Thursday, August 30, 2007

Math for "right-brained" learners

I love my eight-year-old. She is very artistic, creative, and has a great imagination. But it is very hard to get math across to her. It seems as if she makes things too hard. She will understand the general lesson, but when it comes to working the problems, she has so much trouble getting through it. I feel like she just freezes sometimes.

I know she needs to drill some of these addition facts, but she tenses up whenever I mention it. She is very worried if I try to give her a time limit, but I know that her dependence on a number line is going to make math harder for her later on.

Last spring at our local homeschool convention, we had a chance to hear from Dianne Craft. I missed her talk about right-brained learners, but I snagged a handout. There was my sweet little girl, all described in black and white on the page. I went over to her table and got a copy of a lecture that she had done about right-brained learners. She was selling a set of flashcards to teach multiplication to right-brained kids. I did not buy it because frankly, I didn’t want to think about multiplication until we got past the obstacle of addition and subtraction!

One day this past summer, I found a couple of books on Amazon. They are called Addition the Fun Way, and Times Tables the Fun Way. They are written by Judy Liautaud. Dianne Craft says on her website that, “Right brainers learn anything easier when emotion, color, or stories are added to the learning method.” These books fit that description perfectly.

We have not tried the Times Tables book yet. The addition book is going so well, I want to give that a chance to take hold. I can tell you that she is enjoying the new way of doing math. The speed isn’t quite there yet, we’ve been doing this such a short time. But she is changing her attitude and is much more relaxed about math. She wants to do it, and has fun telling me the story that goes along with each addition problem I give her.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Classical Music for Your Kids

There is quite a bit of free classical music available via the Internet...

There is quite a bit of free classical music available via the Internet, and much of it is downloadable. If you know the composer or the title of the piece, look it up on Classic Cat. This is a website I’ve been using and it seems to be updated regularly. They do not have MP3s on their site. Instead, they have a database with links to the site where it can be downloaded. Much of the music is provided by local orchestras and even individual musicians, often students. The US Air Force Bands have a site for downloading some MP3s here. Here you can find lots of classical, patriotic, and marches, as well as ceremonial music, such as Hail to the Chief.

I have found some sites that are dedicated to educating kids about classical music. One is a radio program that is archived on Classics for Kids. It has composer information as well as several songs you can listen to. Two other good ones are from Dallas Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony. They have some games and little educational activities, related to the orchestra.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some of my LA Lessons

Here are a couple of the Language Arts copywork lessons I wrote for my daughter, who is 8 years old and at third grade level. These are provided so that you can see what another family is doing. I'm in no way saying, "Do it this way!" I will say that my daughter has done these two lessons and they were neither too easy nor too hard.

Lesson One
Lesson Two

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Deciding between the Grammar Approach and the Natural Approach

This summer I’ve been re-reading some education books by Ruth Beechick. She is a proponent of the natural method of learning to write. This is the way children learn speech, and the short definition she gives is this: Children learn to write by writing.

This is the method I’ve been using so far with Peanut. It has been working, but I started wondering if this year I should just get her some grammar workbooks and go that way. It is a hard decision to make. So far, she has been doing copying and slow dictation, as well as some writing on her own. Her own writing is usually to describe her drawings or to write small books that she is illustrating. According to Beechick, she would benefit from writing from models, instead of so much of her own creative writing. It does not help that she is a pretty reluctant writer, especially when it comes to something that she did not think of herself, but I suppose that is how most kids are.

The little booklet I have, A Strong Start in Language, does have a checklist of objectives. That is helpful. It also has some sample lessons, and those are very helpful. I am going to use those to make some lessons that come directly from our daily reading. I plan on sharing some of those lessons here in the days to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Schedule for this year

This is my first year to make my own curriculum schedule. The past two years we have used Sonlight 1 and 2 with Peanut. This year, in an effort to get both kids on the same page in some subjects, we are combining Sonlight 1 and 2 in one year, but making a few changes. It will be a review for Peanut, but I don’t think it will bore her. We are going to add a few more activities and switch to The Story of the World, instead of the books that Sonlight recommends.

Sonlight sells a conbined schedule for doing 1 and 2 in one year, but I waned to make some changes, so I made my own schedule. It was kind of a confusing experience, but I finally have made a schedule that will take us almost to Christmas. I got us through the first volume of Story of the World, anyway.

Here is what we will be using:
Bible and Bible Memory
Will follow Sonlight 1 & 2 schedule loosely. The kids will probably do AWANA at church as well.
History and GeographyThe Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer and Missionary Stories with the Millers by Mildred A. Martin.
ScienceConsidering God’s Creation by Betty Smith and Susan Mortimer.Eagle's Wings
MathSingapore Math – Primary 1A for Junior, and Primary 2B for Peanut
PhonicsExplode the Code 3 and Really Reading(free resource!) for Junior.
Language ArtsDoing my own based on Ruth Beechick’s 3-R’s series “A Strong Start in Language” for Peanut. More on this later...
HandwritingHandwriting Without Tears – My Printing Book for Junior, Cursive Handwriting for Peanut.
SpellingPeanut - finish Sequential Spelling Book 1, then begin Book 2
LatinPrima Christiana for both kids. These are short, sweet lessons. The goal is just to teach the basics of Latin to help with vocabulary later on.
CharacterCharacter Building for Families Vol. 1 by Lee Ann Rubsam
CopyworkWill usually come from the Character lessons or Bible Memory.
ReadingStart out with The Beginner’s Bible for Junior. I am still working out a list of books and a schedule for Peanut.
Music and PianoWe will use My First Hymnal, then go to the church hymnal from there. Every 6 weeks, we will do a unit on a different composer. We will start out with Bach, then Handel, the Mozart, and that takes us through December. For Piano, we are using Alfred’s Prep Course: A for Junior, B for Peanut.
Read-aloudsThis will follow Sonlight 1 and 2 loosely. We will have to leave some out, but at least since Peanut and I did these before, we have an idea of which books we could skip, and which books are must-reads. Since they are old to Peanut, we will probably select some really good books for her bedtime, that way she has something new.

This has been a tough job and I am just half-way through. Scheduling is not easy. For one thing, there were too many chapters in The Story of the World to get it all done in 18 weeks, which is the goal. So I had to go through and cut some chapters. Then with science, I started out just going through the book from the beginning. That was fine until I got to Plants. I figured out that we would be starting on that at the end of October. So that would make it difficult to go out and find flowers, leaves, etc. So we will need to do the chapters on plants first. I hope that the second half of the year is easier.