The Right Side of Normal

The Right Side of Normal by, Cindy Gaddis,  is one of my favorite books that I have read this year.  I stumbled across her website and book while searching for right brain dominant curriculum. I am on her Yahoo group, and read her blog and one of her followers blogs.

The premise of her book is that “normal” has two sides: one for left brain dominant, and another for right brain dominant. She explains the normal side for right brained individuals. Her reasoning is that if we can understand that the right brained dominant are different, not damaged, then we can teach to their strengths and save them from frustration and feeling damaged.

Right brained dominance is explained in detail.  Basically,  it is a difference in how we see and remember things, and relate with the world.

Using context, visuals, color,  story, body motions, games,  and hands on activities helps tremendously.

The Right Side of Normal is a must read. Cindy helps you understand your child, and help them develop their strengths.

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Math Update

I was correct about our math struggles not being over!  Once again we hit a wall, and  I went back to my researching.  The issue for us with Math Lessons for a Living Education is that my dd struggles with certain concepts and then needs to learn or practice the concept with a different resource or skip around in the book.  With MLFLE it is impossible to skip around due to the chronological story.

I have also been back and forth between whether we should use a newer program that emphasizes number sense or use a more traditional math program.

I decided on both.  I read a post by a mom who does just that with my top two choices for next year.  I bought Rod and Staff Math and started it. In a few months I will add Make Math Meaningful.  I chose these two curricula because I function best with formal lesson plans, that I can tweak, versus math games and ideas books.

I like how Rod and Staff includes mental math, explains which operation to use in word problems,  moves slowly, and provides enough review.  I wish I would have tried it sooner.

For my kindergartener,  I am finishing up Child 1st Right Brained Addition and Subtraction,  and then will start R&S grade 1.  I am going to wait on the Right Brained Place Value book, because I may not need it. Make Math Meaningful introduces place value later, which I agree with. Sometimes when I wait for the child to mature to teach or reteach a concept, I find that I don’t need the special approach that I would have if they were younger.

I like the Child 1st book we are using, but it is yet another curriculum I must  print materials for and prepare ahead of time.  The girls both like the games and activities though. It has been a great alternative to workbooks.

I am really hoping to settle in with R&S and MMM and put these last few crazy math switching years to a stop.

I told a mom today online that when your child is struggling with school work, curriculum choices become extra important and can have a large impact on success.  With a student who excels with traditional school work and is highly motivated,  curricula choices are not as crucial.

Hope this helps,

Curriculum Confessor

Why have I switched curriculum so much?

I have been pondering this question,  and have come to the conclusion that there are many reasons.  When I started out homeschooling I ignored the advice of my new friends and homeschool support group,  and bought Bob Jones for every subject.  I soon found  out that I liked some BJ materials, but not all.

After that I switched curriculum when one of my reluctant to do formal school boys was struggling.  I soon found with both of them that I could entice them to try again if I bought a new curriculum, especially if they helped me pick it out. I was hooked after that.  They were thankful that I was trying to help them, and setting them free from a curriculum they were frustrated with.  Sometimes the turn around was remarkable,  and saved them from feeling like they were failing. I think that is where it became an addiction for me. I loved the researching, shopping,  and the books! The feeling of being a good mom by helping my boys was hard to beat too.

Some years are better than others as far as the switching goes. The last three years or so I have been very focused on homeschooling after many years of not having the time to analyze my education philosophy and choices like I wanted. I was busy with other parts of life. So during the last few years I have read many books, blogs,  and forum posts, as well  as talked to friends. I have readjusted and come back to some of my relaxed,  eclectic ways. I am hoping that I have settled in,  and can keep the switching to a minimum.  Switching curriculum can be good or bad,  depending on the situation. I think that a lot of times I switched math curriculum because I was not a fabulous math teacher who could come up with new ways to explain concepts, or it was a busy season where I wasn’t available as much.

This year I added a kindergartener who learns differently than her siblings,  which was a huge learning experience for me.  I scraped my plan, and am learning tons from her. I am up for the challenge and enjoy her vibrant presence, so I am not complaining. That said, it has taken some major curriculum changes.

Dd10 struggles on and off thus my even more extensive knowledge of math curricula. At this point I am calling my math resources a math arsenal. Fire away! I’m armed and ready!

A few times I bought something that I should have researched further or read more reviews.  I once bought a Learn Spanish curriculum that was meant to be taught by someone who knows Spanish,  which I didn’t.  Oops! 

I read recently in a blog that you are not a failure if you switch curriculum.  I agree.  I like to think of it as being a problem solver. Sometimes our solutions work better than others. I told you, I confess I love homeschool curricula! Hopefully talking about curricula with you all will keep me from buying so much, and if not at least you can benefit from my experiences.

Thanks for reading,

Curriculum Confessor

Math anyone?

Math curriculum is a popular topic among homeschool parents.  I have tried many, and am always looking for new ones.

