Happy Election Day! On Behalf of One of My Personal Heroes, Jean Sinzdak, I’m Asking You Ladies to Run (and Vote)!

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In time for midterm elections, here’s an interview with my fellow University of Scranton alumna, Jean Sinzdak.

Get our an vote, ladies (and gents)!  Better yet, think about running yourself!

Hello, Jean!  The last time we saw each other, we were graduating from college. It’s been a while!! I know you went to grad school. What was that for?

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost (ahem) 20 years since college! After we graduated, I went on to get my master’s degree in social work, specializing in social policy and economic development.

Where are you now?

Now I live in Highland Park, NJ.

Can you tell us what CAWP is? And what do you do there? What is your title?

CAWP stands for the Center for American Women and Politics. We are based at Rutgers University and are the leading source for all things women and politics in the US. My title is Director of the Program for Women Public Officials, which aims to increase the impact of women in politics and make political women’s leadership more effective through national, regional, and local events and programs for women officeholders, candidates, and campaign operatives. Basically, I work on a lot of educational programs and initiatives to encourage more women to get into politics and government.

How did you end up at CAWP and how long have you been there?

I have been at CAWP since 2005. My career has always been focused on women’s leadership and women’s policy, and I started that when I was in school – at the University of Scranton I interned at the Women’s Center, and while in grad school I did a field placement at the Penn Women’s Center. After school, I moved to Washington, DC, where I primarily worked at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank focused on women’s policy issues. I did outreach and communications for the institute’s research initiatives, particularly the Status of Women in the States project, which measures how women are doing in this country on a variety of indicators, including economic well-being, health, and others.

Who is CAWP for? How does one get involved with CAWP?

CAWP is for scholars, students, journalists, women public officials, candidates, and the general public. We often have events with women leaders that are open to the public, and we regularly have students who intern for us. We do a lot of joint projects and work with community leaders all over the country to implement their own programs around women’s political leadership. The easiest way to get involved is to reach out to us!

Describe a typical working day.

The good thing about this job is that it rarely feels typical. Because we are a somewhat small organization, we all get involved in each other’s projects, and there is a true collaborative spirit. On any given day, I could be in a planning meeting about a new project, attending an event hosted by a partner organization, or chatting on the phone with a representative from a women’s commission in another state about getting more women engaged in government (this is how my Friday went last week.)

What is “Teach a Girl to Lead™”?

Teach a Girl to Lead™, or TAG, is our newest initiative to make women’s public leadership visible to the next generation. We want to inspire girls and young women to follow in the footsteps of women leaders, and we want both boys and girls to grow up with more inclusive ideas about who can lead. TAG provides the tools and resources to educators, leaders of youth-serving groups, media outlets and parents who want to help young people rethink leadership with women in the picture. On the TAG site, for example, you can find lesson plans on women in politics; games and activities to help young people better understand the workings of their government and the roles that women play in the process; and exercises to enhance the capacity of girls and young women for public leadership. You can also find great books and films about women leaders. The Programs & Places Resource Map features girls’ leadership programs, including those with a focus public leadership, as well as coed civic leadership programs; historic sites where women leaders made history; and field trip ideas to show girls and boys about women’s political history.  And to make it easy for teachers or leaders to a woman public leader to speak to their class or youth program, we created the Leaders Lineup, a searchable map of women leaders, along with sample invite letters and discussion questions. We hope TAG inspires teachers and leaders everywhere to talk to kids about women’s public leadership and about civic engagement.

What is “Ready to Run®”?

Ready to Run® is our non-partisan campaign training program to encourage women to run for elective office, position themselves for appointive office, work on a campaign, or get involved in public life in other ways. We now have a national network of Ready to Run® partner programs committed to electing more women to public office. CAWP created the program with two main goals: to put a spotlight on how few women serve in office and to provide the “nuts and bolts” training women need to launch successful campaigns.

