Part 2: Math Curriculum! (SERIES: Before You Throw the Book at 'em...)


And we’re back! Since you heard from me last my sweet baby Max was born! August 26th and 14 days late! He’s a sweetie and we’ve been enjoying time with him these few weeks! Now I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I’m excited to continue our curriculum series! In fact, I’m wearing baby Max as I type!

Baby Max

So, Math curriculum! What are your favorites? At Yellow Wood, we’ve been long time fans of Math U See. In this post I’ll share with you 7 reasons why we love it!

Math U See

This curriculum is just awesome! We’ve found it works for 95% of our students - whether gifted or struggling… or somewhere in between! Here’s why:

1. The layout is so friendly!

The pages are nice and open with just enough questions to be productive but not overwhelming. The print is a great size - not too big or too small.

For students with attention difficulties or a weak visual processing system, having too many graphics, colors, etc. on the page can be very distracting and overwhelming. Also having too many questions on the page can set a student up for failure from the get-go! Math U See addresses these issues and gives students an opportunity to feel successful in math!

2. One main skill at a time!

Most math curricula uses a spiral method, where students cover a variety of math concepts in a text book. Math U See takes a different approach and focuses on ONE main topic per math book. For example, there’s a math book entirely on multiplication. It begins with basic multiplication facts and works all the way through to multi-digit problems. Topics are taught this way all the way through basic math skills. Once students reach Pre-Algebra, books follow the typical sequence for high school math.

3. Lots of review!

Parents usually ask me if their students will retain math concepts if they’re only working on one skill at a time. Math U See does a great job incorporating review of other concepts into each lesson! This helps students especially who have trouble retaining information.

4. Word Problems!

Math U See also does a fantastic job with word problems. Every back-side of a page has a few word problems. This gives students TONS of practice in a non-threatening way so that word problems are less scary! Let’s face it, word problems are a challenge for almost every student! Sometimes visualizing word problems is tricky.

5. Lesson set up

In each lesson there are two types of workbook pages. The first few pages are “lesson practice” and these teach the new concept. Then, the next 4-6 pages are “systematic review”. These pages pull in review from previous lessons, previous books, and also word problem practice. The best part of this method is that if a student understands a concept or its a review for them, they can skip some of the “lesson practice” pages and move onto the “systematic review”! This is great for students who get overwhelmed with pages and pages of math!

6. Hands On and Visual!

This curriculum, as its name suggests, is chock full of visual ways to learn math. DVD lessons teach students the new concepts, and then they can complete their work using math manipulatives if they’d like! This is a very important component for visual and kinesthetic learners.

7. Great online resources!

Math U See’s website offers a manipulatives app for the ipad, a worksheet generator for extra practice, and more!


So, all in all, this curriculum is great for a wide variety of students. We’ve used Math U See as our main math curriculum for 4 years now! Feel free to ask me any questions about it or whether it might be a good fit for your student too!

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Part 1: Reading Curriculum! (SERIES: Before You Throw the Book at 'em...)

Today, we’ll start with reading! In the past few years at Yellow Wood, teaching kids to read and building reading skills in older children has exposed me to some great and not so great reading curriculum! The thing to remember is this: There’s more than one great option!!

(note - this post contains affiliate links! I only recommend products that I’ve personally found to be amazing! I promise!)

All About Reading

This past school year I taught our Pioneers class at Yellow Wood - 6-8 year olds and we used All About Reading Level 1. Our older elementary students used All About Reading Level 3 and 4 with another teacher. Here few things I LOVE about this program:

1. It’s scripted and methodical!

This program is seriously SO easy to use for parents and teachers. It is designed to be an open and go program. Lessons are in bite size chunks, and give lots of practice for reading and spelling new words.

2. The readers are beautiful in more ways than one!

All About Reading

Each level comes with 3 readers that have beautiful illustrations! Each story corresponds to specific lessons in the teacher book, so there’s no questioning when a student is ready to move onto the next story.

Another thing I appreciate about the readers is that even in Level 2, they are not “baby-ish”. A lot of beginning reading is written for very young readers and it makes it hard to find easy readers for older students who need confidence and remediation! The books included in All About Reading are written in such a way that students won’t feel belittled or dumb if they are older and working their way through the program.

