Friday, February 22, 2013

Homeschool Math Curriculum

The one subject I've known would be a challenge to teach my kids is math.  It's been so many years since I used math for anything more than just making change in shopping or figuring out percentages. I knew I could handle teaching it in elementary school, but beyond that, I worried about what I would do.  

Over the years we tried several different math curricula, trying to find the program best suited for my children.  I have a son that is very analytical and can easily figure out a math textbook as he reads it. My daughters are more visual and hands on. They need to see how it works.  While my son can read the directions and do it, my daughters need motivation.  Which is why I'm so glad to have found an online math curriculum that works great for my younger daughter. It's engaging and effective.  Unfortunately for my older daughter, it only goes as far as 8th grade, and she's in 11th grade. 

It's such a relief that my daughter is enjoying math.  To reinforce a math concept she has just covered in her lessons, I will sometimes use some math printable worksheets.  These are so helpful for my daughter because she needs a lot of repetition. In addition to the worksheets, I find online math games for her.  I found a few good money games for her, since that's what we've been working on the last few months.  In addition, we also play some shopping games together and she helps me out at the grocery store.  This helps her to really grasp the concept of using money and making small change.  Well, we haven't gotten to the part of making change, but that will be next. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reading Comprehension

We're working on reading comprehension with our youngest daughter Ramona.   Right now Ramona is reading a simply funny book called Ramona the Brave.  It's also a story her older sister used to do as a skit for a speech competition.  She likes the story so much she wants to be called Ramona.  So I've decided to use the name Ramona on this blog to refer to her.

Ramona loves to read, but I wasn't sure if she was understanding everything she was reading. When reading a book together, I occasionally pause to ask her questions from the excerpt we've just read, but she struggles in her responses.  A sweet friend recently bought Ramona a great reading comprehension workbook.  This workbook has served a dual purpose because she's able to also practice her handwriting as she answers the questions.  When she first started writing, she practiced her handwriting mostly on a dry-erase board.  She loves these boards, so it motivated her in practicing her writing.  But as she is getting older, I print up our own handwriting worksheets for her to practice handwriting.

To help her with reading comprehension, I have started to create a list of vocabulary words from whatever book she is reading.  I have her play some vocabulary games online using this list so that she can become familiar with the words that she'll be seeing as she reads her book.  I use this same list of vocabulary words for her handwriting worksheets.  This site has vocabulary lists to choose from, or you can create your own.  I find that these games have been so beneficial in Ramona's learning.  I'm always trying to find new ways to make learning fun for her and to supplement our curriculum.

My older kids are more independent in their studies.  I guide them and check their work as they follow their lesson plans.  A few days ago, though, as I was reading through their Apologia Science book, I realized I could probably create a vocabulary list for them, too.  I picked up the Apologia book, and looking at the unit study and the test, I created a vocabulary list with definitions.  I was so excited when I finished the list.  I immediately called my son over and we went through a word match game.  He had to match the vocabulary word to the sentence.  It almost looked like the actual test, except that I used slightly different definitions, taking them from the dictionary.  Of course I made sure it was a similar scientific definition to what was referred to in the book.  Once he finished a couple of games and saw the vocabulary words he missed or got wrong, I had a better idea of what portion of the unit I needed to review with him.  It was a good way to see how much he retained from his reading before taking the unit test. 

I think I was more excited with the whole idea than he was, but he still liked me going through it with him.  He did find it helpful.  I wish I'd known of this the last couple of years when they were taking Latin.  It sure would've been helpful with learning all the Latin vocabulary words.  Isn't it exciting when we find a new resource to use in helping our children increase understanding on a subject matter?  Oh, the little things that motivate and excite us homeschool mommies. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homeschool Dyslexia

As I mentioned in my last post, reading is my favorite subject to teach.  As a reading tutor, I have worked with a few children who have dyslexia.  The reading program that I use was specifically designed for children who are diagnosed with learning difficulties or dyslexia.  A few years ago our daughter, who has Down syndrome, was struggling with her reading.  In my search for a reading program for her, I came across Phono-Graphix.  Using this reading program I was able to teach her that letters are pictures of sounds. So rather than teach her the names of letters and then the sounds, she learned the sounds of individual letters. Children learn to speak before they learn to read, so they know sounds already. We then moved on to teaching her to recognize that some sound pictures can be made up of more than one letter. For example, oe, oa, ough, o, and ow all are sound pictures which we read with the 'o' sound when we see them in a word.  There are a few other concepts, but we were able to move quickly through this program and within months her reading had improved dramatically.  Giving her spelling lists by grade and creating our own lists for her to study vocabulary helps reinforce these concepts of the different sound pictures in words and also helps to increase her reading comprehension.

To homeschool dyslexia or a child with learning difficulties can be a challenge for parent as well as the child. Which is why I was so excited when I found this reading program, and when I discovered Time4Learning.  It's not easy to find curriculum that makes learning fun for my daughter.  When learning can be a challenge, finding programs and curriculum that motivates her is always exciting. There are so many different curricula available to homeschoolers, but not many that are created with our children in mind who have special educational needs. So when I come across something that works, I want to share it with the world...especially the world of families with special needs!!