Molly, my 8-year-old daughter, my friend, and I had hoped to start a Girls on The Run program this Fall. Can you recommend any other programs for younger girls to get involved with that teach things like goal-setting, community involvement and self-care?

Girls on the Run is an excellent organization and program! I actually can’t wait until my oldest is big enough for it. Girls on the Run is one of the allies of Teach a Girl to Lead™. One thing I have been encouraged by is how many organizations out there are doing terrific work on girls’ leadership and community involvement.

There are the ones, like Girl Scouts and Girls, Inc. , that many people are familiar with. Both of those organizations have many terrific programs focused on helping girls discover their potential and grow their leadership skills. The Girls Leadership Institute offers parent and daughter workshops focused on raising resilient girls. Hardy Girls, Healthy Women’s mission is to empower girls with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a platform to drive social change. The Eleanor Roosevelt Center has a Girls Leadership Worldwide Program focused on civic engagement, with the mission to “empower girls to be principled and socially conscious good global leaders.”

There are also a good number of summer camps dedicated to girls’ leadership. In my own backyard, for example, the Alice Paul Institute, which is dedicated to honoring the life of the noted suffragist, offers a Girlblazers summer camp focused on developing leadership and social action skills, among other great programs they offer.

And these are just a few of the programs I’ve found. Not to put in another plug for our Teach a Girl to Lead™ project, but you can find more of these types of programs on TAG’s Program and Places Map. We are constantly adding to it, so keep checking back!

Jean, from my experiences with you, you could have really done anything you wished. Why women and politics?  

Wow, what a nice compliment! I always think the same of you. To be honest, it’s not as if I made a conscious decision that this was what my career was going to be. It just…felt right to work on women’s leadership and women’s development issues. It’s something I’m passionate about, so I followed my passion and was lucky enough to find jobs that fulfilled that passion. In terms of the politics side of it, I am fascinated by the idea of power – who has it and how they use it, and how power can be used effectively to further social and cultural change. So women and politics pieces all that together for me. I’ve been lucky and am grateful to be able to spend my work life focused on something I really care about.

What do you mean by politics?

When I think about politics in terms of my job, I mean everything that has to do with government and the way government works, including elected officials, government staff, policy development, and infrastructure. So when I talk about getting more women into politics, I want more women to think about being at the table when policy decisions are being made – as an elected official, as a staffer, or as a lobbyist. Be part of the conversation, not outside of it.

Can you give us a snapshot of where you think the U.S. is right now for women and politics?

The US has made strides in recent years – we now have a record 20 women serving in the US Senate. That’s incredible when you think that as recently as 1991, we only had a maximum of 2 women in the Senate. So a pretty dramatic rise in the past couple of decades, although we are nowhere close to parity. Overall, there are 99 women serving in Congress , which is 18.5% of the members of Congress. Women make up about 23% of statewide executive offices in this country (such as governor, lt. governor, treasurer and other statewide officials). There are 5 women serving as governors out of 50, and 24.2% of state legislative seats are held by women. At the local level, just over 18% of mayors of cities with population over 30,000 are women, and 13% of mayors of the 100 largest cities are women. So we have a long way to go before women are equally represented in public office, although we can be proud of recent positive trends. I am optimistic about the future, but we still have work to do. For reference, you can always find the current numbers of women serving on CAWP’s web site.

You have three daughters and a husband, right? What is it like, for you, being a working mom and spouse?

It’s a busy life, that’s for sure. But my husband and I are really a team in everything we do, and we always make our family the priority. And my girls are the best! Not that I’m bragging or anything.

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I vividly remember reading The Second Shift with Dr. Harris back when we were at Scranton. Do you remember it? Do you think there is still a “second shift” (basically, the labor performed at home in addition to the paid work that a working woman does)? Is it good, bad, neither?

