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As a homeschooler you have taken on a huge responsibility for the education of your child. Basically, you have accepted to get directly involved in all aspects of a school- everything from curriculum selection to grade management. This post will focus on a small part of all the things you have going on as a homeschooler but a very important part indeed. The question is “how much time does your child need to spend learning math?”. (more…)
Experience is the best teacher. As such I want to share with you lessons that I have learned over the years when it comes to teaching young people mathematics. Knowing what to look for in your child’s math work can help you encourage good habits and correct common problems. (more…)
So is your child gifted in math? The question is difficult to answer because all students are smart in their own ways. Moreover so many “average” math students have the potential to be more advance in math but never get into the “gifted” category for various reasons.
Before I became a math teacher I managed chemical production plant operations. Moreover before I worked in chemical plants I was a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy managing naval power plants and other complex engineering/technical systems. I say this only to gain your trust that I have a pretty good sense of the math involved in many technical vocations. (more…)
On multiple choice questions the best place to start is by looking at the answers. Often times you can eliminate answers or pick up clues on how to select the correct answer by looking at your choices before reading the question. Moreover, there may be times when you can use the multiple choice answers to get a question right even (more…)
How much do you know about the new common core curriculum standards? Well if you don’t know that much you need to get informed ASAP because it is changing everything in education. So in an effort to help you sort out CC (common core) I’m starting this series of posts on common core and its impact on higher level math mainly Pre-Algebra and above. (more…)
So, what is better homeschool or public school? Well the answer depends on you and your child. As a former public school teacher I had the privilege of educating many bright and talented students that went on to great colleges to chase their goals. However,
Recently I was working with a student and once again saw one of the most common mistakes made in algebra. Actually it’s a mistake that has its roots when a student’s learns about basic fractions and specifically how to reduce or simplify them. (more…)
After your homeschooler finishes Pre-Algebra they will be taking Algebra 1. Most students will notice that Algebra 1 goes over many of the topics that they learned in Pre-Algebra. As such there might be a perception that Algebra 1 is just a little harder repeat of Pre-Algebra. (more…)
Last week I purchased a TI-84 Plus calculator for my son. He is taking both Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics. His AP Stats teacher said it was a requirement to have a TI-84 for the course. So being a good parent I went ahead and purchased the TI-84 ($120) and took his TI-83 back into my inventory. (more…)
One of the most basic abilities we have as humans is our ability to count. We can visualize and see various number of objects in our physical world and some how know how to make sense of what we are seeing. (more…)
A common misunderstanding of students when they start learning how to work with positive and negative numbers is dealing with the negative of a negative number situation (see below for an example). So along with the rules to add, subtract, multiply and divide positive and negative numbers students also must know how to interpret what the negative of a negative number means. As students get into algebra and beyond they will face the “negative of a negative” situation frequently so it’s critical we eliminate any confusion with this topic.
One of the most important skills for high school level math is the ability to factor. Much of the factoring Algebra 1 and 2 students focus on is factoring polynomials. However there are many other non-polynomial expressions that we factor as well in algebra so it’s not only about polynomials like trinomials. By the time your child finishes Algebra 2 they should be able to handle a factoring problem like the one below. (more…)
Oh yes the wonderful world of fractions! Most students hate dealing with them but I have good news for those restless students! I have a method that will make those “fraction haters” into crazed fraction loving math students!! However my little secret method is only (more…)
One of the biggest topics we study in algebra is polynomials. Almost half of what your homeschooler will learn in algebra is focused on polynomials so it’s a good idea for us to really understand what one is. I’m sure most of you out there have seen the word “polynomial” but do you know what one is? (more…)
Unless you have ever been a teacher you don’t realize how challenging it is. It’s just like trying to explain what it’s like to be a parent with someone with no kids or explaining what combat is like to those that have never experienced it- unless you have done it you can’t truly grasp the experience. Years ago when I started teaching I thought I knew what I was in for before my first day of school. (more…)
Mathematics is a language that is structured by many properties. One property that students need to comprehend is the Transitive Property. Before we go any further let’s review the actual property.
