Extra Math Practice for Kids

I’m somewhat of a math geek. I love playing with numbers, budgeting, and doing anything that has to do with math. I figure gas mileage in my head as I’m driving, figure monthly savings plans, and a whole lot more every single day. All this because I’m just good at math, and it comes naturally to me.

I wasn’t always good in math. I remember vividly falling behind in 2nd grade on the speed math tests. The “tick tick tick” of the clock was extremely distracting and stressful. The harder the problems got, the more I struggled.

It wasn’t until I got a little computer (this was the 80s people – I use the term “computer” lightly) just for math that my scores began to improve. Speed tests were a joke, really. What I needed most of all was just constant practice until those numbers were beat into my head permanently.

Since my son is homeschooled, we have a variety of websites bookmarked for various subjects. One of the most important is The Math Worksheet Site.

I absolutely love this site. Instead of focusing on speed tests and how fast they can (sometimes) complete problems, my son can go at his own speed and figure out each on in his own time. Honestly how good of practice are they getting when they can’t complete all the problems in a specific amount of time? No, for my son I know daily practice at his OWN speed is more important.

Since an entire page can seem daunting, we print out sheets weekly and work on them every day. I go with the “mixed problems” option, and chose the highest number of problems per sheet so he’s got plenty to do each day. It also saves on paper!

You don’t need to have a homeschool kid to use this site, either. If you have a child struggling with math, this is an excellent site to use.

Good luck!

Indoor Physical Activities with the Kids

I was wandering around some blogs and forums a little lost today, and stumbled on a blog post on Eccentric WAHM Bloggers all about Fitness in Your Day to Day. There’s three really awesome ideas here, and it got me thinking. With it being winter and reaaaaaally cold outside, going for a bike ride or a quick trip to the park is just out of the question. And now that I have one kid at home, finding some indoor activities is going to be pretty important. So let me add some fun (and productive) activities to do:

1. Wii!

Eh, I know we don’t all have a Wii. But I really, really do think this is an important addition to any household. It’s not “just another game system”, but is just AWESOME for physical fitness. I think this is an absolute must for homeschoolers. (On a side note – we went to the “real bowling alley” last weekend and ONE GAME for 1 adult and 2 kids with a small “snack” cost us over $30! GAH!)

2. Cleaning Challenges

Who’s the fastest picker-upper? How many windows can you clean in 5 minutes? What’s the record time in the house for taking out the garbage? Have some fun, get the house cleaned, and burn some calories! If you live in an area where they do pop can/bottle returns, you can throw some math into the mix as well counting nickels/dimes.

3. Take a Walk – Indoors

Take a trip to the local historical museums, learning centers, or other large indoor complexes. Not all of them cost money to visit either, so keep your eyes peeled for awesome places you can spend a few hours walking around in. For those of us that sit on our butts all day, this is excellent exercise. Plus if it’s cold, you can race to the car when your finished (I think we all do this anyway when the temp is below zero!)

What are some other activities you do in your house with your kids?

Homeschooling Resources

Since things took a major turn for the worst at school and with the support of an independent councilor, we’re jumping into the unknown world of homeschooling. Like, immediately. I’ve had about a week to really get ready for this and the start date is coming up WAY fast. Honestly, I’m terrified.

As I’m filling out paper work, I get down to the “Course of Study” section where they want me to detail what exactly I’ll be teaching the kid, and from what sources. Oh. Crap. I’ve had some idea sketched down and in my head, plus I’ve done some digging before. But on paper, in their little form, it doesn’t look that great. At least not to me. We have no books, no supplies outside of computer. “Random resources online” isn’t good enough for me or my kid, so I had to come up with something pretty damn fast.

What I finally decided on, mostly for my own sanity and so I KNOW he’s getting proper education (I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed, especially when it comes to things like 3rd grade grammar!), was an all-in-one “self teaching” site. Specifically, Time4Learning.com.

Honestly we haven’t tried it, but we will. This is going to be the main source of his education, which does include math, language arts, science, and social studies. It won’t be the ONLY source, oh no. But the MAIN at least, giving me a little more piece of mind. It’s a little pricey at $20/mo, but since this is a temporary thing anyway, I’ll eat the cost for 3 or 4 months. Plus this is the point where I say something corny like “you can’t put a price on good education”. Meh.

So to please myself and the officials in charge, we’ll be MOSTLY going off Time4Learning. But also in his list of daily, weekly, and monthly education, we’ll be doing the following:

– Daily math drills, using this site.

– Science experiments from his “ Magical Science Experiments Book” book he got for Christmas (love this book, actually gives the reasons WHY these experiments work the way they do).

– “Journal writing”, which is actually BLOGGING. Yes, not only do I want my kid to practice writing but doing so online like normal people in this century. He’s got a blog at KidzWorld.

– Weekly spelling lists and daily practice (handwriting, really, and spelling repetition TO A POINT. This kid can spell, I’m not going to hound him with pointless practice like the school does. Can we way “waste of time”?) Getting those spelling words, at least to start, from this site.

