One of the neat things about homeschooling is the constant learning and juggling that goes on. School never seems to have a beginning or an end. It just always is. I have heard the term “homeschool life” used synonymously with “The seamless life”, and I would have to agree.
Because there are different ages learning together, there is also a lot of staggering. For instance, while Liv is getting her math done independently, I am working one-on-one with Holland while she learns a new concept taught in her second grade Math book. In the background, Reese plays with her farm set until it is time for her to play with her puzzles.
I take captive the sacred moment with Holland…..squeezing our time in before the phone rings, or the laundry buzzer goes off--before distraction interrupts this quality time.
In this way, there are times that I could go above and beyond and create a very fabulous lesson plan for her to learn the new math concept, but I don’t.
I remind myself that it’s okay. (and believe me….it took this control-freak/over-achiever mom a whole long time to realize it!) Homeschool life is different. Learning is not always this big event, but a gentle rising and falling of different concepts and ideas.
But--isn’t there a time for learning to be a big event? Not every day. But, yes--with BIG concepts, like learning how to read, or writing in cursive for the first time. Multiplication tables definitely need their big intro party, as well. Big introduction parties help your child get a good, running start to learn the subject fully.
So how do we do that, as homeschool parents? How do we make sure to give our children the best preparation for learning their multiplication tables, for instance?
Guess what? You already know what to do! If you have a child of school age, you already have what it takes to form a great lesson for this new information. I want you to think about the day you decided it was time for your child to become potty-trained.
Think way back. What did you do first?
You talked about it, I can guarantee. You also probably bought a fun little potty book and maybe a new potty seat. A sticker chart. Little fruit snacks in a jar as a reward, maybe. New undies, perhaps? This all worked towards creating anticipation for the subject to be learned.
When he was good and excited to try to go potty on his own, you showed him where the potty was, how to wash his hands, where to put his reward sticker, and what he was to do with his pants if they are soiled. You told him that he would be a big boy at the end of this journey of learning how to use the potty. Right?
After you taught him what he was to do and how he was to do it, you actually practiced with him. Every time you saw your child dance around the room, you ran with him to the toilet, helped him lift the lid, helped with the pull-up and the wiping, the hand-washing and the sticker placement. And, If he didn’t quite make it, you took some extra steps to practice, encouraging and reinforcing the entire way.
The next step happens when the child can actually go through the steps of going potty relatively on his own. At this age, the parent is still needed :o), but there is independence. Then, the child gets to redeem his stickers for his prize, whether it be new underpants, a fun outing, or a prize. There is closure here, as the child is accomplished and can close the chapter on learning how to go potty. What a wonderful milestone!
Why did I drag you through the streets of memory lane? I explain all this so that you can look at a teacher’s lesson plan and plug your own lesson into a template to make learning fun and memorable for your child. Recognizing the different parts of a direct teaching lesson is very valuable for you as your child’s teacher….even if you do not implement a direct teaching lesson on a daily basis.
So take what you already know about effectively teaching a child something new (potty training) and apply it now to those multiplication tables you are about to teach your child. How are you going to create excitement and anticipation in your child?
I have some ideas:
1. Find some good books on multiplication and read them to your child. Check out this site for a list of picture books geared towards 2nd and 3rd-grade students. These books not only describe how to multiply, but show it’s usefulness to daily life as well.
2. Show the purpose of multiplication using a handful of M&M’s. Check out this fantastic slideshow here.
4. Let her leaf through her new multiplication book. There are fantastic pictures, activities and coloring pages which illustrate each math fact and are sure to illicit interest from your child. Show her the method and explain what you will be doing to learn each times table fact.
5. Create a multiplication chart and explain that after each fact is mastered, she will get to color in the box and receive a token to save up for some ice-cream, a new toy, or one of the above books about multiplication!
All of these suggestions will help your child know that A) learning Multiplication facts is important. And B) learning Multiplication facts is fun!
The following week, after you have successfully piqued your child’s interest in times tables, turn to the first page and teach her the fact. Read the story, explain how being able to multiply numbers together allows you to compute mathematics in your head faster than adding.
Then, let her practice. Stay with her and practice the times table together, using the manipulatives to multiply the different math facts together. Manipulatives can literally be anything! Paper clips, rocks, candies, buttons, raisins, unifix cubes. Other days, work on activities found in your book together. Stay with her during this time. I know it’s tempting to go switch the laundry or take that phone call and “be right back”. But, during this learning block, she will need to know you are with her and will need to know she can come find you if she needs more help.
Next, allow her to study on her own. She will also complete work demonstrating her multiplication knowledge at this time. She can come to you to ask for help, but you are no longer standing over her shoulder. It is during this segment that she will likely show evidence of mastery. She will demonstrate it via project or worksheet or test to show she has mastered the fact can come next.
The reward/token she receives when she puts her sticker on the chart gives her closure. She can even tell you what it means to multiply numbers together and why it is important.
The above lesson planning example is based on the Madeline Hunter Lesson Design Model, and can be used for anything your child learns that would benefit from direct instruction.
All this is great...but do remember--the benefit of homeschooling is the relaxed, natural way of learning through discovery. But while teaching the big, foundational concepts, consider using a lesson plan like Madeline Hunter’s to help cement your child’s learning.