Math: A Review of CTC Math

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Recently, we started using a new math curriculum and after using it for a little over two months I decided to give it a review. Before I continue with my review I do want to state that I am not being sponsored by CTC Math and this is a completely unbiased review. For the past few years, we have bounced around through a few different math programs primarily using Modern Curriculum Press workbooks and other supplementary worksheets. This has worked pretty well but now that my oldest son is getting into pre-algebra I wanted to find something that would allow him to work independently and at his own pace.

Originally I wanted to set him up with Teaching Textbooks but after doing their free trial realized that this particular program wouldn’t work well for our family. First, the cost was much higher than I could afford and my son really struggled through the content not because it was too hard simply because it was not engaging enough. Looking for an alternative I stumbled across CTC Math and we signed up for the free trial. Not only did my oldest son love it my youngest two wanted to try it out as well. That day I signed up for the family homeschool membership which is $15.97 a month and now all three of my kids are enjoying this curriculum.

I highly recommend CTC Math because not only is it affordable, my kids can work through the lessons independently, but the content is amazing too. When they log in they click on the next available topic and watch a short lesson. The video lessons are short and concise and then they have questions to complete. When you set up your students profile you can choose how many questions they have to answer as well as what percentage they need to score to pass the topic. Once a week I receive an email from CTC Math with a look at their scores and an overview of what they worked on throughout the week. I can also log in at any time to see how they are doing and I can also print off additional worksheets for them to complete.

If you’re looking for a math program that is affordable and allows your children to work independently then I recommend that you take a look at CTC Math. Teaching Textbooks is an awesome program as well and while it didn’t work for my kids it may be a great option for your family. I love programs that allow you to test drive the material before investing so you can determine if it will work for your family.

 

CTC Math

https://www.ctcmath.com/trial

Teaching Textbooks

https://www.teachingtextbooks.com/v/vspfiles/tt/free_trial.html

 

**Disclaimer- This post reflects my own experience and opinions and is not being sponsored by anyone.

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Reading Shouldn’t Be A Chore

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When I first began my homeschool journey with my oldest son we continued a practice from his public school days which involved reading for 20 mins a day. It sounds like a great way to inspire literacy but I quickly began to realize that by forcing my kids to read 20 mins a day I was killing their desire to read. Every time I would say it’s time for you to sit down and read my kids would start to groan and complain. I love reading and I couldn’t understand why my kids weren’t enjoying a hobby that has given me hours of pleasure. I began to notice that they were complaining the same way they would when I would ask them to clean their rooms; I had inadvertently made reading a chore.

I didn’t want reading to be a chore. I wanted my kids to find reading an exciting activity that would whisk them away to far away places where they would have grand adventures. I decided to do away with the 20 mins of reading and I was worried at first that they just wouldn’t read and for a few weeks this did occur. I of course continued to read to them and they were reading their school work but not one of them cracked a book independently. Just when I was about to give up and add reading back to their chore list the most miraculous thing happened, they began to read independently. At first it was just my oldest who came down with the reading bug but within a few days my other two children had also caught the bug. Now it is a common occurrence to stumble across them not only reading a book but enjoying the experience.

Not all kids are created equal and what works for mine may not work for your’s but if you find reading has become a chore it might be time to try a different approach. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for my kids….

  • provide access to a large variety of books
  • do away with scheduled reading times
  • seek out content that you know will interest your kids
  • read as a family and share what you reading at dinner time

Even though I no longer assign reading I do take an interest in what they are reading and always make time to answer questions or help them with a word’s meaning. I often read through the books in advance and will ask questions to see if they are understanding the context of the story. While I have taken a more hands off approach with independent reading I am always ready to jump in when they need me and it is really working. The last tip I have for encouraging literacy is to read to your kids even when they are able to read chapter books independently. There is nothing better than curling up together and reading through a beloved classic and your kids are never too old to hear a story.

 

Are they socialized?

 

Oh, you homeschool... are they socialized_ _They haven't peed on the floor and nobody has been bitten so yeah they are socialized_ (1)

Ugh, the dreaded socialization question. While I enjoy talking about homeschooling the one question I abhor is whether or not I socialize my kids. The answer to this question is always a polite yes and I explain how we are engaged in community activities and that we attend church where the kids belong to a youth group. The response I often want to give is not as polite and sounds something more like “well they haven’t peed on the floor recently and nobody has been bitten so I think they are okay”.  I swear one of these days this will be the response that accidentally slips out when asked this frustrating question.

