Preparing for the New Homeschool School Year: Missing Pieces in Elementary Math Curriculum

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As your new homeschool year approaches (or has arrived) you may still need some help for a math curriculum that works for your elementary aged child. You need to remember that there are three areas of math to cover: facts, computation and concepts. If math has already become a struggle for your child, then you will especially want to break math down into these three areas. Spread math over the course of the day with short sessions covering these areas in separate sessions.

 

  1. Math Facts – Math facts are primarily a function of auditory memory so be sure you present this new information to your child auditorily as well visually. Whether you have a full math curriculum or find materials that cover the different parts, you must include this in your child’s day.

 

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math FactsRapid Recall System 

 

  1. Math Computation – At a different time of the day work on computation skills. Computation is primarily a function of visual memory so I recommend 75% visual instruction. That is you do three problems for your child as he watches. You say only a few words to identify steps as you go along. Then your child does the fourth one. Repeat for the duration of the session of say, 10 minutes. You start with simple addition and work up to long division, fractions etc. If the child doesn’t remember a math fact, tell them so that the process of computation is learned without interruption. You work on the math facts during a separate time. You can get the computation problems from any math book, but if you just want to pay for the computation problems, get a book that has only those problems in it.

 

My Best Recommenation for Learning Math Computation: Remedia Press – Straight Forward Math and Key to….. (Decimals, Percents, Measurement etc.)

 

  1. Math Concepts – The first two items are the nuts and bolts of math. Concepts are how the basics are applied to real life. If you want a regular curriculum, look into Math U See, Singapore Math and Right Start Mathematics. They cover the whole spectrum of math in a fresh way, but it makes it harder to separate out the three parts and concentrate on one at a time. There are a host of math games available that apply these math concepts in an interesting way. You can spend big bucks. Perhaps a better way is a book of games that you can play as a family. My best recommendation is actually a series of books, but the original is the best overall for K-8 math games. Family Math arranges the games in sections according to the different math concepts. Each game has an objective, instructions and sometimes a page that serves as a game board. You may need to add some household items for game pieces. Each game is labeled for one or more of the three age groups within K-8.

 

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math Concepts:  Family Math

Bonus Recommendation for Mental Math / Auditory Skills:  Verbal Math Lessons Series

 

Since math skills build on each other, home educators find it helpful to use a “Scope and Sequence” for navigating through math. Downloadable lists of skills can be found on the Internet. By including math facts, computation and concepts you can prepare your children for Algebra, Geometry and beyond.

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Preparing for the New Homeschool Year: Record-keeping

FA-Online-logo-w-tag-1Whether you  homeschool in Washington state or in another state…think about record-keeping. 

By Maggie Dail, M.A.

I have often asked graduates of Able to Teach, a state-approved parent-qualifying course for those wanting to teach their own children in Washington, “Based on your understanding of the homeschool law, what records do you plan on keeping?”

Generally, I get parts or all of the following:

  1. Copy of Declaration of Intent
  2. Copy of the Able to Teach certificate
  3. Planner / portfolio that reflect the time spent on the 11 subjects (K-8) or graduation requirements (9-12).
  4. Annual Assessments

Since the only document that the law requires you to submit is the Declaration of Intent (or maybe in your state nothing is required), one might ask, “Why keep records at all?” Here are my answers:

First, and most importantly for yourself:

  • To help you plan and assess how you are doing.
  • To help you on one of those “bad days”- when you or someone else is “beating you up”- (you know the kind of day that every parent has whether you are homeschooling or not).

 

Second, it is always better to have records if any one of the following occasions mentioned below occurs. Do not let this scare you, because if you are ready you will have the records to show the appropriate authorities (not just anyone who comes to your door).

  • CPS – Even if a well-meaning neighbor makes a call with erroneous information, CPS is required to investigate. If you have records it will more than likely be a brief investigation.
  • Custody battles – Sadly, in my experience, this is the most frequent request for records.
  • Homeschool child is in trouble with the law.

 

Finally, transferring to a school. It is always the receiving school that decides the requirements for enrollment and what they will accept.

  • Elementary /Middle School – usually children are placed according to age, but they may want records.
  • High School – Credits and graduation requirements now matter. (State Approved Private Extension programs like Academy Northwest, which is also accredited, help with transcripts, diplomas and so much more.)
  • College Entrance – varies with college – survey your desired colleges as soon as possible. See pages 53,54 in Homeschooling the High Schooler Available through Homeschool Resources Also see: www.academynorthwest.org

I also encourage parents to consider having a conversation with their children about their “grade level and school.” While Washington State’s truancy laws (Becca Laws) do not target homeschoolers, occasionally they might be mistaken as truants. Older children may be out of their home during school hours if they are part of homeschool activities or even work. More than likely any one questioning them will be satisfied with “I homeschool” at the least or “here is a copy of my declaration of intent” at the most.

