Jump to content



  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by 4KookieKids

  1. After attending a spelling bee yesterday, my kids decided that they want to study for a spelling bee. I already have the word list, but I want them to do this on their own, if at all, because I'm not up for adding something else into what I need to do. I'm not convinced that just writing them or normal spelling apps where you *write* the word are going to give them the best practice.

    I think that what I really want is something like an app where you can record/input your words, then the app will say it for the kid, then *record* the kid spelling it, and then replay what the kid just spelled while showing them the spelling so that they can check themselves. I don't suppose something like this exists, does it? OR even an app that would record your spelling and turn it into letters (like a speech recognition thing) and check it for you and show you your errors and then say it correctly for you.

    (We have a similar app for speech therapy, where it says a word, records you while you say it, and then plays the recording for you while you evaluate how well you said the word.)

    My brother is an app developer and would happily would make one for me IF nothing like this exists and there were actually a good market for it. But I'm not convinced that something doesn't already exist, and I'm really not convinced there's a market for it. It's just that *I* want this app. lol. Any ideas? I'm really not interested in games that just have you type out the word.

  2. 12 hours ago, Gil said:


    A lot of the commentary online about grad school and especially a phD can be self-depreciating or negative. There are tons of blogs, forums, instances of people stating how miserable life is for grad students or how unending graduate studies are. Or how it's so difficult to be married/a parent and a grad school student. Or how it ruins you financially, etc. Since he's curious about graduate school, that's not the sort of stuff that I what I want him reading/hearing while he's exploring it out of genuine personal interest. If he decides against graduate school, I want it to be based on what he thinks he wants or doesn't want.

    Unfortunately, talking with some grad schools and grad students it the same. I visited grad schools where the grad culture really was, "Well, life stinks, we're dirt poor, we work a ton, faculty don't value us, I'm not publishing as fast as anyone wants me to be, but - that's grad school, right? At least we're old enough to go out drinking now to temporarily forget how much my life stinks." (followed by feeble chuckles.) Needless to say, I did not pursue those programs. 

    So make sure whatever mentors you find don't have those same feelings or expectations! 🙂 You want him being assured that grad school is really great! Super fun to work on hard math with others who *also* find it fun! Research is super fun because who doesn't like coming up with new math that no one has ever figured out?! You get to do math for ALL your classes and don't have to take dumb gen-ed's (though you may still have to take math classes that aren't your favorite, of course...)! And you get paid to do it, to boot. 🙂 Grad school really is great!

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1
  3. 7 hours ago, square_25 said:


    I was a contest kid, so I'll note that I'm biased ;-). 


    I was not a contest kid, so hopefully we can present a well-rounded picture. 🙂 
    Seriously, though - my transcripts were rarely requested if I happened to mention my putnam ranking. I did a total of two putnams and that was my *only* experience with any sort of math contest.

    • Like 1
  4. Yes, those basics you mentioned are pretty foundational to most undergrad degrees, though not all are four year long classes. Depending on where you go to grad school, though, many expect more (and not just big name schools). Some schools are more willing to work with students from lower end UG programs, so long as they show potential (e.g., excellent GRE subject scores and fabulous recommendations can sometimes off-set having had only a semester of abstract algebra and a semester of linear algebra, for example). I found that GRE subject test  and Putnam scores were more of a "thing" than I expected them to be when applying to grad school. I guess I didn't expect them to carry the weight that they did.

    I went to a relatively small UG school, and the teachers bent over backwards to help me get into the classes I wanted in to. So after I did a year of UG algebra, they let me take the grad level algebra course there. But it was a small enough school, that their grad level algebra course was only slightly more extensive than the UG algebra course at the grad school I ended up at. So I came out with an impressive looking resume, especially since I graduated in three years, but it wasn't nearly as impressive as it looked! lol. 

    As for money -- you just have to make it through UG, and (at least where I live) state schools have very generous financial aid / merit scholarships (some of the more generous in the country, I think, since an ACT of 32 gets you completely free tuition, I think?). But, I think the rule of thumb with math is that grad school shouldn't cost you money: most offer you a "standard" package where you teach a course or two each semester in exchange for them covering all tuition, health insurance, and a monthly stipend. Here's where some grad school culture comes in again: I have a friend who went to school in Cali where the stipend was barely enough to cover renting a room with 8 other guys in a house, and he was pumped about it. Where I ended up going, the stipend was enough to live comfortably in a nice 2 BR apartment with just one other roommate (and a number of my classmates had their own apt without a roommate). 

