Showing posts with label math. Show all posts
Showing posts with label math. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Expanding our Horizons in Guatemala Meets Escaping Buffalo in January

Several months ago, at the age of 34, I got my very first passport.  I was always nervous to travel abroad.  I am sure part of it was the propaganda about traveling to certain places.  However, most of the time I think I was intimidated by new languages, international paperwork, and flying. I had a terrible time with Spanish in college and only received some sort of a B (don't remember the exact grade) due to a student teacher who was afraid to look bad.  I hate flying, not because I am afraid as much as I feel sick, both air sick (either I come down with a sinus infection from the pressure or actually vomit on the plane) and it aggravates my fibromyalgia.  Until now, I never felt like I missed out and I certainly traveled otherwise, hitting more than half the states (by car) before I turned 20.  Still, I was nervous.  I have a cousin who has lived in London for quite a while and have never gone despite the fact that I am sort of in love with Britain from its wonderfully made television mystery shows.  In the case of Britain, it isn't a language issue, but a long flight and time change issue.  Anyway, with our kids in the training choirs at church and the regular church choirs traveling to England this August, it hit me that I needed to get comfortable with foreign travel in the near future.

Then a friend of mine who lived in Guatemala for over a year, raved about it to me and wanted to go back, so we decided to go together for the month of January.  It would be a great homeschool trip for her son and my kids as well as a break for my fibromyalgia in the cold.  Of course, if she had only been on vacation there, I never would have been brave enough to go, but since she actually lived there, on her own with her son, I was much more comfortable.  I wanted the kids to be immersed in Spanish as well as see a different culture and experience life very different than the U.S.  The nice thing about Panajachel Guatemala is that there is still a very strong Mayan culture including traditional food and dress.  It is one of the few places left in the world where so much native culture remains.  The climate is also ideal with lows of about 48F and highs of about 72F all year, so it is never cold or hot.

For homeschool, it was a super experience.  First off, the architecture was interesting with buildings open to the outside, sometimes in the middle of the building, since they don't require heating or cooling.

There are churches much older than our church too.

Don't forget the day trip to Antigua where we saw many sites with old ruins including the Church and Convent at Capuchins.

There was the natural wonder of Lake Atitlan with its surrounding volcanoes.

The science of hot springs due to the nearby volcanoes.
The nature preserve was quite exotic complete with banana trees.
We learned about coffee on a tour of the farm and processing.

Forget conventional art class.  The kids took a Mayan weaving class.
They visited a handmade pottery factory.
They visited the Galeria owned by Nan Cuz where they viewed lots of Guatemalan art.

They tried on authentic Mayan clothing from the village of San Antonio.
While we didn't plan on doing a whole lot of math, they kids studied Guatemalan currency and used it buy things including watching Mom attempt to bargain.  Social studies was the strongest area covered mainly because the kids visited the homes of two local families and ate a traditional meal at one of them.  We also experienced the ancient by visiting Mayan ruins.
Modern differences were the most interesting.  On the one hand, there was litter and less than perfect plumbing, but on the other hand there was the tremendous wisdom in simplicity such as the efficiency of tuk tuks on roads without too many cars (no traffic lights), hopping in the back of a pickup truck for longer distances, shopping in a pharmacy with no prescription needed, using ATMs where you can lock yourself in without the fear of someone else with a bank card being able to get in, and eating in restaurants where the owner's chickens roam about the premises.
Physical Education wasn't left out either as we did a horseback ride throughout the village of San Pedro (which I don't recommend for someone with fibromyalgia as due to lack of balance and sensory issues it was very uncomfortable and afterwards I had to rest quite a bit on the couch for several days - but it was fine for the kids).

The kids also went kayaking, but I didn't get pictures.

Obviously, many people in Guatemala don't have as much as we (or most Americans) do, so we had the kids volunteer two mornings doing an art project with preschoolers at Mayan Families.  They really felt great about helping the little ones. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Homeschooling: The Occasional Problem with Self-Paced Learning

This week I couldn't help but think about how nice it is to stop and smell the flowers.  C loves to stop and look at flowers and butterflies and rocks and ants and, well, everything.  It's great to have the freedom to explore what is around us, an amazing amount of nature for our city environment.  I don't remember doing this as much when I was a child.  I probably did when I was four and half, and just don't remember.  However, by the time I was in school full days at six and a half, there just wasn't the time.  We had homework, places to be, and strict bedtimes.  We played in the neighborhood after school with the other kids, but by that time of day, our brains were fried and the energy for natural learning was lower.  It seems we destroyed ant hills more than we watched them.

