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# Regrets - Page 16

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Originally Posted by onatightropeÂ

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Something that is spurring her on at the moment is that she'd like to learn algebra, because it's kind of fun( it's basically puzzles), and she knows she needs to get through arithmetic before she can really do algebra.Â

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A lot of algebra can be done with just arithmetic. Â For example 5+X=10. Â Sometimes when my girls are exploring math, I might reword their question like "what plus five equals 10?" Â Pre-algebra. Â It's just basically knowing a couple of rules and applying them to arithmetic. Â (I need to go work on my spelling, I keep getting angry red lines indicating that I don't know how to spell that word. Â Not "arithmatic" I guess. Â Oh, shut up, SpellCheck!)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilverÂ

A lot of algebra can be done with just arithmetic. Â For example 5+X=10. Â Sometimes when my girls are exploring math, I might reword their question like "what plus five equals 10?" Â Pre-algebra. Â It's just basically knowing a couple of rules and applying them to arithmetic. Â (I need to go work on my spelling, I keep getting angry red lines indicating that I don't know how to spell that word. Â Not "arithmatic" I guess. Â Oh, shut up, SpellCheck!)
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I know, but she's past that. Â When she dabbles in algebra now, she gets stuck because she doesn't know how she can manipulate fractions, or the order of operations, or what to do with an exponent, and it's frustrating. Â It's like trying to learn to read if you don't know the whole alphabet.

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I misspell arithmetic too. Â :)Â

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I think the key to algebra is understanding which operations undo other operations - which are opposites. I really think they should be learned together, in that way - exponents with roots, multiplication with division, addition with subtraction...etc. If I were designing a math curriculum I'd do that.

I wonder if it might be fun to play around with doing and undoing things to numbers. Like, start with a number and do something to it - multiply by 5, for example - and then figure out how to get back to the original number. It seems like there should be games or puzzles like that around somewhere.

I understand what you mean about the language of mathematics - that is important. Rain kind of learned it as it came up.... she did like the Key to workbooks for a while - I'm not sure how many she ever actually did, but they were cheap and unintimidating.

I also noticed a qualitative shift in the way Rain could conceptualize abstractions at 11 or 12ish - not coincidentally, perhaps, this is the typical age for Piaget's stage of Formal Operations, which is about exactly that. It really was a noticeable change - over a period of a couple of years, she started to say stuff that made it clear that she was able to think in different ways. So many things became suddenly easier for her - it was like her brain was ready for it, just like her brain had been ready to read years earlier.

All that is to say that I think looking at what colleges want when your kid is 7 or 8 is fine, but don't assume that your kid will continue in a linear trajectory. There will likely be plateaus and leaps, and that's normal, I think. And worrying about specific academic deficits before a kid has reached Formal Operations seems like a waste of time to me - because so many things that are a lot of work before that are much easier afterwards.
Also - have you tried Roddles? With cuisenaire rods? I know we had them, and I think they actually had some algebra-ish puzzles and games that were kind of fun... and we had another cuisenaire rod game book. Okay, admittedly I liked this stuff more than Rain did, but they got some use...
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarÂ
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All that is to say that I think looking at what colleges want when your kid is 7 or 8 is fine, but don't assume that your kid will continue in a linear trajectory. There will likely be plateaus and leaps, and that's normal, I think. And worrying about specific academic deficits before a kid has reached Formal Operations seems like a waste of time to me - because so many things that are a lot of work before that are much easier afterwards.

FWIW, my oldest is 11, not 8. Â Interesting to hear about Formal Operations. Â I have a 9 year old too, but I'm not worried about her, although I have discovered that she seems to like having some formal learning she does on a regular basis, so as long as she's enjoying it, we'll keep doing it. Â

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My oldest is getting to the edge of my mental map of how homeschooling works, and part of me feels like we're about sail off the edge. Â So I need to enlarge the map. :) Â I'm going to start by reading "College without High School", I think.

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Ok - very weird, I tried to edit my last post but couldn't.

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Onatightrope - my "hands on equations" recommendation was before I realised the child in question was 11. Â It still might be fun for an 11 yr old - or it might be a little young for her.

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We enjoyed Challenge Math for smart but fun math. Â Â

I wasn't addressing anyone in particular when I said 7 or 8 - it just feels sort of like a generic middle childhood age. Just to clarify.

