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Math-phobia, Renewing a Love of Learning, Easy Grammar

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, November 12, 2007

==========================================================
The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
==========================================================
Vol. 8 No 88 November 12, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
==========================================================
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net
==========================================================

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)

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PLEASE VISIT OUR SPONSOR:


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Carry it with you - it replaces your checkbook and fits
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See it now at:
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

=================
IN THIS ISSUE:
=================

Guest Article
-- Are You Mathphobic?
Helpful Tips
-- Clam 'Rescue' Suggestion
Resource Review
-- Easy Grammar by Wanda Phillips
Reader Question
-- Renewing a Love of Learning
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

=======================
Guest Article
=======================

Are You Mathphobic?
By Barbara Frank

---

I don't know about you, but I'm claustrophobic, aviatophobic and
aquaphobic, which means I'm afraid of enclosed spaces, flying and
drowning. That's why you'll never catch me flying to Miami so I
can board a ship for an around-the-world cruise. But one fear I
don't have that many people do is arithmophobia, which is the
fear of arithmetic. For the sake of simplicity, let's call those
people mathphobic.

Many homeschooling parents are mathphobic. They're cool with
teaching their little ones their numbers, and even simple addition
and subtraction. But go much past that and the possibilities
scare them silly. Long division? Who remembers it and why should
we, they ask. That's why God led someone to invent the calculator!
And don't even bring up the A word (algebra). They can't bear to
go there. Like Scarlett O'Hara, they'll think about that tomorrow.

Math curriculum publishers don't do much to quell the mathphobic
parent's fears. Some math programs are pretty overwhelming in and
of themselves, without even considering the subject matter. In
order to make the program work, you need to watch instructional
DVDs, buy additional manuals, or go to informative seminars. Not
too intimidating! But like the subject itself, teaching math
doesn't have to be intimidating unless we make it so.

In "Free at Last; The Sudbury Valley School", Daniel Greenberg
relates the story of a dozen 9-to-12-year-olds at the school who
decided they wanted to learn arithmetic. Since the school was set
up to be a place where children learn on their own timetable, these
children had never been taught arithmetic because they had not ex-
pressed any interest in learning about it up until then. So Green-
berg found an 1898 math primer that included plenty of exercises
for self-study, and set up arithmetic classes twice a week for as
long as it took the children to learn basic math. Each class
lasted 30 minutes, and then the children were sent off with exer-
cises to do on their own time, which they would hand in at the
next class.

Once the children had mastered addition, subtraction, multipli-
cation (including memorization of the multiplication tables),
division, fractions, decimals, percentages and square roots,
Greenberg tallied up the total classroom hours. The total was
20 hours.

Somewhat shocked, Greenberg consulted a public school math
specialist who told him that twenty hours was about right for
interested students, because math really isn't that difficult.
He said teaching math took six years or more in the public
schools because the students were unwilling and disinterested,
and so it had to be fed to them in small doses over a long time.

I did not read Greenberg's book until long after I had begun
homeschooling my children, but I wish I'd read it sooner. I
probably spent too many years teaching my kids math when it
could have been done more efficiently. But I do know they spent
far fewer hours learning math than kids in formal school, and
they came through just fine. My eldest studied math up through
Algebra and Geometry, while her younger brother completed Algebra
2 at home before taking Calculus at our community college.

People have asked me how I managed to teach my children high-
school-level math when I don't have a math background. I remind
them that I started at the beginning with my kids and worked along
with them from the early years through high school. I relearned
math three times with my three older kids, and let me tell you, it
all comes back to you. Math actually makes far more sense to me
now than it did when I was the student. I especially appreciate
how everything fits together; the kids have made fun of me for
thinking geometry proofs are fun. But I've seen them get into
proofs too, whether they'll admit it or not.

When we first began homeschooling, we used a formal math curri-
culum designed for private schools. It was overflowing with
busywork, and soon made my kids math-haters. But once I switched
to Miquon Math (along with a box of beautifully colored wooden
Cuisinaire rods), they discovered that math could be fun and
interesting. After they completed the six Miquon books, I began
using Saxon 54 with them, and we worked our way through the upper-
level Saxon series (skipping books and lessons as necessary),
which they finished in their mid-teens. I used a separate geometry
course for them because most high schools where we lived at that
time offered geometry as a separate course.

