I home school my children.
This is what I tell others. It’s a lie.
First, the “home” part. My children and I spend large portions of each week all kinds of places that are not home. We attend music lessons, play dates, game nights, and all kinds of classes. We go to the grocery store, museums, and parks. We take road trips out of town and out of state. We go on weekend quilt retreats that start on Thursday and end on Monday.
Second, the “school” part. School is defined as “an institution for educating children”. Is my home an institution for educating children? Yes, but not in the way most of us think of school. Most of us think of school as a state or privately funded organization that meets in a school building. In a school students are segregated by age and placed in rooms specifically designed for teaching and learning. Instruction is provided by a professional educator using the same curriculum provided for students the same age across the school district. This is far from what goes on in my home. Each of my children has had an education designed for his or her needs, wants, and talents. There are a handful of things all six of them have done and dozens of things only one of them has done. I’ve set up three or four hoops each child must jump through, but none of them are academic.
So, “home school” is a huge misnomer. What we do is only sometimes at home, and only occasionally slightly resembles school.
Words can be powerful. When I use the term “home school” I tend to compare what I do with what happens in school. I sometimes wonder if my children are doing enough, or if I’m covering everything I should be. I also compare my children with others who call themselves home schoolers. Are my children behind? Are they having the same experiences as others?
I think my goals and intentions can be more accurately called providing individualized direction and training, facilitating learning, and raising adults. If I think in these terms I focus on these goals.
[For students registered for Algebra 2, please complete lessons A and B and be prepared to turn them in on the first day of class.]
Years ago I read about some research that completely changed how I thought about basic math facts.
What are basic math facts? According to reference.com “[a] “basic fact” in math is defined as any mathematical number, fact or idea instantly recalled without resorting to strategies….[The] main basic facts encountered in math are “whole-number” basic facts, in particular multiplication, addition, division and subtraction.”
Let’s focus on “instantly recalled” and the “without resorting to strategies”.
Instantly recalled. What’s your name? You can answer that without pause. That’s instantly recalled. When children have learned the basic math facts, they can respond to 6 x 7 with 42 without pausing.
Without resorting to strategies. We teach children to skip count, tag on a zero when multiplying by 10, and use other tricks and tools to find the answer to 9 + 5. or 5 x 7. These are strategies.
If basic facts are those recalled instantly without resorting to strategies is it a bad thing to teach strategies? This is where that research comes in. In a nutshell, the researchers found children did not memorize basic math facts. When basic math facts are recalled, it’s not because the facts have been memorized. Children found a path to the fact, a strategy to get to the answer, and traveled that path so many times it appeared to be instant recall without a strategy.
How can this be applied in helping children learn basic math facts? I believe strategies not only help students learn basic facts, but also increase number sense and help students understand the operations. And, according the the research, strategies, when practiced over and over, will result in instant recall without appearance of strategy.
(I read the research many years ago. If I come across it again I’ll edit this to include credit.)
Classes, curriculum, lessons, trips, jobs, mission trips, volunteer opportunities… how can I take advantage of all the wonderful possibilities available for my child and for our family?
The short answer is I can’t. No one has enough time to do everything.
If doing everything is not an option, how will I choose?
There are two things I consider when choosing which activities to pursue: vision and investment.
My next post will be about the investment. I’ll stick to vision for now.
When an opportunity arises I ask myself “Does this activity help fulfill my vision for my child?” This is a good place to start, but it’s a yes or no question. I need more information to make a good decision.
Then I ask myself “How does this activity help fulfill my vision for my child? How does this activity help fulfill the vision my child has for himself?”
If the activity is vision fulfilling in a way current activities are not, or in a unique way, or it’s something that might not be available again, I am likely to move in the direction of pursuing the opportunity
In the next post I’ll address the investment involved in pursuing an opportunity.