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Relaxing With a Second-Born, Free Sheet Music, Word Problems

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, May 16, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 39 May 16, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - 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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Notes from Heather
-- Relaxing with a Second-Born
Helpful Tip
-- Free Sheet Music Site
Winning Website
-- Edison Science Experiments
Reader Question
-- Math Word Problems Help
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

My Emerging Second-Born Son


Yesterday was another milestone in my life -- sitting in the
passenger seat as Carman (my almost-16-year-old) drove the
20 or so miles home from ballet class. He's more of a natural
behind the wheel than Ben was, but I don't think that's why I
was so relaxed I could have taken a nap. (I didn't nap, however,
because no responsible sane parent would ever do that on the
first drive, right?)

As he cracked his knuckles and neck and started the ignition, I
realized I was not the same mom I was 2 years ago when Ben took
his first drive. My own knuckles weren't as white and my hand
wasn't clutching anything I could grab to hang on for dear life.
I didn't even talk much -- well, not about his driving anyway.
There were few corrections to be mentioned, and those he caught
himself. Yes -- I was suddenly an amazingly RELAXED mom for
Driver's Ed!

This is the child that I still can't convince he needs math in
life. On the way home he wanted to figure out how many hours
a day he would need to drive in order to complete his 50 hours
of driving time within the prescribed 90 day period, based on
5 days a week.

"First we need to figure out how many weeks there are in 90
days", he announced. (Could this be the beginning of a word

The idea was to multiply the number of weeks by the 5 days a
week we are actually on the road -- then calculate the hours
we could put in by dividing the 50 hours by those days. My
brain was a little foggy and I wasn't sure I wanted him trying
math "in his head" while driving, especially since it would
involve visualizing the numbers in his head. This is my
combination visual/auditory learner. He LOVES audio books.
He can learn *some* things by listening. But math is NOT one
of those things.

"Well, to find out the first part we have to divide 90 days by
7 days in a week," I told him. "Can you see that problem in
your head?"

"No", he replied.

"Well, then we will do it at home."

We didn't ever get to it. Hopefully I'll remember today and
sit down with him and figure it all out. Math needs to become
relevant to this child's life!! I bought Teaching Textbooks
level 6 (Yes, he's going into 11th grade and really hasn't done
much math at all, by choice), but we haven't had time to begin
it since he's working at the organic mill in town (where my
bookstore is located) making bread now. At least he gets frac-
tions and weights doing that! Perhaps this co-op style job will
give him some real-life math experience? You'd think he'd love
math being a dancer -- their lives are all about counting and
sequences and rhythms... hmmmm.... at least he's got his career
track planned -- and he is a computer geek, so there's a back-up
plan. And he can bake bread... and I'd like to apprentice him
to an auto mechanic so at least one of my sons doesn't feel like
a slave to the repair shop! Well, maybe not Carman -- maybe my
4th son, Gabe, for that idea.

But I digress.

All I really meant to say (before rambling) was that it is
quite an epiphany in my life to realize how relaxed I have
become after so many "firsts" with my firstborn. I thought I
was relaxed before! But now I can really see the light at the
end of the tunnel... and we'll be graduating Ben (almost 18) on
June 14th. I got his diploma at www.HomeschoolDiploma.com --
and we'll be presenting him with it on that day at his gradua-
tion party (we are doing a combo party with a cousin to save
the relatives from having to go to 2 of them -- more on that
later). He hasn't even asked about an official diploma, so
it will be a big surprise! The diploma is very nice -- and it
was under $35 with shipping. :-)

Ben did really well on his SAT test and he'll be taking his
ACT test the morning of his party. Carman, however, probably
won't take the standardized tests. With "no math" in his life,
it probably isn't the best idea to put him through that. He's
on track for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, so if he wants college
at a later date -- well, he'll be a grown man and he can figure
that out for himself. My husband, as an adult, went on to get
a Master's degree -- and now he's going into nursing school.
Carman can certainly cross that bridge if/when he comes to it.

See how relaxed I've gotten? Is that a GOOD thing? Whether
it is or not, I just had to share the observation with you.

Enjoy this issue of your Homeschooler's Notebook! :-)

Your friend,


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

"There is a web site where you can download and print classical
and contemporary arrangements of music for every instrument...
for free!


The Mutopia Project: Free sheet music for everyone. Why is it
free? It seems to be set up by volunteers that want to help
others experience the joy of music.

They have well over 1300 works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Handel,
Mozart, and many others. These are not just for pianos. They
carry pieces for a wide array of instruments -- from accordion
to violin, cello to harp, clarinet to harpsichord, guitar to
recorder -- and even voice. I think I saw every conceivable
instrument known to mankind.

You can look up pieces by composer, instrument, or style. You
are free to print out, perform, share with others, or record."

Contributed by Dani T. (aka "Mrs. Dani")


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

Winning Website

Experiments from the Charles/Thomas Edison Fund

This organization is dedicated to encouraging teachers and stu-
dents to spend time learning about science. From the homepage,
click on Science Experiments, then Experiment List. There are
a lot of really great experiments to download, covering a broad
range of topics for grades 3 and up.