Can you divide a number by zero? Answer: NO. Now it’s easy to make the mistake of trying to divide a number by zero as sometimes we work with expressions that end up with a zero in the denominator. However when this occurs ( zero as the denominator) we have a mathematical problem. Let’s think about a few examples. (more…)
What’s wrong with the fraction 1000/2000? Well nothing technically or mathematically speaking however it’s not a simple number- why not just call it 1 / 2 it would save the extra effort of writing all those zeros. In mathematics we always want to express numbers as simple as possible hence the reason we simplify and reduce fractions. (more…)
Mathematics is a language of many words and symbols. When studying Geometry we come across many new words and one of the most important is “postulate”. As such I thought we can take a quick in-depth look into what a postulate is so your child can be clear about what they are studying in Geometry. (more…)
Finding the slope of a line is a very important skill that all middle and high school students need to master. In order to find the slope students follow a simple formula (see below) and simplify a fraction. Many students can perform this task when the numbers involved are easy, whole numbers. (more…)
Have you or your child used a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel?
If so you have likely organized data into rows and columns like the example spreadsheet below. As you may imagine there is a lot of value of using a spreadsheet program like Excel to manage a lot of information. In mathematics we can use matrices and systems to organize data like that in a spreadsheet. (more…)
After completing my math degree I severed in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. In one of my tours I served as an Engineering Power Plant Officer. (more…)
The mean, median and mode are all part of the basics concepts of statistics. Many students tend to confuse the respective terms so I thought I would speak on it with this post. (more…)
Much of mathematics involves memorizing rules and procedures. Often times these procedures we learn are not very hard but because we have to memorize many steps and rules it’s easy to mix things up. One of the most common places I see students mix up basic rules is working with positive and negative numbers. (more…)
One of the biggest challenge with so many students is retention. The topic is huge in education and there are no perfect solutions to solve all retention problems. However from years of teaching math I have come to believe that there are 3 main things that teachers and parents can do to really help promote retention.
Once upon a time I was a young 18 year old US Marine. That was 28 years ago! Wow I’m getting old. Anyways after surviving boot camp which was indeed as hard as they say it is I became an United States Marine. Becoming a marine has been one of the top achievements in my life. (more…)
One of the latest trends in education is “flipping” a classroom. Before I explain what flipping a classroom is I want you to know that it’s one of many strategies used in education and not a whole sale replacement for a more traditional model of learning. Ok what’s flipping a classroom? (more…)
So what’s so sad you ask about homeschooling? Well nothing exactly however there is this one “thing” that bugs me and I find it a little sad. Ok so let me explain. For years now homeschoolers across the country have been using my full math courses at TabletClass.com to educate their children.
Over the years I have supported countless homeschool families all over the country. It has been a great pleasure to get to know all these families and help them with managing their math education. Of course these families have taught me much as well. I see a homeschool parents as fellow teachers so I love to get their lessons learned as well. I wanted to put together a list of the most important areas homeschoolers want to focus on for a great math education for their high school student- enjoy!
Successful homework is about quality not quantity. I’m a big believer in the value of homework but not the “drill and kill” type that makes a student do 100 problems that are basically the same. What I like is homework that develops core math skills without “burning” the student out with too much busy work.
After a tour as an enlisted US Marine I went to college on a NROTC scholarship. (more…)
As a homeschooling parent you take on a wide variety of educational responsibilities. You are much more than a “curriculum” manager you are a teacher, mentor, classmate, tutor and child psychologist. When your child is not doing well in math there could be many factors at play. For example, you may not be using the best curriculum for your child’s learning style or your child is not at the right course level. (more…)
One of my favorite moves is “Apollo 13”. I love this movie for so many reasons but especially for the parts where they show the NASA engineers using their “slide rules” to figure out math problems. Of course if you know what a slide rule is then you might be aging yourself (more…)
So you picked your curriculum and you’re ready to start a new year of homeschooling math. Of course your goal is to start off the year with a lot of excitement and momentum. I think every parent can start off the year with a “bang” but to make the success continue you need to have your educational bearings. Let’s talk about a few things that you want focus on before getting too far into the school year. (more…)
An important decision for homeschoolers is to decide if their child will take algebra 2 or geometry after completing algebra 1. Most schools will teach geometry after algebra 1 however there are curriculum programs that teach algebra 1 and 2 together usually as a two year program before geometry.
Years of teaching high school math and tutoring the SAT/ACT puts my vote strongly for having students take geometry after algebra one.
My conclusion is based on the following three reasons:
* SAT/ACT Exam
* Algebra Burn Out
One of the best things you can do for your homeschooler to become a better mathematician is to ensure they show their math work. I will give you some examples(below) to illustrate my point but know this- if your child is showing little to no work in their practice they will not become proficient at math. A BIG part of teaching a student math is getting them to master excellent problem solving habits. (more…)