Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

The Best Way to Learn a Subject   Leave a comment

When a child has trouble with a subject at school or difficulty learning to read, what is the go-to way to address the problem?

When a person wants to learn to play a musical instrument, how is that usually accomplished?

When a high school student wants to up her chances of doing really well on a particular AP exam or getting the best score on college admissions tests, how does she go about doing so (aside from studying hard)?

The answer to all the previous questions is simple.  You get a tutor.  You get a teacher.   Repeat.

When you’re evaluating a school or college what is one fact the admissions office always wants you to know, especially if their statistic is especially impressive?  It’s that student/teacher ratio–the lower, the better.

Everyone knows that a one-on-one session is the best way for a person to learn a new subject or get the help he needs to truly understand and move forward in his studies.  And, when there are too many students in a class, it is generally agreed this is an obstacle to effective teaching.  Parents will start fretting if they find out their children are going to be in a classroom with a large number of other students.

So, if that is all true, why is there still resistance to one-on-one, one-on-two, one-on-three teaching?  Why is there concern that students in these tutoring environments are somehow getting shortchanged or even damaged?

If tutoring is the gold standard, the best way to remediate a knowledge shortage, why isn’t it crystal clear that homeschooling meets that criteria?

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Posted April 11, 2018 by swanatbagend in learning

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What would life look like if you–GASP!–dropped an activity?   2 comments

I’m writing this blog entry to myself, mainly, but maybe it can set you free-er too.

And I am also writing this in the knowledge that I could be extremely wrong in the lecture I’m about to give myself.

It is good for your children to participate in clubs, such as scouting, and sports, such as soccer.  It’s definitely great for your child to take music lessons.  I’d vote for piano lessons as the starter as I think they provide many benefits–learning to read music, confidence, not to mention all the benefits to the brain and fine motor skills.  And I like piano because you can get pretty pleasing results after very few lessons–if the piano is in tune, of course.

As your child grows older, he may want to partake in activities friends of his enjoy.  There is no shortage of sports she can play; there are dance lessons of all types.  There’s fencing.  There are clubs centered around gaming.  There are clubs centered around computer programming and robotics.  There is a wonderful plethora of options for kids to benefit from.

Then in high school there’s homework, time to socialize, sports, after school clubs, work, and of course volunteer hours.

All good: no complaint there.  Volunteering is for sure one thing I did almost none of as a teen but should have.

But.

Yes, I’m asking the question.

Where did the down time, the free time, the daydreaming time go?

How can someone develop fully as a human being if she is constantly on the go and nothing, but nothing, ever shuts off?

Is it truly necessary for your child to be fully immersed in several activities at most times of the year in order for her to get into college and have a future?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is.  Maybe things have gotten so competitive because there are so many people on the planet that my ideas are just naive.  Maybe my daughter will be omitting a key that would have gotten her into the door of a better college that would then have opened a further door, and someday I’ll be sorry.

And maybe you and your kids love your lives the way they are.  If you love what you’re doing, don’t stop doing it.

But if you don’t, just imagine what you could do with the time you free up if your family drops one activity.  It might be interesting to drop them all for a month or two in summer.

Perhaps that is an impossible dream.  But, what if you could back off?  What would life look like outside of a minivan?

Imagine.

An art form you dropped years ago.

Volunteering for a cause you care about.

Time to spend building connections with other people.

No longer being too busy and too tired at the end of the week to get together with friends.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Posted July 29, 2016 by swanatbagend in learning, parenting

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Fighting Alzheimer’s Every School Day   Leave a comment

You know what they say.  The more you can keep your brain active and working as you age, the less likely that you will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

I have always thought that homeschooling parents have a leg up on this goal.  Our brains are working every day by definition.  I know that teaching division, Algebra I, history and more does a lot for me.  It may not be a Sudoku or a crossword, but I think it meets the goal of doing a task that is mentally challenging.

While I have stuck with the same core curriculum through the years, the curriculum company has made some text changes as time has gone by.  With each student, when I either purchase the new teacher’s manual or look at the current book list, I can see they have pulled out a few books (some I was glad to see go, such as The Dark Frigate; most I was sorry to see go) and added some new ones.

This year in the American history course we read World War II and How it Affects you Today: The Rest of the StoryWhatever Happened to Penny Candy? by the same author was a helpful explanation of economics, inflation and all those esoteric topics, and I have now read that twice and will read again with my youngest student this school year, but I had not read anything by this author on war history.

Because it looked quite different from the standard historian’s view of the whys and wherefores of WWII, I told my daughter she could read the fiction selection by herself for this time period; I was definitely reading World War II out loud with her.

What an eye opener.  Disagreeing with the standard explanations of why the US got into WWII, the author makes a case against the idea that the Germans and Japanese were such vicious fighting machines that England and our other allies would have been destroyed without our help.

Potentially changing the way you see the world and considering the possibility that what you’ve been led to believe is false will keep a mind active.

Another way I’ve been keeping Alzheimer’s at bay is learning to play chess.

At my age, it’s difficult to retain all the rules.  And even when I do remember exactly what moves each of my pieces can make, that does not mean that I will notice what dangers I’m moving them into.  I am planning ahead, checking out possible dangers for the square I have in mind, coming up with long-term strategies for taking my opponent’s queen and getting at his king: all that stuff.  It’s just not working yet.

What really makes it embarrassing is that the person teaching me is ten years old.  I lost my queen to him in our play yesterday in the course of ten minutes tops.

And no, I’m not letting him win.  It’s just happening.

But I can be a good sport.

At least I’m fighting the loss of brain cells!

 

Posted February 26, 2015 by swanatbagend in learning

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