What exactly is socialization? The definition from Merriam Webster basically states that it is a process where individuals learn how to interact in society observing societal norms. Why do people think that the only way to achieve this process in children is to have them immersed in a traditional brick and mortar institution? I agree that children need to learn how to act appropriately in society. This is why we take our kids out into the community to learn how to behave in a variety of different venues and how to communicate with not only their peers but with all people. I disagree that “schools” are the only place where children can receive this type of education. In fact I am not sure how well schools do in this area but you won’t catch me asking a public school mom if her child is socialized.

All parents not just homeschooler’s need to take an active role in teaching their children how to interact and communicate in society. I have had moms ask me the question about socialization while their “socialized public schooler” has her face buried in a phone in an attempt to avoid any and all interaction. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to behave through dialouge and by modeling the correct behavior. The issue of socialization needs to be addressed by all parents not just those who homeschool which is why I find this question so frustrating. Perhaps, the reason today’s society struggles so much with “appropriate” behavior is because the vast majority of children are not being taught by their parents how to behave and communicate.

I am confident that my children are learning how to behave in society and that they will one day be productive adults. Each one of my children is able to make friends, communicate with people of all ages and they all behave well in public. To be honest this is a realtively easy thing to instill in children who are homeschooled because we do not have the issue of peer pressure to deal with and thank goodness. Are homeschoolers unsocialized? No they are not, this is simply a misconception and a negative stereotype often used to undermine the decision to break away and take a different path in educating our children. Instead of undermining eachother lets have a real dialouge where we discuss and learn from eachother how to raise children into productive members of society. That is a conversation worth having!

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie School

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I know that I have mentioned this before but one way to get kids excited about learning is to incorporate food. I love getting my kids in the kitchen because there are so many learning opportunities available. Reading, writing, and arithmetic can all be taught while preparing fun meals and/or baking scrumptious desserts. I have unofficially enrolled my kids in “Cookie School” without them being aware that our baking sessions have really been learning labs. Here is how “Cookie School” works for us…

•First I present a recipe for them to read and then I ask them to write down the ingredients required.

•Once the ingredients have been written down they work together to collect the ingredients and bring them to the table.

•I will present the kids with the measuring tools they will need but I never give them the exact measuring cup. Instead, I will give them a 1/3 cup and 1/4 tsp. The reason I do this is so they have to use their math skills to determine how to turn the 1/3 cup into a cup and the 1/4 tsp into a full tsp. ( I switch up the measurements with each recipe)

•Then they will prepare the recipe according to the written instructions and preheat the oven for the cookies.

•Now it’s time to bake our cookies while practicing kitchen safety.

Sometimes I will take these learning sessions a step farther by giving them an approximate value of each item used in the recipe and ask them to determine the cost of each cookie. This is a great way to get them to understand basic home economics which is a valuable skill for when they become independent adults.

“Cookie School” is not only a great way to learn but it is a lot of fun especially when you can celebrate the end of the lesson with a freshly baked cookie. If you haven’t gotten the kids into the kitchen yet this is a great time to do so and below you will find a link to some of my favorite cookies.

 

All Recipes- Peanut Butter Cookies

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/10275/classic-peanut-butter-cookies/

 

Sugar Spun Run- The Worst Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever (best cookies ever I promise and the article here is so fun to read)

https://sugarspunrun.com/worst-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

My Sequined Life- Italian Anise Cookies

https://www.mysequinedlife.com/italian-anise-cookies/

 

 

 

My kids are in the slime business

 

Message_1544283394928Recently, my kids took one of their favorite past times and turned it into a money making business. They played around with a slime recipe until they found one that made a slime that wasn’t too slimy and not too rubbery. One of the issues they discovered is that while slime is fun to play with it doesn’t smell good so they added scents, foam balls and a variety of glitter to make it extra special. I was pretty impressed with the product they had created and I hate to admit this but I found myself playing with their slime on more than one occasion.