My approach has gone back and forth between something the children can use independently and something I can teach. At the beginning,  I thought I could find the best math curriculum and use it for 1st through 12th grades for all of my children.  Maybe some can, but that didn’t work at our house.  To be realistic, how would I like to use a math curriculum with the same format for twelve years in a row? I wouldn’t!

One of our favorites is Math U See.  Currently we are using Algebra, Geometry, and Stewardship Math. We like the teaching Dvds as well as the manipulatives.

For struggling math students, I use many things and have several more on my To Buy List.

Let’s start with Kindergarten.  I am using Right Brained Addition and Subtraction from Child1st.com. It includes lots of games and teaches number sense. See the author’s blog for valuable teaching tips and explanations.

I have a lot of different math manipulatives as well as a geared clock and abacus. I will use the place value book next from Child1st.com.

For first grade next year I will use the Mastering Mathematics kit which has worktexts and many games. It was written by a special education teacher, and includes her successful techniques.  I ordered it from the publisher at masterypublications.com

I will also use Dr. Wright’s Kitchen Table Math books, along with manipulatives. These three books show me how to demonstrate concepts with manipulatives and in real life. Dr. Wright is a math teacher in real life. I purchased these from Rainbowresource.com.

We will play lots of math games and read math literature books.

For my 5th grader I am using Right Brained Multiplication and Division from Child1st.com to review math facts. Math U See Skip Counting Songs are a big help to her too. We also wrote a song for the 12 facts.

Math Lessons for a Living Education (purchased from Rainbow)is her current favorite curriculum due to a continuing story and short lessons.  When I purchased book 4, I bought the answer key from QueensHomeschooling.com because Rainbow did not have it.

I may use some of the Key to fractions, Key to … books on up through geometry as well.

Hands on Equations is on my To Buy List also, although I am not sure which grade we will try that.

For upper elementary/junior high I am trying new things with my math strugglers. Bridgeway Math Foundations and Pre – Algebra books from curriculumexpress.com  are on my list. There are two books written to 7th graders needing remedial work,  as well as Pre-Algebra. They are written to the student. I like the idea of reviewing the basics formally before moving on to Pre – Algebra.

My plan is to keep math as informal and natural as possible for elementary ages.  That way number sense should be high, and math anxiety should be minimal. With this plan,  my children should not be burned out or anxious about math as they move to the more difficult math topics.

The typical math programs have produced math anxiety and cheating from my struggling math learners, at least the way we were using them.  Math is no longer an independent subject for my struggling math learners. This has been a key for turning things around for them.

After Bridgeway, I may use Math U See Pre – Algebra.  For algebra we will try Making Math Meaningful Algebra: Principles from Patterns.

For geometry I have Math U See and Patty Paper Geometry.  As I mentioned before,  I may use Key to Geometry as well.

I am sure that our math curriculum struggles are not over, but I am confident that I have some great tools in my arsenal.  I welcome a discussion on the above materials, and hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you.

Counting on,

Curriculum Confessor

Is anyone else a Rainbow Resource Center VIP?

Maybe I ‘m not a VIP to them, but Rainbow Resource Center is very important to me! When the annual jumbo, catalog of all catalogs arrives at my doorstep, my family groans and says,” I guess we won’t see Mom for the next day or so. ”

Does anyone else besides me actually glance at virtually every page? I told you I have a problem:)  Is it a problem or am I the top researcher in my field? Perspective is everything.

The other way I use my jumbo catalog is to read through, for example, the math section when one of my former curriculum choices is not working well for a particular child. I read the descriptions/reviews to my children and show them samples online.

I also read reviews on Cathy Duffy’s site, homeschoolreviews.com, and sometimes other sites from my favorite discussion boards and blogs.

By the time I am ready to present my purchase idea to my poor, unsuspecting husband for final approval, I know a lot about my latest must have.

Remember, I am not being paid to sell anything.  I truly do, just plain love Rainbow Resource Center.
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Just what am I confessing to?

If I were accused of being a homeschool curricula researching and buying addict, I would have to plead guilty.  On the positive side,  if you would like to know what my opinions are about homeschooling styles and various curricula,  you are in the right place!

For a little background, I am a veteran homeschooling mom of many. I enjoy my privacy, and will not be posting pictures of myself or my children.  I don’t plan to give my children cute screen names,  but we will see.

I am a Christian, eclectic style homeschool mom,  with Charlotte Mason and Relaxed leanings.

At this time, my opinions are my own, and I am not paid to review materials or advertise for anyone.

I look forward to sharing with like-minded homeschool parents or grandparents who have been wondering about this or that, as well as having a place to sort through my own thoughts.  Lest you think I am arrogant,  I very much look forward to learning from you.  Most  of my best ideas originate from others. Anything good that comes through me, is a gift from my Father God and His son.

I pray that what is said here will be helpful and enjoyable.  I apologize in advance for criticizing or making offensive comments.  Please know that this is not my intent.

I fully intend to inject humor into this blah blah blog, especially now that my introduction and disclaimers are finished.

Moving onward to learning,

Curriculum Confessor