I think most parents are capable of teaching their children high-
school-level math if they've relearned math as I have. But I'm
not so sure all students need to learn as much math in high school
as my son did. He was college-bound and thought he would be going
into computer science, so he studied math much longer than his
older sister did. She didn't want to go to college, so she quit
studying math after Geometry, except for a math refresher book
that I had her use in her senior year. Now in her mid-twenties,
she is very good in math and was in charge of the payroll and cash
office at her last job.

If your children are college-bound, you’ll want to make sure math
is a part of their studies well into high school, but even then,
it depends on their major. As it turned out, my son ended up get-
ting his degree in Theological Languages, so his time spent slog-
ging through Calculus was unnecessary. You can probably stop
after Algebra and Geometry unless your child is gifted in the math
and science arena and needs to be challenged. In that case, you
can find instructors in advanced math topics at your local commun-
ity college or in a good online school.

No matter what level of math you're teaching, you'll find lots of
help online. One particular favorite of mine is a blog, "Let's
Play Math", by homeschooling mom Denise, who has taught every
level of math from Pre-K to college physics. She not only shares
a wide variety of math resources, but also encourages questions
from other homeschool parents. Bookmark this site:

http://letsplaymath.wordpress.com

Be sure to visit her extensive list of math resources while you're
there:


http://letsplaymath.wordpress.com/free-mostly-math-resources-on-the-internet


There's plenty there to help you, and an online search of math
helps will give you even more to work with. But while you're
pulling all these things together, remember that your child can
pick up any mathphobia you might have; it is catchy, you know.
Make sure you approach math with a positive attitude, and your
child will be much more likely to enjoy learning math and to take
off with it. Maybe someday you'll find yourself in the position
I was with my son, watching him tackle and succeed at something
I never could: Calculus!

---

Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth chil-
dren ages 14-24, a freelance writer/editor, and the author of
"Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers", "The Imperfect Homeschooler's
Guide to Homeschooling", and "Homeschooling Your Teenagers". To
visit her website, "The Imperfect Homeschooler", go to:
http://www.cardamompublishers.com

Copyright 2007 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers

---

Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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================
Helpful Tip
================

Clam Rescue :-)

"About the 'clam' mentioned in this issue:

http://familyclassroom.net/Articles20074/20071105.html

I wondered if this mom tried repressing the natural desire to
ask her daughter to repeat what she said and just stopped what
she's doing, focused on the daughter, and listened until she
finished, if she might not catch clues from the rest of what
she says to figure out what she's talking about. Then, she
could use the psychologists' trick of 'reflecting' back what
she's heard the daughter say, ie, 'That sounds really interesting.
I'm so glad you're telling me about it. I'm hearing you say that
you really enjoyed xyz... '. Then, if she missed something
important, I'm betting the daughter will correct her and fill in
the missing info. After doing that for awhile, maybe trust can
be rebuilt." -- Debbie J.

---

Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net


==================
Resource Review
==================

Easy Grammar by Wanda Phillips
-- Reviewed by Karen Lange

Do you cringe at the thought of teaching grammar? Are you of the
opinion that diagramming sentences should be considered cruel and
unusual punishment? If so, then the Easy Grammar series might be
something to consider.

The title caught my eye -- 'Easy' Grammar. Could it be possible?
I thought it worth a try. I'd used numerous grammar programs over
the years, but never found one that my kids and I liked. It wasn't
looking like any of my kids would be majoring in English, but I
thought it important to at least expose them to basic grammar.
Someday an opponent of homeschooling might ask them what a noun
was, and I wanted them to be able to answer correctly.

Easy Grammar was the first program that I had seen that intro-
duces prepositions first. It teaches the student to identify
prepositional phrases, revealing the basics of the sentence.
What a concept! It's amazing what a difference that makes! No
confusing diagrams with sentences dissected before your eyes –
just a guide with a few directions, a few games, and simple
explanations of grammar basics.

Principles are introduced in manageable steps with activities
and lots of practice. It is a complete grammar program in work-
book format with reproducible activity pages (handy if you are
teaching more than one on the same level). A student workbook
and teacher's guide are available for each level and reasonably
priced. I found it very easy to understand, use, and teach;
when necessary, most of it kids can do on their own. Little to
no preparation time is needed; a giant plus in my book! The
series comes in four levels: Gold – grades three and four,
Silver – grades four and five, Purple – grades five and six, and
Red – grades seven through twelve. The Red level is a review of
previous levels, great if you are just starting or reviewing in
the upper grades.

