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10 things I learned from teaching

February 22nd, 2008 at 06:02 pm

I actually learned much more than 10 things, but it would take to long to list them all (did you know

Text is Raul Amundsen and Link is
Raul Amundsen was the first to reach the south pole?)

So here are my quickest 10 in no particular order.

10. Brains are muscles..use 'em or lose em'..but please don't abuse them. When offered new knowledge children pick up on it..when drilled constantly the brain seems to stop functioning..much like a 'Charley horse'. When the brain is not stimulated, some children have enough drive to learn something, anything they can, much like some figity children refuse to stop using their arms or legs..but many simply start to lose the ability to learn. Use it or lose it, but don't abuse it.

9. The best 'manipulative's' are free. Many top rate math programs offer a 'manipulative pack' that includes all sorts of toys to practice math skills, most are useful, and most can be duplicated in the home with simple household supplies or toys. Duplos and Legos are great for counting and building patterns... Any old shape sorter works...'magnetic' building sets are awesome for making solids (pyramids, tetrahedrons) and many online sites offer free printable patterns to cut and build.

8. Off the shelf store books are not all bad, but none offer the complete coverage of a full year program. I have bought several and the kids enjoy the 'fluff' pretty pictures with the reviews, but they will never equal a full program. (combined with online free sheets, and your own games though they work fine)

7. Online worksheets come in many varieties, with and without fluff, with and without progression, with and without answers. Never stop looking, more can be found around the next link.

6. Free test prep sites generally begin around grade if you live in a state with mandatory testing that begins before that point you may have to pay for a program that has standardized style questions..or not care. (after all so long as you know they are learning and the state wont penalize you..why worry?) other note on Standardized tests..they are often a vocabulary test..make sure you use a variety of phrases to ask your questions...'greatest number, largest amount'...or difference, take away, subtract, minus...Also try to ask questions in multiple patterns..what does an A say..what sound does an A make, which letter says /a/, etc.

5. Not all children have the same brain... I have taught many reading wizards who found math hard, and many math wizards who found reading hard. Plus those who found everything hard, and those who found everything easy, not to mention many in between. I have had a very wide spectrum of children in my years of teaching..and still bet there are other types to encounter! Learn what makes them tick and teach to their strengths....

4. Multi level learning has it's place. And that place is NOT all the time. For the most part hearing information over your head is a good 'prep' for when you will need to learn it. It makes a layer, and learning is often built layer upon layer. However, some skills are confusing when learned to early. So I try to save some lessons..For example, my youngest is learning to count by ones to 10..yesterday he pointed to a picture of bacteria and said '1, 2, 4, 8'..which IS how the bacteria double, but NOT how I want him counting his toys! Not that it will ruin him for life, he has time, but the bacteria book may have been better saved for when he was napping.

3. Dump the standards out the window. I fail at this, I have high standards. But I am learning to dump the standards and take each skill for each child at face value and simply build on it, not try to make all of them match. The 'teacher' part of me desperately wants to 'pull up' the lower son for example has a 3 year spread between his math and handwriting/spelling. But the truth is, he is ready to leap ahead in math, and barely able to keep up with writing. And that is OK...he finds math easy, writing not so much. There is no reason to hold his math fun back just because he still prints (and prints lousy at that!).

2. Knowing how to do something, and consistently doing it are two different things. Math is a perfect example, home schoolers routinely test off the charts in comprehension. But only average in 'computation' either we give them calculators to early, or they simple lack the 'drill' time. I aim to avoid this by not allowing my kid a calculator Smile. But I still find it a shock that he can 'talk' thru what to do and yet still gets one or two 'computation' mistakes each day....

1. Never compare two kids..ok fine so some comparison can be a good thing..knowing that the average age of walking and talking is one might inspire a parent to provide more opportunities to walk and talk. For the most part though comparisons only serve to make one kid look good and the other bad. Which is useless in learning. Knowing that my youngest is still not up to what his brother and sister were doing at his age is NOT helping him learn. He is moving at the pace he finds comfortable. Drilling him to catch up wont help. by the same token looking at my oldest saying he is way ahead of most of his peers might encourage me to stop seeking new things for him..which would be just as wrong. Do check that your kid is performing enough to not worry about 'extra' help (speech therapy can do wonders, as can a math specialist, or reading tutor) but don't worry about trying to make your kids match a perfect ideal..there is are all different.

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