Online Learning: A Homeschool Primer

Online Learning: A Homeschool Primer

Online Learning

Online live interactive classes teacher for elementary, middle school and high school students of True NorthThe world of online learning is burgeoning, the options varied and choices better than ever before. And that was before Covid 19 hit the streets and forced public schoolers home! So many choices, so many opportunities. How does one choose? Not all online education is created equal. Here’s a beginner’s guide to sorting options!

What to Look For in Online Classes

A Primer

Check the “About” page of whatever program you are considering. Many on-line programs are now run by savvy business owners, looking to make money from the billion-dollar alternative education market.

That’s just good business but it might not be a good fit for your student or your family.

Things to Think About:

  • Do their values align with yours?
  • Do they contribute to causes that concern you?
  • Are they privately or government-funded?
  • If they are privately funded, what is the underlying value system of the people or organization behind the school? I had to dig pretty far into a very popular on-line company to find that they were privately funded by alt-right Conservatives.

Consider the Company’s Underlying Educational Philosophy

Remember, everybody who is providing you an education is also providing an ideology and a world view. There are no exceptions to that. So, when you consider on-line education, think about:

  • Who gets your money?
  • Who they are funding?
  • What ideology or value system is being conveyed

Don’t forget that companies that market to homeschoolers might not understand and appreciate the flexibility of the homeschooler.

Speech class live interactive for homeschoolers to practice writing and performing speechesThe Evolving Homeschool

Homeschooling IS changing. This month proved that in a profound way. Both parents still work, but they need oversight. And that is fine. But homeschoolers have far more flexibility and can adapt and change things up as needed for fun, greater learning, and unusual opportunities.  Make sure that whatever company you are working with understands and cares about the adaptability and flexibility that homeschooling can afford.

Because you have options. Credits don’t have to come out of a book. Each platform and program is different and can utilize a plethora of various on-line tools.

Questions to ask about any program you are considering:

  • Can students see/hear and interact with other students?
  • Can the student engage with the teacher personally, or only through “chat”?
  • Will the teacher respond to “chat” during class time?
  • Does the program have access to a virtual white-board, chat-room, break-out rooms, audio or video recording?
  • Can you get a copy of the video recording if you miss a class or is it posted where you can access it?
  • Is there screen sharing and will the teacher utilize multi-media in their classroom?
  • How will assessments be delivered?
  • Will grading be done by the teacher?
  • How frequently are grades given?
  • Is the teacher accessible by phone or email during the duration of the class time?

And while we’re talking about FAQ’s, this might be the biggest one of all:

The Accreditation Question

What is accreditation?

Accreditation refers to an accrediting board that sets the standard for an organization and ensures that they meet those standards. Accrediting boards vary widely, so don’t assume that because a school is accredited that it necessarily means that there are clear quality controls in places. Accreditation is a spendy endeavor, and we in the homeschooling world know the value is questionable.

Furthermore, accreditation might demand that the school utilize licensed teachers, many of whom have fled the public-school system. Accreditation and teachers’ licenses are no guarantee of quality education. They are a guarantee of conformity – for better or worse.

Questions to ask:

  • What accreditation do you carry?
  • What does the accrediting agency oversee?
  • How does accreditation affect the cost of classes?
  • What percentage of your teachers are from the public-school system?
  • Is being a licensed teacher a requirement for teaching with this company?
  • Who has experience with homeschooling in your company?
  • Will you be considered a homeschooler by the state in which you reside?
  • Will you have to register as a homeschooler in your state, regardless of their accreditation?

When You Need Accreditation

If you live in one of the few states that will not accept homeschooling high school credits and you plan to put your student back into public school at some point during their high school career.

Why You Don’t Need Accreditation

It’s expensive and that expense will be passed down to the consumer. Most colleges, universities, tech schools, internships, and jobs don’t care. They’ll be looking at test scores, applications, essays, and references. Accreditation is often simply a marketing tool.

When Accreditation IS Important

After high school and when looking at colleges or universities, accreditation becomes important. You will want to go to an accredited school if case you ever transfer or want to go to graduate school.

