Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Learning Dangerously Newsletter #1

Hi and welcome! This is the first weekly newsletter I’ll be sending from the trenches of untraditional educating. I’ll give you tips and shortcuts recommended by seasoned homeschoolers which can be used by your family, regardless of how you eductae your kids. I'll also include a glimpse into my life, homeschoolers in the news, and whatever else I think you might want to know. What you won't get are recipes. I’m a terrible cook. As I write this it's Tuesday, not quite 8am here in Los Angeles and Alice is already homeschooling. Wait, sorry. I meant to say: “Alice is reading THE EYRE AFFAIR in her bedroom and I’m giving her a wide berth because the first hour of her day isn’t her most delightful hour.” Does that mean homeschool works, because we can arrange for her to start the intellectual heavy lifting when her brain is up to it? Or does it mean homeschool fails because several of her friends have already been in school for a half-hour and my daughter isn’t learning how to take notes while still sleeping? Too soon to tell. I’ll respectfully note that every college student I ever knew arranged their class schedules so they didn’t have to get up before 10, and most of them managed to make it to work upon graduation. That much-studied teenage habit of staying up late and then needing to sleep in is, for most people, a temporary quirk. Maybe homeschool’s greatest charm is recognizing that children are individuals and need to be taken on a case-by-case basis for as long as possible. Which leads me to the multiplication tables. Some people come to them easily. Some struggle a bit. Some parents still look ashen decades later as they recall their children's stubborn inability to remember 8 x 7. (That ashen person is my mother. For a while I was convinced 8 X 7 = 45, and she spent the better part of a year trying to dissuade me.) Homeschooling parents don’t all approach huge, rote projects like memorizing the multiplication tables the same way. Some parents start the process early, assuming a supple mind, a quiet kitchen table and a mother with a degree in mechanical engineering will work together to speed the process along. Some parents assume that when the child needs it, he or she will pick it up quickly. Others fight with their child every step of the way and remember it as “The year we cried all the time.” And still others find shortcuts. Here are some suggestions from different homeschooling families I know: -Schoolhouse Rock Always. In our house, Alice could not, would not, memorize her times tables, but SR teaches them to skip-count the five multiples on their fingers and by chance I discovered she would do that for any of the other multiples up to 9 simply because it was fun. Without Schoolhouse Rock, I’m convinced we’d have been at the tables for another year. You can find it on YouTube and do it for free. -http://timestales.com/ We didn’t do this one, but people who did love it. The website claims the kids get the upper multiplication tables in an hour and that it can be used by kids with learning disabilities. This is the only one of the websites which you have to pay for before doing anything. -http://www.bigbrainz.com/Downloads.html BigBrainz has games to teach multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. You have to pay to access some of the content, but there are free versions to try out, so it’s worth seeing if it would work for your family. -Xgerms Multiplication (http://k12.http.internapcdn.net/k12_vitalstream_com/CURRICULUM/316351/CURRENT_RELEASE/CompFluencyMultiplication.html) is a game through the K12 online charter school but it’s available to everyone. The player answers multiplication questions to kill a germ, or drain its essence, or something. It’s engaging and distracting and makes rote learning painless. Yes, to make sure that I could speak of it with some knowledge, I played the game. I’m here to tell you that I (almost) didn’t feel nauseated when 7 x 8 popped up. So, you know, progress. If there’s a subject you’d like me to cover or something you want to teach, or if you want some shortcuts or tools to help your child supplement their schoolwork please let me know and I'll find it for you! Finally, this week in homeschooling news? The rising numbers and growing acceptance of homeschooling among military families.http://tinyurl.com/ln7jym7 See you next week!

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