I remember that as well! By the way, I have been working with Dr. Harris for the past few years – the University of Scranton is one of our Ready to Run® partners. It’s been really neat to close the circle in terms of my experience as a student and now a professional. Generally, yes, I think there is still a second shift, but I am hopefully that we are moving in the right direction. My mother, a recently retired pediatric nurse, always comments on fathers she sees today, including my husband, doing so much more than they did when her generation was raising kids. My father freely admits he never really changed diapers, which blows my mind. I think cultural perceptions are changing, and fathers today do much more, at least in some places. Women still bear the burden of the second shift overall, though. Change is coming, but it will take some time. What we need to continue to do is focus on how to give support to families. US society has traditionally undervalued or ignored creating policies aimed at supporting healthy and productive family lives. Other countries are way ahead of us on that front, on issues like maternity/paternity leave and living wages.

I remember a while back you posted a picture from when you attended The White House Research Conference on Girls. What was that day like?

That was a great day – informative and inspiring. I learned so many fascinating things from the researchers who presented, and I really didn’t want the day to end. One thing I keep thinking about was a panel focused on girls and STEM. In particular, Dr. Jo Boaler of Stanford University presented a research study about how girls learn math. There is a lot of evidence that suggests that changing the way math is taught will help girls, and also boys, learn and stay engaged in math. It’s so important because girls are just as good at math as boys are, but our culture believes they aren’t.  I also learned about so many other organizations and initiatives that it made me hopeful for the girls of our country and for the future. There are lots of exciting initiatives going on.

Also, you crowdsourced a toast for your brother’s wedding via Facebook. That really cracked me up. What did you end up saying?

It was fun to see what people said about marriage. In the end, I talked about my brother’s best qualities and how his wife was his match in every way, and I talked about her amazing qualities. They are perfect together, and it was nice to celebrate who they are as individual people and as a couple. I ended it with a quote from the author AA Milne, which perfectly sums up their relationship: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”

What’s your favorite thing about being married or in a long-term relationship, and what piece of advice do you have for a couple about to tie the knot?

It’s a cliché, but definitely marry your best friend. My husband and I still love to talk to each other, even in the midst of all the craziness and busy-ness of our lives. We just had our 10th wedding anniversary, and I couldn’t imagine hanging out with anyone else. He is still the person I most want to see and talk to about my day.

I love to talk with my kids about their “roses” (best things) and “thorns” (worst things) each day. What are three roses and three thorns in your life right now?

We do “peaks” and “pits” at our house, too! It’s a nice thing to do over dinner. Hmm, three roses: my family, my health, and my job.

Thorns: can I say “lack of time” for all three thorns?? That’s the biggest challenge I face, and I think most people face, these days is finding the time to get everything done and also not get overwhelmed and pulled in every direction. I have been working hard on asking myself, “is this important or can it wait?” or “can I say no to this request?” without feeling guilty. You need to say no sometimes, right?

Who should run for office?

Anyone who wants to make a difference in their community. One thing that tends to hold people back is that they feel like they need to learn everything about every policy or issue before they run for office. Or they think they do not have enough political experience. But what you really need is passion for helping your community and the commitment to do the hard work. Everything else you can learn.

What are the barriers to women running for office? How do we get around them?

CAWP’s research has shown that the biggest barriers for women running for office include: family and work commitments, lack of a roadmap for how to run, concerns about privacy or negativity, and – the biggest one – no one asked them to run. We know that women need to be asked, but we also know that they are far less likely than men to be asked to run, particularly by other elected officials and party leaders. So one thing we can all do is identify women in our communities who would make great public officials and encourage them to run. It could make all the difference.

What would you say to someone who is jaded by our current political climate? Why do you think politicians can make a difference?

It’s understandable to feel that way. I think Congress’s approval ratings have been at an all-time low, and nobody thinks anything is getting down in this polarized climate. It’s hard to feel like politics or government is useful. But two things I would say: Congress is high profile and gets a lot of media attention, but government starts at home. And despite media attention suggesting otherwise, government accomplishes so many good things that we as a society would be lost without. So don’t be discouraged — whether you want to change something in your town, your county, at the state level, or beyond, there are many places and many ways to have an impact. Focus on your own goals and the things you want to accomplish, and then start to plan the best way to participate to get your goals accomplished.