-- Cindy P., www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 7 year old that is VERY good at math. He is in 1st
grade, but has just finished the 2nd grade math curriculum from
Abeka (it only took him about 5 months to complete). On the
other side though, his language/reading/vocab skills are about
a year behind. We're working hard and he is improving, but not
at the same rate that his math skills are growing. This leads
to a problem when he runs across Word Problems. He struggles
to understand the meanings of different words anyway, but to
take those words and then translate them into a math problem
will almost drive him to tears! Are there any resources out
there that are specifically designed for teaching Word Problems?
Everything that I am finding includes all the other math stuff,
but I need something that focuses exclusively on the Word Prob-
lems. Something that starts extremely basic at the very begin-
ning and progresses slowly? I love online resources (like
Homeschoolmath.net), but haven't found one that offers Word
Problems. Can anyone help? Thanks!" -- S.J.B.

Our Readers' Responses

"Could you make your own? Include his friends' names and family
-- it makes it fun. Use very simple language and very simple
problems so he feels competent. Model how you would solve it.
Have him draw a picture of the problem; show him how first. Try
and do this for 5 minutes a day or even just 1 problem a day so
he doesn't feel overwhelmed and work up from there." -- Andra J.


"The first thing that comes to mind is this: If he is not read-
ing well yet, why are you frustrating him so much by making him
do the word problem questions? It is not the end of the world
to not fill in every blank in the workbook. With the circular
nature of the math curriculum you are using, he could skip the
word problems for the next few years until his reading catches
up a bit more and still not miss anything. I would suggest that
he be allowed to enjoy math since he has to work so hard on his
reading. Learning should be enjoyable, not torturous. I'd
suggest relaxing a bit more with the reading as well before you
seriously damage his love of learning and reading. Believe it
or not, they do 'get it' if we can avoid killing their curiosity
and love of discovery." -- Tracy S.


"My son has this same gift for math, and a similar dislike for
language arts. Once I realized how fast he was moving in math,
I pulled him out of formal math curriculum. I don't want him
to get to the place where his skill out paces his ability to
reason abstractly; where his ability outgrows his brain, so to
speak. He's 6 and can do multiplication and division, and sees
and 'does' math in his head all day long. I explained Soduku
to him once, and now he does the puzzles in the newspaper. I
don't think he's missing out because I stopped using worksheets
and workbooks.

The site http://www.internet4classrooms.com/skills_2nd.htm has
a bunch of links for second grade skills, and I think you can
get to other levels through this link too. At the bottom of
the math section it has two links to sites for word problems.

I have seen my son's reading and writing blossom this spring,
and although he uses a different strategy than my 5 year old
daughter to read, he is getting it. I think our concentration
on reading good, 'living' books this year has made the difference.
We read the Little House series out loud last year, and are just
now starting on the Narnia series. It has improved his compre-
hension skills and his vocabulary, and he loves the stories.
Good luck!" -- Anne M.


"I recommend checking out your local teacher supply store. I
have 5 children under the age of 9 and am very happy with a
little inexpensive set of books by HAYES SCHOOL PUBLISHING
called Problem Solving in MATHEMATICS. It uses the four step
plan (see, plan, do, check) right from the beginning. I have
three books: grades 1/2, grade 3, and grade 4. These books
list the sticker price at $3.95. I am sure I probably got them
on sale.

Keep a look-out at your local chain stores and school supply
stores (and garage sales) and I am sure you will find something
you like, but my best suggestion is to make Math real by using
word problems in real life. Ask your son to double recipes
when making cookies and figure out how many nails he needs to
buy to build that birdhouse or toolbox; Does he have enough
money to buy those three items he wants to buy if you give him
an extra 50 cents?

Make math meaningful by keeping it real. Math story problems
are real life and if you keep that in the forefront, you'll
find many examples of story problems to work on that will moti-
vate, encourage and go way beyond Grade Level." -- Kayla B.


"My daughter is 12 years old and has some language issues --
and she struggled to understand math word problems. Her speech
therapist recommended the book 'Math Word Problems' by Anita
Harnadek, published by Critical Thinking Books. The first
section of the book uses only the numbers 10 and 40 (you can
change to 1 and 4, if necessary). By using only limited numbers,
the student can focus on actually understanding the words in
the problem. Later, other numbers are used, too. This book
has been extremely helpful for my daughter, who is now longer
paralyzed with fear when confronted with a word problem. The
concepts range from simple operations with whole numbers to more
complex problems with percents, fractions, and decimals. I
believe I was able to find my copy on half.com, but if I had to
buy it new, it still would have been worth the cost. Good luck
with your son!" -- Kristi


"Two bits of advice: 1) Relax -- a 7 year old boy can easily
be 'behind' and still catch up when it clicks for him. 2) Try
to relate story problems to him orally. If he is reading how
Suzy wants to put 4 barrettes on each doll he will shut it off;
some kids especially ignore things that do not interest them.
Use his book and orally change the problems to something inter-
esting -- this way you change 2 variables -- topic and presen-
tation. Try asking daily without being obvious -- for one son
it was toys (if there are 4 HotWheels for every boy and you
started with 20 how many boys came to play?); another was money
or food -- his friends never had snacks without me asking how
many each might want or asking how many would get divided. You
might also look at some thinks like Think-a-minutes from Critical
Thinking Press." -- Sue

Answer our NEW Question

"I am new to the Homeschool Notebook. My son is only three and
I would like to get him started with education/formal learning
already. I will not be sending him to public school when he is
ready for Kindergarten unless we live somewhere with a good school
system. Right now where we live the school system is really awful.
Any ideas on getting him started now? Or should I hold off until
he is older? He seems very interested in education and learning
already which is why I am wanting to get started to foster and
build on that interest. Thanks." -- Timori


Do you have some words of wisdom for Timori?
Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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