Tag Archives: help

Old Dogs, New Math – book review and give away

26 Nov

Old Dogs, New Math: homework help for puzzled parents

Many thanks to The Experiment Publishing for sending me this book to review and offering to give a book away to one lucky reader!

Now onto the juicy bits…

I was a bit worried at first, but very curious. Math is NOT my strong point. And, following the principles of unschooling, I pretty much let my kids try to figure out a lot of stuff on their own after pointing them in the right direction. Plus, my husband is a whiz at math. So I manage to avoid a lot of painful questions by directing them to their father. But there are times when they ask me questions and I try to answer. They don’t know that I am struggling, but it is awkward and frustrating for me.

I was pleased to discover that this book was VERY easy to read. I mean, it was like reading a joke book or a choose-your-own-adventure book. Really easy. I was surprised. They made my difficulties seem rather brainless with simple explanations and examples. There are even little puzzles and games.

And what’s really fun for educational geeks like me… they explain how things used to be taught, how they are taught now, why teaching methods have changed, and why those changes make it difficult for parents to help their kids.

They also have test questions with real life kid answers and point out facts that help you discover how the kid got the answer (Nothing trickier for the parent than trying to figure out how and why the answer the kid came up with the wrong answer!)

My teenager even started reading it. He didn’t get very far because I kept hiding the book from him. (Oops) But he keeps bugging me for it. So that’s a pretty good sign too.

It is broken down into nice little sections:

Preparation – this is mostly for the parents covering such painful topics as “how do I overcome my own fear of math?” to “why do they do it differently these days?” as well as everyday tools that can be used for math education and an approximate grade/age guideline for math education in schools.

Arithmetic–And How It Has Changed – this goes into basic mathematics. There are nice simple to understand explanations, examples, and pictures, and even games to play.

Beyond Arithmetic – now we start getting into fractions and decimals and a little bit of geometry.

Questions and Answers – this not only has the answers to the puzzles that they give you throughout the book, but it also covers questions your kids will encounter throughout their schooling along with the answers (with or without a calculator). The best thing is they explain HOW to get the correct answer (and if there is more than one way to come to the correct answer they show that too).

And finally – of course there is a glossary and index and stuff.

Now, the big test. My daughter asks me the question “How old where you when I was 3?” So I pull out this handy little book and launch into an explanation of number lines and stuff. Not sure how much it helped her, but I sure felt a lot more confident.

Sure Math and fun didn’t seem to go together for me either. But let’s face it, math is a reality of school life. And we all want to help our kids to succeed. How can we help them if we don’t know how to play? This book makes that math nightmare less scary and much more fun.

And now for the give away!

The Experiment has agreed to send out a book to one of my readers. So how do you get one?

1. Mention this contest in your blog/tweet/Facebook status/forum. (Please don’t spam forums and groups. Only post on a forum or group if it is allowed and you are a regular member.)
2. Leave a comment on this post with a valid email address and a link to your posting. Please use a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.
3. Comments must be received by Sunday December 12, 2010 at midnight CST. Anyone who comments more than 3 times forfeits their chances. The winner will be selected by random drawing and announced on Thursday December 16, 2010.

Kids and chores – the never ending battle to get things done

11 Dec

three-year old sweeping

When is a child too young to start helping out around the house?

sit... stay... go get it... good girl

sit... stay... go get it... good girl

four-year old measuring pet food

Well, naturally, that depends on the child. But my observation is, if they are old enough to ask if they can help, they are old enough for you to let them help. The key here is that you, as the parent, need to LET them. Oftentimes, we would rather just get it done. It takes too long to watch them struggle through it, we don’t like having to clean up the mess that follows in the wake of their “cleaning”, and they might break something.

fourteen-year old washing dishes

seven-year old shredding cheese

After having four kids the amount of housekeeping required to sustain even the barest minimum of cleanliness consumed almost all of my time. That’s four kids, one husband, myself, and numerous pets (at the moment, one dog and one cat, but we have had as many as two dogs, two cats, and a pair of birds all at the same time).  And why should I be the only one cleaning up after the masses, afterall, I’m not the only one making a mess. So the new regime began – even for the youngest.

three-year old cleaning lint trap

three-year old helping with the laundry

One could make the argument that learning such menial tasks as laundry, cleaning, and washing is counter productive to successful living. This could be hired-out work. Most wealthy and successful people rarely spend their time on housekeeping but hire someone else instead so that their own time and energy can be focused elsewhere. But I firmly believe that everyone should have a basic understand of how to do such menial tasks. At the very least it fosters respect for the work entailed (would you belittle and abuse your housekeeper if you truly understood how difficult the work was). And if you are in dire straights, at least you now how to keep your shirt clean. Taking care of chores is also a great way to foster independence, strengthen self-confidence, and encourage pride in a job well done.

youngest "supervising" the seven-year old cleaning the litter

master "chef" in training

The nice thing about starting out early is that eventually the kids reach a level of proficiency that requires very little oversight and correction. Plus, with so many of them, they help each other out and teach each other.

I finally drew up a little chore chart. But we rarely ever use it because they have already been trained on what needs to be done. The chore chart merely acts as a reminder so that they are able to double check their work.

chore chart

youngest “supervising” the seven-year old cleaning the litter