I can't say we did cartwheels after using Easy Grammar, but this
approach was painless and really worked. My kids learned what
they needed to know to be grammar literate for the real world.
And not once did I hear the kids say anything about cruel and
unusual punishment.

---

Karen Lange homeschooled her three children K-12. She is a free-
lance writer, homeschool consultant, and creator of the Homeschool
Online Creative Writing Co-op for teens. Visit her website at:
http://www.hswritingcoop.bravehost.com


===============================
Last Issue's Reader Question
===============================

"I am a fairly new homeschooling mom of 5. I have a daughter 15,
son 11, daughter 9, son 6 and son 5. This is our second year
homeschooling. I pulled my children from public school and all
are doing really well except my 11-year-old son. He used to love
to learn everything -- but by 2nd grade that love was dead. I am
at the end of my rope trying to get him interested in ANYTHING!
School is a major chore with him; he drags his feet and is very
distracted. We use My Father's World and we are really liking it.
I have started lapbooking with my 11-year-old son and he seems to
enjoy this better than worksheets (who wouldn't, right?). I would
love to hear from some seasoned homeschool moms who have dealt
with this. If I back off, how long do I back off? Do I push
harder? He is in 5th grade and I really can't picture him sur-
viving 5th grade in school. I don't want to compare, but my family
does and this bothers me. He is a smart and intelligent kid -- I
just wish he would apply himself a little." -- Sarah in MO


=========================
Our Readers' Responses
=========================

"It sounds like you have tried a number of things academically.
Have you tried to change his diet? It is somewhat controversial
whether diet affects a child's interest, motivation, and focus.
However, I have recently had great success with this and know a
number of other mothers who have as well. Although we have
changed how the entire family eats (eliminating processed food,
dyes, food colors, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) it has been
well worth it. (By the way, I lost weight right away when we
started this!)" -- Polly in NC

---

"Hi Sarah -- Just two thoughts:

Prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Specifically that God would
show you *His* heart for your son. He has a plan for your son
that seems to be different from your other children. Help him
to celebrate this fact, rather than compare him negatively to
your other children. Not all people are meant for an academic-
like career, so why waste everyone's time forcing the issue. He
has God-given interests -- you just might have to wait for awhile
for them to make their appearance, especially since he's spent
enough time hating school that they'll be well-hidden. Let him
'de-school' for awhile. Relax a bit and focus on enjoying each
of your children's individuality. Believe me, it makes all the
difference!

Also, is it possible to turn him over to your husband for (at
least a few) 'guy' activities that you could count as classes?
He is at the age when a son, especially, will begin to buck mom's
authority, while dad's input becomes more important. Going to
work with dad, helping dad fix things around the house, sports,
etc., can all be applied toward 'school credit' (as can many of
the other children's household activities as well). Lots of
'academics' will come into play during hands-on activities, and
your son will benefit from time spent with dad. And so will dad.
Of course, this may not be possible, but that's not reason to
despair. God is the one who pieced together whatever situation
you are in, so you can trust that it's what's best for His plan.
Go with it... and Rejoice!" -- Eliza

---

"I can sure relate and sympathize! My sister pulled my nephew
out of public school after his 2nd grade year, and I agreed to
homeschool him. He loved school in K and 1st. I won't go into
detail about why, but by the end of 2nd grade he didn't just
hate school -- he was *totally* resistant to learning.

So I added this intelligent but resistant child to my homeschool
family and ended up literally dragging him through the next four
years of his education.

The first problem I encountered was that sure, he *knew* his
addition facts, but he didn't know what they meant. He had not
had phonics so couldn't read 3rd grade books since the vocabulary
was no longer restricted. I basically put him in kindergarten
level material and started filling in the gaps.

Even so, he spent a lot of time outdoors, running off energy,
sitting and dreaming; being a 'little boy'.

At the end of four years, he was still 3 years behind grade level,
but he progressed about 1 year every year I had him. (We are
required to test yearly in NC.)

When he was going back to public school, my sister was very
concerned about his grade level. She wanted him to go back with
his age-mates to the middle school, not to the elementary school
he came from. So she took him to Sylvan in May and arranged for
student loans (just like college kids get) to pay for it, and he
began their program. He was tested to see where his gaps were
and got specific help on those areas. The Sylvan lady was shocked
that he was up to grade level (for public schools, but that's
another subject) sometime around Christmas that year.

He is now a senior in high school and doing well.

