COVID-19 has forced many parents to shepherd their kids through a distance-learning education this year.
This glimpse into the homeschool experience is attracting some parents to make the official leap into full-time homeschooling.
Some parents are finding it’s not as expensive as they thought it would be. There are many free and cost-effective tools on the market. Some are finding a unique opportunity to provide their kids with a fully customized learning environment. Kids can finally get the extra attention they need.
But these perks come with their own challenges.
With so much homeschooling content out there, it can be hard to know what’s best for your kids. Should you pick one program for all your kids, or find several options?
And how do you assess your kid’s learning? How do you know whether they’re learning the right material, and retaining that information for the long-term?
No matter what the driving force is behind your decision to homeschool, it can be hard to know where and how to start.
You might be a parent like Lindsay, who has a variety of factors to consider.
She’s a stay-at-home mom to seven kids; her oldest child is almost 13 years old, and her youngest is only three months old.
With so many kids and ages to accommodate, she’s looking for “a great math program that teaches to all levels and learning styles.”
But there’s more.
Lindsay recognizes some signs of ADHD and dyslexia in her daughter Ellie, although she hasn’t received an official diagnosis to confirm it. “We struggle with having tactile learners who do not learn in a typical classroom setting,” she adds.
Though she has reached out to other homeschool families for support, Lindsay says, “We are hoping to find some great resources as we begin this new journey.”
Parents who are trying to find homeschooling studies to guide them are likely to find more questions than answers.
Although parents have been homeschooling kids across the country for decades, there’s still a dearth of data — a lack of plentiful facts that prove what works and what doesn’t.
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education has recognized that critical lack of information and is working to educate parents using the best practices their research has revealed.
Their most consistent finding is the existence of a math gap. They state, “The reasons for [a math gap] are still unclear, but it is likely that math is harder for many parents to teach than reading.
“The existence of a homeschool math gap is not surprising. It is easier for the average parent to teach children to read and let them loose on the library than it is for them to teach a sequential and increasingly challenging math curriculum.
“Few parents are qualified to teach higher-level math, and tutors or community college classes can be expensive.
“In many cases, homeschooled teens are expected to teach themselves algebra or calculus out of a textbook without the aid of any kind of teacher or adult help — something most children likely cannot do successfully.”
In short, “Parents should pay special attention to their children's math education.”
So if you’re a parent struggling to find a math curriculum you can actually teach your kids, you should know your experience is quite common. And, it shouldn’t deter you from pursuing your homeschooling goals.
Many parents opt for a blended learning approach to teaching math. That means you rely on a variety of tools to teach.
For parents like Lindsay, that’s probably the best approach to teach her tactile (or “kinesthetic”) learners. These types of learners rely on physical activities to achieve optimal learning results.
Something as simple as being able to rock in your seat or change which room you’re sitting in altogether can help a tactile learner. Being able to manipulate physical objects is another key aspect of tactile learning.
This tactile type of learning is also well suited for Lindsay’s daughter Ellie, who is likely struggling with ADHD and dyslexia. Tactile activities can provide the variety and stimulation she needs.
And fortunately for Lindsay, Elephant Learning is the math app for kids she can rely on to get her homeschooling process — and her kids — on the right track.
No matter what your math expertise, if you’re homeschooling your kids, you will eventually reach the end of your math teaching abilities. Even if you understand math concepts, you’re probably not trained in math pedagogy.
It’s one thing to understand how to do the math, but it’s an entirely different skill to be able to teach math to kids.
In a June 2020 report, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics outlined “the most effective teaching practices” that were applicable “regardless of in-person, remote, or hybrid instruction.”
Those teaching practices include:
Fortunately for homeschooling parents like Lindsay, Elephant Learning follows these principles in teaching kids math.
Elephant Learning is not a traditional math learning experience for kids. It provides kids games filled with a variety of puzzles they need to solve using mathematical reasoning and problem-solving.
They might be asked to fill in a design (to show a fraction), sort some animated objects (to show multiplication), or drag an animated animal along a number line (to show estimation and number sense).
If they don’t solve the puzzle correctly, they’re encouraged to try again, which emphasizes productive struggle — it’s ok not to get the right answer on the first try.
If they’re struggling to grasp a concept, they can move along to another puzzle. The app will track which concepts need reinforcement and will return to those concepts again in a different game.
Those concepts are attached to goals the app creates and describes in detail as a reference for homeschool parents like Lindsay. She can log in and see which goals are being met, and which goals require assistance.
The app provides Lindsay tactile activities she can play with each kid to reinforce the concepts they need help with. It also coaches her on the right kinds of questions to ask her kids, which facilitates meaningful mathematical discourse that’s age-appropriate for each child.
As a mom of seven kids, Lindsay loves that she’s found one program that can meet each of her kid’s needs, wherever they are in their learning journey.
Her oldest daughter Maddie is tackling math concepts that Lindsay isn’t comfortable teaching. So she can rely on Elephant Learning to teach algebra, and Lindsay can talk with Maddie offline using the Elephant Learning coaching tips.
Lindsay was pleasantly surprised to learn that her 6-year-old daughter Abbie was actually already comfortable doing math at a 7-year-old’s level. Lindsay wouldn’t have known that if it hadn’t been for Elephant Learning’s behind-the-scenes assessment of her math concept understanding. It doesn’t force Abbie to play games based on concepts she already mastered. She can move ahead at her own pace.
Elephant Learning also immediately identified that Annabelle and Cole had missed some critical math concepts. So they were both prompted to revisit some key concepts, which are always presented in the form of fun, challenging puzzle games.
Even though her kids only need to average 30 minutes of playtime per week, they’re enjoying their math learning so much that they’re averaging much more than that.
Each of Lindsay’s kids has mastered at least a year’s worth of math in just a matter of weeks. She can review a progress report on each kid at any time of the day.
And with the help of Elephant Learning, Lindsay is learning how to teach her kids math too.
It’s a powerful teaching tool for kids and parents alike. If you’re a beginner in the homeschooling world, the Elephant Learning math app is an easy, reliable, and affordable option for your family.