Other Things to Consider

  • Does my state recognize homeschooling high school credits?
  • In what instance would I need (i.e. need to pay for) an accredited program?

 Non-accredited Institutions

These programs set themselves up and will let you know the standards that they utilize in order to meet the demands of the customer. Marketplace demands offer correction as needed.

What types of Online Programs Are Out There?

Live Online Classes

This refers to real-time interaction between teachers and students. This can happen on a variety of platforms such as Skype, Go-to Meeting, or our personal favorite, Zoom. Schools vary widely on how they utilize this format. Some schools allow the students to see the teacher and interact with them only via chat. Others allow students to see and interact with both the teachers and students- it is a virtual classroom. Teachers are often highly qualified to teach their subject matter and engage with the kids. Students, also, can see and interact with their classmates, and often online friendships are formed.

Questions to Ask About Live Online Classes

  • Does this school allow my students to interact in real-time, during class with the teacher and other students or not?
  • When can my student engage and interact with the teacher and other students?
  • Will the teacher simply be lecturing the student for the entirety of each class or is there an interactive component to the virtual classroom?
  • What benefits are there to this type of learning over and above a self-paced, pre-recorded program?

What About Self-paced Classes?

  • Self-paced classes refer to those classes where students log in to a platform and watch or listen to pre-recorded classes, either video or audio.
  • Students work through the information at their own pace, doing the assignments when they are ready to do them and reviving a grade based on homework assignments, quizzes, tests and projects which are graded via computer or docent.
  • Students do not engage with a teacher, but simply the material.

Questions to consider about Self-paced Classes Online:

  • Is my student self-motivated enough to complete these courses?
  • Is the quality of the program worth our time and money?
  • Is there an option that is not passive learning?
  • Is there a less expensive alternative?

Online live classes teacher for elementary students of True North

What About Blended Online Programs?

Blended programs involve using a combination of self-paced information and live online interaction. Often, the students go through material at their own pace and then meet with a live tutor or have grading done by a live tutor on a regular basis.

Questions to consider about the blended program:

  • When and how does live, interactive learning take place?
  • How are the assessments done?
  • What qualifications does the teacher bring to the class?
  • Does my student have the self-motivation to complete the course?

Types of Online Schools

One-time Classes or Workshops

These classes are offered one at a time, by an individual or group of people who have gathered together to offer their expertise. Often you’ll see homeschool parents whose kids have graduated developing and offering classes in an area that they are passionate about.

Marketplace

This is a company that allows teachers to offer classes. There is no vetting of teachers’ qualifications or world view, though teachers must often teach from a secular, “objective” point of view, especially if the program takes government funding, including vouchers.   Teachers offer classes they want to teach, and set their own terms including pricing, length of course, etc. and then pay the overseeing company a percentage of what they make on the class. Teachers teach, the company takes care of logistics and may provide a background check. Prices and quality of teaching can fluctuate wildly.

Questions to ask about Marketplace Courses:

  • Who is funding the company?
  • Do I want to fund this organization?
  • How will I determine the quality of the classes?
  • How will I determine credit or grades for the work my kids have done?

Curriculum Suppliers Now Offering Online Classes

Many successful homeschooling curriculum companies have taken their curriculum to online classes, such as IEW, Memoria Press and The Well-Trained Mind. These companies have branded themselves and are furthering their brand through courses, with vetted teachers, set meeting times and grades. Classes meet 1-4 times a week live on-line with homework assigned and graded. The cost can be prohibitive and classes may fill quickly though.

Full-service Programs

Full-service homeschool programs offer live online and self-paced classes, testing, advising and more. A Full-Service program offers the flexibility that homeschoolers need, classes that suit your needs and a fundamental understanding and respect for the homeschooling lifestyle while helping you navigate the way from K-12th grade. They will help you successfully launch your students into higher education or the working world. These companies have often been founded by home educators who started umbrella schools in their local area and then went online to provide more robust services to families in their region and beyond!