I am getting better at letting their interests dictate our activities, but I am far from perfect.  When it comes to letting them learn at their own pace with the curriculum we use, however, I always felt like we were on the right track.  First of all, we only spend about an hour a day on it or less.  Second, they can repeat any sections or activities that they have trouble with.  Third, they can work ahead whenever they want.  Finally, my kids happen to be ahead of their peers at this point.  This could always change of course, but it does give me some added comfort right now.

Unfortunately, C is too far ahead in math.  She finished kindergarten, but isn't ready for first grade math at all.  There is a big jump between two levels, at least in math.  You would think that this wouldn't be too much of a problem because we could either take a break or she could repeat some of the kindergarten activities.  However, since I have always let them go ahead when they finish something, she wants to proceed.  We have done the first lesson multiple times, and I added some customized activities with Mom in between.  Over time, the pace will moderate with adding these hands-on activities and slowing down by repeating, but will she get frustrated in the meantime?  Will I get frustrated at designing extra activities that we might not have needed if she tried it older?  Only time will tell. 

Has this happened to you?  How did you handle it?  How did it turn out?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fun Math for Different Learning Styles

We unschool most of the time spending only about an hour or so a day on an online curriculum.  Of course, I have been looking for ways to work on math through everyday life and games.  For T who has more of an interest in the calm of traditional learning, it is just about keeping it fun.  He loves to play Yahtzee.  It is a fun way to work on skills as a family or have Dad take over homeschool after work.

C likes it too, but for her I try to make math more active.  Even though she is only 4 we read the 2 digit measurement numbers on the side of the pool and measure items for baking.

Another fun activity for city dwellers is math in the neighborhood.  When T was learning ones, tens, and hundreds place I had them stomping on the address numbers in the sidewalk:

We also measure food at the Lexington Co-op since they have produce and bulk food bins.  It is hard to get a picture of it though because at their ages it still takes lots of supervision especially when it is busy!  Regardless, the goal is to keep math fun and applicable to their lives.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Doing Math Online With Classic Offline Tools

T was working on his math today on Time4Learning when he started having some difficulty.  Since he has gotten so far ahead for his age, it isn't a surprise.  Anyway, he was working on some addition and subtraction that had some nuances.  After I talked to him about how to approach the problems I saw him revert to his hands as a study aid.  With numbers under 10 there is no harm, but now that these types of problems are regularly featuring numbers up to 15 I had to think fast.  Then I remembered the nuns in catholic school never let us use our fingers to count.  We drew sticks and crossed out or added whatever the problem called for.

I am glad that I have been saving used envelopes and receipts as scrap paper.  It looks like we may be in a new phase with math where it will definitely come in handy.  He seemed to do better after he got confident with this technique.

By the way, I also use the back of junk mail to print out worksheets.  Since I rely on the score reports for records and don't save the worksheets after I go over them with him, it is fine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Board Games with the Grandparents

You just can't beat them as an educational activity, board games: reading or math many times, principles like good sportsmanship, and socialization, yes socialization.  Being able to get along with people of all ages, including the older adults like their grandparents.  It is a great way to learn.  Since I hadn't played Chutes and Ladders in many years, I forgot how great it is for math with all the spaces marked with a number 1-100.  By advancing through the board, kids get in the habit of seeing what happens to the larger numbers as they add numbers between 1 and 6.

Board games are a great, simple, low cost, low stress winter activity that can reinforce valuable skills and provide for hours of fun.  In our modern times of overscheduled children, it is something that warrants rediscovery.  Homeschooling can give you the time to use them more often and enjoy family time too.  Any way that we can teach our kids with less stress and more fun is a way to reinforce lifelong learning!  How often do you play board games with your kids?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Ahead in Math by Taking Your Time

One of the great luxuries in homeschool is being able to take your time on lessons that are difficult and being able to move more quickly through lessons that are easier.  Math is an area where this seems especially important.  Some concepts come more easily than others.  Sometimes kids just need the extra time and freedom to work their own examples for true understanding.  T spent about an hour and a half playing with pennies to figure out odd and even while he was doing a worksheet from Time4Learning.  While it felt like a long time, by the end of this largely self-directed exercise, it was apparent that he really got it.

This happened countless times in math in the past year.  By stopping to get a full understanding, he could move ahead with confidence.  He is working ahead on first grade math, despite just turning 5 recently.  The same has been true for C.  She is way ahead of her peers progressing through kindergarten, slowing down when necessary and speeding back up when possible.  Conventional school just doesn't have this advantage, no matter how good the teacher.  We can all remember times when we were in school when we needed more time to learn something and other times when something was easy and we were bored.

Only time will tell if the pace of T and C will get slower or faster, but either way it will be their choice!