Parents may want to talk with their children to be sure they understand that homeschooling is legal and a good choice for their family. Also, if the child is working at a different grade level for different subjects they may not know their grade. For the most part it doesn’t really matter, but if someone asks a child, “Where do you go to school?” or “What grade are you in?” they will be more confident if they know how to answer.

There is no one right way to keep records! You can keep what is most helpful to you and that reflects that you follow the homeschool law in your state. Happy Homeschooling!

 

Maggie Dail has taught for over 40 years and worked with homeschoolers full time since 1994. She has been teaching Family Academy’s Able to Teach, parent qualifying course since 2003. www.familyacademy.org

Happy New Year from Unlocking Learning Potential / Family Academy Online!

 

Ronnie & Maggie 2016

Along with the rest of the world, we say goodbye to 2017.  Our year brought us many good times and some surprises.

  • In March we took a quick trip to Kansas City with our Pastor and his wife. The highlight was visiting the Spurgeon Library. On Facebook, I shared Spurgeon’s Morning devotionals each day for 365 days!
  • In July we traveled over 3,000 miles to Kentucky for Ronnie’s Smedley family reunion. On the way, we stopped in St. Louis to see a former fellow teacher from ECA  in Madrid, Spain. Afterwards, we visited the Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky. From there we traveled west to Colorado for my 50th high school reunion and my family reunion.
  • We arrived home after that exhausting 13-day trip with the plan on breaking up our family trips and to try and keep them shorter.
  • Also, we rescheduled a trip to Branson (a get-away) from November to January. We are enjoying this COLD get-away right now – staying warm.
  • In May I had taken Ronnie to the ER with shortness of breath. He began a treatment for chronic asthma. So when he had problems that could have been a reaction to that treatment on August 24, we called the pulmonologist who said to continue the treatment and if it got worse to seek emergency care.  At 11:30 p.m. Ronnie had had enough and for the first time ever asked me to call 911.  It is a good thing because he was experiencing a heart attack.  Early on August 25th,  he had an angioplasty where they removed a blood clot and inserted two stents in the same artery.  On the third day, he was released from the hospital.
  • We are researching his new reality and supplementing standard medical care with healthy choices.
  • During the summer our church transitioned from our Pastor of 17 years to another one of our elders becoming Pastor. In his first week as Pastor, he preached the funeral of an infant son born to a young family in our church. On the way to the ER at the end of that first month, our Pastor was wondering if he was about to preach at Ronnie’s funeral. Of course, that could have happened, but God was pleased to continue Ronnie’s life for which I am truly grateful.
  • At the end of September, our new Pastor learned that he had prostate cancer that had metastasized to all of his bones.  Hormonal treatment and surgery done immediately did much to relieve initial cancer. He will begin chemotherapy on January 15. Young men in our church are taking on more responsibilities and preparing to preach on those Sundays when our Pastor is unable to preach.  Prayers for Pastor Trace Foote would be greatly appreciated.
  • Our life has changed to include a series of medical appointments – follow-ups with various specialists and some more routine appointments for me. We have been participating in cardiac-rehab 2-3 times a week as he is allowed to bring a friend for free! This, of course, is good for both of us. I also have joined the “CPAP” club which Ronnie has been a part of for many years. This trip was our first to have two CPAPs and Blood Pressure & Blood sugar monitoring.
  • I am thankful to work from home so that I can continue to serve homeschooling families and, at the same time, be available to help Ronnie as needed.
  • Early in December, I realized that people were not receiving e-mails from me. Troubleshooting on our own, frustrating help from virtual ‘customer-service’ and help from one of our Pastor’s sons, we believe that the problem has been resolved.  So if you have sent e-mails to me and have not received a response, please try again. I have resent some, but since I do not know when the problem started, I do not know if I took care of everyone. STOP the press, since the initial writing of this, I have discovered that some e-mails are still not getting through to Outlook so I will continue to keep an eye on the FA and ANW e-mails from the original source until a permanent solution can be found.
  • Aside from the technical problem discussed above – we have all recently gone through a very busy time. At this time of year, you may be ready for a “new start” for your Individualized Neurodevelopmental Plan, your Sensory Enrichment Therapy, your Structure of Intellect training modules or your homeschooling in general.  Also, you may be starting to think about annual homeschool assessments, Brain Training Assessments or Structure of Intellects assessments.  Upon my return to our regular schedule – the week of January 8 – I will be available for our regular classes and to give you the support you need for any of our services. If you are new, remember that I offer a free 30-minute consultation via video conferencing to help you sort it all out.
  • We have begun to use Facebook as a means to provide ongoing support for our families. We have two pages and a group. If we are already friends with me on Facebook but not a part of our support pages and group, let me know so I can add you.  If we are not Facebook friends but you would like to be a part of this support system please friend me and ask for me to add you:   https://www.facebook.com/maggie.dail.3
  • Contact me at mdail@familyacademy.org or mdail@academynorthwest.net to schedule a time or to ask questions.
  • If you are working with Laura Barnes, our Brain Trainer, please contact her at lauraannbarnes@gmail.com .