If I wanted to run for office, where should I start?

Do a personal inventory: do you have the time, family support, and the drive to campaign? Do a political inventory: what seat do you want to run for? Is there an open seat, or will you need to run against an incumbent?   Are you aware of the basic issues? Are you willing to fundraise? There are more questions like this to consider. But it’s a good idea to make a list and see if you feel strongly one way or another. If you are ready to run after considering all the factors involved, then try to attend a campaign training if there is one in your area. Seek out other political leaders who can help you get started. Build your network and start laying the groundwork for your eventual run. There are a lot of practical steps that you can take, and it feels less overwhelming if you take it step by step.

What are 3-5 of your favorite books right now?

Right now I am reading Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, which I cannot put down. Waters is a master at historical fiction that is morally complex and suspenseful. I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which I absolutely loved. I also have Bruce Feiler’s The Secret of Happy Families on my nightstand. I not necessarily big on self-help books, but I was completely drawn to this one because it promises practical strategies for organizing your family’s life, and one of the strategies touted on the cover was ways for making mornings easier. I was a sucker for that idea – we’ve got a lot of people to get out the door in the morning, so any ideas that make it smoother are welcome. I just started reading it but already enjoyed the tips on how to handle kids’ allowances – that day is coming soon for me.

We also read with the kids constantly, and their current favorites are: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Yoko, and The Very Busy Spider.

Any questions you wished I asked that I didn’t?

Hmmm…can’t think of any. I’d love to ask you, though: are you as surprised as I am that it’s been almost two decades since we were in school together?? And, if you could tell your 20-year-old self anything, what would it be?

Can You Guess Who Molly’s Superhero is?

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We participated in a Superhero themed 5K/1K fun run this weekend.  Our kids were asked to invite a buddy to run/walk with them.  Here is a mid-way shot of a cape Molly made for one of her heroes.

Can you guess who she is (Hint:  those are a stack of books)?  Thank you to our wonderful, encouraging, children’s librarian!  Eden Unger Bowditch says it best: “LIBRARIANS ARE HEROES! You are the gatekeepers who show us the maps to incredible journeys and fabulous adventures in the worlds of words.”

 

JohnJohn, When I Think of 2…

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I’m waking you up with Sonic The Hedgehog cupcakes, glad that Daddy takes off from work for all our birthdays, and that all five of us are together today.

I laugh at how Daddy, in trying to give you a more “grown up” name this year, came up with “Grape Juice Juicy JohnJohn”.  Seriously, (I’m looking at you, Molly and Joseph), I cannot believe that it caught on!

When I think of 2, JohnJohn, I’d ride the rails with you again.

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I’ll shake my head as I recall the Big Mahoff, and his villain counterpart, The Puker, whom we all still see pretty regularly.  As Aunt Susan says, “that John sure is a PIP!”

I will do the conga all over again with Molly and Joseph as we watch you march off into your new pre-school with Miss Suzie.  Then I will carry my heart in my throat the rest of the day after Suzie calls me to tell me that you threw up.  Thankfully, that only lasted two days.

I will pity poor Joseph, as I count how many times I made him play “Ninjas” or “Star Wars” or “Smash Bros.” with you this year.  He’s  so good to you.  He deserves how much you adore him.

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I am blown away all over again at how, at Grandpop’s birthday weekend, you informed EVERYONE you met that you were getting Power Ranger underwear and wouldn’t need diapers anymore.  I still can’t believe that after I found the undies in the clearance bin at the store the next day, even though they were a size 6, you put them on and never wore diapers again.

Gosh, I’ll miss the day I don’t overhear Molly turning into a horse as you “morph-forr” her with your Red Ranger Morpher.

