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    by Published on 12-09-2011 12:14 PM
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    By Henry Borenson, Ed.D.

    Homeschooling parents who were not especially good at mathematics in school often experience anxiety when introducing their children to algebra. As one parent wrote, “I was never good at math. When I started homeschooling my oldest, I was terrified of teaching it!”

    It’s easy to understand this apprehension, considering how many parents were taught mathematics, especially algebra.

    Far too often mathematics has been taught as a body of knowledge for which rules are learned and applied without understanding. As a result many students never quite know whether what they are doing is correct. This drawback is compounded when a problem’s solution requires several steps.

    Algebra is like a foreign language. Consider if you presented a student with several Chinese symbols and a set of rules for working with them. Common sense does not seem to be part of the process. Unfortunately, this is how many schools present algebra. As a result students’ attempts to memorize procedures lead to all kinds of errors. For example, a child faced with the problem 2x + 3 might come up with 5x, an incorrect answer. Or a child might be told, “Whatever you do to one side of an equation, you must do to the other.” Applying this rule blindly, the child looks at 4x + 2 = 2x + 10 and crosses out the 2 on each side, an incorrect procedure.

    Parent must strive, in every area of mathematics, to introduce the subject in a manner that makes sense to both the parent and the child. Using tactile/kinesthetic and visual models can help because doing so enables the child to activate different learning modalities.

    This is especially true in the area of algebra, which is so abstract to begin with. The program Hands-On Equations accomplishes this strategy by using blue pawns to represent the unknown x, numbered cubes to represent the constants, and a representation of a balance scale to convey the concept of equality.
    ...
    by Published on 12-07-2011 03:26 PM

    poll-icon-jpgFor us, one of the biggest perks of homeschooling has been having the constant nuzzles of encouragement and excuses to take "petting breaks" from our work - - our two lovable mutts. One time when my youngest son was pondering the idea of going back to school one year, he finally settled against the idea based on the fact that he didn't think he could go all day without his furry companions.

    Right now, we only have dogs, but homeschooling has also allowed us the opportunity to host several other creatures from the animal phyla over time. I'd love to know what kind of homeschool mascots you have hanging around your house. If your animal friends aren't listed, be sure to share them with us in the comments!!

    Click here to participate in this week's poll!

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