They decided that they wanted to sell the slime so they could earn some spending money so I found a local craft show where they could set up shop. My role in all of this was simply that of an investor. I invested about $45 for supplies and their spot in the craft show with the understanding that they would need to pay back the loan with their profits. It was pretty exciting watching my 6, 8 and 12-year-old figure out the best way to run their business. In the beginning, they started out trying to make slime in large batches but eventually adopted an assembly line. One person would make the slime, the next person would knead it until it was no longer sticky and the last person packaged the slime. In a week they had made about 100 4-oz containers of slime and then they began to work on their sales pitch.

Yesterday, we loaded the car up with slime and took it down to their first ever craft show. I was so impressed by how well they did not only did they do a great job setting up their table but they were active salespeople. Whenever someone passed the table they would invite that person over to touch or smell the slime. We heard a lot of parents say absolutely not stating that “slime” had been banned in their household because it was too messy. My oldest began countering back that the messy part had already been taken care of and that their kids could enjoy a finished slime product. This ended up being the winning sales pitch as many parents double backed and purchased a few containers to take home. Many kids also stopped by the table on their own to buy slime and other vendors and crafters began to take notice. By the end of the day they had sold most of their product and after paying me back had a profit of $90 to split between themselves.

It is truly amazing what kids can do when you encourage creativity and give them a little freedom to experiment. From this experience, they have learned firsthand how to run a business, market, and sell a product. I know that these skills will serve them well in their future endeavors. I am truly blessed with wonderful kids and I am one proud mama.

 

 

The Grinch v.s Ebeneezer Scrooge

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It is a family tradition in our house to read both The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love both of these stories and I am very proud to have both books in my personal library. These are two books that in my opinion should be a part of every parent’s personal library because they teach important life lessons. If you don’t have these on hand but want to incorporate this lesson with your kids check out the resources below to find the stories online for free.

Typically, we read and discuss these stories separately but this year we are doing things a bit different. This year we are going to tackle these books together comparing and contrasting the books as a whole, the main character, and lessons taught by each story. Below you will find a list of questions I will be asking of each of my children to answer. I think that these questions will help them flush out both stories and really dig into the transformations taken by both of these incredible characters.

The Assignment: My oldest will be answering these questions and turning it into a five paragraph essay while my youngest two will be creating a story plot worksheet for each of the books.

 

How are Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch similar? How are they different?

 

How is the setting of each story similar? How are they different?

 

How does the Grinch change in the story and what caused that change to occur?

 

How does Ebeneezer Scrooge change in the story and what caused his transformation?

 

How are the life lessons in both stories similar and/or different?

 

Which story do you personally feel did a  better job teaching the lesson?

 

What did these stories teach you?

 

Additional Resources:

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/story-plot/

http://web.mit.edu/tere/www/text/grinch.txt

https://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Charles_Dickens/A_Christmas_Carol/

 

 

 

Best way to start the day!

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We have all heard the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I remember rolling my eyes when my mom used to announce this fact every morning.  While I may not have fully appreciated this when I was a child my mom was right and breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. Not only is it the best way to fire up your metabolism and create the energy you need to tackle the day but it also sets the tone for the day.

In my family, I have noticed that a quick breakfast of cereal leads to a lack of energy, chaos and emotional breakdowns all day long. Some days the quick breakfast of cereal can’t be helped but the majority of the time we slow down for a nice hot breakfast. Having a hot breakfast of waffles, eggs or even oatmeal sets the day up much better. We have the energy, the patience and the motivation to get through the day and we are much more productive individually and as a family. I am not sure if it is the food itself or that a hot breakfast sets a slower pace and allows everyone to wake up gently. Whatever it is I like starting the day off with a hot breakfast. One of our personal favorites happens to be the waffle recipe I share below.

If you are rushing through life and slinging bowls of cereal every morning and noticing the same thing I did with my kids then I challenge you to institute a hot breakfast. I know how busy and hectic life can be and the idea of waking up 15 mins early to make the hot breakfast seems like torture but I guarantee you will reap the benefits all day long.

 

Quick Tip:

The Waffle Recipe I share below calls for buttermilk and I rarely have this ingredient in my fridge. I learned that you can substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup and then filling it to the top with plain old milk.

If you’re out of milk you can substitute buttermilk for sour cream.