3. It’s hands on!

Though the letter tiles may seem tedious, this extra hands-on element can really make learning stick! By learning kinesthetically, visually, and auditorily all at once, the brain more chances to absorb the new information. It also is great because you use several parts of your brain instead of just one, which will help build a well-rounded brain.

4. Easy to build upon it to fill in gaps

This program is scripted, but simple! It doesn’t take much time in your day, so if there is another method or practice you want to incorporate, you can! We added copywork, dictation, reading practice, poetry memorization, and more to our English lessons. It wasn’t overwhelming because AAR was fun and quick!

Even if you just use AAR, you’ll be off to a great start! No need to add to this reading program (for reading) if you don’t want to. It’s comprehensive and methodical!

5. Several Levels!

This program has 4 levels, which is wonderful for making sure there are no gaps in reading skills for elementary students! It doesn’t just teach the basics of reading, but goes deeper so you can be sure there is a solid foundation for middle school reading!

The Reading Lesson

Next up is The Reading Lesson! This program is great for new readers and struggling older readers alike! We've used it to remediate reading skills and build confidence in several older elementary students. 

1. Inexpensive!

This program is FREE on kindle unlimited. Yep, you heard me right! If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited or prefer a hard copy, it’s less than $20. You can’t beat that!

2. Visual Cues

The most unique aspect of this program is the visual cues it uses to teach students different sounds and combinations. It uses special typography for letters and sounds, and then gradually fades them away as students become comfortable.

3. Well Balanced Approach

This program uses a balance of phonics and the whole language method. It can be great for students who learn better organically without trying to memorize and apply reading rules.

4. Great for Struggling Readers

This book is great for building confidence in struggling readers because it moves quickly, has simple paragraphs, and LOTS of practice!

Right Brain Phonics

Last but not least, Right Brain Phonics! This program has it all. Sight word flashcards, parent lectures on teaching right brained children, and a methodical approach to gaining reading skills. We most often use this curriculum with students who are older and have been diagnosed with dyslexia. We also use aspects of it from the beginning with our 6-8 year old students!

1. Comprehensive and visual approach

This program has it all! Sight words, reading practice, parent workshops, and more. If you want to dig into teaching your right brained learner how to read, this is a great curriculum to use.

2. Great for struggling readers, dyslexia, and more

We use Right Brain Phonics with older students who are struggling with reading and confidence. The visual and relaxed approach helps students overcome challenges with reading and realize their potential.

3. Teaches sight words and letter sounds through visuals

Sight words and letter sounds are taught with picture based flashcards! This is so fun for young learners, especially those who are intimidated or having trouble with sight words. The phoneme flashcards are great for visual learners because it helps the sound stick in their mind!

4. Uses colors to help the brain words accurately

Another visual approach used in this program is putting specific sounds in color so that the vowel sound or the consonant chunk jumps out from the page and is easier to recognize and remember! This can be a game changer student’s visual processing is weak.


So, those are 3 amazing reading programs! I hope you can use these suggestions to have a stress-free and successful school year teaching reading!

Do you use any of these programs? What do YOU love about it? Let us know by commenting below!

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Before You Throw the Book at 'em...

But really, though… do you ever feel like starting from scratch with your curriculum choices?

Today I’m excited to start a new blog series- Before You Throw the Book at ‘em - all about our favorite curricula at Yellow Wood! Curious what programs we use and why? Keep reading!


If you know me in real life, you probably know I am a bit of a curriculum junkie. I LOVE curriculum. Even when I was in high school and being home schooled myself, my absolute favorite part was picking curriculum. I gained a good amount of exposure and experience to different curricula while working at cottage schools and tutoring home school student, especially to classical curricula. So when I began Yellow Wood in 2013, I had so much fun choosing what books to use, and I had a good idea of what I liked and disliked! As our program has grown each year, our curriculum choices have grown and changed as well! What I’ve learned is there is NO perfect curriculum and your success will depend greatly on how you implement it rather than on the curriculum itself! Still, a great curriculum can be so helpful in making homeschooling an enjoyable experience.

I LOVE helping families find curriculum that fits for their child, the parent’s teaching style, and challenges students in new ways without being overwhelming! I can’t wait to help you too!