Psalm 113:1-3 “Praise the Lord!

Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord’s name is to be praised.”

 

 

How Research Leads to Solutions for Struggling Learners

Have you or a loved one received a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” or “dyslexia”? Have you or a loved one struggled with learning to read – no matter what methods and curricula have been used? Research leads us to more answers to our questions and more solutions for those who struggle.

Image result for images of books and reading

How would you feel knowing your student would have more tools to succeed in life? What would it be like for him to learn fascinating information on his own? What would it be like to be carried off to a faraway time and place by reading a great story?

While many have considered dyslexia to be a combination of two deficits, the more current view, based on new research, providers believe that multiple deficits contribute to a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” will prove more helpful in helping those who struggle with reading.  Belief that “weaknesses in either the visual (rapid automatized naming -RAN) or the auditory (phonological awareness-PA) can cause dyslexia has led teachers to address these two areas.  Those with both deficits experienced severe difficulties in reading. (Wolf in Journal of Educational Psychology, 1999)

Now, more and more look to these areas and some additional areas: genetics, environmental, and perceptive/cognitive differences.  With the use of fMRIs we can see what is going on inside the human brain.  In a recent webinar, neuroscientist, Dr. Martha Burns, reported new research that confirms how these factors interact to present different kinds and degrees of learning challenges.

Image result for images - brain scans

Not surprisingly the research shows that reading and language share specific parts of the brain that includes both the visual and auditory areas. While searching for the cause and effect relationship within genetic factors, researchers learned that the brain of an infant show signs of genetic causes of learning challenges discovered later. In 2017, Gaab published findings that 50% of children with a sibling or parent with dyslexia were likely to also receive a diagnosis. This number rose to 68% in identical twins.

Finding the underlying cause leads us to specific strategies for the individual since all of these factors combine in different ways.  At Unlocking Learning Potential / Family Academy Online we address reading challenges using the neurodevelopmental approach ( www.unlockinglearningpotential.net) as well as with Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant. Dr. Martha Burns, of Scientific Learning, says that Scientific Learning programs paired with an effective curriculum provide the best outcome for our children.

My name is Z.C. I began working with the learning specialist at Unlocking Learning Potential in 2009. By 2011 I could see how I had grown tremendously with my education and learning.  With the neurodevelopmental evaluation, I found out that I was far below my grade level academically. At first, I thought the activities were silly, futile and would not work, but as I kept doing them I started noticing the big differences in every area of my learning. I could read faster, comprehend more, my vocabulary increased, and my memory improved.” Z.C. graduated from high school in 2011.

Watch this video to learn more about these scientifically based solutions to learning challenges. Plus, learn how you can unlock your child’s learning and reading abilities.

https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo

3 Ways to Help Students Achieve Success in Reading and Language

reading

Do you wonder why your student struggles with reading? I have spent much of my forty years of teaching searching for ways to help student learn. Teaching reading has consumed most of those efforts. As you probably realize, many of our students today are missing developmental pieces and cognitive skills.

I have found that children are so very different and learning challenges do not always respond to the same interventions. However, educators across the country help students achieve success in reading and language using two Scientific Learning programs: Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

These programs provide us with 3 ways to help our students:

  1. Build students’ cognitive skills. Cognitive (learning) skills addressed by Fast ForWord products:  memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing  Reading Skills addressed: phonological & phonemic (sound) awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding (sound out words), working memory (remembering long enough to do something with), syntax and grammar (structure of our language)

2. Prepare students’ brains to hear English. Once we fill in the missing pieces of development in the brain, a child can read and use the English language.

3.      Have students practice reading aloud, with support. Finally, we can provide opportunity for the children to read aloud – to other people and with Reading Assistant to the computer which provides timely correction.