Here are some types of full-service programs to consider:

A Consortium

This is a group of dedicated teachers or homeschoolers who come together to provide classes, usually pulled together by a long-time homeschooler who loves to teach and has some talented friends.

A Membership Site

This type of program is usually self-paced. Families pay a monthly fee and have access to whatever classes and services are offered. Fees may vary for the same site, depending on services offered.

What to Think About When Planning to Use Online Classes

There are a lot of great options out there and they offer many benefits to your child. Educators agree that these are some other educational components you need to think about when you are planning to use online classes in your homeschool. You should think through all these aspects of an online school or class if you think it is something that will benefit your family.

  • Dynamic learning – requires the student to actively participate in the course material, responding to the teacher’s questions, prompts, possibly using break-out rooms and doing group activities. Assessment tools can include quizzes, tests, as well as projects, presentations, essays or dramatic performances.
  • Passive learning – allows the student to sit while they are being lectured to or show a presentation of some sort. Assessments are usually done via quizzes and tests.
  • Asynchronous learning – communication is not in real-time and the teaching/ learning can take place at different times and different places. Because the learner views information and responses at different times and from different places, there is much flexibility. The teacher does not have to be “live,” and content can be delivered via written, audio or video recordings.
  • Synchronous learning – communication is in real-time so teachers and learners meet at the same time although they are in different places. Learners view content at the same time so responses can be immediate. Because of the set meeting time, there is less flexibility than with asynchronous learning. The teacher is “live” via whatever platform is utilized for transmission.
  • The Learning Management System/ Course Management System – (or LMS/ CMS) allows on-line schools and teachers to deliver course materials, correspondence, lessons, assessments, and grading and other features electronically.

Why Choose Online Classes?

With all the amazing resources out there why choose an online class or academy? Well there are many reasons your family may want to adopt this type of educational resource as part of your homeschool. Here are just a few we thought of:

  • Outside accountability
  • World-class teachers are just a “click” away
  • Friendships and relationships form  with students and teachers from around the world
  • Colleges and universities are making use of online education and LMS/CMS- give your student a jump-start on understanding how an online system works
  • The quality of teachers you might not find locally
  • Exceptional and unique classes that might not be found in your community
  • A wonderful supplement to a traditional day school or homeschool
  • To build independence and pride in one’s academic achievements
  • Because the Goldilocks Syndrome is at work, and our kids want a challenge

About True North Homeschool Academy

We hope this article is helpful to you if you are thinking about investing in online classes. If you have not considered it as a benefit to your homeschoolers we hope you will see now how adding an online class component to your homeschool can contribute to a well-rounded home education.

This blog is part of True North Homeschool Academy and we blog here because we love homeschooling and believe in education.

Each semester we are excited to provide live online and self-paced classes, delivered by exceptional teachers who love homeschooling- and love their subject matter. We are teaching from a Judeo-Christian point of view with a love for the flexibility and freedom homeschooling brings to the table. Yet we provide grading and assessments, to ensure that your student is learning, growing and excelling in each class. Students see, hear and interact with their teachers and fellow students from around the world.

We value a rich education and you will see from our course selections that we firmly believe it should be vibrant, creative and will allow your children to stretch and grow. Students develop real-world relationships and real-life skills.

Check out all of our fall classes!

Register now for fall classes that are online, live and interactive for all ages

Coping During a Crisis

Coping During a Crisis

Coping During a Crisis

Coping during a crisis takes thought and intention, which might be in short supply when a crisis hits. Ten years ago, we had one of those years. You know the type; the tough, painful type. Maybe you can relate. One Thursday morning, as we were all getting ready to leave for work and co-op, we discovered that our house was on fire to the point of being totaled by the insurance company, although it did not burn down. A day later, our college-aged daughter, several states away, landed in the ER. Four days later, my 47-year-old sister died. My husband contracted bronchitis and then pneumonia, and then back again. We threw away around 90% of our possessions, but we had to inventory it all first for insurance purposes, an exhausting and laborious process. We went from an extended hotel stay to a rental to an unfinished house during the worst flooding in our area in a century and had to walk through 4″ of freezing cold water to our only working shower for the first month after we moved back into our house. My Dad died a few months later.