    With his interest in geometry, I wonder if he's ever pursued algebraic geometry and/or algebraic topology? He's need to have a good foundation in algebra first (the kind commonly called modern or abstract), but there are some really cool topic there that have pretty cool applications that young folks might like (like algebraic curves being used as a public key system in cryptography that is an alternative to the ubiquitous RSA system). 

    Also, DEFINITELY don't underestimate getting him involved in research young! There are some pretty awesome research programs out there, even for undergrads just getting started (e.g.,  the Director's summer program at the NSA), and I feel like THE biggest thing that grad schools want to see is that students understand what research actually is and are interested in doing it. I don't know how the age thing would work with summer programs, but I definitely think a local UG dept would be able to work with you on coming up with a research plan and mentor, even if he's not an UG student, yet.

    • Like 2
  5. I have a PhD in pure mathematics and I'm always happy to answer anything I can, but I have never heard of a book about what grad school is like. In particular, the grad schools I visited before deciding where to attend were SO vastly different in their expectations of students (much more so than undergrad programs), that I'm not sure how helpful a book would be. It was eye opening to visit prospective schools and go out to eat with grad students and just listen as they talked - you could tell a lot about the departmental culture based on a single meal. :)  I finished grad school in 2010, so I may quickly be becoming dated, though! lol.

    • Like 2
  6. 13 hours ago, exercise_guru said:

    Just a heads up they are discontinuing these pencils and closing them out at staples ( $3 a pack) the new ones look like this. find. Papermate Handwriting triangular pencils They look kidish and say "handwriting on them" I fear they ruined a good thing. My son likes the old ones so I bought as many packs as I could


    Oh that's awful! Just awful! *I* like writing with these (seriously - I was just glowing to my dd's violin teacher this afternoon when dd pulled one out because I love that the lead never breaks and the teacher was like WHAT! THAT'S AMAZING! I BREAK SO MUCH LEAD!! We had a real moment there... lol). But I'm not sure even *I* would really enjoy using these new ones that looks so ridiculous. 😞 I'm glad we bought 20 packs last year when the price dipped (to add to the 5 packs we already had previously...) I believe we have close to 200 of them, but maybe I should go buy more anyway!!

  7. We did content for some things, but I chose content that they kid could reasonably finish in 10-15 minutes, and only took longer if they were goofing off.
    But we always did time for stuff like reading or instruments, because I'd rather they do those slowly but well than rush through.

    We don't bother trying to make things up if we miss a day. They're little. We aim for 4 days/week of "school", but usually end up with about two "normal" school days and two more "half days" (where we end up only having the afternoon to do school and we're already tired, so we do a very light version of school -- mostly instruments and some reading). It's worked out for us so far, but I realize we'll probably have to be more rigorous eventually. My oldest is only 9.5 right now. 🙂

    • Like 1
  8. We're visiting out-of-town family for Christmas and it turns out that they have an autism/sensory community store here, so we went and checked it out yesterday. One of my kids with high anxiety/emotional/sensory issues (ironically, not my asd kiddo) tried on a weighted compression vest, and very visibly relaxed, and just kept telling me over and over again that it felt like a really calming, tight hug and it just felt so good. She already has a weighted blanket that has helped her sleep and I know she uses weights around her shoulders during OT and vision therapy because the therapists say she is way calmer and more focused with a weight on, but I'm wondering how one would use a vest like this, if we were to invest in one? On the one hand, it's a bit pricey to buy just because it "feels nice," and yet I don't want to underestimate that "feels nice" might be all she can articulate, even if there's something more going on. She's very fashion-forward, so I doubt that she'd actually wear it out in public. Do people use them only for certain activities? Only when the kid gets worked up? Whenever the kid wants to?  I guess I just don't know much about these vests, and all I've ever heard about are weight blankets, so I'm looking for any information/pros/cons/etc. 

