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More Help for Tiffany, 'Living' Math, Don't Make Me Count

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, April 20, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 31 April 20, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - 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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really comes through in the curriculum. I follow the Charlotte Mason
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-- Michele Call, a homeschooling parent

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Notes from Heather
-- More Help for Tiffany
Helpful Tip
-- A Great Living Math Book List
Resource Review
-- Don't Make Me Count to Three!
Reader Question
-- A Two-Part Struggle
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

A Quick Reminder!


Lee and Matt Binz are launching The HomeScholar Gold Care Club on
Tuesday, April 21st (TOMORROW) at 12 noon PST/3 pm EST.The launch
will include some wonderful bonuses and early responder gifts! You
can find full offer details here:


Don't miss out on this great opportunity for personalized high
school mentoring from Lee -- it is never too early to start a plan!

-- Heather


Late Reader Reply for Tiffany and Her Son

"Tiffany -- I have been in tears with my 'reluctant' learner -- *have*
been. Almost quit homeschooling altogether! I have discovered that
he has a mixed dominance 'problem' (in quotes because it is not a
problem). My son has an hand/eye dominance difference. He is right
handed, left-eye dominant, with a wrench thrown in there of the
tendency to use his left hand dominantly for quite a few things.
This confusion showed itself as a reluctant, defiant, and complaining
child. I saw it most in his reading and writing abilities.

Last May I was fortunate enough to hear Dianne Craft at CHAP's Homeschool
Convention in PA discussing the above issues. What an eye-opener and
source of great relief to discover that we were not in a hopeless
situation! I encourage you to dig in to finding your son's learning
style rather than focus on what seems to be curriculum failure. My
view of learning and teaching has drastically changed -- and that has
produced academic success for my son.

I believe it is important to tell you that I have been working one-on-one
with him for the better part of this school year. It has only been in
these last three to four weeks that I have introduced to him the freedom
to work on his own. I had been extremely concerned that he retained
nothing from week to week until I changed the way I taught him. Now I am
able to give him independent work and feel confidant that he is retaining
lesson information. He is producing quality work which in turn gives him
a sense of pride he had not experienced in the past. This has been a year
long effort of patience on my part. I am sorry to say that my tears of
frustration usually began after yelling at my son. I am confidant that
my goal now to teach him about himself, so that by the time he enters
ninth grade he will confidently manage himself with reasonable guidance
from me, is attainable.

It can be difficult to manage my third and twelfth grader *and* work
with my struggling sixth grader, but he has experienced a tremendous
attitude change toward learning which far outweighs the difficulty.
This is a huge blessing.I also shifted my focus from what he could do
independently (which was not much) to what my other children could do,
in order to give worry free time to my struggling child. Sounds simple,
but it worked. Sharing teaching responsibilities with my senior daughter
has been a luxury I have also been afforded.

In discovering *why* my son struggled with learning, I discovered how
to teach him. I am sorry that I have not given you a fix. For me
personally, because of what I have learned, shifting to a more classical
style of teaching has been a good fit for my son's style of learning.
(For all of my children.) I sincerely pray for a solution for you and
your family. I encourage you to research learning styles, needs, and
dominance factors. You may discover strengths in learning that you
never thought were there.

I determined to set aside one hour an evening for my 'homework'. There are
many websites dealing with learning styles, disabilities, and dominance
issues -- a daunting amount. Weed and feed. I believe www.diannecraft.com
is a good start. I avoided the temptation to buy materials until I had a
sense of direction with how to teach my son.

You are officially in my daily prayers! I hope that is a comfort to you."

-- Margaret W.


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



Helpful Tip

Teach math in a non-traditional, relaxed, no-fear way!



While perusing homeschoolers' personal book lists (recommended
books) at Amazon.com, I came across this REALLY good one for
living math books!

The list author says: "I'm not really interested in my children
being math 'whizzes'... I want them to have a good understanding
of everyday math... to be able to do mental math and not have to
rely on a machine to do it for them. I want them to really
understand the math concepts we use in our everyday lives. Math
is really cool... who knew? Hopefully my kids will.

