10 Ways to a Better Math Program

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10 Ways to a better math programsource: Dicemanic

Math is the least liked subject in most homeschools (writing is second). Often, both parents and children dread the daily math period.  And yet, a strong math program is important for a well rounded education.

With this in mind, anything that makes math time a little more enjoyable should be vigorously adopted.  Here are a couple of ideas to lighten up this difficult subject.

1.  Play some computer games to supplement practise times when possible. Online games for all ages  are available at FunBrain.

If your are going to purchase a game, make sure you get one with a high educational value, by reading several reviews first.

2. Read fun books like Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School and The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat. These may be available at your library.

3.  Do math puzzles.  Amazing Math Puzzles by Adam Hart-Davis is an especially good book. Online math puzzles for all ages are available at Figure This.

4.  Make sure you use an enjoyable textbook.  Look on Amazon for reviews before buying.

5.  There are some really fun math workbooks available.  Check out 22 Math Puzzle Mini-Books by Michael Schiro and Whodunit Math Puzzles by Bill Wise.

6. Go to a hands-on science museum. Most science museums have math sections.

7. Play some (non-computer) math games.  When my son was younger we used Math Games and Activites From Around The World by Claudia Zaslavsky.  The games in this book aren’t for drilling; They primarily teach mathematical concepts.

Lots of other games are also available free.

8.  Do some off-line math projects. How Math Works by Carol Vorderman is fabulous.  It has dozens of wonderful projects.  The emphasis is on concepts…not drilling.

9. Do some on-line math projects.  The internet has tons of free projects ideas.  Most of these are designed for groups but can be modified for one person.  Check out webquests for some projects to get you started.

10. Use some really great lesson plans.  The best online math lessons I have found came from a website called Fun Math Lessons by Cynthia Lanius.

Read More: Math Stuff or Home

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Educational Art Sites For Kids

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artists-toolbox1

The Artist’s Toolbox

Art in homeschools usually consists of drawing, craft kits and craft projects. These are all great ways to explore art and are easy for parents to implement.

Once in while, though, it’s a good idea to teach a little art theory. This is where The Artist’s Toolbox comes in.

The Artist’s Toolbox is a free site from The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It offers an illustrated art encyclopedia and movies of real artists in action. Best of all, though, is its exploration section.

The exploration section of the site has animated demonstrations on the tools of line, color, space, shape, balance and movement. After each demonstration your child can locate the use of the tool on real-life works of art and then create his own art using the same tool.

The Artist’s Toolkit is a easy-to-use site. Both you and your child will enjoy it.

KinderArt

I’m a big fan of teaching arts and crafts to kids. I believe everyone needs a creative outlet, and art projects provide one. Plus, art improves small motor skills.

Even if art just isn’t your “thing”, it’s still possible to provide a great program for your child. A wonderful website, called Kinder Art, has everything you need to create lesson plans for basic subjects like drawing, painting, sculpture, and much more. It also has lesson plans on more esoteric subjects such as printmaking, textiles, folk art and multicultural art.

Kinder Art is virtually a one-stop resource for everything you’ll ever need in the art lesson department.

Crayola Creativity Center

Crayola Creativity Central is chock full of fun and inexpensive crafts for kids, educational materials for teaching and great reads for parents.

There are two extra bonus sections for educators and parents.  The section for educators has curriculum ideas for young children, lesson plans and some nice printables.  The parent’s section has printable travel games, lots of party planning freebies and an eight page pdf on encouraging creativity in kids.

Crayola Creativity Central is an absolute don’t-miss site.  Even if your child doesn’t enjoy crafts there is still lots to read, print and do.

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High School Science, The No-Math Way

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Science, The No-Math Waysource: Ohio Sea Grant

When it came time to teach my son high school science, I knew I was going to have a problem.  I have no science or math background at all.  And, since I was already paying hundreds of dollars a month for religious tutoring, I had no additional money left for private science classes.

Since I knew my son was not going to go to major in the sciences in college, I took a shortcut. 

Here’s what I did:

1) For the first two years of science we studied Life Science and Biology.  Neither of these subjects require a lot of math skills.

2) For chemistry and physics I bought regular high school science texts and taught as much as I could from those books.  When I got to chapters that were too complicated for me to teach, I went to the library and got out an easy books that covered that same material.  We used that book for the chapter instead.

For chapters in which there was no book, we skipped them entirely.  We skipped anything to do with math. Sometimes we skipped so much we were unable to return to the book and that was as far as we got in that science.

3) We read a lot of non-technical science books and websites.  For instance, we read articles from How Stuff Works almost every week.

4) We participated in collaborative, online science projects from CIESE and other interactive sites.

5) We used a lot of science experiments and equipment bought very cheap at the local charity thrift store.  We made a mouse robot, looked at slides of onion skins and made a working radio.  We even found an old Radio Shack 40-in-1 kit and spent time making circuits.

6) Lastly, we took out all the science videos at the library and watched them over and over.  When they ran out of new ones, we bought videos from ebay, watched videos online and listened to science radio programs.

The way we did science was far from what is recommended by the school system, but it worked.  My son had a basic knowledge of all the sciences….enough to pass the GED and more than he will ever need for real life.  I figured if he goes to college and needs two sciences to graduate, he can take astronomy and earth science, like I did. Sometimes, when you have no choice, practical has got to win over correct.

Update: When I first published this article, ten years ago, I got a lot of criticism.

Some homeschooling parents said I was letting my son down by not giving him a math-based science program. Since hindsight is always 100% accurate, I’ll tell you what actually happened post high school.

My son decided against going to college. Instead, instead he took the Comptia A+ certification test to become a computer repairman. After a few years, he became bored with fixing computers and took a 18 month technical course in programming. He now works as a CSS programmer for a major website development firm. He is well payed and his boss said that as he improves his skills his pay will increase. He is currently learning Drupal 7.

As far as income, my son makes more than many professionals with college educations. As to job satisfaction, he loves his job.

He may eventually go to college, but if not, he’s doing great as is.

Read More: Science Education or Home

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