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Welcome to the

HOME SCHOOL


As a parent you act in many ways like a coach:

PHONICS

English is rule-based and, although there are many exceptions, it is best to learn the rules, that is: phonics. Instead of teaching children the names of letters, teach them the sounds first. The sounds are what they need to learn to read. Use flashcards. An old book, but still an introduction to the subject with lessons in the back, is Rudolph Flesch's 1955 book Why Johnny Can't Read by Harper and Row. Hooked on Phonics 1993 by Gateway Educational Products, PO Box 6868, Orange CA, 92613, ph 714-633-2223 is overpriced at about $119 but seems like a solid phonics program.

CULTURAL LITERACY

On the subject of reading, don't do what schools do and use contentless filler. Classic children's stories are much more interesting and provide children with mental furniture for further development. E.D. Hircsh has made an excellent series of books to teach your kids what they need to know: What Your 1,2,3,4,5,6th Grader Needs to Know by Delta or Bantam, Doubleday, and Dell publishers. Also his Cultural Literacy What Every American Needs to Know 1988 by Vintage Books and A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Company are excellent. See his Core Knowledge Home Page

Make a book list for your children and make sure they read it. THE GREAT BOOKS and THE HARVARD CLASSICS are a good starting point for high school children.


MEMORIZATION

The most efficient method of learning is memorization. You either know something or you don't and the fastest, most efficient and best way to get knowledge is memorization. This doesn't mean that one can not understand what one is memorizing. Of course, mnemonics tricks like ROY G. BIV should be used as aids. But most ultimate facts must be memorized. In chess, the world's pre-eminent memory game, memorizers beat people who only know "ideas" and people who understand the ideas and memorize are masters. Every library has books on mnemonics, which rely on associations, to make the task easier for your children.


ARITHMETIC

One of the greates criticisms of American education (see The Education Reform Homepage below) made after the TIMSS International Math Study was that American schools had a fragmented approach to learning which stressed definitions and computations but not understanding. Partly because of that, they found that none of the American math classes had quality to them. Understanding and a unified approach to math should be kept in mind when preparing lessons.

Probably the most interesting book about teaching arithmetic is Calculator's Cunning by Karl Menninger, Basic Books, NY 1964, which is the translated 10th edition of a very important book in Germany. This book teaches the tricks of the trade which make arithmetic challenging and fun. This book teaches more than practical techniques, it explains the why of arithmetic, e.g. why do you cast out nines?

Speaking of why, why do we teach addition and subtraction tables when they are inverse operations? The same with multiplication and division. Cut the work in half. Teach 3 + 2 = 5 so the student knows not just 3 + 2 = ? but also 3 + ? = 5 and ? + 2 = 5. One fact covers all three situations and cuts out the need to learn the subtraction table.


SOME LINKS AND RECOMMENDED SOFTWARE

With unsafe and unproductive schools, save your child - homeschool!

Email: Mark Willey at pha1941@hotmail.com.