I can smell that camel from here.  As I should.  We’ve spent a lot of time with (and money on) Good Old Benny!

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I’ll read Molly’s birthday card to you and wish I had a sister like her.

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I’ll hear you yelling at the top of your lungs “I JUST WANT TO SNUGGA YOU, MOMMY!”  I’ll try to be annoyed because you’re yelling it while I am trying to take my first pee alone in days, but it won’t work.  Truth is, I just want to snugga you too.

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I’ll stop to think how fast this is all going.  You three are best friends.  My birthday wish for you is that you always will be.

Happy birthday, Grape Juice!  We are all glad that you were born.

Molly’s Mid-Way Update on Youth Digital’s Mod Design 1

We are about halfway through Mod Design 1, which I wrote about starting here.

As I wrote in my first post, Youth Digital promises this course will teach kids to program their own Mod (an alteration of the program code of a video game in order to make it operate in a manner different from its original version).  In doing so, students also learn the fundamentals of Java Programming.  Yay!

As I also mentioned in my first post, Youth Digital gives students 365 days to finish a course, which has really made this whole course stress-free.  Molly really likes that she is in complete control over when she does the sections and how quickly she moves through each section.  She thinks it is especially cool that she can do them later at night (her best time of day), in her pajamas, wrapped in Bucky (her special blanket/BFF) with a Ninja-Turtle mask on, if she wants.

Time for coding class, Kiddo!

Time for coding class, Kiddo!

Here are our mid-way impressions:

PROS:

  •  The videos are very entertaining.  There’s an appropriate amount of humor targeted to her age.
  •  The videos contain suggested times to pause and carry out coding tasks.  These are generally well placed – not too short or long a time between pauses.
  •  Molly has enjoyed the selected modding tasks.  They are small and thus, simple to do.
  •  The difficulty of the tasks seems appropriate so far.  The structure is well thought out, with each lesson building on the previous.

In sum, Mod Design 1 is a very practical, task-based, learning activity. It’s building Molly’s practical computer science skills, like being careful with typing and syntax (computers have no mercy for typos), cutting and pasting, window/graphical user interface management, mouse skills, etc. She is also becoming comfortable with basic coding concepts like using named variables and objects to define how things work.  She’s learning how to be creative, while also being careful with her coding.

CONS:

  • The quizzes are occasionally too GIMP and keyboard-shortcut centric.
  • The templates have contained two coding errors so far.  These were straightforward to fix with adult help, but were frustrating for Molly alone.  She really doesn’t like to ask for help!  Back on the PRO side, though, Youth Digital offers excellent customer support.
  • The fact that Molly is already eying up App Design 1 and Game Design 1, reminds me that Youth Digital courses are, although worth it in our opinion, pricey.

ONE LAST COMMENT:

So far, as billed, this is a “show me how, then I do it” class with little “20,000 foot view” discussion.  We like that.  It is actually teaching Molly Java.  If theoretical discussion of computer science fundamentals is what you’re looking for, another course might be better.  For learning the Java basics in a fun but structured way, this course is the way to go.


Wondering if this is an advertisement?  It is not.

I have not been compensated for this review.  As I mentioned in my first post about Mod Design 1, I contacted Youth Digital to ask if they would be willing to let us try it out in return for a review on my blog.  They haven’t asked for any additional reviews, nor did they have any control over either review.  I just think this has been a great find and want to share it with you.

Fall 2014 Curriculum Ideas for the Overwhelmed Homeschooler – Part 1 Math

I received this e-mail recently:

I wanted to ask you what core curriculum you are using for Molly this year for 3rd grade specifically for Math and ELA. Also, my other child will be starting a bit of Preschool-Kindergarten work. Any recommendations for that age level for learning letters, number etc.? There is SO much out there for, which is a great thing. I am finding it overwhelming at this point, though, to narrow it down. Your recommendations in the past were great. Thanks for your continued help and support.

