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Making Math Fun!

Use homemade games to teach your littles multiplication and division

Because I struggled with math when I was younger, I have learned that some people just learn it differently.  I am not so good (at least I wasn’t then) at reading directions in a book and then applying them to solving problems.  I have to have an experience to which to apply the math.  Once I have that, I am a calculating fool.  So when I noticed Littlest still having problems doing basic multiplication and division within more complex problems, I fretted and brooded about why he couldn’t get the basic memorization.  I made up worksheets that showed how each times table is basically counting by the number given.  3, 6, 9, 12, etc.  I printed off copious worksheets from other sources for practice.

Still… he wasn’t getting it.  So I brooded some more.  I watched how he behaved while learning other subjects.  And, as always happens when we homeschooling mamas put our minds to a problem, an epiphany occurred.  Littlest learns best with hands-on tools.  Games are his favorite things in the world.  Board games, dice games, card games, video games.  He never has a problem doing math when faced with a game.

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An Homage to Husbands

Sometimes, at the end of an especially busy day, after I’ve taught lessons and cleaned house, posted to my blog or checked out all the wonderful blogs I follow for homeschool advice, made breakfast, lunch, and dinner, squeezed in a 45-minute workout in the morning (and, three days a week, an hour for Zumba class), kissed my husband as many times as I can, fed all the farm animals–twice–worked on whatever new thing I’ve planned for school, and right now, made some more plans for the homeschool seminar I’ll be giving in March, and done whatever errands I needed to do (whew!  is that all?), I lay in bed and think, “Wait.  Did I play with my kids today?  Did I have a real conversation with them that didn’t involve Etruscan art or the difference between the Spanish verbs ser and estar?”

I bet you have those moments.  Even worse for a mama who has to fit all that in while working.  Cristina at A Homeschool Mom wrote a post a couple months ago called Am I Fun? which I have referred to before when I was having one of these moments.  It prompted me to take the day off and just have a fun day with my Littles.  But sometimes, we don’t have time to take a day off.  Some days I look around my house in the evening and think, “Ah, heck.  I forgot to clean the house today.”  How can you Forget to clean your house?!

At least I didn’t forget to make dinner.

Though sometimes I do forget to eat until dinner.  I feed everybody else, but if I’m elbow-deep in some project or chore I’ll think, “Oh, I’ll get to mine later.”  Later being dinner.  Because we have a strict rule about family dinners, so I Have To put aside whatever else needs done and sit down with my fabulous family.  Which is good.  Because while sometimes I’m too exhausted to take part, at least I get to watch the Littles laugh and talk with their dad.  I try not to think about the work I have to do once we leave the table and just focus on that moment, but sometimes it’s hard.

Thank the stars I have my sweet husband.

Sometimes when I get home from Zumba, dinner is ready and waiting for me.  Sometimes, even though he works very hard all day, he does a load of laundry or picks up the clutter or–and this might be the best–runs the errands.  Better than all that, he truly appreciates all I do to keep our house going.  He thanks me.  He notices when I do something new.  He compliments me.

He tells me I am beautiful every day.  After nearly 12 years of marriage, he still does that.

Whether I believe that I am or not, I believe that he thinks so.  It matters.

But what matters most is the way he picks up, every day, where I left off with the Littles.  He asks them what they learned at school.  He gets in the floor and plays games with them, even when he’s so worn out all he wants to do is veg in the recliner in front of one of his History Channel shows.  He talks to them like they’re human beings because we have agreed from the beginning not to treat them like they’re too young (or, Heaven forbid, too dumb) to understand Anything he has to say.  He listens.  He listens with his whole being.  When they are talking to him, you can see his body listening by its stillness, the way he leans toward them with every part.  He appreciates them.  He notices when they do something new.  He compliments them.

So on those nights when I worry that I dropped the ball on just Being With my Littles, I can drift off to sleep with a smile.  They probably didn’t notice.  They were too busy playing with Dad.

If you have a partner like that, who supports your family with quiet strength and holds all of you up even when things are hectic, kiss him bunches today.  Let him know how much he means to you.  Because he needs those things, too, all those things he gives to you.

Love (Definitely) wins,

KT