Over the next few posts, I’ll lay out some options for each subject and lay out what is great about each one and also what types of learners might benefit most from it. I’ll also share a few tips and tricks we’ve found over the years!

Stay tuned for part 1: Reading!

Brain Based Movements in Action, Part 1

I am so excited to tell you about my most recent learning experience that I feel certain will help my children with some areas of concern, especially with regard to their ability to learn.  I recently worked my way through Yellow Wood's Brain Based Movement course.  This course is laid out so that you can take it in small chunks and really focus on the reflexes that are of the most concern for your student(s).  I found the video demonstration of each movement that will help resolve the problematic primitive reflex especially helpful.

After completing the learning portion of the class, there are printable worksheets that you can use to help assess which reflexes your student(s) need to focus on the most.  I filled these out for each of my older children (my two year old gets a pass for now).  My son, Bubby, had three or more markers in five of the six reflexes.  My younger girl, Bug, had one are with three or more markers, and one or two markers in half of the reflexes.  My oldest, Banana, had three or more markers in four of the six reflexes, and two markers in each of the other two reflexes noted.  Banana and Bubby each had one reflex in which all but one of the markers were noted for them.  Because of the results I noted for my children, I am going to ask them to work on all of the reflex exercises for the month.  

The reflexes that are of the greatest concern right now are:

Palmar, Aysmmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, and the Moro Reflex

Moro Reflex, Spinal Galant Reflex, and the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

Moro Reflex and the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

When showing them how to do the exercises, I could see that some of these are going to be difficult to master.  I know my son, in particular, has had trouble consistently with holding a pencil, writing stamina and expressing himself on paper.  He also suffers from low fine motor muscle development in his hands and a speech impediment.  He has been in occupational therapy for a year and speech therapy for 1.5 years with little improvement.  He had to use all of his concentration to complete the Palmar Reflex exercises when bringing his pointer finger to his thumb.  I never would have thought this would have been the case.  In actuality, I thought that these exercises would not challenge any of them in the least.  

I can't wait to tell you about their progress over the next few weeks!

I can't wait to tell you about their progress over the next few weeks!  I feel certain that I am going to see huge improvements in their ability to do the exercises, and when we start school, in their work.  Bubby and Banana will have the same teachers this year as they did last year (thank you for looping), so I am going to be especially interested to see if their teachers notice any improvements!  Thank you for joining me on this journey!  I can't wait to tell you more about how this unfolds!

If you are interested in doing this with me, you can find the course below

Put your results in the comments and let's work on this together!

Helping students find their path to SUCCESS...

Laurie Geary, the founder of Yellow Wood Tutoring, had worked with my son for a few summers. We were thrilled with the advancements Joshua would make each summer. But with no time left after a long school day to continue the exercises, Joshua would usually start losing his desire and ability to achieve by Christmas. Since Laurie was so familiar with Joshua’s abilities, we finally took her up on her offer to integrate a child with Down syndrome into her cottage school. By the end of 5th grade, after spending most of his time in a resource room for the last three years, Joshua was suffering from an anxiety disorder. He had a tremendous desire to learn and do things he saw the typical kids doing in his school but had been categorized as never being able to do any of that so was segregated. He loved his teachers and classmates but was very sad on the inside. That has all changed, thanks to Yellow Wood tutoring. With the small classrooms, truly individualized lesson plans, cognitive exercises, and relaxed but structured atmosphere, Joshua’s anxiety is gone and he is so excited about learning. I no longer have to struggle with communicating Joshua’s needs to teachers. These teachers know he is capable and encourage me to challenge Joshua. We have high expectations of Joshua and most importantly, so do the teachers at Yellow Wood.
My daughter, Carlie Hope, was born with a rare liver disease called Alagille Syndrome.  It is a genetic disorder that can affect the liver, heart and other parts of the body. Unfortunately, this causes severe itching all over her body.   The itching made grade school a bit challenging but with scheduled meds, a 504 and eventually an IEP, she made it through 5th grade fairly well.  The transition to middle school was quite challenging not only physically but also emotionally. Through lots of prayer and researching for creative options, I stumbled upon Yellow Wood! Carlie started with private tutoring sessions a few times a week and then transitioned to the cottage school the following fall. Carlie went from a girl who hated school and cried when I made her attend to a girl who is thriving, catching up to grade and LOVES school and has friends at school who aren't bullying her.  I believe God directed us to Yellow Wood because Carlie needed the special attention and individualized plan for her education.  