-Feeling a Bit Overwhelmed

I haven’t written about our daily schedule or curriculum since this glimpse of our homeschooling days well over a year ago. This has been, in part, because, although we do use workbooks, I feel that relying on them too much gives up a major advantage of homeschooling – flexibility.  I also don’t trust completion (or lack of completion) of a certain level of a curriculum as the last word on competency.  Because I’m there, every day, working together with them, both strengths and weaknesses are easier to detect.  We use one standardized test a year to double check, but don’t use our school’s (multiple) annual standardized tests.  I don’t think having the kids jump through too many curriculum hoops is useful.

Maybe, if I hadn’t spent +/- 20 years in school myself, and if I were braver, I wouldn’t make my kids do workbooks at all.  Alas, I’m just not ready to give up my reliance on a curriculum.

As August is a great time to get organized, even for homeschoolers, I thought I’d share my response with you, in case you find it helpful too.

Here is Part 1 of my response, which covers Math.


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Whatdaya mean another chapter of Singapore math!?!?

Hey, Overwhelmed!  Thanks for writing.  I can feel your pain.  Besides sugar, my main vice right now is that I buy too many books!  I cannot help it.  Homeschooling, as a market, has exploded and all the information and resources are daunting, especially as a lot of advertising plays on parents’ fears of “missing something”.  It can be very hard to parse out what matters!

If I could offer a word of advice before I tell you what we use, it would be to stick with whatever you pick for at least 3 months.  It will take you time to get comfortable with the resource.  Give yourself and your kids a chance.  I hear a lot from parents who change books because they have a bad day or week.  Trust me.  No matter how awesome your homeschooling life is, we all have bad days and bad weeks.  Talk to me in February and I’ll tell you that some of us even have bad months!

Molly is technically in 3rd grade and Joseph in 1st, but their workbooks vary by grade level.  Most of these books go in order so, if you are not starting at the beginning, you may need to try more than one until you find the right fit for your child.

BOOKS

1.  After trying several other curricula like Everyday Math, which our school uses, we committed to Singapore Math (Standards Edition) two years ago.  We chose them because, in our opinion, they balance critical thinking with rote memorization of concepts very well.  The books have great visuals and offer lots of games and activities to help reinforce the lessons, so they have worked for Molly, who likes to read the book, as well as Joseph, who likes to see the math come to life with items he can touch. Plus, the company offers great customer support.

We buy our books directly from Singapore Math.  You can find placement tests here.  I usually buy the textbook and workbook, and the Home Instructor’s Guide.  The textbook and workbook are repetitive so Molly uses one or the other, but not both.  And I save the other for Joseph, which does save us money.   I have no desire to follow the Common Core but if you do, I just noticed they sell a Common Core aligned edition as well.

One of our main goals for the kids is for them to be self-motivated learners.  Although I remind Molly and Joseph that it is time to “work”, I usually let them decide how many pages to do.  This lets them set their own goals, which they always meet or exceed.  They usually set higher goals for themselves than I would.  We usually do Singapore Math 2-3 times per week, depending on what else is going on.

2.  We also use Daily Math Practice from Evan-Moor.  This reinforces what they are doing in Singapore Math, although I use it more to build discipline because I expect them to do the book 5 days a week.  Each day only has 5 questions so it only takes a few minutes.

As you know, not every kid learns the same way and even the same kid needs to look at something in different ways to really understand it.  So, in addition to workbooks we use the following:

APPS

Some of our favorite Apps are:  Sushi Monster, Hungry Fish, Mathmateer, Creature Math, Yahtzee. Factor Samurai, Dragonbox Algebra 5+, Dragonbox Algebra 12+, Math vs. Zombies, Counting Money, Pizza Fractions  and BrainPop.  Molly had a hard time sitting and memorizing her multiplication tables.  She finally did it with the Multiplication + app.

