Math Inspirations Blog

Ready To Grow As A Mentor For Your Kids? Learn How Below.

When Do You Start?

There are so many different opinions out there on when to start educating your kids.  Some believe that you can’t start early enough, like in the article The Sooner the Better. While other studies, like this one called Staying Back to Get Ahead, are saying that we are sending kids to school way too early.

With such a variety of opinions, how do you know what is going to be best for your kids?  Now, I am not an expert on early childhood education, but here is what make sense to me.

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Loss Of Brain Power

According to a study by the John Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning, “all students regardless of socio-economic status, lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation over the summer months.”  They speculate that the reason for this is that students just don’t do any mathematical thinking over the summer.  (I believe an additional reason for this is because students never really learn the math in the first place, but we can save that argument for another time.)

This statistic doesn’t really surprise me at all.  As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”  The brain needs consistent exercise to stay fresh and grow.

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Math Was Created

Mathematics is an innately creative and discovery based process.  All math stems from very simple laws and truths.  This means that all of math can be discovered and created using our unique individual ability to think logically and problem solve.

All mathematical truths have been discovered.  No one sat down with Newton and said “here’s how you do calculus.” He studied.  He struggled.  He hypothesized.  He experimented.  He failed.  And then he discovered.

All of our students can, and will if given the opportunity, discover, on their own and in their own way, every mathematical truth, rule and procedure.

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Reviewing is just a part of math, right? 

When I was teaching Algebra 2 at a public high school, the entire first semester was spent reviewing what should have been learned during Algebra 1.  I am sure that when you look back on your traditional math classes, this was probably a large part of your experience as well.  In fact, Saxon even lovingly refers to this constant review as the “spiral method”.

Doesn’t this seem sometimes like a waste of time? Well, when the focus of math is on memorization of another person’s method, then review is necessary because the information that is obtained never really connects in the student’s mind.

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The Secret To Seeing Patterns

“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher.”

– Chuck Palahnuik

Whether we like it or not, patterns are a part of life.  Unfortunately, the skill of finding, recognizing and communicating these patterns is briefly touched on when kids are young and then mostly ignored…

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What If They Have No Idea They’re Wrong?

“I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.” -Charles Schulz

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on how to respond to the question we so often get from our kids, Is this right?

Not long after the post, I was chatting with a mom who said “What if they have no idea they are wrong?”

So, today I have 4 tips for what to do with wrong answers, especially if your kids don’t know or care they are wrong:

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Contig 60

If you want a game that is part logic, part problem solving, part basic operation review and part luck, you need to try Contig 60.  It will quickly become a family favorite!

All you need to get started is to get at least 3 dice per person (you can share if you need to) and a printed version of the game (found in the link below).

The game is perfect for students who know their basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.

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Taming The Beast

Be honest, when it comes to learning math can some of your kids be a little beastly?  It’s no surprise that math is usually the subject that homeschooling parents worry about the most because the odds are that at least one kid in the family, if not more, is going to fight against doing math.

If you have a kid (or 2 or 3) that hate math time, here are some helpful tips for taming the beast and making math more meaningful and enjoyable in your home.

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Traditional Math Is Lacking

Think back to your math experience.  It most likely involved a teacher modeling several problems on the board and then students whose only job was to copy those exact steps on different problems.  Sound familiar?

Traditional math is all about memory recall and in all honesty, requires very little actual brain thinking. So how do we elicit more thinking in our math no matter what program…

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Ok, I’ll Admit It, Math Wasn’t Always Fun

Looking back on my traditional math experience, I can honestly say that there were times when math got a little boring.  Having to do a worksheet with 20-30 of the same types of problems was not my idea of fun. Let’s be real, it could bore even the biggest math enthusiast.

So why do we even make our kids do that kind of work if we know that are going to get bored with it?

Now, there are definitely times when kids need repetition.  They may need…

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“Is This Right?” And Why You Should NEVER Say Yes Or No

We all get asked it every day…especially when mentoring in math

“Is this right?”

You CANNOT give in and tell them Yes or No.

Doing so builds a behavior of dependency on you and your input to be able to make decisions – quite the opposite of a self-reliant thinker…

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Our Kids Are Terrible Communicators And How We Can Change This

We All Started Out As Terrible Communicators…

When my boy Jimmer was born last year, he possessed only one tool for communicating all his wants and needs – crying. Now, he’s one-year-old and knows three words (ba, ba ba and da da) and two sign-language symbols (all done and please).

I know that this process is totally normal, but it’s important to realize we all started out as really poor communicators and many of us still are!

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Questions To Ask When You Don’t Know What To Ask

That feeling of “I want to help, but I don’t know how…”

Your teenager comes in with his most recent Algebra homework and all of the sudden your pulse quickens and your throat goes dry.  “How am I supposed to help him if I don’t even remember how to do even the parts I understood, let alone all of the things that I didn’t?”

Has this ever happened to you?

Don’t worry!  THERE IS AN ANSWER!!!

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Why The Quick Fix Will Break Your Kids

Me to my 3 year old today: “Go get dressed sweetheart.”

5 minutes later, TOTAL MELTDOWN! My 3 year old is in tears, crawling up the stairs crying with one arm in her shirt and the other sleeve dangling from her neck.  She can’t get her shirt on.

I Know You’ve Been There Too…

Now as a mom, we have one of two options:

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Great Mentors Practice What They Preach

One of my favorite parts of Math Inspirations is that I get to chat on the phone with incredible homeschool moms.  One of these conversations today reminded me that we cannot escape the influence that we have on our children.  Whether we like it or not we are constantly teaching our children and they are constantly learning from us.

What do our kids learn from us about math?  I’m not talking numbers and operations.  What do our kids learn from us about how they should think about math?

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