 

Super simple

The Homeschooler and the Interloper

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Let me set the scene we are at a birthday party with a group of family members and everyone is having a good time. There is a gorgeous cake on the table, laughter in the air and kids of all ages are running around enjoying themselves. I see my youngest two playing with friends and when I look to see where my 12 year old is I find him cornered by an adult who is quizzing him on everything from states & capitals, timetables to the world of politics. My son has that deer stuck in headlights look as he looks to me for assistance not because he can’t answer the questions but because they are being fired at him like bullets from an AK-47.  I immediately step in to release my son from the interloper’s stronghold. I spend the rest of the afternoon keeping one eye on the interloper and the other eye on my children; not really a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Over the years I have encountered a number of these interlopers some are family members, some are friends while most are strangers. They all have good intentions and I know that they do not mean any true harm but it can be pretty stressful dealing with them. I am always open to dialogue and if these individuals want to discuss why and how I homeschool that would be great. Instead, they choose to quiz my kids in an effort to find something they may not know so they can have evidence that homeschooling doesn’t work. I disagree with the way the public schools teach but I don’t walk around quizzing public school students in an effort to prove I am right. My kids should be afforded the same respect as any other child and they should be able to enjoy a fun activity without being bombarded with questions. I do my best to intervene in these situations by distracting the interloper with conversation and that usually works.

If you are a homeschooler who has dealt with an interloper let me know how you have handled these encounters in the comments below. I would love to see how other moms and dads manage these types of scenarios.

 

Best Day Ever!

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If your kids are anything like mine you have heard them proclaim a fun or adventurous day as the “best day ever”. Today I was the one proclaiming today as the best day ever and it truly was. This morning we woke up early, bundled up with hats and gloves and headed to Downtown Toledo for their annual Holiday Parade. I have always wanted to attend a Thanksgiving parade and after 35 years I made that wish a reality. It was so much fun experiencing this first with my kids and after today I can feel the magic of the holidays zipping through me like electricity.

If you have never had the opportunity to attend a holiday parade I highly suggest you move it up on the list of things to do because it really is a wonderful experience. After enjoying the parade we moved over to one of our favorite restaurants for hot soup and sandwiches. We then decorated our front porch before moving inside to make holiday slime. Watching the kids bounce, squish and stretch their colorful slime was so much fun that I had to join in and make some for myself as well.

Sometimes you just have to let loose and have fun and nothing is more fun than being silly with your kids. As parents, we often plan fun adventures or activities for our kids but we let the planning take the fun out of it for ourselves. Try whenever possible to not just be an observer but an active participant because this is when the very best moments happen. Today I enjoyed myself and I truly felt like a kid again and sharing in the joy and laughter with my children made today the “best day ever”.

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Raising Political Kids

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November 6th was an important day in our household as well as in many households across the nation as we marched to the polls to have our voices heard. I truly love election day and I take my responsibility as a voter very seriously. It is important to not only participate in elections but also to be as informed as you can regarding candidates, their stance on issues and the various proposals on the ballot.

As a homeschooler, I used the days up to the election to drive home the importance of voting in this country. We discussed the history of voting, how the election process works and how to become an informed voter. On election day my kids were able to come to the polls and witness their mom cast her vote. That night we turned on the news and watched as the votes rolled in to see the outcome. I tried to make the event as exciting as possible because I want them to be passionate about politics.

During our election night celebration, my daughter asked me whether she should be a Republican or a Democrat when she became an adult. I love that she asked this question because it gave me a chance to talk to them about what my expectations were for them once they reached the age to vote. My husband and I are both pretty conservative Republicans and many people might think that because we homeschool we are going to force our children into being Republicans. This is not true instead of raising our kids to affiliate themselves with a specific party we have chosen to raise our kids to simply be political. I want them to be passionate and active voters who take the time and care to understand the issues. I don’t care what their political affiliations end up being I only care that they treat the voting process with respect and recognize the honor it is to be able to vote in the first place. I want them to stand up for what they believe while interacting positively with those who have different points of view.

Whether you homeschool or not I think it is important to allow children to identify their own political path. It doesn’t matter which party they end up affiliating with; what matters is that they are passionate about this country and the direction it is heading. Don’t label your children instead allow them to find their own individual niche in life. I truly believe that this is the best way to raise children into happy, healthy and productive adults.