Yeah. It was one of those years. It was stressful. We learned a lot. Including, set up and clean up are at least half of every project, it’s o.k. to rest and take breaks as needed, huge jobs don’t get done in one sitting, laughing and crying are good for the soul and sleep is cheap medicine. We had to let go of things we treasured. We had to embrace the new – even when it felt scary and uncertain.

Maybe you are needing some help coping during a crisis, even when we aren’t exactly sure what the emergency is or when it will hit.

Here’s a shortlist of helps as we all get through one of “those years.”

  1. Stick with your routine: When in crisis, do the familiar habits, as much as possible. This will lend a sense of normalcy and familiarity in otherwise unusual circumstances. This is especially important for younger children who rely on the familiar to tell them that the world is safe and all is well. My kids listened to the Story of the World CD’s for hours after our fire- to the point my son memorized portions of it. Jim Weiss’s voice was familiar and kind in a year of loss and upheaval.
  2. Create a new routine: when and if the old one is disrupted, create a morning time with Mom, Dad, and whoever else is home where you share a cup of coffee and cocoa, and chat. Create rhythms to your new normal- read for an hour after breakfast, walk the dog after you read, make lunch, do laundry, etc. When we were living in the hotel, after the fire, we spent hours, literally hours, at the hotel pool doing what I called “Pool school.” It was fun, easy, and relaxing.
  3. Rest & laugh: stress is exhausting. Give yourself permission to take a nap or take a break. Do something relaxing, like watching a movie, going on a walk, taking a warm shower. Something to get your mind off of the current situation and settled. Lower your cortisol levels and breath deeply. Did you know that 15 minutes of laughing is equivalent to a 2-hour nap, releases endorphins into your system, lowers your cortisol levels and gives everyone around you permission to relax? Not sure what to laugh at? Dick VanDyke’s re-runs are a great place to start.
  1. Realize that you really don’t have that much control over things in life anyway: your paygrade, no matter what your position, is not that high. So, take a breath and realize that God is in control, and He is a good God who loves His people well. You don’t have that much power, but you can know the One who does. And that is great comfort and great joy, regardless of whatever upheaval or frightening circumstances we find ourselves in.
  2. Be thankful: no matter what the stress, there is so much to be grateful for. The sun comes up every morning. Spring is coming. We live in a time with hand-soap, modern medicine, and paved roads.

And for those of us homeschooling, life continues, in many ways, as usual. My Orienteering class and I had a great live on-line meeting today, with students from coast to coast participating in an excellent discussion and break-out rooms.

What were we talking about? The Life Skill of Self-Care.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the term- I prefer the term “stewardship” because it recognizes that some things are beyond our control, but we can steward well regardless. The kids went around our Zoom room and shared what was happening in their part of the world, which ranged from school shutdowns to advised homestays.

We then broke into break-out rooms, and they came up with lists of ways to cope during a crisis, utilizing four categories: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional. Here’s what they came up with:

Ways to Cope During a Crisis

  • Spiritual – Stay in the word, pray, listen to worship music, and go to on-line church. Keep talking to God; keep connecting with Christ. Work on creating fellowship with others, even during a time of quarantine.
  • Social – Call and text people, set times for FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom meetings. Write letters. Check-in with friends daily, if even with a simple text message, and make chat and coffee dates on-line!
  • Emotional – Do something that makes you happy; eat cake, take showers, limit your news intake! Stay informed, but keep good boundaries to avoid depression and catastrophizing the situation. Read something inspirational. Celebrate the everyday.
  • Physical – Get outside, walk the dog, and teach her a new trick or two, work-out. Don’t neglect yourself; practice regular hygiene (which can be disrupted due to change of schedules or depression). Hot showers are a great way to relax and unwind.