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5 Steps Toward Homeschooling SUCCESS!

If you homeschool, you know that some days a more productive than others. Everyone has their own way of doing things when it comes to homeschooling - kids all sit at the kitchen table, or sit at individual desks... or sit wherever they want! 

It helps to make a plan of what works for your family and stick to it for consistency! If everyone gets into the routine, your days will start to go smoother. Here are some ideas you might want to implement into your homeschool day! 

1. Pick a spot for all your stuff! 

This is especially helpful for those kids who tend to procrastinate by looking for school supplies all day instead of working on that math worksheet! Put all your basic supplies in a close by spot during homeschooling.

2. Pick a spot to work! 

Let your kids help decide what space works best for them! Maybe they do best at the kitchen table so there's some background noise. Or maybe they do best in their room so it's quiet! Let them pick, or try a few options and think about which one made for the most productive day!

3. Movement, movement, movement!

Kids learn best when MOVING! So just because they are doing school at the kitchen table, doesn't mean the have to be seated! Stand, walk, sit on a yoga ball. Put a mini trampoline and balance beam up so kids can get proprioceptive and vestibular input while working on things like spelling, math facts, memorization, and more! 

4. Brain breaks!

Another way to integrate movement into the day is with brain breaks in between subjects! It's always a good idea to switch things up every 30-45 minutes. Switch to a new subject, and when you do, get up and move! There are lots of ideas out there about brain breaks, but focusing on things that cross the midline or give vestibular input are best! 

5. Write down that schedule! 

Once you find a plan that works, write it down! Put it in a place that everyone can see. I like to have a checklist rather than a timed schedule. It may look something like this:

- Morning stretches

- Math (30 min) 

- trampoline math facts (10 min)

- Reading (30 min)

- Snack and run around! (15 min)

- Writing (30 min)

- balance beam and spelling (15 min)

- handwriting (20 min)

- Lunch

and so on... 

Be creative! Use your resources and find what works for you! Have a great schedule you'd like to share? Comment below!

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5 Ways to Help Your Child SUCCEED in Math!

Hey there! Today I'm excited to share with you some great tips and tricks for making math successful! So many of the students we see at Yellow Wood struggle with math, especially with math facts or word problems.  These are a few things we do and have found helpful! 

1. 100 Board Games!

The Hundred Board is such a great resource for math! There are several ways we use this at Yellow Wood to help students gain number sense and learn to visualize the number line in their mind! This is especially great for skip counting and memorizing multiplication facts!


Say you want to skip count by three's (or practice your multiples of 3). Put your hundred board in a page protector and use a dry erase marker to circle 3, 6, 9... etc through the 100 board. 


Circle all the multiples of 3, but now start at the end of the board! (remember, you won't always start at 100. For 3's you'll begin with 99)


Now here's where it gets a little tricky. Take a BLANK hundred board and put it in a dry erase sleeve. Since we're practicing 3's, we'll decide where 3 is and write it in. Do NOT let your student write in all the numbers. They can count through to see where the number would be, but eventually you'll want them to see the pattern and not need to do this. So write in 3, 6, 9, etc. all the way through 99!

You can follow these steps with every number. Younger students can practice filling in the 100 board first before starting skip counting. But students as early as kindergarten can practice skip counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's!



More Tips to come! Stay Tuned!


Does your child have difficulty with activities that require coordination and balance? Do they often bump into things or are "clumsy" in general? It may be because of today's reflex: The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex! This reflex helps a child build their core muscles and is part of the reason why tummy time is so important! Without enough tummy time, some children will retain this reflex instead of integrating it and will have trouble with coordination and spatial awareness especially! They may also have a hard time with sequencing activities, like telling a story in order, or memorizing things like the days of the week, the alphabet in the right order, and organizing things into the right categories. Retaining this reflex also causes poor core stability and so these kids may have trouble with posture and balance.  

So, what if your child still has this reflex? Did you know you can FIX this? It's easy and fun with our primitive reflex exercises! If you're interested in learning more, check out our parent workshops! We'd love to help !