Since that time I have found out you can do something like the
Sylvan program with your own child by using the Alpha Omega
Lifepac or Switched-On Schoolhouse diagnostic placement tests.
Any section he passes, he doesn't have to complete that unit,
but you can buy individual Lifepacs for units he needs to cover."
-- Sarah in NC

---

"Sarah, this sounds very familiar. However, you did not mention
whether or not he read well, so I am not sure this will apply.
In case it rings a bell, I will go ahead and respond with my
experience. My ten year old is a very bright and articulate boy,
however, he struggles with reading. I was told not to worry, it
would click in around age nine. It didn't. So I scrambled to
find out what was the problem. He hated school (he also enjoyed
school early on), he didn't want to do the work; his mind would
wander so it is hard to keep his attention. I finally figured
out he was dyslexic. From my research, I can hear in your words a
pattern that leans towards dyslexia. I received some very sound
advice from the ladies in this group a few newsletters ago and I
am on my way to helping my son overcome this obstacle. Adjusting
to his needs, I have listened to him in his nightly prayer tell
God that he loves school! Reading is starting to become more
fluent, he's happier and starting to write on his own. It is a
journey, and I believe you will be getting all kinds of wonderful
advice to help you with whatever is hindering your son's love of
learning!" -- Nona in OR

---

"Dear Sarah -- is it 'school' that your 11 year old resists? Or
learning in general? You might have to use a little ingenuity
with him; maybe veer away from the curriculum you're using for
the rest. I have a boy who hates to sit down and write. Anything.
But he'll do copywork, so that's what we do. He loves to be read
to, and is interested in so many things, so I read to him a LOT!
Even if I really thought I needed to 'push' him, there'd be no
point. Our days turn into misery, when they can be delightful if
I'm not forcing him. I'm sure not everyone would agree; and there
is a minimum of writing he does do. Part of the reason I'm home-
schooling is to give him longlasting memories of a happy childhood,
so I have to be patient and trust that when he needs to be doing
'more', he'll do it.

So ask your son what he wants to learn about, or do. Just doing
stuff together is learning; cooking, sewing, talking, listening to
music. Get every book you can on a subject he's really interested
in, and I'll bet the resistance goes away. From any book (fiction
or otherwise) you can find history, geography, science, math, etc.
We use the Five in a Row curriculum and I'm astonished by how much
my son learns -- and retains. And he's excited to do it -- we're
in our 3rd year. Good luck to you and your family." -- Trish M.

---

"I don't think anyone just decides to dread schooling or drag
their feet for the fun of it. I believe your son could have a
learning disability that is disguised by his gifts. My daughter
is officially gifted and dyslexic both and she is just like your
son. I couldn't understand it at first. I thought I spoiled
her by reading to her too often. She always loved books and
genuinely amazed people with her intelligence so I assumed she
was too lazy/spoiled to read them herself when she requested
that I continue to read everything. She gets overwhelmed very
quickly when reading herself.

It seems like with ADHD and learning disabilities people always
say that the child could do so well if only they would apply
themselves. Who wouldn't choose to do well and collect praises?
If it wasn't overwhelming, he'd be happy to oblige. I bet your
son is just as confused and twice as frustrated as you are.

If you are avoiding labels at least try teaching to his strengths.
And if you aren't too proud or fearful, it might just be the best
idea to do a battery of testing. Learning disabilities tend to
strike the boys in the family more than the girls, and they are
genetic, so you could be saving your younger two sons years of
frustration because they are likely to have the same problems.

The fact that you said he loved schooling until second grade is
practically diagnostic of a learning disability. That is the age
where it starts to present itself more clearly. Most kids are
identified between second and fifth grade. These are the years
that move from natural intelligence to needing particular compli-
cated skills to learn. If one step of the process is disabled,
it throws off the others.

Your local public school is obligated to do some testing for free,
but I'd shy away from that. Not only for the privacy considera-
tions, but because the school is only testing to see if he is
eligable for services. First of all you want to know exactly what
is going on so you can research and help him. Second, even if
the school desides he's eligable for services, which is unlikely
with his intelligence helping to mask his difficulties, their
services are unlikely to meet your satisfaction. After all, you
chose to homeschool him for a reason.

Our public school miraculously agreed that my daughter needed
services due to the discrepency in her IQ and her performance.
But the services I got were simply baby sitting! She was in a
room of K-12 kids after school doing their homework. The so-called
'expert' wondered why she was there because my daughter *could*
read. Shows how much they know about dyslexia! One teacher even
told me there was no such thing as dyslexia. Stick to the experts
who are in the field, not the teachers. And remember that you
know your child best; trust your gut.

