Higher education

If You Are Trying To Find A Great Homeschool Curriculum You Are Not Alone

December 5th, 2017

You’ve made the huge decision to homeschool your children. You are positive this is the right move for you and your child(ren), but what should you do next? You may have never taught a lesson in your entire life and the thought of choosing a curriculum and writing lessons plans is mind-boggling and intimidating. Do not fret – millions of people have been in the same place before you and have paved the way for you with a host of resources to help you make your decision.

The very best homeschool curriculums come in a variety of styles and varieties, and vary by subject. Spelling, math, social studies, science, health, foreign language and even religion are popular subject areas with various curriculums available. Some curriculums are written and geared toward a Christian centered education while others are traditional non-religious based curriculums.

When reading reviews, you may consistently see the same programs ranked among the best homeschool curriculums. These are curriculums that have been around for a long time and are widely used by homeschooling teachers. There are so many options for curriculum with each subject area, it is impossible to rank them all in just one place. The best approach is to first decide on your child’s learning style and what objectives you want or need your child to master. Next, focus in on those subject areas you wish to focus on and research these subjects and their associated curriculum. Your child may learn math differently than they he or she learns science or writing, so you may need to cross-pollinate and introduce a few different curriculums and methodologies depending upon the subject matter.

Books are available on the homeschool curriculum reviews with various authors focusing and reporting on the many available homeschool curriculums. Often times these authors use consistent criteria to rank curriculums and present the date in easy to read charts, making it easy to compare and contrast competing curriculums. Core subjects such as mathematics, science and history will have many more available homeschool curriculums than more specialized subjects such as economics, financial literacy or government studies.

Depending upon your child’s learning style and interests, homeschooling curriculums provide the flexibility to make learning fun for YOUR child. For example, a 4th grade curriculum helps students learn division and multiplication facts through audio repetition and songs. Everyone learns and retains information differently. That’s why the best homeschool curriculum is what will work best for YOUR child’s learning style. Some popular math curriculums incorporate everyday, practical exercises such as trips to the grocery store, to reinforce core mathematical concepts.

When selecting the best homeschool curriculum, be sure to first check any specific state criteria or curriculum that will be required for mandatory testing. You want to make sure your student is on par and equally prepared (or more prepared) than those in the public or private schools.

There certainly is no shortage of available information on all the best homeschool curriculums, but it can be overwhelming for the first time homeschool teacher. What works for one child may or may not work for yours, so look at specific ranking criteria rather than just popular opinion when evaluating best homeschool curriculum options. Again, the best approach is to focus on a subject or two at a time and think about your child’s specific needs and learning style. Once you decide on methodology for one subject, your research and knowledge will be easily transferable to other subject areas, and choosing a curriculum should become easier for you.

Preparing Students For High School Maths

November 27th, 2017

A Guide For Primary School Teachers

A High School Maths Teacher’s Wish List

What has occurred in recent years as many more students complete high school and seek a tertiary education, is a growth in parents wanting their children to do Mathematics at a higher level. They see Mathematics as a key to tertiary entry and insist that their children be given the opportunity to do the subject at the highest level possible even going against the school’s advice on the matter.

Therefore, high school Maths’ teachers must teach almost all students for all their years at high school irrespective of their innate ability in the subject.

This trend will not go away and high school teachers need the help of primary teachers to prepare their students to enter the rigours of high school Mathematics.

This article is written based on my experience as both a high school Maths teacher and as a Head of Mathematics who often had to advise parents on what was best for their students in the subject. Much of what I write here was presented to primary school teachers in a workshop on the topic.

Most, if not all of the points I make in this article, will be known to experienced primary school teachers so it is aimed more at those new to the profession.

Mathematics is a subject discipline where the student must develop his/her understanding of Mathematics. Learning rules and procedures can take the student only so far. It will not help in the modern world of real life Maths problems in unfamiliar contexts.

To help prepare students for high school Maths, upper primary school teachers need to attempt to develop the following within their students.

  1. A work ethic and one which is self-motivating. Often, students in Mathematics will need to work alone and unaided.
  2. A homework ethic. The speed of teaching the syllabus requirements in high school is dictated by outside authorities. This means that the teacher must cover a mandated syllabus in a specific time. For the student, this means that homework is an essential part of the learning process if he/she is to keep up with the pace of teaching.
  3. A study ethic. It is important that students learn that homework does not equal study.
  4. A belief that all students can do some Maths.
  5. An understanding that Maths is an essential part of everyday life and we all do Mathematical things successfully every day, often automatically.
  6. A belief in students that asking questions in Maths is a ‘cool’ thing to do.
  7. A belief in students that Maths is unisexual, not just for the boys.

