Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Math games...

We just got together with some friends the other morning for the first meeting of the "Monday Math Club" - which met on Tuesday... but that's another story.

In preparation, I went searching for printable math games online. Little Brother's kindergarten teacher has been using a number of dice games with printable game boards during small group time in his class, and they're a fun way to reinforce math facts and concepts. I love the internet - my search did not leave me empty-handed!

Here are a couple of sites I wanted to share right away, but I'll add to the list as I find more...

Dr. Mike's Math Games for Kids - Well organized with straightforward instructions. Includes .pdf downloads of game boards and game cards, as well as worksheets, fun mazes, etc. You can even order a real game board through a link to Zazzle, if you want something more permanent than sheets of paper taped together.

Learn-with-math-games - Printable Math Games. This site includes rules for all kinds of math games. At our math club, the kids enjoyed playing a dice game called "Stuck in the Mud". We also had two rounds of Fraction Feud going on at either end of the table - we printed the deck of fraction cards off the website, for a game that is a twist on the game "War". The kids playing were often quick to just guess which fraction was bigger (hmmm... 10/12 or 7/8?) so parents supervised and kept paper and pencil handy so the kids could work through the process of finding a common denominator, etc. Who knew fractions could be fun?

*graphic from stock.xchng

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why I need to trust the process...

For the longest time, one of the biggest obstacles to feeling like our homeschooling was going well has been the fact that my kid couldn't read. It didn't matter that she has always been kind, caring, attentive to the needs of others, assertive, able to talk with adults, a whiz at math, a history buff, a budding conservationist, an animal lover, etc. The big "marker" of our success or failure was whether or not she could demonstrate an ability to read, and she just wasn't getting it.

I had heard time and again from parents of other late readers that this would all be okay. My child would eventually read, and that homeschooling was a gift for these kids who aren't ready to read when school needs them to be ready. I was skeptical, and I guess I was also frankly unwilling to be okay with my child not reading until she's 12 years old. Having a 9 year old who wasn't reading was far enough out of my comfort zone.

What a difference a year has made.

This morning my daughter spent 45 minutes reading to me from a book that's listed at a 5th grade reading level. So what's cool about that? A year ago she was only reading at a first grade level, and doing so reluctantly and with little fluency. What's extra cool about this morning's reading? When I asked her this morning what she wanted to do for school, she asked if she could read to me. Twenty minutes went by, and I told her she could stop anytime, but she pressed on. I finally got her to stop reading aloud to me, and she's still reading to herself on the couch.

What did I do to get her to finally read? Nothing. Well, maybe it was a guided nothingness. A huge break through was when I got over myself and accepted graphic novels and comics as a literature choice. I have also continued to read aloud to her each and every day from books that were within her interest level, but above her reading level. We got hooked on the Warriors series, which is where she has taken off - she started out reading the Warriors manga back in January, and is moving on to reading the full novels on her own. I could have chosen to force her to read, as is often recommended by well-meaning folks, but I have noticed that in all areas of our homeschooling, trying to force learning brings slower and more reluctant results than learning that is joyful and less stressful.

And that, my friends, is my lesson to myself today. Trust the process. It's so hard to trust the process when the going is really tough, and voices (my own, and others around me) are causing huge doubts! Today's snapshot really did a lot to help me have more faith. This is a work in progress, and (as a wise friend told me recently) it's not time to take her out of the oven yet. When I peeked in today, I did see that my daughter is coming along quite nicely....