When I had my daughter tested, I simply told her that at a cer-
tain age the schools require routine testing for weaknesses and
strengths, just like they require standardized testing and immu-
nizations. It helps the teachers to find a way to teach that
the kids relate to. She never felt there was something wrong
with her because of the testing. Deep down she knew something
was wrong since preschool and was releaved to find out that it
was just a visul processing problem. The testing actually made
her feel relieved. It was such a relief for me, too, because it
is so hard to see her so frustrated with herself.

If I'm overwhelming you just think of it this way: What kid
doesn't have braces or glasses? Almost no child. It's the same
with these learning labels. It wouldn't be a big deal if it
didn't leave the child frustrated with himself or accused of not
trying. Remember to give your son something he can be successful
in to build his confidance. Remember to teach to his strengths.
Good luck with your journey." -- Heidi in MO

---

"Sarah, take heart! A woman in our co-op had a similar experience.
She kept asking her 9th grader what he wanted to do. He never had
an answer, so he did what everyone else in the house was studying.
She figured he would either get tired of 'following' and speak up,
or at the very least, he was still learning something.

He also did only what was asked of him -- until one day when they
were talking about superheroes during their down time. He wanted
to learn about superheroes. So they actually found a book (and I
have seen it at my library, too) that is about the physics of
superheroes! How could an invisible airplane fly (Wonderwoman)?
What would kryptonite be made of and why would Superman get weak?
You get the idea. It was a college level book by a professor.
He read the whole thing, did a report, and he was only in 9th
grade!

He will find something, but I read (I think in 'Dumbing us Down')
that it takes 1 year for every year in school to adjust to having
the freedom to decide for yourself. Keep asking -- you are doing
the right thing. Eventually he will figure out who he is!"
-- Michelle in Oregon

---

"I'm a new homeschooler myself, so this is not seasoned advice,
but hopefully it will be worthwhile to you. You will probably
get a lot of responses about finding out your son's learning
style. This, of course, is important. But, it is also possible
that he just doesn't like the curriculum you are using. Is it
possible to get him more involved in picking the curriculum for
his schooling? You could research all the possible stuff online,
look at some friends' curricula (or get several from moms in your
homeschool group - if you have one); and look around together at
shows (though this may only be good for next year), etc.

Researching to find 'the best' together just might be the moti-
vation for him enjoy school more. Also, be sure to check out
all the possible online helps for homeschoolers. He might enjoy
breaking up his day with online quizzes or other helpful and fun
mini-breaks." -- Diana


=========================
Answer our NEW Question
=========================

"How does everyone do their mornings? Do you have a set time to
get all the kids up or do you let them sleep until they wake up
(if it's not to late)? I remember as a kid going to public school
being so tired all the time and hating to get up to go to school
(if I was homeschooled I would have loved to get up). I don't
want my kids to be short of sleep and I know that your body runs
it's own cycle so that it wakes up when it has rested enough. We
don't have a good track record with bed time. I shoot for 8:30
every night but sometimes we have evening activites that keep us
out till 8, like my daughter's chorus practice for her Christmas
program at church, and we are up later. And then there is the
usual 'I need another snack', etc. My son is almost 10 and my
daughter is 8. We are going to be adopting younger children
ranging in age from 2 to 7 and I really want to have a better
routine down before they come into our home. I had the routine
really good when they were younger and now it just isn't there
like it needs to be. I would like others' perspectives on this.
It will be a big adjustment going from 2 to 6 children and I know
I have to have control of the ship! Help! Also -- these children
will be children from foster care situations so anyone who has
transition experience for these poor traumatized souls, I would
love to hear from you! We are trying to be as prepared as possi-
ble. My other thought is with them sleeping late that is my only
quiet time to work on the computer when my husband has gone to
work. This is my school work prep time and my email time. Thanks
for your help!" -- Sandy

---

Do you have some encouragement or advice for Sandy?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


=====================
Ask YOUR Question
=====================

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!


=======================
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=======================

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
by typing in a box. When you get there, just introduce yourself
and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
ear.

Check out our schedule of daily chats and jump right in! :-)

http://www.HomeschoolChat.us

[Note: This ministry is geared toward Christian parents, but all
are welcome. You may need to download a Java program to utilize
this service. Email Luanne@educationforthesoul.com if you have
any technical difficulties.]


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