>> Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Obviously, for any child, a parent has a responsibility to make sure the child is being well-educated. For my oldest son, that means letting him explore a wide-range of topics and finding his unique talents. The rote memorization tasks and basic school work comes fairly easy to him, so the challenge is finding things that make him excited about learning.
For my youngest son, it entails a) finding the time to even help him with his schoolwork because I get so busy with the other two -- poor #3! And, b) at this age, letting his imagination take flight with his Indiana Jones Handbook, Lego sets, and the costumes he creates (his newest phase is the James Bond Tuxedo). He is a truly creative kid who loves to be involved and physical. I think he's God's way of reminding me I"m getting old, ;-).
For Maren, the task is not "more difficult," but different. I can have faith that the other two will "learn" at school and at home, I can supplement their education and creativity. For her, however, I know that repetition and extra involvement at home is key to making sure she masters the fundamentals she will need to have to progress as a student.
So, just eight months or so, M was crusin' with her Math Facts. I was delighted and we moved on to other things. WRONG MOVE!~!~ Somehow, poof~!~ Math Facts Vanished! As we worked on addition and carrying numbers, we started focusing on manipulatives and pictures to "see" the numbers. We failed to continue to practice the math facts. And, now, we begin again, and will remember this time to keep the practice up periodically.
We found http://flashmybrain.com and so far, just a couple of days in, Maren likes it. It is NOT a fun or games site like Starfall is for reading (which is truly wonderful, btw). It is simple: flashcards online! There are ready-made math cards, but we made our own smaller sets with only 4 or 5 cards at time. We have found that Maren works best if she reads the numbers with the right answers again and again. If she starts guessing without having them cold, she is likely to remember the wrong answer she gave,,,ack! This allows her to sit and practice her facts while I create time for Archie. Again, it is not exciting, but functional site. It was a 29.95 fee and for me, it was worth it!
But, our happy find is a book on CD called "Story of the World." We have Volume 1 (4 CDs) checked out from our library. Jonah grabbed it because he thought it would be interesting. It's a very basic look at history, but through narratives aimed at children. It is read by Jim Weiss who is an amazing book on CD actor -- we love a lot of his work! Jonah found it boring, but Maren and Archie are enthralled!! And, they are learning history from the beginning -- The Nomads. Imagine that...history before George Washington ;-).
So, why do I recommend this? Well, Maren asked if we were crossing the "Tiger" river when we used the bridge over the Black Warrior in Tuscaloosa. Okay...we aren't in Turkey and no, it isn't the Tigris, but hey, she is learning the rivers of the world and enjoying it! She has asked about growing corn in our backyard (like the nomads who became farmers) and she wants to write on clay instead of paper :-). For a seven year old, I"m delighted!
Archie loves them too. He told me that Indiana Jones was an archaeologist like they talk about on the CD, and has discussed at length several concepts from the readings! Certainly, these are not a substitute for reading with my kids, or teaching them from paper books, but what an awesome and engaging supplement! We listen in the car (Jonah wants to listen to his Ipod instead), and then we can chat about what they are learning. Yeah....history is a topic I would have never "pushed" for Maren as we work on the fundamentals of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, so what a joy to find a new subject she loves! We'll keep listening and talking about history and then move to Volume II.