And while class was in session, one student put on a crazy St. Patty’s Day Hat (Celebrate, y’all!) and they all made plans to meet up outside of class via google hang-outs! Which is precisely what we’re talking about!

coping in a crisis family emergency COVID 19

Get Support

Need support as you cope during a crisis, or even when you’re not? We love to come alongside fellow homeschoolers, those who planned to homeschool, and those homeschooling as an emergency measure! Check out our FaceBook page and groups for fellowship and occasional freebies for moms and kids- a great place for a little self-care.

Beyond Personal Finance -Curriculum Review & Give Away

Beyond Personal Finance -Curriculum Review & Give Away

Beyond Personal Finance

Beyond Personal Finance by Charla McKinley is a comprehensive high school program. She designed the course to give young adults a thorough understanding of money, budgeting and stewardship before they graduate from high school. The author, Charla McKinley, describes this course as a smash-up of Dave Ramsey and the Game of Life.

Designed for High School

Online live classes for high school students of True North Homeschool Academy on Finances and Life SkillsWhile the Dave Ramsey course is excellent, it is really designed for adults who are in financial trouble and need a way out of that trouble.

Most high school kids have a difficult time understanding what that could look like. Money is, after all, something most of them don’t have much of, think much about or struggle with. A benefit of Middle-class America is that our kids have their needs met and a good portion of their wants provided for, too. As a result, most teens have an abstract rather than concrete understanding of money. As one of the students in my high school class said, “Bills? I don’t have any.”

And that is exactly why Charla wrote this course. To give kids an idea of what kind of money questions and issues they will face as young adults and how to plan for, manage and think about the monkey wrenches that life continually throws in the way of all everyone out there “adulting.”

Lessons Included in the Course

This program consists of lessons in the following:

  • College and Careers
  • Budgeting
  • Car Purchase Apartment Rental
  • Spouse Selection
  • Credit Cards and Interest
  • Baby & Payroll
  • House Purchase
  • Insurance
  • School Choice
  • Investments,
  • Business Basics
  • Layoffs and Reconciliations
  • Income Tax
  • The Dangers of Divorce
  • Retirement

As you can see, Charla does not hold back. She addresses head-on difficult issues like layoffs and divorce. And while everyone says it won’t happen to them, the statistics say that 43% of American workers will be laid off at least once during their working years and 42-45% of all first-time marriages will end in divorce (and that number rises to 60% for second marriages). Monkey wrenches mess up even the best plans and these are life skills that will prepare our young people to overcome some of those obstacles.

Having Fun While Thinking of the Future

Think of this as a High School Cost of Living Project on steroids. One thing I love about this program is that there is vocabulary included in each chapter. Kids get a great overview of things like withholding tax, deferment, and depreciation. This course is meaty but not boring. Each chapter includes information and goofy videos like Identity Theft, that keep everyone laughing as they tackle serious stuff.

The Teacher’s manual is thorough and includes key terms, answer keys, charts and all the information needed to utilize this program in a class or co-op. Not all of the pages in the teacher’s manual are numbered, however, which makes it hard to track. I went through and tabbed sections for easier use. In my perfect world, I would have loved chapter objectives and a more structured, traditional Teacher’s Manual. This one has so much information, it can be overwhelming. But the value of the program makes it worth taking the time to tab each chapter and highlight the information you want to cover for each class period.

I’ve had several of my kids work through a COLA before and facilitated others students as well, and Beyond Personal Finance is the most comprehensive program that I’ve seen that gives kids real-world information that relates to where they’re at in life- as young adults about to embark on a great adventure.

It’s is a fantastic preparatory program- perfect for homeschools, co-ops, class COLA days or UMS programs! We’ll be utilizing this program with our True North Homeschool Academy online Orienteering class!

Scholarship Information

Students who are seniors and have completed the BPF program are also eligible to apply for their $1000 Scholarship Program. Visit the website to get all the details and requirements. The deadline to apply for that is no later than May 1st. Follow them on social media for updates on the program. If your high schooler needs more career exploration, check out our Young Professional Series of e-books.

The Giveaway!

Sign up for your chance to win a BPF program of your own! We are giving away a single student pack worth $150.00. You can see the product HERE.

