Welcome To A Teacher In Your Corner

Before I began teaching,I spent my evenings tutoring my son who had a learning disability. I had no teaching material and so learned to use things out of my kitchen to teach the concept. When I began teaching,I continued to use household items to illustrate the lesson. This site will give you ideas on how to use everyday items to help your child master a difficult concept.

Whether you are home-schooling or just helping your child complete homework, this site will be helpful.


Teaching geography can be one of the most boring episodes of your life.  It is difficult to convey to a child that the picture on the map or globe represents a country.  Asking him to memorize the position of the countries is about as enjoyable as a root canal.

One physical education teacher wanted to help the academic teachers.  He named different zones in the gym as continents and hung a picture to represent each. Then when sending the students to a zone, he would announce the continent.  Instead of saying "Go to the back left corner," he said, "Go to Africa."  The students not only learned the names of the continents, but also the shape of each.  

How can you use this in your classroom or homeschool?   What if you renamed different rooms in your house and placed a cut-out of a continent, country, or state on the door?   If you sent your son or daughter to New York instead of their room, they would soon associate the name of the state with the shape.  Try starting with the continents, then move to countries on that continent.  Be sure to couple the geography with the culture of the country.  For young children, learn games the children of the country play.  For all children learn about the food of the nation.  It is possible to combine geography, social studies, cultural studies, and science (cooking) into these lessons.  Most of all, make sure the children have a good time.

History Versus History

I receive email from several homeschool parent groups.  They share information and ideas about curriculum, teaching tools, and basically meeting the needs of their children in the homeschool environment.  Recently one parent asked about teaching History.  Who among us has not sat through a history class where we were forced to memorize the dates of explorations?  Boring!! In my opinion absolutely the worst way to teach history.  Some of us have been fortunate to have some really good history teachers who managed to make it interesting.  How?  The same way mankind did before he started writing.  They told the story.  No we didn't sit around a campfire like they did back then.  We were sitting in desks, but we were listening to a story.

It was suggested that the history channel on television would be a good resource for teaching history.  Then an email warned parents of the inaccuracies of the history channel. The writer suggested that the parents should watch with the students and discuss the accuracies of the report.  I am going to add to that thought.

I would suggest that the student make a chart for the subject being studied.  This could be done on the computer with excel so it can be changed when needed.  The student could watch the history channel and make a column of the information depicted in the show.  Using the computer and reference books, research that subject making a column of the information found.  By the end of the chart the student should be able to see which source was the most reliable.  I am giving an example below.  The chart is 100% fictional and intended to show how to make the chart, not actually information.

Texas Independence

History Channel                    www.website www.website2
Santa Anna came to negotiate with Texans Santa Anna came to discipline Texans Santa Anna came to defeat Texans
The first battle was at Goliad The first battle was at Anahuac The first battle was in Galveston
Santa Anna was killed in the war Santa Anna was taken prisoner Santa Anna was taken prisoner


At times we have to teach something besides academics.  How do you teach things like social skills and empathy?  Teaching those is harder than academics.  Why?  Because there is no grade.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It is very difficult for anyone, much less students, to recognize how their behavior was inappropriate.

When I taught Adaptive Behavior Unit, a special education class of emotionally disturbed students, we faced inappropriate behavior and lack of empathy daily.  There were constant remarks to intimidate and humiliate other students.  These were defensive tactics from student who were in pain.  They had spent years being disciplined for these behaviors with no progress.  They were simply unable to realize why their behavior was unacceptable.

The aide serving in the class with me at the time was completing her college degree with a teaching certificate.  She was required by one of her professors to view several movies about students with disabilities.  She was a busy wife and mother who worked full time and went to college at night.  One day when she was complaining to me about the lack of time to view these films, I replied, "Just bring the movies in here and we will all watch them."

I did not realize what would happen.  I was trying to help my aide and keep my students busy.  We began watching the first movie and as can be expected, the student with the disability was insulted, tormented, and harassed.  Suddenly one of the students turned to me and said, "Miss, that's not right.  They shouldn't do that to her.  She can't help how she is."

I thought, Excuse me.  You do exactly the same thing.  They were able to recognize inappropriate behavior on the screen, but not in person.  The same thing happened every time we watched a movie.  The difference was my students weren't emotionally involved in the movie.  It is easier to analyze a situation when you are not emotionally invested.  Those movies were valuable teaching tools.  We talked about the behavior and how the bullied student must have felt.  By the end of the school year, we hadn't fix the problem but we had made progress.  

Don't blow off valuable teaching moments that seem to pop up unexpectedly.  I tell  teachers that the difference between a good teacher and a great one is the ability to recognize those teachable moments.  The same thing goes for parents, the first teacher any child has.

Distracted Child

Have you ever tried to help a distracted child do homework?  It is maddening.  You finally get him to sit down, hand him the pencil, and the next time you look, he's balancing with the pencil on his nose.  You put the pencil back in his hand, pull the paper closer to him, and he tries to blow the paper across the table without touching it.  You threaten.  You plead.  You beg.  You scream.  You cry.  Nothing helps.  Why?  Because his mind is moving faster than yours and he is not interested in doing the homework.  

Here are a few strategies that might help.  
  • Homework must be worth his time.  How?  He needs to see the homework as a means to an end.  Before he can play his electronic games, he must finish his homework.  Before he can watch television, he must finish his homework.  (Do not turn program on in background.  He will find a way to watch it.)  
  • If you are helping him gain skills instead of doing homework, make it a game.  Make up games using cards, dominoes, or pennies.  Involved a sibling so the struggling student doesn't feel  targeted.
  • Use an old fashioned egg timer.  There is something about that tick, tick, tick, that keeps his mind on track.
  • Break homework up into bite size pieces.  If the project is due in three weeks, work on it a little every day.  If the Spelling test is on Friday, work on a few words every night, repeating only the ones that he has trouble spelling.
  • Some students get overwhelmed when the work looks too long.  If the math page is too long, fold it in half so the child is only looking at half as many problems.  If the reading page is long, use an envelope under the line the child is reading.  This helps his eyes track the line and hides the rest of the page.
I hope these simple steps help your child complete his homework and you maintain your sanity.