You can also read the College Confidential boards for fun... lots of good insider info. They aren't just for homeschoolers, but if you search for homeschooler or homeschool you'll find lots of stuff.
One more thing - a multiplication facts chart can be a great help for kids wanting to do algebra when they don't know their multiplication facts. It works in reverse, too - like, they can look for a number to see what its factors are. Eventually they'll probably memorize most of them anyway, if they use it enough, but in the meantime it can be a good tool... just like when Rain first started writing, I had a piece of paper where I wrote words that she asked me how to spell, so she could sometimes just look on the paper instead of finding me again (since often it was the same words over and over again). Other times she'd look in a book that she knew had the word in it.
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Originally Posted by onatightropeÂ

Dar and Piglet, I really respect your ability to let go and be able to not worry about college prep. Â

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Well, speaking for myself I still work at deschooling myself from time to time! Personally I think the hype around college being so important borders on propaganda. When everybody is getting a degree it devalues the degree. You used to be able to get a good job with a Bachelor's, now it's all but useless. When I was in grad school my plan was to get my Master's and then work in the pharmaceutical industry. In those days you could work your way up to Senior Scientist with that. By the time I finished there were too many MSc's out there and now they were requiring a PhD. So I did that. By then you needed a post-doctoral fellowship, so I did that too. It's not that the work got any harder, it was just a way of weeding through the thousands of job applications landing on recruiter's desks. So having everybody head to college is not doing society any favours, IMO.

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I teach at University (not much these days mind you) and I see so many kids there simply because it is what they are supposed to do, or what their parents expect of them. I went because I loved science and wanted to immerse myself in it and do research. DD is very science-minded and there is a good chance she will end up there. I'll help her in any way I can, but ultimately she will have to take responsibility for getting in with the choices she makes and I'm sure if that is what she wants she will do what is required.Â

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With math I got frustrated that she had gotten behind (when she used to be ahead) and because we had a required standardized test coming up I was having my own issues about her not doing well in it. I tried to push math a bit at the start of this year because of that and got a really bad backlash for it. She is due to take the test next month and we had a really neat conversation about it recently.Â

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I explained that bombing the math part could make her feel bad, and that if she wanted to avoid that I know it would take only a wee amount of work to prepare for it. She stated that she didn't care about math right now and thus bombing that section wouldn't bother her (she knows she will likely ace the reading and writing parts of the test). She chose to decline my offer to do some "remedial math" with her. At her age, and because this test means nothing for her "permanent record", I've let her make that choice. It bugs me, I'll admit. I know she could do the work easily and I personally think math is pretty cool. But I'm letting go. If she were older and this was a requirement for something I would just make sure she understands the potential impact her choices may have. She is young enough right now (9) that I don't think it matters. She seems confident that, if/when she decides she needs to catch up on math, she will be able to do so. It's hard letting go of the "schooling" attitude, but it really wrecked math for her this year so I've learned to step back and breathe... :-)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68Â

I explained that bombing the math part could make her feel bad, and that if she wanted to avoid that I know it would take only a wee amount of work to prepare for it. She stated that she didn't care about math right now and thus bombing that section wouldn't bother her (she knows she will likely ace the reading and writing parts of the test). She chose to decline my offer to do some "remedial math" with her. At her age, and because this test means nothing for her "permanent record", I've let her make that choice. It bugs me, I'll admit. I know she could do the work easily and I personally think math is pretty cool. But I'm letting go. If she were older and this was a requirement for something I would just make sure she understands the potential impact her choices may have. She is young enough right now (9) that I don't think it matters. She seems confident that, if/when she decides she needs to catch up on math, she will be able to do so. It's hard letting go of the "schooling" attitude, but it really wrecked math for her this year so I've learned to step back and breathe... :-)
Very cool story!

And it's pretty easy for me to be zen and not worry about college prep, because my only child is already in college, and doing well there. I'm not sure if her college degree will get her a job or not, but it can't hurt, it's what she wants to do, and it's pretty close to free for us... so why not?
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Originally Posted by kathymuggleÂ

Hmmm.

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As he is onboard with learning math as he wants to go to college, how about doing grade 7 math or whatever, and after that he can be done for the year if he likes? Â It might give you a sense of how long it takes to get through a grade level. Â It might take a little longer first time out as there might be some catch up. Â Do you think Ds would be onboard with that?