GAMES

Some of our favorite games are: War with a plain old deck of cards, Sum Swamp, Math Dice, Pizza Fraction Fun, Rush Hour, Hoppers, and Chess.  We also play often with a cash register.  All three of my kids love it!

BOOKS

Some books we’ve read and enjoyed about math include The Grapes of Math, Math for All Seasons, and Sir Cumference and The First Round Table.

VIDEOS

Donald in Mathmagic Land, LeapFrog Math Circus, and more recently The Story of Math, are our favorites.  We also watch a lot of Ted-ed, including most of these.  Although we mostly just watch videos of our choosing, you can find a whole curriculum through Khan Academy here.

MUSIC LESSONS

The kids take piano lessons.  Not only does music sound good because of its mathematical patterns, but there’s evidence that music lessons may boost IQ and grades.   There is no question that playing an instrument benefits your brain.  And I love to hear them play!

MATH IS EVERYWHERE

Here are some other ways to add math to your world:

  • For fun Molly really loves books like Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime!Detective Club and Orbiting with Logic.  They are not just for math, but as deductive reasoning is so important to math, I am putting them here.  If you ask me, what they teach – - logical thinking – - is more important than any single subject you can buy a book for today.
  • Sign up for Bedtime Math.  If you do, you’ll get a prompt delivered to your inbox every day with a math problem you can do with the kids at the table, in the car, or on a walk to get ice cream!  Find more information here.
  • Baking!  It is one of my favorites ways to teach math.  It is 100% how my kids learned fractions (so far).
  • Fields Trips.  Remember to get on mailing lists for museums, performances, lectures, homeschool enrichment programs, and anything else your community might have to offer.  Join Facebook groups in your area or nationally.  I belong to groups where I live, where I don’t live, and several states in between!  I always “Like” educational institutions because they share a lot of great information.  Because I don’t really have a homeschool community where we live, I find these groups invaluable!
  • Let your kids start paying for things themselves.  Having to do mental math while someone watched her was both exciting and a big challenge for Molly.

 

I really could go on and on, especially because this post only covers about 1/10 of all the places my kids learn math.  I hope it helps, though.  And to help you realize that there is no one correct way to do it.

Remember, one of the great benefits of homeschooling is the relationship you have with your kids.  No education is perfect, no matter where your child gets it.  So, forget trying to “do it all” and enjoy today!

 

Molly, When I Think of 7…

I STILL laugh at the ridiculous dancing green bean, all elbows and knees and giggles, bopping across the floor after bath – - even though you don’t do it so often anymore.

I run the headcount with you before bed:  Bucky, Snookums, Mr. and Mrs. Chucklebottom, Bob, BlackLack, Sophie, Striped Bucky, Rudy, mini-Rudy…

I catch you on the couch.  In my bed.  At the table.  On the floor.  Walking across the lawn.  In the little nook you set up at Nana and Pop’s house.  Reading.  Always reading.

I am amazed that you figured out how to change the color of your Minecraft sword to the perfect hues of Pink and Orange Bucky.

I kind of get a tickle in my throat as I watch you march up to the children’s librarian with your notebook of ideas,  to ask whether you can start a book club this Fall.

I breathe deep watching you sing “Happy Birthday” to JohnJohn, even though it’s actually your birthday and your cake.  I know you wish for magic powers, but, you know, you already have them.

I run all those 5Ks with you all  over again, chatting about this and that, repeating “I am awesome.  I am awesome.  I am awesome.”

I hear Joseph’s laughter pealing throughout the house as you crack him up with “A Kooka Maraca Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Nana, A Kooka Maraca Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Nana…”

I trip over the power cords to one of your cousin’s laptops as I pass your Minecraft huddle.

I try to revel in your independence and be grateful for it instead of missing you,  as you march away from me to go to camp, without even a backward glance.

You are a joy, so poised and competent and interested in everything.

I love to watch you in the world.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Molly McGurkles!

 

Molly Running