The prize is a fun 20 lesson immersive course designed for middle school and high schoolers to learn personal finance skills.

Enter anytime from March 10-25th!

Enter Here:

 

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6 Quick Fixes for Common Communication Killers

6 Quick Fixes for Common Communication Killers

Communication skills are such a big deal. Without honing these skills, we may convey things we never intended to – or leave out important pieces of information that can change everything! Poor conversational skills can potentially offend or hurt, or don’t make the sale. Excellent communication skills are one of the top job skills potential employees are looking for in new hires. Expertise in this area will contribute to your kids’ success, vocationally, and relationally. So, let’s take a minute and talk about common communication killers and how to fix them.Three young women learning about communication together in a filed of bright tulips

Communication Killers

Avoiding Eye-contact

Not meeting someone’s gaze can communicate that you are trying to hide something, such as an agenda or information. It can also convey social awkwardness. In our culture, eye contact speaks loudly.

Recently, my husband was in a situation in a store where one of the people in line was getting loud and quarrelsome. My husband was speaking to the clerk when this person started directing belligerent comments to him. My husband stopped, turned around, and just looked at the man; did not engage verbally, just looked at him.

Now, my husband is a trained psychologist and martial artist and thus, not easily intimidated, so I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, however, this man who had been causing extreme discomfort in this public space stopped ranting. All because of someone with a calm, non-anxious presence who was willing to make eye contact.

Fix-It: Practice making eye contact with the people in your home when you are talking to them. “Look at my eyes” is a significant first step with littles. Put the phone or other tech devices aside as you converse with others. Eat meals together with no tech present and make a point of seeing and speaking with each other. The family table is a great place to gather and practice all sorts of communication skills

Win-Lose Relationships

Often, we approach situations with the attitude that there is one right or wrong way of dealing with an issue. Instead of this type of “black and white” thinking, consider the possibilities. This is much like creating a pro-pro list instead of a pro-con list. When conflict arises, how can a win-win outcome be achieved? What would be a positive solution for everyone? Of course, sometimes people opt-out and you can’t win with them. It will take even more creative brainstorming on your part to come up with a winning scenario for both of you when the other person lacks the maturity or concern to help make it happen with you.

Fix-It: When conflict arises, pause and reflect on how you can contribute to positive outcomes for everyone. Brainstorm those “win-win” possibilities. Create a  “pro-pro” chart in a problematic situation and determine how to bring about a good result.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.

Attacking Character

Attacking someone’s character instead of commenting on what they say or do. Be clear about what a person is doing versus who they are. Attacking someone often can mean that we don’t have empathy or compassion for them.

Fix-It: Teach your kids the difference between actions or behavior and the value of the person. Discuss the difference between what your kids “do” and their value as a person. Talk in terms of behavior. For example, you might say “You broke the dish.” or “You did not do your chores.” instead of phrases such as “You are careless.” or “You are lazy.” Help your kids name emotions and teach them to identify the feelings of others. Use phrases like “Mommy is sad that the dish was broken”, “Suzy is disappointed that the toy is lost” and ask “Are you happy that snow is falling?” Knowing how to name specific feelings is a great first step in understanding people. Understanding can lead to empathy and compassion, which leads to clear communication!

Not Listening

It’s easy to assume we know what someone is trying to say and interrupt or jump to conclusions. Listen to understand. Do you listen to hear someone’s heart? This goes beyond just listening to the words, but taking the time to listen to the other person’s heart.

Fix-It: Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. Hear them through to the end of what they have to say. Respond, “So what I hear you saying is this.” Develop excellent listening skills. Maintain objectivity in the conversation. Push the pause button and take breaks as needed. Remind yourself and the other person that you are on the same team with the same objectives.

Adulsts ignore one another while on social media their phones

Showing Disinterest

We should all display a healthy curiosity about people and what is going on in their lives. Social media teaches and enforces self-absorption. People are hungry to be known, to share what’s important to them, to have someone hear their deepest hopes, dreams, and longings- to have a friend.

Fix-It: Develop the art of questioning with curiosity. Be a student of the world and people. Learn to find out about people; discover their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.

