Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mental Math And Participles

One of the benefits of home school that I wasn't expecting is that fact that I'm learning too! Of course, I knew I'd be gaining an understanding of the kids and their best and worst practices...Hopefully in an effort to help them with their junior high and high school experiences. What I didn't see coming, though, is the personal benefits of looking back at the topics I learned and practiced so long ago.

Take Z's math program. Each lesson starts out with "mental math." This exercise encourages him to calculate different math operations in his head. From adding money to finding quick percentages, from counting up and down from zero to two by twelfths (reduced fractions, of course!) to figuring out averages, he does around eight of these each time. My goal? To calculate them in my own head (without the key!) and be ready for his answer.

It's close...But I am getting better!

Actually, it really is close, and both of us are learning the techniques that are being promoted by the text to become sharper. I guess the "use it or lose it" mentality makes full sense here, as I am experiencing a "mathematical awakening."

English grammar was never my favorite. Just ask Mr. Katz, my nine dollar an hour tutor who my parents hired for me in fifth grade because, when we moved from Linden to Iselin, the English learning program at St. Cecelia's was different from that at St. Elizabeth's. I had never learned to diagram sentences, but was faced with the task of understanding all those parts of speech...And their strange titles! Whoever heard of a past participle, anyway?

Well, Miss Fletcher would be proud of me now, as Z and I cover all of this, and more. We're diagramming sentences and conjugating verbs like it's nothing! Next up...Adverbs! (I'd better review a bit...It's been a while.)

All of this learning is really refreshing. To have a second go-round at some of these concepts, not only conjures up memories of all those teachers who tried their best to drill the stuff into my head, but also the worth of stimulating those areas of my brain that have been switched off for a while.

Move over ginkgo biloba...We may be on to something here!

~Desi

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