Back to School – Math help is on the way!

I see happy smiling moms trawling the aisles of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, grocery shopping alone is a luxury many had to forgo for the summer….it’s the little things, I tell you.  Sometimes I see those same moms at the mall returning garments deemed unacceptable by their off-spring …or maybe that is just me. I see smiling faces of children greeting friends that they haven’t seen all summer but from the mom-talk in the neighborhood, I also know that quite a few are unhappy at the prospect of buckling down to school work.

Transitions are tough for kids – even the most resilient and bouncy are somewhat thrown by this new change in routine. Be sure to ask – and really listen  to what they are telling you – not just the dead-end question, “How was your day?” but “Who did you have lunch with?” “Was the bus on time?” (guaranteed to get a funny bus story) or “How is it going in Math? Are you doing (insert area of previous frustration…long division, fractions…here) yet?”

It is easy to let things ride (slide) as the school years starts up – there are back to school events and easy get-to-know you assignments and review. Tons of review, especially in math. That’s fine if you are confident that your child is in general up to speed in the subject, but when a bigger transition year (4th to 5th grade, elementary to middle school, middle school to high school come to mind) is underway, it is a good idea to build the support in early.

Call the tutor or be prepared to dust off your pre-algebra brain (mine is too dusty to access – guess which route I take?) – you have a short window (September, usually) before new topics are introduced.

The tutor is always a good resource and we have a great one- but is not always needed – there is an on-line math help program that I found through a neighbor called Ten Marks (I wrote about it here ).  It is an individualized program and really well-designed – there are games and incentives and it is fun. Really, even I think it is fun. One of their pages has even been picked by a Minnesotan Homeschooler as her top great pages on Facebook (see below). If you are homeschooling, it goes without saying that you are really particular (I applaud you and know I couldn’t do it) and I am glad for great math program finds.

On-line math and apps are always more fun than worksheets – give these a try. Chances are your kids won’t even notice – or care – that they are honing math skills because it is so much fun. So here are some sanity saving games and apps for math- yes, you are welcome.

Five great math pages on Facebook from Alicia Bayer and her husband who homeschool their four children (ages two to eleven) in Westbrook, Minnesota. She blogs about their homeschool life at

I also found on Geek Dad’s picks for some cool apps

and another really great site moms with apps

Since I was reeling through the world wide web anyway, I googled ‘Back to school advice’ – Wow. Pages upon pages and some really great articles. Here is a rule I didn’t know but am instituting pronto.

The 5-2-1-0 rule (I like the premise plus it ties into this math-y post) from Dr. Randolph Nunez, a pediatrician at Lincoln Hospital in New York:

— Five servings of fruits and vegetables.

— Two hours or less of non-homework screen time. Kids exposed to many hours of television, video games, cell phones and computers have decreased school performance.

— One hour of exercise.

— Zero candy, juice or soda loaded with sugar.

Come to think of it – that’s a good rule for anyone.

smart phones and apps

My day begins with a cup of tea, a glance at the Boston Globe (the Sox won) then an email check (maybe some on-line dawdling, I mean social media) and then getting kids off to camp, lunches, carpool and all. It does not (yet) involve a smart phone but I think that is about to change. Hiawatha Bray, the great tech columnist for the Globe (he was introduced to our school group during a tour of the Globe last year and is very funny, too), has a column in today’s Globe about smart phones and Google’s Android operating system. Basically you can either get an iPhone (but with service only through A T & T) or any other smart phone (Samsung and Dell are featured) through any other carrier. Read more here.

capability mom looks at appsThen, in my inbox was an email from a friend (okay, I was messing around with her iPhone yesterday) about a site called Great site for developers of apps and families who want good family friendly apps.

From the site :  In November of 2009, four moms (who connected over Twitter) got on the phone to talk about their apps, how they were marketing them, and how they could work together to help spread the word. They decided to form a Google Group, and invited other mom developers to join. It quickly became a discussion, brainstorming and marketing forum about family-friendly apps. How do you successfully launch an app? What should you price it? How are you making your app compatible with iPad? You get the drill.

Besides the moms, there were also dads, aunts, grandmas and reviewers who came on board. With critical mass they launched the Moms With Apps blog, which focuses on articles about kids, technology, developers, and weekly featured apps. Over the last 9 months (no pun intended) the group has attracted over 100 parent and family-friendly developers, in addition to app reviewers and industry specialists.

There are apps for reading, apps for learning, apps for travel ( I am playing with MomMaps this morning), apps for parents, apps for fun & creativity, and apps for special needs. On Friday, they feature an app that anyone – you don’t have to be a developer – can submit – so send them your favorite app. Here is the email address: capability mom looks at appsA great site – well organized and thoughtful with cool age appropriate apps.

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