Use a markerboard to ease writing frustrations in math!

Teaching Tip:

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!

Blessings,

Carrie

Does your child waste time during math?

Teaching Tip: 

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.

Blessings,
Carrie

Algebra 1 Choices for 9th Grade

Dear Carrie,

Question:  What are the differences among the Algebra 1 choices for 9th grade math?

Dear Carrie,

We’ve enjoyed using Heart of Dakota for many years, and we are getting ready to start 9th grade high school!  I’m hoping you can help me weigh the pros and cons of the Algebra 1 choices for math. My son will be in 9th grade and in the World Geography guide this year. He finished all of the Singapore Math through 7th grade. In 8th grade, he did Principles of Mathematics Book 2. I’m trying to decide which program to go with next. Could you tell me from your experiences what you saw as pros and cons of each for 9th grade? Thanks so much!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Help Me Choose the Best Algebra 1 for My 9th Grade Son”

Dear “Ms. Help Me Choose the Best Algebra 1 for My 9th Grade Son,”

For 9th grade, I did VideoText Algebra for our oldest son, Foerster’s Algebra for our second son, and mathhelp.com (yourteacher.com) for Algebra with our third son. Our oldest son also did No-Nonsense Algebra prior to beginning VideoText Algebra, just because I wasn’t sure where to go next with him in the 8th grade. So, we’ve actually done all the programs we recommend.

Each Algtebra 1 math program has its positives.

Each Algebra 1 math program is different from the others, and each program has its positives. No-Nonsense is definitely a shorter, no-frills Algebra program. It is for the 9th grade math student who struggles with math. VideoText Algebra is either for a motivated, independent student or for a student whose parent has time to be involved in the program daily. Foerster’s is a more challenging program especially in the area of word problems.

There are a few differences in each of the math Algebra 1 programs.

Foerster’s Algebra 1 requires a strong, independent math student. I did not help my 9th grade oldest son with VideoText Algebra. He got through it, but it took longer than anticipated. This was due to the fact that he is a perfectionist and wouldn’t move on until he had mastered the material. I helped my second son with Foerster’s Algebra I. We did not use the videos and just went over the lesson in the book together. Then, my son worked the problems with some oversight from me. When he later moved into Foerster’s Algebra II with the videos, he was able to do his math on his own. I helped my third son in 9th grade this past year with http://www.mathhelp.com. We went over the videos and examples together.

I determined I needed to be more involved in helping with Algebra 1 as needed.

After losing track of my oldest son’s math, I determined that I needed to be involved in helping the rest of the boys with their math. I will say that my oldest son did fine doing math on his own, but I wasn’t able to help him if he needed help. This left me feeling out-of-touch. So, I became more involved with my later boys.

Each of the math programs prepared our sons well for their future math needs.

Each of the programs do a good job of helping kiddos get through math. My sons have varying abilities when it comes to math, and they have all done fine with the programs they have used. Our oldest son was able to test out of most of his algebra quickly for ACE credit which his college accepted. Our second son was able to CLEP out of College Mathematics after doing a quick refresher course. So, we feel good about the math choices we recommend. They do a great job of preparing kiddos for their future math needs.   I hope this helps!

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S. If you are new to Heart of Dakota, check out our Top 10 Questions!

Have you ever considered skip counting as a math help?

Teaching Tip

Have you ever considered skip counting as a math help?

As soon as our kiddos start learning about multiplication, we teach them to skip count.  They learn to skip count by singing along with skip counting songs. Our boys learned songs for the 2’s on up through the 12’s. For example, for the 2’s they learned to count 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18.

Why is skip counting a helpful math tool?

Skip counting makes doing multiplication much easier.  It is also very helpful once kiddos get to least common multiple and greatest common factor.  A myriad of other math-related tasks such as dividing are also easier if kids know how to skip count!

Skip counting doesn’t replace the need to memorize math facts.

It’s important to note that skip counting should not replace the need for a child to eventually know his facts. However, it is a great intermediary step.  It is much more fun than straight fact memorization when just learning about multiplication and division.

What can you use for skip counting help?

We’ve enjoyed the Skip Count Kids Bible Heroes CD, but you could use any skip count method you like.  The CD we used is now available in Mp3 and digital versions by clicking here. 

This is the only thing we’ve ever added to Singapore math, and we’ve found it pays big dividends for years to come! A side benefit is that even our little ones know the songs from an early age.

Blessings,
Carrie

Summer is coming! Are you allowing distractions into your day?

How much time are you spending on language arts and math?

Take Away His Slate and Let Him Read History

A Charlotte Mason Moment

Take away his slate and let him read history.

“The brain, or some portion of the brain, becomes exhausted when any given function has been exercised too long. The child has been doing sums for some time, and is getting unaccountably stupid: take away his slate and let him read history, and you find his wits fresh again. Imagination, which has had no part in sums, is called into play by the history lesson, and the child brings a lively unexhausted power to his new work. School time-tables are usually drawn up with a view to give the brain of the child variety of work; but the secret of weariness in children often show in the home schoolroom is, that no such judicious change of lessons is contrived.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 24)