Math. It’s almost a dirty word to some homeschoolers.
Or wait a minute… maybe that’s just me?
No, I am not a math genius. Math is far from my favorite subject.
And yet, everyday I have four children before me who need to learn math.
So I decided a long time ago that I was going to do my best to make math fun (for their sake and for my own). Here’s my approach.
Customize Math To Your Child (and Make Math Fun)
My math approach is a little different. We do follow a general curriculum (I list a few of my favorites below). But, as we’re progressing through the curriculum workbooks, I also really try to focus on three things (which are happening concurrently):
- Learn the Material Through a Strong Curriculum. Do they know the material? Are they really getting it (no matter if they’ve finished the lesson or not)?
- Practice Core Skills. What are the root skills for this math material? Does my child have a strong knowledge base in this area? How am I incorporating this into everyday math activities?
- Play with Math. How can I make the learning come alive (and make math fun)?
I don’t strive to finish a workbook by a certain time in the year. And I don’t have my children’s math assignments pre-planned for weeks in advance. I’ve found that both of these things bring more frustration to an already potentially frustrating school subject.
Instead being given a pre-planned number of pages as a daily math assignment, my kids work on math for a certain amount of time each day as appropriate for their grade level. I feel this makes room for whatever amount of teaching time they need for that day (from me, or from the curriculum); and it gives space for learning/practice time to flow appropriately with the child’s ability to do a specific math task. In other words, if the math lesson for the day is easy, they will probably get more pages done; while if the math lesson is difficult, they may have less pages completed but will have still had their extra effort acknowledged.
Awesome Math Curriculum
First, I introduce the topics through a solid workbook curriculum. Here are some math programs that we’ve used and can recommend.
Note: I am notorious for using multiple curriculums and online sources as teaching materials. Bottom line: if the workbook is progressing too quickly through a subject or is skipping around in a way that doesn’t make sense to my child, I have no problem stepping back from the curriculum for a while and working on skills until a child is ready to progress. This is why I hold on to old half-completed math workbooks. I almost always find a good use for them!
Resources That Teach Core Math Learning Skills
Remember how I talked about practicing “core root skills” as a regular part of math time?
Again, I’m no mathematician, but I’ve realized in hindsight that my math skills could have been a lot stronger when I was a student if I’d had some regular key concepts drilled into my brain. And I’ve had this hunch confirmed by several people who are much smarter than me in math.
At the top of those core math skills? The basics: addition, subtraction, division… but mainly multiplication.
Which is why I teach my kids skip counting as early as possible. I waited to teach skip counting to my older kids, and I can see the difference between their math skills and their sister’s (who learned skip counting as a kindergartner).
Here are some fun skip counting resources, plus some of my must-haves for teaching new concepts or working with them on core skills.
|lap-sized whiteboard||dry erase pens|
|Digital Timer||Math Flashcards|
|Playing cards (so many math games to play with cards!)||Learning Manipulatives|
|Skip Counting Songs on CD (like this one)||Free Math worksheets: here, here and here|
Here’s a list of more free online math tools and printable worksheets!
Yes, Math Can Be Fun (Really!)
Lastly, I try to mix it up from time to time by incorporating games and activities as we do math. From time to time we take a break from our “regular” curriculum to do an interactive math activity. I find this technique is especially effective if a student is frustrated with a topic or just seems stuck.
There are also some fun ideas on my Homeschool: Math board.
Other Posts about Teaching Math or Other Homeschool Subjects:
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