Helping Your Child With Homework Using Khanacademy.org
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As I have said before, the internet is a wealth of information; quite frankly it’s hard to quantify the extent of the information available. I was discussing yesterday with a friend, how in the old days, I mean before the Internet, we would be spending our research while at school in the local library, hogging the only available reference book or desperately photocopying pages and pages of information. Today the world is very different for our children, they can simply type in a question, in the Google search bar, and the answered is returned. The problem however is that they look for the answer versus how to do something. That’s where we come in. As a parent, I know one of the many challenges I have, is trying to help my children with their homework. My eldest is now in grade 5, and quite frankly I’m not smarter than a fifth grader when I’m faced with some of the math homework he gets these days.
The other challenge is that I’m not a teacher; there is a fundamental difference between trying to get your child through their homework versus educating them on how to solve the problem. Often, trying to help your child gets so frustrating that you are telling them the answer in the hope they understand by pure chance how you got the answer.
The good news is that a very young intelligent man, Sal Khan, has come up with a solution. Sal Khan has created a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to provide free education to everybody, everywhere. The concept couldn’t be simpler. The site consists of hundreds of short videos, hosted on YouTube, that are mostly mathematics and science-related. Khan has a Masters in electrical engineering and computer science as well as a BS in math from MIT, in addition to an MBA from Harvard business school. In addition to this first-class educational pedigree, though, he has a gift for clarity in his presentation of subjects that are often considered quite difficult. In my world, he is a non-interactive teacher, who knows how to teach you or your Children a subject in a concise way.
The site makes available videos that follow a typical curriculum from basic arithmetic, pre-algebra to algebra, statistics and trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus and right into differential equations and linear algebra. My son is currently learning his times tables, we all did it, we all faced the challenge of how we commit these to memory and can quickly recall them and use them to solve problems. Sal has a video specific to time tables, which follows his introduction to multiplication. I watched my Son in 12 minutes go from tears of frustration to saying the next line of the times table before Sal did. I have now created a playlist of all the videos related to his grade 5 curriculum. When he is stuck on something or has a question my first reaction is “did you looked at the video on khanacademy.org?”.
Now my Son has an additional source of knowledge beyond his teacher, text book and his parents. He now has an invaluable way to learn a subject with which he is struggling with. The first thing he said was “I think I’ll tell my classmates about this”.