Reducing Algebra Stress
I know a word that can make even a group of seasoned homeschoolers groan. Can you guess what it is?Algebra! But it doesn’t have to be that way. While I don’t have a secret weapon that will make math your child’s favorite subject, I can offer some suggestions to reduce the algebra stress and make it easier for both of you.
Wait until your child is ready. This is probably the most important advice I have for reducing algebra stress. From the time our children are tiny, we parents are prone to playing the comparison game. Did Jimmy walk at nine months while the Evans’ child was nearly a year-and-a-half? Did the Ortega’s daughter potty train at two years old while Ella is still in pull-ups at three? We take pride in our early learners and agonize over the later ones. This attitude is unfortunately carried into high school as well, where many homeschoolers rush their children into advanced subjects such as higher-level math.
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How do you involve Dad in homeschooling?
While homeschooling certainly isn’t a gender-specific occupation, in many of the families that we know, the mom has the lion’s share of the responsibility for homeschooling. My husband’s occupation makes this necessary in our home, but it also has the unintended consequence of his being left out of a good amount of our day. Early on in our homeschooling, we began making a conscious effort to include him as much as possible.
Here are some strategies for involving Dad in homeschooling that we have used over the years:
Show and Tell. After my husband has had some time to change his clothes and move out of “work mode,” I encourage my children to show off some of their work from the day, especially if we have done a special activity. Art projects, science experiments, handwriting pages, and new reading material are all fun to show dad.
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Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the 1800’s. Her education methods went out of style in the modern school movement, but have been revived in recent years and have become popular in the homeschool world.
These are some of the important parts of the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy:
- Children are born persons; they are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil.
- Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. Teachers use the child’s natural environment, disciplining of habits, and the presentation of living ideas in order to teach.
- Children learn to write by doing copywork, listening to good literature, giving oral narrations, and eventually writing written narrations and compositions. Students also write from dictation, read by the parent from quality literature.
- Lessons are short and pleasant, especially for young students.
- Students read “living books,” not “twaddle.” A living book is one that is written by someone who has a passion for the subject and is not condensed or altered. Twaddle would include most contemporary fiction series that talk down and undervalue the intelligence of the child.
- Art and music study are important parts of a Charlotte Mason education. Students are taught to enjoy classical music and famous artists in a gentle, natural manner.
- Student spend a great deal of time outdoors. Nature study is an important part of the school day.
- Handicrafts are taught in a Charlotte Mason school. This can be any number of activities, such as sewing, woodworking, gardening, and drawing.
Here are some examples of curricula and resources that follow a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education:
We love field trips! The other day our co-op went to a history museum about two hours away. We had a blast! The history museum puts on classes for schools, but they had never worked with homeschoolers before. It made for a learning experience for all, I think. Rather than a group of same-age kids, they were creating classes that would work for a multi-aged group with lots of parents, many of whom had toddlers and babies along. The museum did a fabulous job, and we had a great time.
We divided into two groups, one for little that couldn’t walk as far and another for about eight and up. We had a short class discussing the Oregon trail and then went out to experience some of what it would be like.
Learning about the trail.
Pumping water and loading the wagons.
Stopping at an out-post store.
Pulling the carts.
Cooking over a campfire.
Tug o’ War on the prairie.
Visiting Railroad Town.
Newspaper office and old-fashioned baseball at the general store.
Schoolhouse and a sad boy in a pioneer jailhouse.
Self Portrait of John Singleton Copley
John Singleton Copley was born in Boston in 1738. He was the son of Irish immigrants Richard Copley and Mary Singleton. His father died when he was young. His mother married Peter Pelham in 1748. Copley showed an early interest in art, and he received training from his stepfather, who was an English engraver. Copley experimented with many media, including oil on canvas, miniatures on copper or ivory, pastel, and printmaking. After his stepfather’s death in 1751, Copley began a career as a mezzotint engraver, publishing his first portrait, Reverend William Welsteed , in his early teens. By the late 1750s he was well established as a portrait painter.
In 1774 Copley moved to London, then on to Italy, where he spent more than a year studying and painting. In 1775 he returned to London where he settled with his wife and three of his children, who had come from Boston. He exhibited two paintings, The Copley Family and Watson and the Shark, at the Royal Academy of the Arts (an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London), where their success earned him praise from reviewers and full membership in the academy. While he continued to paint portraits, Copley began to paint historical pieces as well. He took great care in creating these paintings, painstakingly researching in an attempt to make them accurate, with good likenesses and correct accessories.
The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar
Copley painted portraits of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and others from Boston who visited England. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1791.
Copley died in London in 1815 after creating around 350 pieces of art.
I truly enjoy homeschooling my children, but if I am honest, I will also say that there are many times I can use some encouragement in this journey. One of the best encouragements to me is to remember others who have successfully walked this road. So, in order to both encourage myself and, hopefully, you as well, I am starting a new series here on my blog. I am going to do a series of short biographies on well-known or historical people who were homeschooled.
I’m sure that we have all read the lists on Facebook or the web that include a huge number of supposedly homeschooled people. However, to make it on my list a couple of things need to be true:
- The person needs to have some measure of success in his life. Now, we all have our own ideas of what success is. But I am not talking about money or fame here. If the person has tons of money and fame, but their personal life is a mess, they aren’t necessarily successful. On the other hand, some successful people do have sad or unfortunate periods in their lives. Since my purpose in these biographies is to relate uplifting stories of homeschooled individuals in order to encourage homeschooling families, I am looking for stories that will indeed be encouraging.
- The person needs to have actually been homeschooled for at least a portion of her life. Dropping out of school with no further education does not count. There had to be some sort of education at home, either by parents, a governess or tutor, or by the student self-educating herself in some way.
Disclaimer: I have done the best I can to choose legitimately successfully homeschooled people, but I am relying on what others have written and my own perceptions here. Ultimately, it is still my opinion rather than fact.
I hope that you will enjoy reading about the interesting lives of other homeschooled students.