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I did google "real world math for middle school" and came up with this list. Â

http://www.hopesbooks.com/hopes_math_books.htm

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Here is something that might be fun for a future zoo-ologist:

https://smartmall.net-smart.net/challengemath/products.cfm?ID=22&cat=8

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OT Â (or maybe not!) Â I do think it would be cool to discuss how to approach math when your kid genuinely agrees they should study math, but does not want to put in the work on a daily or monthly basis. Â What is the role of the parent when the kid freely says he wants one thing, but does not follow through?Â

Ooh, that It's Alive! books sounds interesting!Â  Thanks for finding those resources.Â  :)

Your last paragraph is exactly what I'm dealing with.Â  Thank you for laying it out like that.Â

Part of the challenge for my son is that handwriting is super hard for him.Â  He has to remember how to "draw" letters and numbers, and often gets them flipped.Â  (Dygraphia.)Â  So lining up a bunch of numbers and remembering where to put everything is harder for him than learning math concepts is.Â  Plus, he scored at something like the 2nd percentile in working memory.Â  He hasn't been able to memorize his math facts, so when he does do math, I let him use a calculator.Â  We tried Teaching Textbooks (no handwriting required), and I thought he was doing well with it.Â  And he was, grade-wise.Â  But he hated it, and I guess I don't have a very high tolerance for complaining and grumbling.Â

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Graph paper can be better than regular notebook paper for setting up arithmetic problems, because each number has it's own designated "box". You can print off graph paper with any size boxes, too. It seems like notebooks in nearly every other country are all graph (grid) paper, but in the US it's just lines...

This isn't in the line of college prep, but I just thought I'd share a little math tidbit from this morning.Â  I'd been contemplating when I would want to have a math program around the house and almost forgot that we have a few things.

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Today, my 5yo was lining up her Quirkle cubes into various patterns.Â  She showed me a shape of 7 blocks, and said that it was the number 7.Â  Oh yeah, I said, it is.Â

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Then she went on to explain that it was a "7 in dice languge."

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Just a bit OT, but it gave me a giggle.

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My son is almost 12 (6th grade officially, but probably at about a 4th grade level in math), and he has resisted traditional math since we began homeschooling in 1st grade.Â  I "let him off the hook" a few years ago, and I definitely see progress in everyday, real life math.Â  But not in the type of math that builds upon itself to prepare a child for high schoolÂ math.Â Â He can make good purchasing decisions at the store and measure wood for a building project, but he can't add or multiply or divide fractions.Â Â I have a college degree, but I'm going to have to relearn how toÂ multiply and divide fractions before I teach my son how to!Â  I haven't needed that particular skill since my sophomore year of college.Â Â

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My son saysÂ he prefers to learn math throughÂ real life application.Â  And it does work for him.Â  That type of math prepares a person for day to day life, but not forÂ the ACT or SAT.Â  PerhapsÂ someone who is gifted in mathematical thinking can catch up in a year or two--but what about those for whom math is truly a struggle?Â  Some kids don't want to attempt things they might fail at.Â  Or they don't have persistence as a personality trait, and they give up if something's too hard.Â  My son is like this.Â  He's not defiant--just easily frustrated, and he has visual processing issues and dyslexia.Â  I don't know how to help him.Â
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Just an observation about fractions: Â  I multiply and divide fractions all the time. Â We size baking recipes up and down a lot around here. Â And calculate gauge and size patterns up and down. Â  If you're looking for real-life applications for math, that would be a place to start.

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Funnily enough, I find that just knowing some math makes me use it, because I can see its application. Â A few years back, I wanted to figure out how many total stitches were in a knitting pattern and how far through the total I would be at any given moment, and I realized that it was an integral! Â  (also realized I could make an excel worksheet that did the work for me, but needed to know how the underlying concept worked in order to set up the worksheet).

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A lot of people seem to think that higher-order math has no real-life applications, so unless your child wants to do something specifically "academic-y," it's somehow "extra." Â  The thing is that for many of those college areas of study are about real-life applications of math, things that even regula people might be interested in, if they knew how to do the math. Â I remember doing a lot of flow-rate calculations in my first semester of high school calculus. Â Knowing that, you could do neat things like build a water clock. Â Or an irrigation system for the garden based on rain barrels. Â Or figure out how much your water bill is going to be after having a tank leak. Â  But I needed to be *led* to that point, by 1) having someone say "this is important, and you should try it, and 2) having someone who knew and understood and *loved* the topic show me how it worked and why it was cool and how much they cared and why they thought *I* should care too.

eh. I went to school. Â I had to take remedial college math. Â I sucked at math, and my mother simply accepted it and told me it was OK. Â To the point that she got in trouble from my 7th grade teacher for doing the homework for me. Â (pretty obvious when the homework was all A material and i was failing the tests) Â That's the kind of stuff I'd probably pull the kid from school for, to have them go back and actually learn whatever they obviously missed, or to be able to wait till they're motivated.

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I would've benefitted from maybe a tutor...some help with the anxiety I had about the subject....less being told I sucked at it. Â But in the end, there came a point where *I* took the initiative and did what I needed to do in order to learn and pass a math class.

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