Stay with your child for math!

Teaching Tip:

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!

Blessings,
Carrie

Don’t overthink Drawn into the Heart of Reading

Teaching Tip: 

Don’t overthink Drawn into the Heart of Reading.

In getting started with Drawn into the Heart of Reading, I would encourage you NOT to overthink it. Instead, I would boil down starting DITHR to the following quick, easy steps.

Try these easy steps for a successful experience with Drawn into the Heart of Reading!

1. Choose which genre to do first with your child. Typically this should be a type of literature your child likes/loves to read. This will encourage a good start!

2. Open up your Student Book to that genre.  Decide how many books your child will read for that genre. To keep it simple, start with the fewest amount of books feasible. Often this is 1 or 2 short books at the younger reading level and 1 book at the upper reading level. Keep the readings short.

3. Fill in the calendar with the pages to be read each day. The calendar is in the Student Book behind the genre description sheet.

4. Choose one simple kick-off idea from the first day of plans for that genre. Keep it simple, so it goes quickly. Later, once you’re comfortable with DITHR, you can choose to do a kick-off up big. For now, keep it short and sweet.

5. Begin the next day. Then, just do a day of plans each day. If your child bogs down in the writing, write for him/her. Or, write part of the page and have your child just copy one sentence from a markerboard. The focus is on the reading and discussing, not the writing.

6. When you get to the project at the end of the unit, give your child a day off from DITHR.  Use that day off to pick a project from the 3 project options right during your normal DITHR time.

7. When working on the project, do not let the time go too long each day. Just cut the project off each day in tiny bite-sized pieces. If the project goes over 5 days, wrap it up.

8. When you get to the start of the next genre, give your child another day off from DITHR.  Then, do steps 1 – 4 above right during the school day during your normal DITHR time. This way, there is no prep. or planning in the evening.

See if these simple steps help you start Drawn into the Heart of Reading successfully!

What are you waiting for? Follow the steps above and get started on DITHR today!  Many of my boys favorite books, projects, and discussions came from our time in DITHR.  So, get started today!

Happy reading!
Carrie

PS: Interested in Drawn into the Heart of Reading? You might like this blog post by Julie too!

Drawn into the Heart of Reading: A Multi-Level Reading Program That Works with Any Books

Singapore math is different from typical math programs.

Teaching Tip:

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.

Blessings,
Carrie

Let the design of the HOD guide help you keep your day in balance.

Teaching Tip: 

Let the design of the HOD guide help you keep your day in balance.

My tip this week has to do with the design of our guides. Each guide is designed in a way that is meant to help you keep your days in balance.

The boxes in the guide work together to create a balance of skills each day.

Each box in the HOD guide has a specific pattern it follows each week. Each box also has a certain set of skills it is meant to help your child gain. The boxes work together to create a balance of skills each day. The boxes also work together to utilize a variety of learning styles across the day.

Following the daily plans lets the design of the guide work for you.

My tip then is to encourage you to follow the HOD plans by doing a day of plans within a day. This means striving not to shift boxes to a different day. It also means not grouping multiple days of the same boxes together on a single day or skipping boxes. While this seems like such a simple tip, you will truly reap huge benefits if you let the design of the guides do the work for you. This is because the design of the guides automatically sets a routine in place each day. This routine focuses on a balance of skills daily and hits all the learning styles daily.

When you tweak a guide, you remove the pattern and balance of skills and learning styles.

Often, when you tweak an HOD guide, you are removing the patterns that lead to independence. Tweaking also shifts the balance of skills that keep a child from frustration. Last, tweaking affects or omits the variety of learning styles that keep each day fresh without you even realizing it.

Try using the guides as written and see if your day feels more balanced.

I encourage you to try using the guides as written. You may be surprised over time to find that your child is happier and so are you!

Blessings,
Carrie

Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

Teaching Tip:

Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

One of my absolute favorite Charlotte Mason-style teaching strategies is the way she uses studied dictation. This is because studied dictation encompasses so many skills within a short session.

What skills are included within a studied dictation lesson?

Before the dictating begins, studying the passage first encourages students to picture correct spelling and punctuation on their mental blackboards. As the passage is dictated, students hone their auditory and verbal skills as they listen and repeat the passage before writing. Correcting their own passage by checking it against a correctly written model practices proofreading skills. Immediately fixing any mistakes means errors in spelling take less root in the child’s mind. Repeating a missed passage once daily until it is written correctly helps students replace an incorrect model with a correct model in their mind. Through the studied dictation process, your children are learning spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills too.

How can you help your children carry dictation skills over into their written work?

Once your children are making progress in dictation, it is time to begin helping them carry these skills over to their written work. One easy way to help students do this is to begin having them read aloud to you anything they write for school. As they read aloud what they have written, they will begin to catch some very noticeable mistakes. These obvious mistakes usually include missing words, double words, or very long run-on sentences with no punctuation. As students read aloud their written work, it is important that you are next to them with your pencil in hand. As they read, gently point out a few things to add. Often these things include missing words, periods, capital letters, commas, and question marks.

How can you address incorrect spelling in written work?

After your child has read aloud his written work, go back and write in pencil the correct spelling above any word that needs fixing. Then, have your child erase the incorrect word, copy your correct spelling in its place, and then erase your word (leaving a clean copy). If you do this regularly, your child will start to notice errors more and more on his own.

Proofreading takes training.

Proofreading takes training, just like anything else. It doesn’t happen naturally. One side note of this process is that you may see the volume of your child’s writing decline for awhile. This is alright, as it is honestly better to produce less quantity that is well-done than volumes written poorly. So, try having your child read aloud his writing today, and let the training begin!

Blessings,

Carrie