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 http://magicandmayhem.homeschooljournal.net.

I also found on Wired.com 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.

6 comments on “Back to School – Math help is on the way!”

  1. Great resources for all us Math moms and teachers!

    You can also add http://www.dreambox.com to your list. It is an online character-based math game for kids in k-3.

    Kids stay focused and engaged in math activities without the tediousness of worksheets.

    The best part is that it has a parent report that shows where your students are at – what concepts they understand and where they need more support.

    Check it out for free for 14 days!

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