  9. 6 minutes ago, Lecka said:

    This was something that clicked for me when I heard it.....

    Some kids have more or less executive functioning skills.

    Kids who have less will need more structure.  They will need more help in planning and organizing what they do, and in completing things.  

    It took a lot of the mystery out of things to think of it that way.  


    Oh geez. I just stared at the screen for a full minute before I could figure out what to write.
    That really does make sense. My kids with the worst EF skills are the ones who melt down the worst when I give them more freedom/play time and the ones who do best with a strict schedule. (Unfortunately, they're also the ones most likely to cause hiccups by staying in the bathroom an extra hour or something silly like that...) Maybe I'll revisit my smart but scattered book as I think about how to structure our 2019...

    • Like 1
  10. 4 hours ago, OKBud said:

    I'm going to be really honest with you, even though it makes me sound some kind of not-great way... After several years of  wanting to be flexible, with kids who go bananas  when I "stay flexible" and "open to opportunities," and compromising by being all about our routine (as opposed to our schedule), and having my kids still internalize the routine as if it were a schedule...

    The conclusion I have come to is that, really, they just need to do what I tell them to do when I tell them to do it. 

    My older kids (11 and 9 right now) seriously don't understand the difference between a routine and a schedule. It's too nuanced a distinction for them. And the moment we don't do something we were "supposed to do," when we were "supposed to do it," they go totally off the rails and flick the 'off' switch in their minds. At that point, the expectation that work time is over and playtime has begun comes from a deep, irrepressible place inside of them and it can not be squelched by carrot nor by stick. And of course, they feed off of one another's energy.

    Sooooo for most of this past year I have directed my efforts toward just getting them to do what I tell them to do when I tell them to do it, without making a federal case about every little thing. I am pleased to be able to tell you that they're 95% of the way there. Uh, let's say one kid is 98% and the other is about 86% LOL. A few times in November, we were even able to go out of the house for fun stuff all morning, and then do school work in the afternoon with good spirits. This may sound like NBD to others, but I'm telling you, my kids were practically addicted to putting their time into boxes. Work box or fun box. Work box happened in the am in a particular sequence, or not at all. 

    All of that to say... honestly, neither schedule nor routine. We just needed some old-fashioned obedience.

    I love our routine. But I am an adult and I can roll with the punches to a certain degree and then just jump back into the stream of our routine midway, after a disruption, and just get on with it. My kids have ADD and simply can't do that yet. So now they better understand that they don't need to watch the clock or remember what comes after what. They truly just need to do what I say. Obviously they resisted this, but now they're so much more relaxed. And they aren't so antsy to get school work done so that they can go play. 


    Hmmm... I'll need to think about this more. This might be more of what my kids needs.

    6 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

    What grade is the 9 yr old in? My just turned 9 yr old is in 3rd. She spends about 3 1/2 hrs on focused work. She spends 45 mins reading silently per day. I read her history and and science.


    He's also in 3rd. He has about 2.5 hours of academics a day (including reading), 3 hrs if you include piano. He can do all but 45 minutes independently, except that he has a difficult time writing, so I often end up scribing for him during math even though he doesn't need my help for the actual math (when he writes non-math, he's learning to use google voice-typing to help with writing and we're addressing the writing separately). 

  11. 2 hours ago, nixpix5 said:

    I cannot imagine having a loose schedule with my kids as they are hard working and settled with routine but get lazy and irritable if I keep things too loose. This allows the best of both worlds for us. 


    This is something I identify with, but struggle to articulate, I guess. I'm more of a relaxed, go-with-the-flow person usually, but my kids have really turned that upside down for me. It's really annoying that they get so irritable and quarrelsome when I give them more space/time/freedom to do their own thing (particularly my older kids). It goes against everything I *want* to be true. 😛 

