A Charlotte Mason Moment:
“Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught ; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas … which should quicken imagination.”
(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 1, p. 233)
What is one way to ease writing frustrations?
Do your kiddos get frustrated or weary with writing? As the school year is underway, I am reminded of an important tool I use often to ease writing frustrations. We use a 9″ x 12″ dry-erase lapboard and dry erase marker regularly throughout our school day. Writing on a markerboard is a welcome change from writing with a pencil on paper. Lapboards are easy to erase and can be written on much larger than on regular paper. Using a lapboard also helps kiddos focus on a small portion of writing at a time.
How does using a markerboard help ease writing frustrations during math?
Think of some of the frustrations that come with math time. Rushing through problems, making silly mistakes, feeling overwhelmed with too many problems, and messy writing are frustrations that spring to mind. Using a markerboard and a dry erase marker to do the textbook problems can really help with many of the math frustrations. On a markerboard, kiddos can see the problem written larger and have more room to work. They get a break from using a pencil and are able to write larger. They can erase mistakes easily and focus on only one problem at a time. My boys love flashing the markerboard to me, so I can check it quickly. Then, they love erasing the markerboard in a flash after I tell them they have the problem right!
What other subjects work well on a markerboard?
Using a markerboard and a dry erase marker to diagram sentences can really help with grammar frustrations. Diagramming goes quickly on a markerboard, plus it is very visual representation! Having your child write spelling words or studied dictation passages on a markerboard works great too. Writing Drawn into the Heart of Reading responses on a markerboard for your child to copy later is another great use. Listing writing ideas as your child brainstorms them for writing sessions works well too. Writing a numbered lists of school tasks for your child to check off as he works independently is another way we use a markerboard.
Try using a markerboard to make writing more fun.
Once you begin thinking of ways to use a markerboard during your school day, you will find endless uses for it. So try this great tool today! See if it helps ease writing frustrations and make writing more fun at your house. I know it has at mine!
Does your child waste time during math?
As I’ve been thinking about math these last few weeks, I wanted to share a tip that is really needed in this area. The tip is what Charlotte Mason so eloquently refers to as “not letting a child become stupid over his lessons.” In modern day terms, this equates to not letting a child daydream, stare into space, or waste time over his lesson. As parents it is our job to be there during subjects that lead to much wasted time. This is especially true for subjects that can be linked to long pauses between working moments. Math is one of those subjects.
How can you help your child stay focused during math time?
Partnering with your child to talk through math problems is a great way to keep your child focused. Discussing how to solve the problems will keep your child interacting with the text. Pointing out errors immediately and helping your child fix mistakes before they are repeated will move your math time along quickly. Leaving a child to work on his own often means the math lesson will go on much longer than needed! It also means your child could become really frustrated by the lack of forward motion or the sheer volume of problems to be completed.
Staying nearby to help is an easy way to keep math time productive.
Stay nearby to keep math sessions focused and productive. If you catch your child wasting time and staring into space, it often means he needs you to help and redirect. Watch your child during math, and if he “becomes stupid over his lessons,” jump in and move it along. Try this tip and see if your day goes better! I know my days go better when I keep this tip in mind.
Singapore math is different from typical math programs.
One thing I am reminded of as school is underway is the difference between Singapore math and typical math programs. Singapore math is one of those programs that takes a while to wrap your head around philosophy-wise. It is a program that is designed with a terrific ebb and flow of concepts and skills. Yet, often as parents, we get in the way of this ebb and flow by stepping in and adding more and more practice.
Your students are not expected to master every new math concept.
It helps to keep in mind that your students are not intended to master every new math concept you show them. Some concepts are only introduced. Others are practiced more extensively. Still other concepts are meant to be mastered. If, as the parent, we treat every concept like it must be mastered right away, we can truly frustrate our children.
Resist the urge to add more practice.
So, when you think your child may not have fully grasped a concept, resist the urge to add more practice. Don’t jump in and search for more worksheets on the internet or in another source to add to your math lesson. Instead, just partner with your child helping him/her through the lesson to be successful. Then, the next day, move on to the next lesson.
When tough concepts come around again, your child will be older and better equipped.
Be confident that those tough math concepts will come around again the next year in the next level. By then, your child will be a year older and better equipped to deal with those harder concepts. Age helps so much in dealing with abstract concepts!
Each day continue steadily moving forward in math.
Continue steadily moving forward each day through your math lessons. Keep in mind that concepts move from being represented concretely to pictorially to abstractly over time. As students view concepts with increasing levels of abstraction, they move toward math mastery. If you keep this philosophy in mind, you will experience less frustration and more enjoyment in the design of the program.
Math is a subject that needs to be taught.
For this tip, I’ll share something I’ve discovered the hard way. After 30+ years of teaching, I have come to realize math is one subject that needs to be taught. It is not meant to be a self-teaching subject that can be assigned to a student to do on his/her own.
What about using online lessons or video teachers for math?
Even with the aid of an online lesson or video teacher, ultimately with math there will be questions. There will be times when your child hits a stumbling block and needs help to go on. If you have no knowledge about what your child is working on, then the only way to help is to consult the answer key. At that point your child will quickly discover you can offer little help. This is because your child is fully able to check the answer key himself (and doesn’t really need you for that purpose). What he/she does need is the aid of a teacher who can explain the problem in a different way.
What can happen if you expect math to be a self-teaching subject?
With my oldest son, I was hit and miss in helping him with math. I changed math programs so many times looking for the ultimate self-teaching program! This only led to frustration for both my son and for me. In the end, he did manage to get through the needed math programs without me. However, it would have been far better and much less frustrating had I stayed the course with a math program. It also would have been better if I stayed with him to be able to help him along the way.
What are the benefits of staying with your child for math?
With our next three sons, who have varying math abilities, I have stayed with them for math. I quickly go over the textbook first. Then, I watch over them as they get underway on their assignments to be sure they’re started right. Last, I stay close while they work and help them through any frustrations. I have re-learned math along with my boys. What a different experience my next three boys have had with math, simply because of how I approached it!
Make staying with your child for math a priority!
I encourage you to make staying with your child for math a priority. This doesn’t mean you need to devote an hour to math per child per day. Instead, it means you should be there to teach 5-15 min. at the beginning of the lesson. Next, guide your student for another 5-10 minutes. Then, check-in closely while your child works. If you can’t find the time to be present for math, consider assigning another mathematical child in your family to help. Partner with your child to be successful in math. It will reap untold benefits whether your child is mathy or not!