Using a Game to Bring Focus to Homeschool

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It’s kind of funny that I’m doing a homeschooling post because I barely consider myself a homeschool mom. You have to understand that my daughter is unusually brilliant. I know, everyone thinks their kid is smart, but we’re having her tested in November and we’re actually considering putting her in a gifted program. Kayla started reading when she was three years old. Since then, I’ve pushed her a little to read, using charts and incentives, at least in the beginning. It’s unnecessary now; she loves it so much, she’s always reading.

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I think it’s kind of funny, because it makes me look like I’m one of THOSE moms, total perfectionist, who pushes my kids to succeed, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Because my husband, who works a full-time job, decided Kayla needed to start schooling early because she showed signs of promise, I reluctantly agreed to homeschool her. Not that I’m against it, I’m just pretty busy.
So at this point, I’m seriously doing about thirty minutes to an hour of homeschool, sometimes longer, about three days a week. Kayla is currently soaring through the first grade. She turns five in a few days. It’s not me, it’s her.

But I’m pretty sure by now you’re thinking, good Lord, woman, get to the subject at hand! The game! Spill the details! Sorry. Couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag on my girl. And seriously, I’m surrounded by very small children all day, so when I have a captive virtual audience, I kinda want to tell my story a little to people who get it on an adult level. So thanks for listening.

So Kayla’s been struggling with math. Not because it’s hard for her. She can solve most of the problems easily in her head. But for some reason, she thinks it’s hard, and has difficulty focusing. A few days ago we did math and it took her around an hour and a half just to finish one page.

But I know my girlLZLD1419, and I know what she needs. She needs me to mix it up with a little fun. She is only FOUR, for crying out loud. So I wasn’t planning on doing math today, since it’s summer and all, I thought I could give her a break, but when I told her what I had in mind, she begged me to do it.

This is all I did. I taped three pieces of construction paper together. I then used her school book as a ruler to draw straight lines for the roads, designing them to cross over once for fun. I added the dotted middle line to make it look realistic. I drew a finish line at the end. Then I added intermittent stickers on the road, the same amount on each side.

Game design complete. I would then give her a time limit to finish a problem, or series of problems, like, say, 60 seconds. The first time is a trial run to see how much time she actually needs. We had two hot wheels cars, one for each track. Every time she completed the set of problems in the allotted time, she was allowed to advance to the next sticker. Every time she didn’t, the other car advanced to the next sticker. When she made it to the finish line, I gave her a bowl of ice cream.

The end result was no whining, no pencils “dropped” on the floor, and it took her about fifteen minutes to complete an unprecedented thirty-six math problems. This game’s a keeper. Until she gets bored of it and makes me create another one …





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