Being Indirect/Avoiding Difficult Conversations

No one likes to have awkward or difficult conversations. But sometimes they are inevitable. Whether it is sharing about a difficult diagnosis, confronting someone you love about unhealthy behavior or problems at work, we all tend to avoid talking about it.  Avoidance can bring its own set of challenges, especially in regards to issues that have a time factor attached.

Fix-It: Practice what you want to say- write it out to get clear on what the real issue is and how you might go about solving it. Do a test run with someone who is objective. In other words, act out the potential conversation. Bring your notes with you if they bring you confidence and pause. Take breaks as needed to get perspective, calm down, and reiterate the belief that you are all on the same team, working towards the same goals.

Practice and Intention

Like all abilities, communication will improve with practice and intention. Teaching our kids how to communicate well is one of the most vital skills we can give them. That is true regardless of what job or industry they go into or whether they have a large family or stay single.

I’d love to hear how you are intentionally teaching communication skills in your family, so drop me a line here or on Instagram and Facebook.

If you want resources for teaching these types of Soft Skills in your homeschool, take a look around our website and blog. Or listen to our podcast at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network where we focus on tips and resources for teaching soft skills and life skills for all age groups. Our podcasts, blog, e-books, and online classes can help with teaching your homeschoolers about Stewardship, Teamwork, Career Choices, and Public Speaking.

Proverbs 25:11 A Word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Right Start Math Review

Right Start Math Review

Right Start Math is Fun

We found RightStart Math 14 years ago when our two youngest were starting out on their math journey. They loved RightStart Math- the games, the abacus. Math was fun. My daughter, now in Algebra II, has kept her abacus through all these years!

Fast forward and we are still using RightStart Math. The True North Homeschool Academy Special Needs program uses RightStart Math and our students are thriving using Math games and manipulatives under the excellent tutelage of Amy Vickrey.Right Start Math Program Images

Right Start Math Works

We are doing yet another review of RightStart Math, this year with a couple of giveaways to boot. Why? Because we love this program and it works!

Let’s start by talking about Level A. Level A helps students understand quantities based on 5’s and 10’s, addition and subtraction to 10, place values to the hundreds, money, clocks, basic geometry and measurement. Card games are introduced. And seriously, folks, the card games are fun, interactive and will take your kids to math success!

Included in Level A you get the Right Start Math Lessons, Worksheets, Level “A” Appendix, and Yellow is the Sun book.

The book begins with objectives for the level by math subject and includes:

  • Numeration
  • Money
  • Place Value
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Problem Solving
  • Geometry
  • Time
  • Measurement
  • Fractions

The book also tells you which quarter of the book these areas will be covered in. Next is a list of “living book” suggestions, along with the materials needed for particular lessons that are not included, all of which are easily found at home- such as sticky notes, tape, etc. Then a note from Joan Cotter (the developer of Right Start Math) about how the program was developed along with thoughts on how to teach math, and how this program differs from others.

Daily lessons are straightforward and simple to implement with specific learning objectives, along with materials needed clearly stated at the top of each lesson. Daily lessons also consist of warm-ups, activities, worksheets, and games.  The lesson pages are then divided in half visually with “Activities for Teaching” listed on the left-hand side of the page, and “Explanations” listed on the right-hand side of the page. The Appendix includes songs, activity cards, and Assessment Checklists.  It is so simple to go through the book sequentially or to pick out lessons that need to be reinforced. The structure of the book is simple and straightforward.

The First Lesson – Level A

In the first lesson, children hold up their hands and sing a simple song, then tiles and tally sticks are incorporated. Lessons include tactile, auditory and visual modes of teaching, utilizing and integrating various neurological pathways for optimal learning. Games are integral to the program and are an excellent way for kids with executive functioning issues to build not only their math acumen but overall neural integration. The Activity Pack includes several game decks: a money card deck, multiplication deck, fraction cards, and the basic number deck.

Level A helps the child understand quantities based on 5’s and 10’s, addition and subtraction through 10, place value to 100 and basic geometry and measurement. Money and clocks are introduced and problem-solving is emphasized.

