I have spoke with a few moms that have had the same rough start with Abeka that we initially experienced.  Abeka is an excellent, well written, effective, high standard program.  It can be used in schools, or at home.  The program is very similar to a regular 8-5 school day.  No two children are alike, so learning how to make your curriculum work for you child can be challenging, especially when you like "school" at home, but are aware that it isn't necessarily working for your child. 

Using trial and error, I found a way to use the program in the way it was intended WITHOUT exasperating my child.  I hope if our version looks like it would solve a discouragement in your home, that we will save you the time and heartache of trial and error.  :-)

A little background...  I could put Emily in front of Abeka DVD instruction and she would graduate with honors.  She is easy to teach and doesn't mind to learn information that doesn't necessarily matter to her at this point in her life.  She is like me; she just likes information.  Jbear on the other hand would be perfectly happy to play legos all day everyday.  Now, that doesn't mean his is unintelligent, or doesn't learn.  It just means learning information on a topic not of his choosing is boring to him.  Now, I understand that telling him WHY what he is learning is important.  Gotcha... Got that down...  but that does not increase interest beyond civil behavior.  He is they type of child that has to be tricked into learning with clever ideas, and some fun games.  HA!  To his future wife: trickery is the key!  Works on his dad!  Just kidding :-) 

I think there is this unspoken pressure we put on ourselves to see
immediate results in home educating our children.  People, whether
they admit it or not, are constantly questioning our ability to "pull
off" home educating.  We feel that we have to PROVE ourselves, when
the only One who's approval that believers should seek is our Heavenly
Father.  He formed our children in the womb.  He knows them much
better than we ever will.  If we move at a pace that pleases the Lord...
that should be our plan.  Now, don't put words in God mouth... what he
wants, he says in His Word.  A verse we use often in our home is Ephesians
6:4, Father's don't exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the
training and instruction of the Lord.  That is why I often use the word
exasperate.  When the Lord laid that passage on my heart, I realized that I
regularly EXASPERATED my children by trying to make them who I wanted them to
be... to prove MY SUCCESS to others.  If they are above Grade level then I
will be ACCEPTED AND APPROVED.  Wow, sounds like a me monster in
there, huh!
Here is what we came up with for our Math time.
In the Teacher's Manual there is suggested time lengths to spend on each topic.  What I found myself doing was continuing on with each topic until it was mastered, DAILY.  A 40 min math instruction became 2 hours, REGULARLY.  Don't do this...  a house isn't built in a day.  It is totally okay to take more than one day to learn the multiples of 4.  This pressure crushed not only their spirit, but mine as well.  By allowing myself to STOP when the allotted time is up regardless if it is mastered, I don't exasperate the kids. 

So, setting limits was our 1st step.  Prompted by how we organize our time in Classical Conversations, I wrote my plan down on the white board.  As we complete each drill, I mark it off.  This helps Jbear to see that THE END IS NEAR!  ha!  He knows that there is a staring point and a stopping point.  He needs this.  Not every child needs this.  This has seriously changed our lives.  It is a way that he can SEE what I expect of him, without needing to be verbally reminded... over, and over, and over. 

Another way we had to adjust Abeka Arithmetic is this:  My children did not learn how to skip count with every number 1-12 during the years they were in public school.  The Abeka program teaches at a young age and assumes that your child can already skip count, thus, mastering multiplication fact VERY SWIFTLY!  With both children, we elected to take a 10 day break from our traditional math to use Math Wrap-Ups to master multiplication facts.  Whether you like it or not, upper level math is much easier if you have basic facts memorized.  Don't be afraid to move away from the Teacher's Manual.  You seriously don't need a manual to teach basic math, it just eliminates having to plan that subject yourself.  I like the prep time that it saves me.

This sheet of paper is the only "calculator" my kids are allowed to use.  Thought I'd throw that in there for anyone who had a mini heart attack when they saw the word calculator on the whiteboard.

I'm not crazy about all the games listed in the Abeka guide.  They seem more group friendly to me.  So, we use flashcards, or write on the whiteboard, or use chalk on the sidewalk.  Manipulatives are always fun, too.  Pinterest always has fun math games.  I don't always use "fun" ways to teach Math, but when we need a fun boost then I do.  I have a friend who's child panics under timed learning.  This method would not be a good idea.  She and I think frequent easy games are a great way to make Math enjoyable.  A game idea we were just kicking around the other day was to use base 10 blocks (ones block, tens block, etc)  to make oral drills more enjoyable. (10+5+23+8=)  Let me stress again... Pinterest has more ideas than you could ever imagine.

For other subjects, here is what I used to review the 8 parts of speech.  I used this in the Classical Conversations class I tutor, too. 

Here is an activity that we used today, and will use again tomorrow.  We reviewed the definition of verbs today and began with Action Verbs.  As we work through each type of verb, the kids will write examples on each paper and give the verb it's name, "linking verb."  My purpose is that they will continually review each type of verb and visually recognize the difference between each one.  All it took was a marker and sheet of paper... easy!  I am sure A.J. will draw all over them, as well!

Hopefully, everyone is finding their groove for this school year.  Use the outdoors to your advantage!  It's Fall soon, start counting leaves.  This Winter, write in the snow with water and food coloring.  Next Spring, teach math facts when you plant your garden.  4 rows times 8 columns equals how many plants...  Next Summer, who knows!?!  Allow yourself to enjoy this time with your children.  If it is exasperating...  reach out to a trusted homeschool friend... bounce ideas off each other... be honest.  The grass is not greener on the other side, you just need to learn how to take care of your own grass. :-)  Once again... I refuse to proofread this and it may be evident...


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