Matric my Maths had dropped down to lower 60% although I achieved around 80% for Algebra. I barely passed Geometry & Trigonometry with my ability to memorize the formulas, but unfortunately I just never “got” the Geometry & Trigonometry. I wasn’t able to apply the formulas I had learnt. Had it not been for my high Algebra results, I would have probably failed Maths altogether. I felt so stupid because my brother “got” it and achieved high results when I asked him to help during holidays, I just couldn’t “get” it.
math_artThis was one of the main reasons why it took me 3 years to give in to hubby’s requests to home educate our boys when we first noticed Misha had problems at school. I was afraid of having to teach Maths, after all my eldest was supposed to start High School this year. After all, how was I supposed to teach our boys Maths if I couldn’t remember much of it myself.
Now I realise that it had a lot to do with the way I learn… My ability to read an memorize well had been my saving grace during my school years. Sadly nothing stuck much after an exam was done. With Misha, I suddenly relived much of my own schooling experiences.
imageWe started him up with Le-Amen in August last year when we discovered his struggling at school was caused by serious foundational issues. By then he was in Grade 2 & still not able to read. He hated school & homework time was terribly frustrating for both of us. Unfortunately at the time I knew nothing about learning styles & took the “school at home” approach which was met with great resistance. For this year they supplied Classroom Mathematics ~ Grade 3 for him. Because he hates workbooks the 10 activities would take anything from 40 minutes to 2 hours to complete and if it weren’t for the overall improvement in other areas, I’m sure I may have stuck him back in school by now had I not stumbled across the Custom Homeschool Curriculum ~ Teach How Your Child Learns page on the internet.
I set out to find ways to help him overcomeimage the lack of self-confidence caused by his struggles through school by finding ways to teach the material the way he learns. I resorted to asking him the Maths questions whilst he was jumping on the trampoline and then writing down his answers. I was amazed that he actually could do the Maths. When allowed to do the worksheets verbally, he would often give the correct answer, but then write down a wrong answer. I later learnt that was a result of midline crossing inability. Hence I decided to replace the worksheets with online & downloadable Maths games & set out to make Maths more fun.
In my searches to find material to help him through school I stumbled across learning styles & brain dominance. I recently read the book “In Their Own Way ~ discovering and encouraging your child's multiple intelligences” by Thomas Armstrong. It has helped me understand how my sons learn. I am currently reading "The Fine Line between ADHD and Kinaesthetic Learners". Leave a comment at this link if you would like to receive a FREE introduction. Finally I understood why I had a struggling learner on my hands. I discovered he is a strong Body-kinaesthetic (Body Smart / using the whole body & hands) and Visual Spatial (Picture Smart / ability to visualise pictures in one’s head or to create them in some two- or three dimensional form) learner. The classroom environment just didn’t work for him because they teach mainly for children who are Linguistic (Word Smart / ability to use words effectively) and Logical-Mathematical (Number Smart / capacity to work well with numbers and / or be adept at logic or reasoning). I am learning so much and it seems I may have a Kinaesthetic Right Brain Learner on my hands. In order to learn effectively, Misha needed to be able to move a lot.  He also needed many pictures and lots of colour to re-enforce his learning and of course PC activities seem to work like a charm.
imageIn April I stumbled across the Teaching Textbooks website.  I decided to give this a try because Misha loves playing PC games. The results were astounding. I found that he was suddenly able easily finish 2 lessons, containing 5 sample problems and 24 problems per lesson in 20-30 minutes whereas he couldn’t complete a 10 question worksheet in less than 1 hour before. Teaching Textbooks comes with a workbook as well as CDs to teach the concepts. After watching the lesson on the CD, the student can choose to complete the activities on the PC (with auto-grading up to 7th Grade) or fill out the worksheets in the workbook. All concepts taught are constantly tested in future worksheets thus ensuring mastery of concepts. However, after six months working on it daily, he’s now bored with it as it’s not colourful & doesn’t have enough variety in animations for him.
imageI’m currently looking at adding the Times Alive CD rom from City Creek Press to help him memorise the times tables. The software is also available as a download.
For next year I’m also looking to add the Times Tales to help him learn the upper times tables.
Misha is currently scoring an average of 95% on his Maths and even the occasional worksheet is becoming easier because we seem to be slowly conquering the “mental block” towards those dreaded papers as he masters the concepts with Teaching Textbooks and Maths games. Yet it seems my challenge has just begun, because no matter how good the curriculum I choose, he gets annoyed with it after a few months regular working on it. He needs constant variety lest he gets bored…
imageHonestly, I still dread the High School Maths though. Jesse was using the Classroom Mathematics ~ Grade 8 textbook this year and unfortunately it was all Greek to me. I have no idea how to help him, but fortunately thus far he’s coped fine on his own & the few times he did get stuck, daddy was able to help out. He will be doing Alpha Omega Academy from next year. This will give him will have access to online Tutors as well as online classes. I’ve decided to get him Teaching Textbooks to assist with the Maths just in case he needs some additional assistance & I mightimage even use them to brush up on my own Maths skills so I can help Misha when he gets to high school.
imagealso offers a few Maths programs that can help children practise Maths with a more fun approach. I will be looking into a few of these as opposed to the traditional “worksheet wasteland” approach in order to accommodate the way my sons learn best.
Some of our favourite recourse links:
  • Khan Academy offers 2,400 FREE videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history to help your student learn whatever they want, whenever they want, at their own pace. They have also added 125 FREE practice exercises to enable students to practice concepts. Parents can also sign up as coaches to track their students’ progress.
  • clip_image002Timez Attack has revolutionized multiplication games. It’s as polished as a high-end real video game, yet as effective as a top math tutor one-on-one. The built-in assessment, adaptation, and post-test research data guarantee total mastery. FREE Basic Version teaches multiplication facts 2 – 12 and paid version has additional themes & features.
  • Maths is Fun offers FREE maths resources to help your children learn Maths, covering Numbers, Data, Geometry, Money, Algebra & Measurement using puzzles, games, activities & worksheets.

Please visit my Mathematics page for many more resource links.

Carnival submissions…

mathI have received a few submissions for this carnival and was glad to see that I am not alone in my quest to find ways to teach Maths although I myself was not so good at it in my days. These pages cover teaching young ones with manipulatives, free recourses for Middle & Senior students, as well as encouragement for teaching High School Maths.
shares a just fun port on Maths Lessons. After they finished maths lesson for the day she overheard this one-on-one tutoring by the big brother for little brother.
  • In her post, The Decimal System, Linnie Lues, from Back to Ancient Ways  shares how math-pic1from personal experience, she believes Maths is so much easier and much more fun, when one understands the decimal system. Thankfully, the Lord sent Steve Demme from Maths-U-See over their homeschooling path.  He reminds her in so many ways of her Middle School Maths Teacher - his countenance lights up when he starts teaching maths and his whole curriculum evolves around the decimal system and place values.   

  • I trust you’ll find as much encouragement and assistance from these posts as I did.

    This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

    SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #10

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    homeschool math online
    TenMarks Math Programs|Online Math Help

    Trixi’s HomeEd Academy Page Updates:

    I have added new links to several of my resource pages. Amended pages are indicated with ~*~ below.
    Home Education Resources
    Homeschooling California Style
    Preschool Learning Extravaganza
    ClickN KIDS Teaching KIDS to READ and SPELL One Click at a Time
    ClickN KIDS Teaching KIDS to READ and SPELL One Click at a Time
    Learn & Master Series