    • Like 3
  12. I'd like to hear pros and cons of having a daily schedule (tied to the clock), having a routine (same daily structure, but not necc tied to a clock), and being more flexible. In particular, if you do best with one of these methods, but your kids maybe do best with a different one? Does a daily schedule necessarily mean you only do subjects for a certain amount of time, but you need more of a routine if they have to do a certain task/amount of work each day (e.g., 10 min math/day vs. 2 pages math/day)? How do you deal with every day hiccups (e.g., "You spent the last hour on the toilet?!" or "You just spent your entire half hour of piano practice time finding your piano book?" --> Aside: we keep all the music books on the same shelf!!) when it's always something different, so you can't predict what it is? I'm struggling to find my groove these days (my kids are 9, 7, 5, and almost 4, and at least three of them are 2E). I lean towards being flexible, my kids *want* to be flexible but do *best* when structured rigidly (attitude-wise: they're just happier and more content when on a schedule), but the daily hiccups always throw off a more rigid schedule. 

    • Like 2
  13. 1 hour ago, OKBud said:


    This is an older thread, but I agree with Monica here. However, I've been in the place where even though I already knew all of this to be true, and I was doing it, *I* needed something that felt official and real. Plans are comforting in times of distress. 

    In hindsight, I *really* needed a babysitter. Alas, having some kind of academic road to go down was far cheaper and easier to justify. 

    I hope the OP's family member got some R&S or Kumon wb's, Starfall and Sesame St. and had a great year 🙂 

    @4kookiekids, I always wanted reading eggs but never had the scratch for it. My kids loved Starfall though. Even though I'm still under the impression that Reading Eggs is nicer than Starfall, I can't imagine that my children could have possibly gotten more out of it than they did Starfall. And, never having had it, they never got it in their heads that they enjoyed one over the other. Starfall was the only computer game they were allowed for a long time. 


    Yeah, I knew it was an older thread, but my question didn't really seem like a "new" one when this thread was still pretty high up on the list - I'm never really sure when to start a new thread and when to piggyback off of a related one. 🙂  I'd agree that a babysitter for 1-2 hours a day for my littles would be ideal. But that's not a possibility for us right now, so I just need to make due filling that 1-2 hrs with some quiet time, some busy bag time, and some screen time.

    Thanks for the feedback on starfall! 🙂

  14. Can anyone weigh in on ABCmouse vs Starfall? We already have DragonBox, but we're looking for something else that's fun, relatively inexpensive, and covers a wide range of stuff. DH saw an ad for a year of abcmouse for $45 and says it'd cover both of my littles (who are 3.5 and 5). I would love if abcmouse adjusted levels automatically (like prodigy), but it doesn't seem like that's the case, right? Like, you can take their assessments, but you still put your child at a certain level and they stay there until you move them up? Are there any other apps that are an everything-rolled-into-one sort of thing? Reading, math, whatever else is good for this age? I just need a little extra time each day working with my 2E big kids, beyond what quiet times and busy bags can buy me, and it needs to be relatively peaceful (i.e., I don't want to be interrupted constantly  because they're playing off on their own and fighting and beating each other up the whole time...)

  15. 18 minutes ago, Lecka said:

    I wonder if it would help to stuff cotton in?  Or tape over the end?  I know what you mean by the lead falling out.  

    We use Ticonderoga pencils right now.  My kids are fine right now, but my oldest used to always break the lead in mechanical pencils, he would press too hard.  He used to only be able to write with dull smudgy pencils that would not break on him, and he would be afraid to sharpen them, and let them get really dull and smudgy.  

    He has gotten better though, and my other kids don’t press too hard, or really have the same kind of problems with pencils.  

    I have always preferred mechanical pencils for myself, though, they are not as scratchy to me.  

    I shouldn't complain too much, because the lead is thick enough that you can really only fit one extra into the barrel for a total of two. 🙂 

    I think my kids would just pick off tape or something like that. But hopefully, it becomes less of an issue as my kids get bigger!

    • Like 1
  16. 2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

    I'm an eraser snob, so I use Pink Pearl erasers if I'm going to erase. :smile:



    The issue with the erasers is not that I need a better eraser... It's that I hate only being able to fit one piece of lead in because any others will fall out without an eraser to keep them in.... 🙂

    • Like 1
  17. DS9 is taking his first standardized test next year, and I'm hoping for a smooth ride without too much stress over it. I'm hoping he can also start taking the reins a bit more. He does most of his work independently at this point, but it's mostly the very basic things like math and reading. He's super into robotics and reads lots of books on it, but I think both of us need to figure out how to turn that into more productive time. He really wants to be building stuff and programming it, but I just don't have the time with three younger kids.