Below is a list of what I call essential preparation that is not directly Mathematical but will assist students greatly in their study of Mathematics as well as other subjects.

Students should be taught:

  • Study skills
  • How to be powerful listeners
  • How to ask questions
  • Checking procedures
  • Estimation as a checking device
  • Various problem solving techniques
  • An effective setting out procedure
  • That the answer only is not enough. The students must explain in written Mathematical form how they achieved their answer.
  • That there is often more than one way to solve a problem
  • An understanding of order convention
  • Examination technique

Communicating mathematically is a skill that needs to be taught. It involves students being taught the following:

  1. The correct use of Mathematical terms including their spelling;
  2. Correct use of all Mathematical symbols;
  3. Logical setting out;
  4. Justification of each step where necessary;
  5. Logical reasoning;
  6. The use of neat and clear figures, accurate and appropriate diagrams;
  7. To work vertically down the page to allow ease of checking and the elimination of errors in copying;
  8. The translation from one form of expression to another, e.g. numerical/verbal data to diagrams/tables/graphs/equations, and
  9. Correct and appropriate use of units, e.g. in area, volume and so on.

Lastly, you can give your students a taste of high school classes by doing the following. (You might call these suggestions an Action Plan).

  • Set your classroom up with desks in rows and teach a number of “Chalk and Talk” lessons.
  • Insist that students work on their own while doing Maths exercises in a quiet environment.
  • Use textbook exercises.
  • Run some formal, timed examinations in a formal classroom setting.
  • Do regular problem solving exercises. Ones in unfamiliar contexts so they get accustomed to the idea that problem solving is an everyday event, not just one that comes up in assessment.

As I alluded to in the title of this article, this is a high school Maths teacher’s wish list. Whatever you can do as a primary teacher to help develop this wish list would be greatly appreciated by Maths teachers but more importantly will help students to step into the rigours of high school Maths more confidently.

Preschool Homeschool Curriculum Which Really Works

November 20th, 2017

If you are looking for a preschool homeschool curriculum which really works you are probably looking for something which was fun and interesting for your child, but you are worried about whether the material will actually improve your child’s long-term school performance.

Your Preschool Homeschool Curriculum Must Be Fun

Finding a curriculum which is fun is important, because in these early years of development having fun should be a real priority. However, many of the games and techniques that you might find to fill up your preschool homeschool curriculum may not be enhancing skills that your child will need in the future in order to learn effectively. There’s nothing wrong with having fun, but mixed in with the fun activities most parents also want to provide a way that their child can develop to become an effective student throughout their whole life.

Your Preschool Homeschool Curriculum Must Be Targeted

The best curriculum is one that mixes both fun and targeted exercises to develop your child’s skills so that when they move into school, they can become good students. It is not enough to simply have fun when you have the opportunity to have a long-lasting effect on your child’s learning ability within your curriculum.

In the classroom, vision is the dominant sense with up to 80% of all information of child processes coming via the visual system. It therefore makes perfect sense to develop your child’s visual skills as part of your preschool homeschool curriculum, because this will give them an edge when it comes to learning in future years. If you can find a way to quickly and effectively develop the necessary visual skills for learning, and incorporated all into your preschool homeschool curriculum, then you will be giving your child a clear advantage which will serve them well throughout their life!

How To Incorporate Visual Skills Development into Your Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

It is not a difficult task to incorporate the development of visual skills into your curriculum. Many of the basic visual skills are enhanced by fun and interesting games which children love to play, and which are easy to integrate with your preschool homeschool curriculum to bring out the very best in your child.

The big question is what games do you play, how do you structure them and which ones will really develop the skills that your child needs to perform well for many years to come. As a papal optometrists, I’ve developed a specialized program which is easy to incorporate into your curriculum to help you develop these necessary skills in your child. It is quick, inexpensive and a whole lot of fun, and it could provide you with happy learning in a great school experience for your child, rather than years of struggle and difficulty.

If you want the best for your child throughout their school career, it is important that preschool becomes a time of development in every way. Injecting the development of visual skills into your preschool homeschool curriculum can supercharge your child’s learning ability long into the future!