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MATH

CapJaxMathFax Computer-based Math Skills Program
By Starboard Training Systems
11729 North Shore Dr., Reston, VA 20190 USA
Ph: 703.471.6790; Fax: 703.471.6791
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST, M-F
http://www.capjax.com/
$45 for an individual family, with up to 10 users rated available.

By Michael Leppert

One of the distinct pleasures of homeschooling is parental autonomy. In the teaching of "social" issues and academics, both, the ability to pick and choose and choose again what one's child learns and how it is presented, makes homeschooling wonderful and satisfying (but not necessarily easy!).

Cap Jax
Click to view Click and Climbs web site

In the field of the teaching of mathematics, there has been a debate raging for a number of years, that is similar to the debate in the teaching of reading with the ephemeral "whole word" method being pitted against the tried-and-true phonics method.

In math, the two sides can be viewed as rote memorization vs. individualized brain function. CapJaxMathFax(tm) is a program that is designed to develop the latter. Rote memorization may be recalled by many of us as the odious chore of memorizing math facts until they are committed to memory. Memorizing the times tables is one example; using flash cards is another. (The student who enjoys these memorization activities probably goes on to become a mathematician in adulthood.) To many math teachers, such rote activity is a waste of time. CapJax founder and owner, looks at it differently. For instance, when you are in 1st grade, 2+7 is a problem and you solve it however you can. If you solve it often enough, it becomes memorized. This is individualized brain function. If one can make math practice be not disagreeable, there is nothing wrong with that . . . making it pleasant increases the learning speed, after all. Normally, there isn't time for this pleasantry in institutional schools, but the CapJax program overcomes that obstacle. Although the program is sold to schools, it is also ideal for homeschoolers.

You can allow your child to practice without tracking -- which is a good way to begin -- but you'll soon want to start "Playing for Rating" which keeps a running score, so the child can see his/her progress. Scores are measured by timing each math fact response. 3 seconds is the standard, but you can vary this if you like. Rating sessions are short in terms of the number of problems worked on. For example, the first time a 1st grader does his addition problems with CapJaxMathFax, he'll only be working on the "plus 1's" and may get only 2 or 3 out of 10 problems correct in 3 seconds. But next time he'll get 6 or 7. Soon he'll get all 10 and progress to the next level, the "plus 2's," a milestone he'll enjoy reaching. This may take him a few days and the same problems are presented, but in a different order, to develop individualized brain function. The parents and student can keep track of progress from one session to the next, as well, so a clear path is viewable. The Windows version also offers a Progress Graph, which shows the student's growth in a visual, as well as written form. Positive, immediate feedback is the best way to work with math and CapJaxMathFax program offers a lot of it.

Although the problem-solving aspects of each lesson are timed and the timing is adjustable for different levels of brain-math development, nearly all children enjoy the feature because it makes CapJax something like a game and it provides a way for students to see themselves improving as they get faster. Even children with special needs, once they've gotten started, find that the 3-second standard is attainable and fun.

CapJaxMathFax covers all four processes: Addition, subtraction, multiplication and long division.

Starboard Training also offers a Functional Skills Analysis Program which surveys 6th or 7th graders skills and assessing one's strengths and weaknesses. It, too, is $45. Please go to the CapJax website for more extensive information and a free download. MjL

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