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!
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 of a teacher’s most important roles?
When you think of teaching, what roles automatically come to mind? Being a teacher is definitely about scheduling, planning, teaching lessons, guiding, directing, correcting, and student accountability. It is also about partnering with your students to help them accomplish needed goals. The partnering role is one that is easily overlooked in the “structure” of the daily plan. Today’s tip is a reminder that the partnering role may be our most important role of all!
What does it mean to “partner” with your students?
Partnering means being ready and willing to help in whatever way is needed for your kiddos to be successful. This means when students fall behind in their day, it is part of our job to jump in and help them catch up. Maybe they fell behind due to struggling with an assignment or a lack of understanding. Perhaps an assignment went longer than expected or the kiddos were just plain dawdling. No matter the reason they fell behind, partnering means our kids’ success is linked to us. So, if they are falling behind, we need to jump in and help.
What are some ways you can partner with your students?
One easy way to partner with your students is to do the English lesson orally. While you still cover the entire lesson, your students tell you the answers instead of writing them. Or, you could write part or all of the Drawn into the Heart of Reading Student Book assignment for your child. In this scenario, you act as the scribe to complete the Student Book page while your student tells you the answers. Another option is to write your child’s responses on a markerboard to be copied later (as copying is easier). Another easy way to partner with your students is to sit nearby while they complete an assignment. Often simply being available for immediate help is a huge partnering tool.
For math, you might have your child say the math answers while you write them in the textbook. For vocabulary, you could write the definition from the dictionary as your child reads it aloud. Then, your child could do the rest of the vocabulary card. You could get out books, open them to the right page, and put books away to speed along that process. Perhaps you partner by getting out needed supplies for a science experiment, or clean up when the experiment is over. Maybe you set up part of a history project so your child has no wasted time. However you choose to partner with your child, be sure none of these helps become habitual. Used only as needed, they can save the day and help save your child’s attitude too!
What is the difference between partnering with your child and skipping assignments?
Partnering with your child is not to be confused with skipping assignments. As you can see from the examples above, the assignments are still being completed. This is different from portions of the assignment being omitted or skipped altogether. This week give yourself permission to partner with your child. See if you notice a positive change in your homeschool day!
Do you have a plan for checking school work?
It is a good idea to have a plan for checking school work as part of your school day. Otherwise, the work will just pile up and may never get checked!
How do you handle checking work for younger students?
At our house, with our younger kiddos, we just check their work as we go through the day. We have them make needed corrections right away. They put away their work and their books as soon as they finish. This helps keep the clutter down.
How do you handle checking work for older students?
With our older kiddos, who have more independent subjects, we needed a more organized approach to checking work. So, we assigned each student a separate place on the kitchen counter to pile his completed work. Our older kiddos hand their work in open to the page that needs checking or closed with a sticky note marking the page. Our older boys also hand in any needed answer keys from the answer key shelf for us to use in checking.
Once work is checked, what happens next?
When we check something, we mark any errors. If there are few to no errors, we give the page a star or a grade. Then, we place the checked work in a new pile in a different spot. At our house, we move work from the counter to the right of the oven to the counter to the left of the oven. This provides an easy way for our boys to see what work has been checked.
How does this method allow us to stay on top of checking?
In this way, we can check work throughout the day as time allows. Our boys can see at a glance, depending on which side of the counter something is on, if their work is checked. Before putting work away, our boys make any needed corrections. Then, they either show us the corrections or turn the work in to be checked again. This helps us stay on top of the checking and keeps clutter to a minimum. It also keeps us from skipping the checking, as the piles are there as a reminder!
Ponder your plan for checking work.
Take a few moments to ponder your plan for checking work. A new plan might really change how you feel about the clutter of school work at your house. Then, try your plan and see if it helps your day go more smoothly!
A Charlotte Mason Moment:
“ ‘The teacher should always take the moral habit for granted. He should never give his pupils to understand that he and they are about to examine whether, for instance, it is wrong or not to lie. The commandment against lying is assumed, and its obligation acknowledged at the outset.’ This we heartily agree with, and especially we like the apparently inadvertent use of the word ‘commandment’, which concedes the whole question at issue – that is, that the idea of duty is a relative one depending on an Authority supreme and intimate, which embraces the thoughts of the heart and the issues of the life.”
(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 2, p. 114)