You can read a blogger / inservice provider’s experience:  3 Ways to Help Struggling Readers and English Language Learners http://inservice.ascd.org/3-ways-to-help-struggling-readers-and-english-language-learners/

Over 250 studies show that Fast ForWord and Reading Assistance provides all of this for children across the country. www.scientificlearning.com/results

To learn how more about Fast ForWord  / Reading Assistant and how we use it with our students watch this video:  https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo   Be sure and watch to the end for the special offers.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 20 – What have our graduates done beyond high school?

Many of our graduates have gone to college or have gone into a trade. We will feature Jered today. While in high school we attended his Eagle Scout celebration. During high school he wrote a novel (Learn to Write the Novel Way) for class: Guns at Aparri. At one point, he stated that he had received an “atta boy” for his writing skills in a report for work.

After high school, he earned a degree in criminal justice and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.  Since then he has worked for the Department of Homeland Security.  Thank you, Jered for your service to our country.

Personal Reflections 2017 – # 19 – How did the online part of Family Academy Online and Unlocking Learning Potential begin?

Online Student

Prior to 2004, the Jiles family lived in Olympia, Washington. They drove to Lakewood, Washington to attend Academy Northwest classes at our learning center. Then the dad’s work took them to Georgia. There they met the Robinson family.  I worked with the Jiles family and Tim Robinson. Later the Jiles moved to Spokane and the Robinson family moved to Texas. I continued to work with them via long distance and these students graduated.  Also around that time, Ariel from New Jersey worked with me and graduated early from ANW.  She has gone on for graduate work. I never met Tim and Ariel in person. Our use of the internet and the phone was problematic, but we were able to get the job done. Further, my learning center students in Lakewood posted assignments and responded in a closed Yahoo group.

Much has happened since that time. For one thing, we access virtually (no pun intended) all of our students online. Thankfully, our access to the internet is exceptional by comparison.  Video conferencing provides a great video and audio experience with minimal problems most of the time.  We can access many of these services for free or at least a minimal charge.  Some do cost more. For that reason, our students can access one or more of the following as appropriate: http://www.SpellingCity.com, Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant, www.hearbuilder.com, Structure of Intellect assessments, and G-Suite for Education.  I would rate simultaneous correction of writing assignments on Google Drive as my newest favorite tool.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 18 – How did we get to know homeschooling parents?

 

WHO Convention 2000 and 2013

Through the years we had booths at the different homeschool conventions, most often the Washington Homeschool Organization’s convention which basically happened in our back yard. We went to others in the Puget Sound Area, as well as one time in Portland and one time in Spokane.  As our work developed to what it is now, we have operated as: Master Enterprises Learning Center and Amazing Grace Christian Literature, Center for Neuro Development and finally Unlocking Learning Potential.  During this time we have been affiliated with Family Academy along with its affiliate school, Academy Northwest.  We also have helped in the development of Family Academy Online. Further, we are affiliated with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists. While living in Western Washington, we sold Christian books, homeschooling curriculum and neurodevelopmental supplies as well as providing services to homeschooling families. Now, in Oklahoma, we work with students online and only sell a few physical products. We are building our digital product line – e-books:

https://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net/maggie-s-e-books

Personal Reflections 2017 – 13 – How did we learn about the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark?

lewis-and-clark-trip

 

Over the years we did a number of field trips that helped us understand the Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark’s Journey of Discovery and other Pacific Northwest History highlights.  On one occasion we went to Oregon to see The Oregon Trail museum and Fort Clatsop. Further, on another occasion we stayed overnight at the Pioneer Farm closer to home. Each of these occasions provided time to bond with our families and, of course, to learn about our past. We can learn much by understanding how our home developed.

Personal Reflections 2017 – 12 – What about annual testing?

annual-testing-catMany state home school laws require some sort of assessment either annually or during specific grades. Even if it is not required, it can provide you with additional helpful information. Most Teacher Consultants of Family Academy / Academy Northwest’s provide standardized assessments and / or non-test assessments because Washington State’s home school law requires home school students to have either a standardized test or a non-test assessment each year.

Standardized testing usually requires the student to fill in circles on an answer sheet. Scoring is according to norms (sample group of students) and produce grade equivalents, percentiles and stanines relative to that sample group of students. This requires that the test be given under specific guidelines prescribed by the test makers. Examples of these standardized tests include: California Achievement Test (CAT), Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT – not to be confused with the college entrance SAT of College Board) and Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  These tests take 2-3 days of testing.

In the Washington homeschool, a non-test assessment must be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education. However, the law does not define that assessment. Therefore, when looking for a test provider, be sure and ask what the process entails and what kind of information the parent will receive. These assessments usually are only one session.

Our learning center administered group testing of California Achievement Tests for many years. We also provided one-on-one settings for SAT and ITBS. Further, we offered non-test assessments in person for years and continue to provide non-test assessments via Skype.