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The Home Learning Hub

Posted Apr 10 2013 2:00pm

Home Study Hub

We have rooms for everything: living, eating, sleeping! But where’s the learning hub? Shouldn’t a home with children have a special space for learning?

When I was growing up, homeschooling was unheard of. But my parents collected so many educational publications that we practically had a library at home. They also drove us to the library whenever we wanted to go or we had to do research for our homework. But often, what we needed was right on our shelves, even an atlas.

Of course we have the world at our fingertips now. And research seems to be showing that active exploration of the environment isn’t necessary for learning. * We all know how later research might contradict earlier findings though, so it wouldn’t hurt to have more than just a computer available in your learning hub! Why take the chance with your children? Besides, we all have memories of handling the world — mud, sand, crafts, drawing, painting, marbles, etc. Who didn’t learn how to stack things playing with blocks? (Besides, guess what kind of experiences Einstein had growing up ?)
 
A child who has not played in the mud is a deprived child!
 
So how should we design our special space for learning? Think of each school subject and consider your child’s interests and age. I know it’s tempting to just collect books on kindles, but there’s nothing like a book you can display as part of an aesthetically pleasing learning environment. Collect books that will help your child understand basics.  Create or purchase beautiful manipulatives such as Montessori equipment. There are groups online that exchange ideas, patterns and instructions for home made Montessori items.
  • Counters
  • Abacus (can be home made)
  • Cuisenaire Rods (I would never teach math without them! You can teach simple concepts or complex.)
  • Base ten blocks
  • Math Journals
  • Books I recommend: Math on Call, by Andrew Kaplan, Math at Hand, by Great Source Education Group, Algebra to Go: A Mathematics Handbook, by Andrew Kaplan and Great Source Education Group, Key to Series  – Key to Algebra, Key to Fractions, Key to Decimals, etc. (Perfect for the student who needs these concepts broken down into tiny understandable steps.) The Complete Book of Fingermath, by Edwin M. Lieberthal (For the kinesthetic learner, or just to make math fun!)  
  • Art supplies for drawing, painting and creating pictures of concepts
  • Oh, and how can I forget! Don’t forget stones, sand, sticks and mud! No reason you can’t use these now and then, especially if the mud is nice and warm from the sun!

The best items in your learning hub will be things your children have created. The most valuable is the math journal. Help your child find a way to make it a beautiful part of your learning hub. Craft some kind of book that he or she can be proud to share with a friend or sibling struggling with math.

It’s the best way to help your children retain math concepts. Here is the simplest format for the math journal. One concept goes across a two page spread. On the left is his or her explanation of the concept which can include a photo of something or a drawing, or just words. On the right side, include two or more examples. If it is a math principle, he should copy it down as is from the math book, then include his own explanation under it on the left side.

If your textbook explanation for a topic doesn’t seem to be helpful, check out the math reference books such as Math on Call by Andrew Kaplan. This is a super valuable resource for the homeschool or any family with math challenges!

If you use math manipulatives such as an abacus, counters or Cuisenaire rods to demonstrate a concept, a photo of that is a good item to include on the left side as an explanation, or on the right side as an example. The more experience your child has connecting abstract ideas with concrete examples, the more real and beautiful math will be. If you turn any real life lessons into math learning , include a synopsis or photo of that in the journal!

And hang onto that journal! Repair it if needed. Take out the pages and glue it in a new journal. Let him add to it when he understands a concept more deeply. He should keep it by his side when working on math. It will become a valuable resource!

Next time I’ll cover the science or social studies part of your learning hub. What do you struggle with the most when it comes to making your home environment compatible with learning?

 

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