30 Days of Homeschool
Day 2 – Math
PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: We are BIG fans of free. A later post will deal with those who have a very tight budget – I’ve noticed lots of comments over the years that say, “If we had more money, we could homeschool.” This shows that there’s a lack of understanding of what homeschool is. It’s actually the cheapest and most efficient way to school, if done properly. If one means, “There’s no way that I can give my child the activities, facilities and opportunities that all of these big schools have,” then, yes, you don’t have the money. But that’s not what homeschool is. Again, I’ll deal with that in a later post; just know that a low income doesn’t exclude homeschooling.
1. Pencil and paper
OK, technically, none of these resources that I mention are completely free – there’s always some cost involved. We use pencils a lot, so I got 144 from Amazon.com for $16; a pack of 100 notecards can be gotten about anywhere for .50. This way is the cheapest way. Some, if not many, will laugh at this suggestion — this is part of the concept that having little money doesn’t exclude homeschool. The idea of rote learning and basic things such as multiplication charts has often been superseded by modern learning techniques, but this is still an acceptable, realistic and feasible method. Teaching the basics is quite easy, and can be done this way. What about as they get older? That’s where further instruction could come in, but books of course will do. The next 2 resources are online, free and very good. If your child is just gifted with and loves math, you’d need a tutor if you’re not mathematically inclined to teach them yourselves. But if you’re children are like so many others and just need to learn enough math to live a normal adult life (balance their accounts, figure out a tip, etc.), then teach them the basics and let them learn on their own – they or you will find resources to fit them as they get older…it just happens that way. No worries!
2. Play Kids Games – http://www.playkidsgames.com/mathGames.htm
We do our best to keep things low-tech when the kids are little (despite our gadgets, and that I’m a SysAdmin), so we’ve used flash cards successfully for years. But we have a couple kids who just weren’t getting it. So we found this site, and it works! We’re not fans of “use every new technique that comes along,” but we’re also fans of “if it works, it works.”
3. Goodwill Community Foundaton — http://www.gcflearnfree.org/math
This is a good and clean site, and useful for going a little above the basics. What’s good about websites is that you can stay one step ahead of your children so that you don’t feel so, well, stupid, when you teach them, and you can do it from any device. We’ve never used it for math, but I’ve used it for teaching some computer lessons (as the professional computer guy, I’m sort of required to teach my kids all of that computer stuff, which will be another post).
4. Khan Academy – https://www.khanacademy.org/
This is our favorite site! I can’t say enough good about it. I’ll spare you the history of it, but in short, I consider it the best. It’s just simply genius, and what I consider a perfect example what capitalism should be – a guy who is a genius and a good teacher made his fortune, then turned around and shared his wealth of knowledge to others for free. As an IT guy, I appreciate that it’s https, which means it’s secure, and as a parent I appreciate that each child doesn’t have to have his own email to sign up – he can use one of his parents’ email addresses…this prevents having to get your little ones some kind of online presence if you don’t want it. Their only presence is a Khan Academy account. It’s also a great site for parents who want to brush up on their math skills.