Friday, August 31, 2012

treasure chest - math & logic & programming, oh, my!

back to school time!

for some, those words are exciting, for others, not so much.  it runs the gamut for homeschoolers, just like it does for public-schoolers, private-schoolers, and any-other-kind-of-schoolers.  and it's different depending on your status as a learner or a teacher (if you are lucky and approach it with an open mind, you get to be both!)

for us, it means getting my act together to submit requests from our charter school, south sutter.

our es (educational specialist) has been impressed with how efficiently we use our funds; this does not happen magically, of course - it takes planning.  i'm trying something different this year, though, and i hope i'm as successful as in prior years.

rather than attending to curriculum first, i'm scheduling classes.  gasp!  what, no books??????

from experience, diana and i have learned that i get excited about a new curriculum and easily persuade (or uneasily coerce) her into trying it.  it goes fine for a while, then i get bored and she gets cranky and starts asking "why do we have to do it this way?" and i respond with "because it's in the curriculum that way and smarter people than we are have figured out what we need to do so let's just do it."  and then we're both grumpy and nothing is being learned except the fact that we got off our path.  and there are these incomplete books and materials sitting on the bookshelf, staring at me in an accusatory manner, as though there was something wrong with me because i couldn't teach with them or something wrong with diana because she wasn't learning from them.

enough of that nonsense.

so, our semester's funds have been requested for diana's classes at the davis art center.  she's continuing her study of aikido and irish dance and extending her study of weaving.  she's worked with small table looms and inkle looms in previous classes; she'll have a chance to work with large table looms and floor looms, if all goes well.  plus, diana's piano teacher became a vendor with our charter school so now our funds can go towards lessons.  that's a big help to our budget.

this is not to say that we don't use curriculum or workbooks.  we do.  we keep the stuff that works for us, for as long as it works for us.  the other stuff we quietly ignore until i go to the bookcase wondering just how did so much stuff get crammed in there and sort through things to dispose of or keep.  and, over time, i am cultivating an attitude of feeling more capable of using curriculum as a resource but not feeling like i have to follow it precisely.  or at all, for that matter.

i have yet to learn brevity, though, or how to stay on track, which is why i haven't yet addressed the topic of this post.  could also explain why my daughter's habit of getting distracted bothers me so much - it reminds me so much of my habits.

for my next installment of treasure chest (see what i have about science, too) here are my nuggets of the moment (gold rush days in old sac this weekend, so i have gold on my mind), meaning that this is what we are currently using/plan to use for diana this year (age equivalent to fourth grade):

mathematics: teaching textbooks, codebreakers, algebra antics, life of fred

logic:logic links, mind benders

programming: python4kids

all this will cost us very little.  we purchased the teaching textbooks from a fellow homeschooler last year, used, so it was less expensive than purchasing it new.  not "free" as it would be if we used charter school funds, but then again, we'll get to keep it and use it as long as we like, rather than have to return it at the end of the school year (or whenever we move).  the programming is online and free.  the workbooks are fairly inexpensive, too, and those are probably the things we will pay for out of pocket, given that all our funds are going to the classes mentioned above.

some references we have on hand are usborne's illustrated elementary math dictionary and illustrated dictionary of math.  and for some fun, there is g is for googol by david schwartz and the adventures of penrose the mathematical cat by theoni pappas.

games are good, too: tangrams and set are fun.  math is, after all, the study of patterns, at least according to my mathematical husband.

and in case you were wondering if there's anything that ander is using to hone his math skills, starfall has an inexpensive upgrade that allows him access to mathematical concepts and operations.  for a child who loves to memorize, maybe it's not a bad idea to work on multiplication facts now, you know?

i am happyer at home because we are able to use what works for us when it comes to learning.  we're not "package deal" kind of people; we're more "a la carte" in our learning and just about everything else in our lives.


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