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First Things First

Browse a homeschooling catalog, head to a homeschool curriculum fair, or even listen to fellow homeschooling moms, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. There is just so…much…stuff that you can learn! You know the phrase, “There is an app for that!” Today, if there is something to study, there is probably a homeschool resource for that.

Focus on the Foundational Skills

Before you know it, you are trying to cram a hundred different things into your school day, excelling at none of them. Sure, history, science, foreign languages, and music are important for your children to learn. But we need to make sure that we do first things first. Any child who has learned to read and handle basic math excellently has a world opened up to him. And becoming excellent in these areas makes learning everything else so much easier.

So, why are phonics and math so important?

Being able to use these two skills effectively takes a precept-upon-precept approach. Unlike other subjects, which can be taught in a more global fashion, phonics and math need to follow a fairly specific sequence and require a lot of practice.

Phonics instruction gives students the building blocks to read and spell. The knowledge of letter sounds and their relationships within words is essential to mastering the mechanics of reading. Learning math facts and computation improves not only math itself, but also science. Before a child can succeed in chemistry, she will need to understand algebra. Before she can effectively solve algebra problems, she must know her basic math facts by rote. A hit-and-miss approach to phonics and math will show up later as gaps that make learning advanced content much more difficult.

Solid Planning Equals Solid Learning

One way to make sure that reading and math instruction get priority is to schedule them for the best learning time during your day. For many families, this is right away in the morning. Studying reading and math first thing in the morning has the added advantage of making sure that these subjects are covered before the inevitable distractions of the day shove them aside. However, if your student is more awake and ready to learn later in the day, study math and reading skills then.

Since math and phonics take so much repetition, some students find them boring. If this is true of your child, try mixing things up a bit. Games are a fantastic way to teach both math and phonics skills. There are many games that can be played with a deck of cards or a couple of sets of flash cards. A multitude of online games and apps can entertain while reinforcing important skills. Or check out your local library or YouTube for educational videos covering these topics.

Be diligent with making math and phonics skills a priority. One day, when your child is reading Shakespeare or factoring trinomials, you’ll be glad you did.

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

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