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.

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

Reading Is Like Driving a Car

 

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By Maggie Dail, M.A.

Recently I watched a recorded webinar given by Terri Noland, Vice President, Educator Initiatives of Learning Ally and hosted by EdWeb.com: “Why Reading Is Like Driving a Car: Automaticity Is Critical”  Here are some key points:

When we learn to drive we must think about every little thing that we are doing. As we gain experience many of the tasks involved in driving become second nature and we can do other things while driving.

Like driving, reading requires a number of foundational skills. Our goal is for these skills to become second nature.  Once students use these skills automatically, they can concentrate on other actually enjoying the story or understanding the concepts.

During childhood, we can multiply the age times 10 and get a general idea of how many words per minute he should be reading.

Fluency:

  •  So readers benefit from the pleasure and information that reading provides.
  • Includes: accuracy, automaticity, rate and prosody (expression).
  • Is the most  the most important  impediment in reading problems

Further fluency requires the following proficiencies:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Accurate decoding
  • Vocabulary
  • Recognizing words – automaticity
  • Constructing with prior knowledge
  • Monitoring comprehension
  • Adjusting as necessary

Two things that help with this process:

  • Schema – building pathways in the brain
  • Working memory – “capacity – 7” -remembering long enough to use

Remember that remediation is not replaced by accommodation nor is accommodation replaced with remediation. Our children need explicit instruction (in those skills mentioned above) plus they need access to grade level material.

Some of the neurodevelopmental activities that we use to build these skills include:

  • Audio books (with and without the text)
  • Reading 100 easy books within a set time period
  • Paired Reading (neurological impress method)
  • Auditory Digit Spans
  • Auditory Conceptual Word Sequences
  • Hearbuilder or Cognitive Fun or Lumosity

New Story Coming Soon – Jumping the Hurdles – Jessi Learns Math

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We are working on the final editing and artwork for our new release coming this summer!  Along with the story (Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read) that is already in print, we are adding two new stories in this new e-book: Stories from Unlocking Learning Potential.  In Jumping the Hurdles – Jessi Learns Math, Jessica Marie Torres, a high school sophomore, recounts her life which centers on her love for horses and struggles with math through a homeschool assignment to write her story.

New Release: Stories from Unlocking Learning Potential —Coming this Summer!

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Back in 2006, this book was released as our first published book!

This story represents many of our clients who struggle with learning to read.

Chris, a middle schooler, shines on the baseball field and with his teammates but struggles with reading. His parents try to work with the teachers in his school but in the end realize they need to take a more personal approach. With the help of other homeschooling families and with a neurodevelopmentalist from ICAN, we read of  Rounding the Bases: Chris Learns to Read. This story presents the model used by most ICAN neurodevelopmentalists in working with their clients.  http://www.icando.org/

This and two new stories will be released this summer as an e-book available through Smashwords, Amazon and our website: www.unlockinglearningpotential.net 

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Webinar: Overcoming Learning Challenges – Live- May 18 at 6:00 pm MT

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Free E-Book with purchase of an Unlocking Learning Potential Service.

Free shipping and discounted price on final print copies of
Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read!

Other discounts offered in Webinar: Overcoming Learning Challenges

Learn how you can help your loved one overcome learning challenges!

Join us for this live webinar:  Thursday, May 18 at 6:00 pm Mountain Time

We will be on at 5:30 and begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Feel free to invite others.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/180817637

Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16465588656,180817637# or +14086380968,180817637#

Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 180 817 637
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=UN7xqYWmwy4hxOIxVRgf_76cwbJxYYKv

  Check out Maggie’s E-Books

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?

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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.