by Andrea Toman: licensed teacher, homeschooling mother of four, and Reasoning Mind Product Support Specialist
When I began working at Reasoning Mind in 2012, I was excited to help the organization pursue its mission to give every child a first-rate math education. As a homeschooling parent of four and an educator (I’m a licensed teacher and also tutored professionally for four years), my excitement was more personal. After having seen what Reasoning Mind’s programs could do, I wanted my children to use them, and my eldest, Jackson, was in second grade—the perfect age to start Reasoning Mind Foundations for elementary school students. I was granted an account for his use, and a teacher account for my own.
Now, 4 years later, Jackson has finished all four grades of the Foundations curriculum and has moved on to Edifice, our Middle School platform. I am excited by his growth in math, but he wasn’t the only person who grew. Going through the Foundations curriculum with him and using the teacher interface to support him, I grew a lot, too—as a homeschooling parent, as a mentor, and as a teacher. As a parent who uses Reasoning Mind programs as a part of my children’s homeschool curriculum, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned while homeschooling with Reasoning Mind Foundations.
1. Set up a Routine, and Stick to It
First, I have found that it is important to set and stick to a routine, so that my children’s learning experiences are regular and consistent. This helps manage expectations and behavior, and it provides a framework for accountability; a routine makes it easier to measure progress regularly and assess if my kids are doing the work that I expect. Our routine involves using Reasoning Mind Foundations daily for about 30 minutes a day. It’s easy for my kids to log in on their own and get started, so I hold them accountable for getting their time in every day. They are responsible for planning their own schedules, but within parameters I help them define. This gives them some autonomy while ensuring the work gets done
2. Set Personalized Homeschooling Goals
It is important to set goals based on your child’s personal strengths and weaknesses. The teacher interface includes several reports that help you keep track of your student’s progress. This includes an “Objective Spreadsheet Report” (which keeps track of which topics your child has completed) and a “Metrics Report” (which keeps track of things like your child’s accuracy, how much time they spend online, etc.). I use both of these regularly to create and monitor goals. I also think it is important that your student is able to monitor their own progress, so I focused on goals that Jackson could control himself and that he could track in the system in his own account. Some of our goals have included accuracy, problems completed, lessons completed, time online, and work on advanced problems. The reporting tools helped set the right kinds of goals—and kept us both on track.
3. Be Ready to Support Your Child’s Learning
I make myself available to my kids, and I aim to be ready to answer their questions. For those questions I don’t know the answers to, I have found that the Interactive Solution and other teacher resources can be helpful. The Interactive Solution works through the problem step by step, which is helpful for my children and often helpful for me, too. Sometimes my explanations are wrong, but any homeschooler will tell you: it’s okay to be wrong, as long as you are humble enough to admit mistakes and correct them. We all learned a lot because of Reasoning Mind!
I also try to be aware of what skills my children have surpassed me in, and use that knowledge to inform my support. I know that my kids can all calculate mentally faster and more accurately than I can now, and I attribute that to the specific training in Foundations to develop mental math skills.
4. Have an End Goal
Finally, I want to encourage you to keep your end goal in mind. My goal is to teach my children to be responsible, independent, and of good character. With Foundations, my students developed responsibility for their own goals, worked independently, and improved soft skills like persistence and grit. I am glad to have found a program that fits our needs and allows us to achieve those goals. And I’m excited to see how Jackson does with the Edifice program for middle school!
About the Author
Since 2008, Andrea Toman has homeschooled her four children. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from University of Mary (Bismarck, ND), and has tutored college level biology and math and 5th grade math. Currently, she works as a Product Support Specialist at Reasoning Mind, providing customer support to current partners. Andrea enjoys learning new things, and sharing her knowledge with others.