We do use a regular math curriculum in a relaxed way, but as with
all subjects here, we choose to supplement with literature, games
and life-related activities. Often it is through these non-traditional
ways that my children learn and retain mathematical concepts! This
list contains mostly books; I also have a list of games that we play
in our relaxed homeschool as well. Some of the books here are about
life skills... after all, math IS a life skill with real application;
Isn't that the real point of teaching it in the first place?

I hope this list might inspire some to rethink traditional math

Here is a short link to the book list!



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

Resource Review

Don't Make Me Count to Three!
Author: Ginger Plowman
For more information or to order: www.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com

When disciplining our children, it is often easy to deal with the
behavior, but unless we dig deeper to the root of the matter, it can
be like spinning our wheels. Most moms desperately want to address
the heart of our children, molding and shaping their character from
the inside out, but the 'how' of heart discipline often seems so
abstract and harder to attain.

Ginger Plowman has written 'Don't Make Me Count to Three!' to help
moms get to the heart of the matter. She encourages readers to dig
deeper, and take the time to address character issues at their root.
In addition to providing the Biblical reasons why we should deal with
our children's hearts during the discipline process, she also provides
examples of how to accomplish such a challenging task. The questions
she has moms pose to a child during the discipline process draw their
attention away from their words or actions, and cause them to see the
issue in their heart, from God's perspective. Of course, she recommends
using Scripture as a tool to address the issue, and she provides several
great example conversations she has had with her own children.

I wish I had this book when my children were younger! Ginger's wisdom
and practical examples makes this little book a gold mine for moms --
especially those with kids 10 and under (though moms of older kids will
gain insight as well). Highly recommended!

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Hi -- I was wondering if there was some help out there for our
family. We have a 13 year old with Asperger's syndrome (newly
diagnosed), a 6 year old with hearing issues, and we keep a 3
year old and a 1 year old as well. The problem we are having is
that my older child is having a very hard time with basic math.
He seems to be able to handle the algebra, but is struggling
because he can't seem to learn his multiplication facts. In 2nd
and 3rd grade the skip counting was a BIG BEAR and led to many a
tearful breakdown.

With my 6 year old, she can't hear the ending sounds of words or
several letters, so reading is just not happening for her. She
can spell words like cat, hat, dog, and so on, but to give them
to her on a sheet of paper to sound out, once again leads to tears
in our house. Is there help for either of our children out there?
Suggestions for curriculum? Thanks." -- Lisa M.

Our Readers' Responses

"Lisa -- I have a ten year old who has really struggled with basic
math as well. We found 2 things that helped her finally nail the
times tables. Times Tales gives a visual picture and a story to
help the facts stick.

Also, the Aleks math program that was mentioned in the last newsletter
has practice on Quick Tables.  My daughter loves
practicing the tables this way and they can play games that demand
quick answers to the multiplication facts."


"I know that some people do not like to use drills but I have found
that with the multiplication facts, if the kids can't do them
automatically it really does hinder their abilities in higher math
because they make multiple simple errors and take longer to do
complicated equations.

One thing I have used with my son is a 5 minute timed test:

The goal is to be able to complete the sheet in 5 minutes or less.
Once he can do this consistently I will consider him proficient.
This is a skill that takes a long time to learn. I avoided doing
these with my oldest because I hated them when I was young. I now
regret not focusing on them because she is paying for it as she moves
up through higher math." -- Sandy


"My son sounds very much like yours. He is 12 years old and has just
recently shown progress in mastering multiplication facts. We have
tried mnemonic approaches, flash cards, computer drills, etc., all to
no avail. He understands math; in fact he’s quite good at it. What
I’ve done is to progress with what he can handle conceptually and
continue to have him practice math facts daily. You can find some
good information at www.mathmammoth.com under the blue series book,
Multiplication 1, on oral drilling. We also have him complete a
multiplication table each week. He can then use the table to do his
math assignments. At first he took several days to complete the table
and made many mistakes. The last two weeks he has been able to complete
the table in one sitting and has gotten it 100% correct. I think it
has helped him 'see' the patterns, which may be important for a visual-
spatial thinker.

