We are John-Holt style learn with life kinds of folks. And really, the 14yo learned fraction multiplications mostly in order to make an order and a half of crepes. Most of our curriculum (3/4 of it) is not encompassed in the formal learnings specified below. Most of it is: "Dad, is there really ROY G. BIV". Mom, can I use your camera? How do you spell cyclone? Is bookend a compound word? Are elephants really made out of elements? No, silly dad, that's an archaeopteryx, not a pteranadon. Hey, don't you think it's silly that everyone's talking about Lakers 3peats for 2011 already? So I respecced my Pally protection, and now I'm pulling 10 Mobs at a time. I'm considering whether to change tactics in Modern Warfare 2 to do more sniping and less rushing. I think that I'll have a better chance of beating you at 1-on-1 hoops (dad) if I get better at my outside shots...'cuz I'm faster than you. Is that food healthy? Why do cows eat grass? Is the sun really plasma? -- 2 of the kids cook, and the 3rd helps.
We tried a lot of math options for the 14yo. Back when I was teaching Math to 4th/5th/6th graders, I used Saxon math. I didn't end up liking it. After a substantial amount of research, we switched to Singapore Math. I like their stuff, but I'm a math expert teacher. Their site is hard to use, and their "textbooks" are weak, but I am quite fond of their "primary math" series. After he finished the 6B materials...he was able to do everything that a normal US kid does before algebra, but wasn't having an easy enough time of it.
Aretae's theory of Math learning (1000+ hours of math tutoring K-16 + somewhat over 1000 hours of math teaching elementary ages) is that ALL math instruction problems are primarily insufficient SPEED at a previous step. If you can't run multiplication in your head, you can't do long division and have it make sense. If you can't factor numbers in your head, you can't do decent fraction problems. If math facts aren't instant, basic algebraic manipulations (2x + 3 = 17) take too long to do..and you never learn the patterns. Algebraic fractions, quadratic factoring, the fundamental theorem of calculus, Integration over the complex half-plane....it's all the same thing. How fast are you at the prior step. Can you do it in your head?
So I picked up (like 10 years ago) the best math-speed software on the planet (at least until my site is fully operational) ... the quarter mile. I've been using this math practice software on my students since no later than 1992 (well before I had kids...on school apple 2s), and it works. In addition, a bunch of teen boys from my homeschooling group said: hey, we want to learn math...so every week, I attend homeschooling group, and the teen boys (and now their sisters who were attending high school, but it's summer) come spend an hour in my math class (my boy does too).
My homeschool math class was:
1. Math facts...learn them to high speeds. I would print out a math worksheet (Mixed problems, 1-10, +-*/,)
2. Multi-digit problems.
3. Fractions -- intuitives.
4. Decimals and percents real fast.
Focus was on intuitives in Math...mostly what can you do in your head, what can you understand...not so much what can you calculate (though we did that too).
5. Factoring games with math -- Crash Boom Bang (go around the table counting...if it's divisible by 3, don't say the number, say Crash instead. 4-Boom, 5-Bang...if it's 12, say crash-boom. mild competition between kids is good.) I cannot say enough about how real math folks tend to think of numbers significantly by their factors...and how good this game is at training you to think that way.
6. Assorted other math ideas ... Binary, Ternary numbers. Find all the primes to 100. Factor all the numbers to 50. Group activities, often, but also some worksheets.
I spent (usually) <1 hour...1x a week or less for 6-9 months, and when I started, they didn't know their multiplication facts. The kids just started Algebra last week. Why? 88% because they asked me, and wanted to do it. 8% because they're smart kids. 4% because I'm so awesome.
Kid 2 -- 6 -- Singapore Math Primary 2B -- at will, for fun. she adds, subtracts 2 digit numbers in her head. Key word: ten-stick.
Kid 3 -- 4 -- Singapore Math -- Primary 1B -- For fun, but less often than the 6yo. He isn't so good on paying attention to details that don't matter to him at that moment...and like the other boy...he gets things wrong on purpose a lot...to keep your expectations low. Funny to watch him count correctly, then say the wrong answer on purpose...and "guess" every number but the right one. The whole "you must get the answer right" thing that schoolkids learn...neither of my boys have it. They have: "it makes people happy to get to explain stuff to you", or "who gives a *%&". It frustrated the hell out of me on kid 1. I'm mostly recovered now that kid 3 does it.
Kid 1 -- 14 -- lots of eclectic choices, lots of reading to him. 1/2-1/3 chapter a night of 6 Harry Potter books in a row, and part of #7. Artemis Fowl. Books on tape, with the associated reading book. Hank the Cowdog. Everquest. DAoC. WoW. Now he reads silly amounts of pokemon fanfic, recently lots of basketball reviews. Also WoW news, instance strategies...some nonfiction. In order to demonstrate progress for his dad, we're not quite following unschooling like we normally would, and so he now reads 60 pages of something new each day. No other reading rules...Though he doesn't always remember to get new books, he gets stuck with my Heinlein juveniles, and the decent lit we have laying around the house. Vorkosigan soon. But he's really a non-fiction kind of guy. Supply of science, basketball nonfiction would keep him happy.
Kid 2 -- 6 -- started addressing reading late...only after she wanted to. Zig's book. Made it to lesson 15. Was NOT working at all. Quit. McGuffey readers. She's through half of the 2nd grade book, which a lot of 4th graders couldn't read. If we wanted to, she could blow through it in a week, but she's not in a hurry...and she reads everything that comes near her now anyhow. Her spelling for her text messaging is kinda weak, but she understands effectively anything you write back to her. She also can now read the text for her level 20 Hunter in WoW....
Kid 3 -- 4 -- Tried McGuffey for 3 months. No dice. Zig's book is rocking the world. Kiddo is reading notably, and excited about it after only lesson 5. He'll probably be fine at reading by lesson 20.
Kid2+3 -- lots of reading to the kids.
Kid 1 -- 250 words a day some weeks. Choice of topic -- usually game or video review. Also some weeks, 1000 word book reviews. Sometimes, instead of book reviews, 1 page summaries of something he's reading, written out. Longhand-style handwriting practice. His handwriting is as bad as mine. Cursive, we ignore.
Kid 2 -- supply pencils and paper -- try not to get buried under the volumes produced.
Kid 3 -- some letter writing practice when he wants to. Many fun things to encourage it.
Kid 1 -- Cartoon history of the world. He loves it. We're moving onto volume 3. Cartoon History of Econ soon also.
Kid 1 -- Write 1 WoW macro a day -- full stop. it's a 3-6 month process of getting used to issuing commands to a computer that can be reused. Since he has 4 level 80s, and I have 2 (that he plays), there's a lot of room for macros. After his summer break, he'll be writing (with the assistance of a book) small add-ons. Also, historically, we've participated in the lego robotics competition, played around with Logo + Scratch. Next year, we're going to build a website (mostly from scratch).
Most of the rest of the curriculum is:
- Membership at most museums in greater Chicagoland.
- Membership at the Zoo
- Membership at the Aquarium
- Membership at the Arboretum.
- Library cards
- Sports + Dance + etc. teams + swim lessons
- Arts 'n Crafts 'n sports 'n hangouts at the 2+ homeschool group meetups each week + at home.
- 12' trampoline, basketball hoop, bikes, 1 mile walk to town.
- They Might Be Giants songs + videos.
- Assorted Field Trips + classes
- Until recently, Travel.