This math program is well-organized for the teacher and is a fun, dynamic and interactive way to introduce basic math facts with your littles. The program acknowledges the strengths and challenges of young learners, capitalizing on both to create an exceptional math learning environment!

Level G and H

Level G and H are geared towards Middle School Mathematics and early geometry. Like the other levels in the RightStart Math series, each program includes a lesson manual, complete with lesson objectives, materials lists, activities, and extras. The program emphasis is on students taking charge of their learning, and it is assumed that they will be teaching themselves, as they go through the book. The materials for this class are worth gathering ahead of time and include a T-square, 30-60 and 45 Triangle, 4-in-1 ruler, Goniometer, mm Arc Compass, a Scientific Calculator and the math card games book.

Each lesson follows the same format where students read the lesson, look at figures and patterns, read the extras, and then summarize. But that is not all – children are encouraged to read the lesson again (gaining not only math acumen but study skills!) to look for vocabulary and define terms, and then read the lesson again to look for details. This builds critical thinking skills as they read for detailed information. Also, included are review lessons and assessments for understanding. This is a sequential, skill-based program, so understanding previous skills will ensure later success with the program.

Both levels include:

  • Spiral-bound Lesson Plan Book
  • Spiral-bound Solution Manual
  • 3 Ring Binder and Worksheet Results Rubrics
  • Game Logs
  • Worksheets
  • Math Dictionary: the student co-creates this
  • Records: a place for students to record need-to-know information
  • Certificate of Achievement

The program is laid out in an easy to use, easy to succeed format, that makes math comprehension and learning do-able, accessible, and honestly, fun. Math games are an integral part of the program. I love how kids can record the number of times they played games. Games build math literacy, competence, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity as students search for information and solutions.

Level H is a continuation of Level G, with the added bonus of the History of Math woven through this level. Daily Card Games are included and students are expected to work independently. This is an excellent and comprehensive introduction to Geometry and will set your student up for Geometry success through High School and beyond!

Right Start Fractions

We were also given the Fractions Kit to review. This kit comes with a lesson book, workbooks, 3 Card decks, and 2 fractions charts. Are you intimidated by the thought of teaching this complex subject to your kids or your “non-mathy” kid isn’t succeeding with the program that you are currently using? Is one of your children struggling in your homeschool? You are going to want to stop what you are doing and purchase the RightStart Fractions Kit.

Lessons begin with the basics- simple enough for everyone to understand- and continue through more complicated lessons. Concepts are solidified while building on each other in a way that is fun and engaging. I love how Dr. Cotter (the author and developer of the Right Start Math Games program) has woven games in and throughout each part of the program. Math becomes associated with fun and success!

At True North Homeschool Academy we love RightStart Math; all the levels, all the games, all the fun, all the learning, all the math mastery. Kids learn math. They realize that it is doable, enjoyable and is figureoutable. Win-win for everyone!

A Special Offer

Thanks to RightStart Math for this special offer for our readers. You will get 15% off your order when you use the discount code NDHSA20ME at checkout online PLUS you get free standard shipping within the US.

About Our Giveaway

We are giving away the full RightStart Math Fractions Set. Enter from now until February 7, 2020.

Right Start Math Games and Fraction kit product image at True North Homeschool Academy

RightStart Fractions Kit

This set includes everything you need to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions as well as a solid introduction to percents in just 42½ days!

The RightStart™ Fraction Kit includes:

  • The new RightStart™ Fractions Lessons Book
  • RightStart™ Fractions Worksheets Book or E-WorkBook
  • Fraction Charts (set of two)
  • Basic Number Card Deck
  • Multiplication Card Deck
  • Fraction Card Deck

You can enter multiple times for more than one chance to win over the next two weeks. Follow us on Facebook, visit RightStart, share our Pin to one of your boards on Pinterest, follow us on Twitter and leave us a comment here on the blog! Lots of chances to win this wonderful resource!

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Review and Image of Right Start Math Fractions on True North Homeschool Academy

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