Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homeschooling- earliest math and money

So, Jay really, really, really wants to homeschool our kids, because he wishes he could have been homeschooled.  I admit, I can see how much better one-on-one attention would be, how much time must wasted by busy-work when one teacher must teach 30 kids at different levels, how public schools must be run for efficiency, not necessarily for maximal learning, etc. etc.  BUT, I still have some reservations about some of the social things, worries about parent/child clash, and wonderings if I could even pull it off better than people who have been doing it for 30 years.  'Cause anyone who knows me knows that I **heart** school.  Seriously!  If I had my way, I would just live on a college campus and take classes the rest of my life.  I just love to learn!  BUT, looking back, I could have probably learned a lot more had I been given one-on-one (or even one-on-3) attention.  However, I am to this day, a pretty awkward person, and without school, I would not know my 2 dearest friends from HS (Hi Linds! Hi Mel!) who know me in a way nobody else ever could, because they were with me through thick and thin since, yes, 7TH GRADE.  And to me, that is invaluable.

BUT, perhaps if I were homeschooled, I would have had more time for social endeavors, and would have tried to make them count more.  Once I hit 7th grade, I did have to pare down on my extracurriculars due to time constraints.  I was sad to let the Salt Lake Children's Choir go.  It would have been fun to keep up on basketball.  I was sad to stop soccer after the next year.  And I could have sought out other unique activities that I just plain didn't have time for with everything else...

So, ANYWAY, I'm willing to give it a shot.  For now, we are happy to have our kids attend BYU preschool and kindergarten- two affordable and excellent programs that do give the kids individual attention with a student:teacher ratio of 4:1.  Meanwhile, Jay and I want to set-up shop and start a routine so we can lay a foundation for later when it really matters more.

I've been really interested in alternative methods for learning math and I've been intrigued by these Cuisenaire Rods.  You can read more about them here.  I really stumbled upon them on when I was looking for some game pieces to use to make a sort of Sequence game for learning letters.  And then I saw these Interlocking Centimeter Cubes and I thought they could probably work for both!

So, I got them and I had no idea how excited the kids (especially The Frog) would be about playing with them.
We've made faces and flowers and even little scenes with them.  But they've also worked great as homemade cuisenaire rods.  (They aren't in the "official" color order here, because I thought rainbow order would be easier to remember.  BUT, I could easily change that :D)

I thought it would be a good idea to get some kind of book to guide me with them at first, and decided upon this one: Miquon Math, Level 1.  Some of the reviews said they thought Lab Sheet Annotations and Mathematics for the Primary Teacher and First-Grade Diary were essential companions, but I'm planning to just check out the first book before I commit.  (Also, since math is kinda my "thing" maybe I won't need answers, explanations, etc?)  I got it, and yes, it has no instruction whatsoever, but I think I get the gyst.
do you recognize this scene?
I actually haven't used them much with The Frog yet because I want to finish up what we've started already (just some addition flash cards we have, using fingers or drawn dots to figure them out) and also because he's been doing subtraction that results in negative numbers already too, and I haven't figured out a great way of doing that with the rods yet.  BUT, I whipped it out with Peach and she had fun doing the first couple of pages (which was just counting) and was especially excited to use "the pink ones".  (an added benefit of using these blocks instead of the rods)
using our rods to show coin values
I think I had my first big win, though, when I used them to talk about money with The Frog.  I've tried to explain coin values to him before, but I just don't have enough pennies lying around to get the point across, and it's also tedious and hard to move them around fast enough when they're all separate.  I think doing this really helped him understand and he keeps asking if we can learn about money again.  Yay!!  I'll report again later when I've experimented a bit more.

I've thought about starting a separate homeschooling blog where I can keep track of what we did, what went well, what didn't, so I'll have a good place to reference for the "next round".

Any clever title ideas?

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