    DD7 is *starting* to develop some frustration tolerance... I'd love to see her be able to work through something for at least five minutes of struggling, rather than just walking away the first time something goes awry. She seems to have a gift for music, and I want to nurture that, but she's also very mercurial. Her sight for next year is set on auditioning for the local Nutcracker performance, since she'll finally be old enough.

    DD5 really wants to learn how to read, but has been getting the shaft as I deal with DD7's dyslexia and the EF problems (emotional regulation, organization, etc.) that the older two kids have. She thrives on 1-1 time with me, and I want to do better about giving it to her. My main goal for her is to get her reading fluently. She's got great phonics skills, she just needs practice so that she doesn't have to painstakingly sound out every single word. She is also very determined to get her cartwheel perfect and figure out a kick-over and handstand by next summer, so she can do an acro class with the "big girls" at her dance school.

    DD3 just loves those silly kumon books that are completely overpriced except that they're such nice paper to write on... She got two for an early Christmas gift, and sat down and finished them both already (without me!) 😞  I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with her, yet. I'd let her tag along with dd5, but dd5 really needs the individual time. I may kill two birds with one stone by getting dd7 to "do school" with dd3, and help teacher her to read, hopefully cementing some of her own dyslexia remediation.

    As a family, we hope to go camping more. At least one weekend trip each month (not camping in the winter, though!!), and really focus on making memories as a family and being intentional about spending time together. We may look for a different home, since we're starting the foster care certification process. There's lots that we're hoping to do, but my main goals really would be to see my kids grow more like Christ and to learn to handle whatever life throws at them (with the help of family, of course. 🙂 )

    • Like 2
  18. On 12/4/2018 at 3:04 AM, kiwik said:

    Am I the only one who thinks all these rules makes something quite simple into something incredibly complex?

    I thought that way at first. But I also have a kid who's a real "rule follower", and the silent e drove him batty (until we came across Spalding -- though we did add our own "informal" rule 6, which is non-plural words than end in an s sound, so the silent e helps us know it's not plural, like house, mouse, noise, etc. instead of calling all of those "no job" e's). He couldn't stand words like give and have when the only rule he'd been taught was the rule about making a first vowel say its name. He just hated it. It was a constant pitfall in his reading. Same with lots of other "standard" phonics stuff. Once I gave him rules, he was a much, much happier child, and went from struggling with basic readers to reading quality chapter books in about four months. My next child, on the other hand, is completely overwhelmed by all the rules and needs something else. To each their own. 🙂

    • Like 1
  19. We love the 1.3mm ones! Even my 2 yo writes without breaking lead! The only down side for us is the lack of eraser refills. I contacted the company about it numerous times, and they refused to sell me any. I even offered to buy them in bulk, a few thousand at a time (I figured I could split it into lots and share with others who love these pencils), but they refused.

    They went on sale for $2 a while back, and I think I bought 15-20 packs, so we have a LOT of these pencils now and love them. Oddly enough, my 7 yo prefers normal non-mechanical pencils.

    • Like 1
  20. 4 hours ago, dmmetler said:

    My first thought is "for everyone to be mentally, physically, and psychologically healthy and balanced". Can you tell that the last few weeks have been pretty awful???? Sigh....


    Hear, hear.

    We've made a ton of progress this year, I feel, but it's not academic in nature or objective to measure. DS9 with ASD has learned with about 80-90% accuracy, to identify when he's getting overwhelmed and overstimulated, and even better, to actually *do* something about it by asking for a break and going to a quiet, calm spot. He's also flown through a year of grammar curriculum in the last 6 weeks and started AoPS Pre-A while simultaneously finishing up BA this past year, but it's the mindfulness that I'm most proud of. My other kids have their own accomplishments that I'm proud of, but it's so hard for me to set specific, measurable goals for us, because I feel like about the time I do set some, something more important or more pressing pops up (like this past year, when we had significant enough issues that our ped wanted to put my 6 yo on anti-psychotics...)

    • Like 1
  • Create New...