Both of my children could not hear the sounds in words well enough to
read at age six. We spent a lot of time on 'phonemic awareness'. If
you do a search on the internet you can find helpful information. I
would recommend focusing on blending and segmenting activities because
those are the main skills required to learn to read and spell. My son
enjoyed 'Road to the Code' (Paul H. Brooks Publishing), an eleven-week
phonemic awareness course.

The Elkonin boxes helped both of my children immensely. My daughter
preferred the activities in 'Phonemic Awareness Activities for Early
Reading Success'
by Wiley Blevins.

Spelling is an excellent way to lead into reading; I did a lot of
spelling with my son when he was beginning to read because he enjoyed
it better than reading. Now at age 12 it's the other way around!
Take it slowly -- you still have plenty of time to teach her to read."
-- Jenn


"I can give my experience using 'Reading Reflex' by Carmen and Geoffrey
McGuiness. My son, now seven, was really struggling with sounds and
reading, so after trying Hooked on Phonics and Teach Your Child to Read
in 100 Easy Lessons, I took a break for a couple of months and then began
using the Reading Reflex system. It has made an incredible difference
for him! What I like about the system is that it is easy to assess
readiness through the pretests in the beginning of the book, and the
way the authors describe and break down all the concepts that a child
must master in order to learn to read. You'd be surprised at just how
complex a task it is. We've long forgotten that struggle. Actually,
reading involves using several processes that must be done in combination.
The authors break down those processes and show you how to easily teach
each process one at a time, beginning with identifying sounds individually
and combining them into words. This is done before the sound symbols
(letters of the alphabet) are ever introduced. Once the child becomes
proficient in identifying the sounds of speech, then the pictures that
represent those sounds are introduced. Children learn that there are
many sound pictures that represent the sounds in our language. The book
progresses over a long range of time so that you can use it over several
grade levels from pre-first through later elementary grades. It is the
perfect book for the struggling reader. My boy has progressed by leaps
and bounds and is on a second grade reading level already. Also, just
yesterday morning, I awoke to hear him reading a book that we had read
together the night before. He used to fear reading, and now he just loves
the process of decoding new words. The book includes many fun games to
play and is very easy to teach because it is well organized, the lessons
are short and simple, and they give you script so that you'll know what
to say and how to handle errors too.  God bless!" -- Barb

Reading Reflex


"For your daughter, I feel her pain. My son gets speech therapy and
has reading issues with the sounds that he can't say. I don't know
offhand, but you may want to check into reading programs designed for
the profoundly deaf that have less reliance on the phonics side of
things. It may be that the those programs rely more on every word
being a sight word. If this is the case, google '100 most used English
words' and use those words on flash cards until she can get them. Then
go on to the second hundred, and so on. This will cover most of the words
that she will ever encounter. If your daughter gets speech therapy, ask
the therapist for some help with this too. Perhaps if the therapist
works on ending sounds while you work on the same with reading, it will
all click.

For your son - two ideas. Multiplication charts to use as a tool until
the facts are learned, or teach him how to use a calculator. As long as
he understand the concept of how multiplication works, why force the facts
when in all probability once out of the house and on his own he will use a
calculator like everyone else? Teach him how to use the calculator and go
from there. When I was in high school and doing Trigonometry, we were
allowed to use scientific calculators and charts - something that my step-
father was not allowed to do. Times change; don't force something that
can lead to a hatred of math when it sounds like he likes it right now.
Yes, knowing the facts will make it easier in the future at times when a
calculator is not available, but how often does that happen? If really
needed, get him to learn the ones that are used the most - 2, 5 and 10.
At some point I am willing to bet he will learn the others on his own."
-- Cheryl in CA

Answer our NEW Question

"I was just wondering if any of you homeschool year round? I'd
like to start year round rather than what I've been doing, which is
the traditional 9 month year. I'd appreciate any ideas you may
have regarding schedules, routines, classes, etc. Thanks!" -- Cindy


Would you like to share your experience with Cindy?

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

Ask YOUR Question

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

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

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