– Daily work on his story. Now this is a bit more “specific” to him. This kid out of the blue decided to start writing on a story. Well I’m going to be treading on thin ice with this one because too much “pushing” and I know he’ll abandon it, but I’m going to move in slowly. I wont FORCE him to work on it, but rather suggest. Plus put some of his grammar skills to use and have him “self check”. I know there’s nothing more irritating to me when someone makes zero comments on the story and just points out all my errors. Grr. No. Not going to do that to him.

– Daily cursive writing practice. Yeah I really have no idea why, but they’re doing it at school. Probably a good idea I throw that in there.

– Trips! Oh, the trips we shall take. Especially when the weather gets nicer and we can plan outdoor “stuff” like parks and wild life places. Although the most special thing that came to my mind was being able to go visit my grandmother on her farm. Talk about packed with history. She was born a packrat, and has more historical items in her house than most small town historical buildings. When I was a child, saying “what’s that?” at her house turned into a fascinating story of turn-of-the-century farming and personal stories of “when I was a kid we had to….”. You CAN NOT read this stuff in books, that’s for damn sure. My only regret is losing my grandfather last summer, and all his war stories. Hopefully, though, my grandma and I can remember some.

Anyway, I’m still terrified, but a little less now that I have the main site to go off of and some fun ideas I know I can handle “supervising” at least. Lucky for me, my son is a very independent learner and has little problems staying on task if given a list. Might take a few weeks for us both to get use to this, but I don’t see any MAJOR problems right now.

If anyone has any other sites to go off of, (maybe something cheaper? 😦 ), please feel free to leave comments!

Is Your Child Being Bullied?

The other day while writing an article about how serious bullying really is I came across a wonderful site for kids and adults.

The site is called “Stop Bullying Now!” and it gives tips, information, and resources for kids who are bullied (or do the bullying), kids who witness it, and also for adults (parents, teachers, and other adults involved with kids).

What I like the most about this site is how it emphasizes the seriousness of bullying, and how to handle the situation with your kids. Since bullying is something we were dealing with at school before we went on summer vacation, I found that section extremely helpful.

There are some good notes on how to push the school to get it stopped, but unfortunately our school isn’t taking it so seriously and I felt like we were in an uphill battle. I’ve been told over and over again the bully that’s been picking on my child “does it to everyone”, and they don’t really see it as a problem. I disagree, since I believe it was one the main causes for my son’s recent diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, who already had mild behavior problems.

Anyway, I do recommend checking out this site if you are a parent, even if you don’t think your child is dealing with a bully. It’s a very serious issue that can lead to long term problems later in life, so it’s best to catch it as early as possible.

Public School or Homeschool?

This has been on my mind for quite some time. My oldest has had problems “fitting in” at public school, and behavior has gone from bad to worse in the past few weeks. We’re to the point he is now seeing an outside counselor because I didn’t know what else to do.

It’s not that he isn’t smart. Quite the opposite actually, he’s way ahead of his class in reading. Everything else he’s quite “average”, but I have to wonder if he wouldn’t be ahead in other things if he was actually LEARNING at school instead of being put in a room by himself as punishment for not falling in line.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there needs to be certain structure in a child’s life. We all have to live by certain rules, and can’t always have it “our way” on demand. We can’t just do whatever we want any time we want. Kids DO need structure.

But I have to wonder how MUCH structure is actually needed. The main problem with my son is he is very independent. He doesn’t like to be taught to, but rather likes figuring out things for himself. He takes great pride in finishing a project without help, and will go so far as to teach others how to do it. You could say he’s a leader, not a follower.

It’s becoming obvious that homeschool is a better option for him. When the kid spends most of his time in a room alone or in the office, what is he learning? This kid needs one on one help, which the school just can’t give.

I’ve witnessed how smart this kid really is. A few weeks ago I planned to have him out of school because he had an appointment with the councelor. His work for the day was given to us ahead of time. The appointment wasn’t until 1pm, so we had all morning to do the work. He’s quite a stubborn kid, so actually getting him to do what he doesn’t want to do can be somewhat of a challenge. Plus this work seemed meaningless to him, which makes the task that much harder. After some resistance, he did in fact finish his work for the day. In less than two hours! If he would have just sat down and did it quickly, it would have taken no more than a half hour. What exactly are they DOING at school anyway?

I guess at this point I see the public school as a threat to his mental health as well as education. If he’s constantly fighting the school, he’s exhausting himself and not learning anything. Right now he’s only in first grade, but how long before he is falling behind the rest of the class because his energy is spent fighting the system? How long before his social skills start to suffer because he’s in a room all by himself?

My biggest concern with homeschool has always been the social aspect. Although now I’m really starting to question if a public school isn’t hindering his social skills because he’s being pulled out of the class so much. He’s spending his recess inside because he’s fighting the work. Recess that he of course does NOT get to make up. I understand in the real world there is an order to things, and we have to do things we don’t want to do before we go play. However, when an adult finishes their work, they get free time. They aren’t shuffled off to another activity that is of little interest to them.

In conclusion I believe I have a smart, self sufficient child who is being serious stifled in the public schools. As we work our way through counseling, I’m weighing the options of keeping him in school verses homeschooling (see this article on Homeschooling vs. Public School).

What’s your thoughts?