Teaching our homeschoolers math is exciting!
(I’m not kidding. Stick with me.)
As you probably know, music is my thing (math - not so much).
I have learned, however, how to facilitate a successful math education for my children. This is the most important thing - knowing my children so well and being able to seek out resources and advice that will help them succeed in what interests them.
I’ve now facilitated math education for pre-school through high school and feel qualified to equip you on this topic as well.
With the array of choices available to the homeschooling parent, it’s no wonder math flummoxes most of us.
But the good news is this: there is a math program (and help) for EVERY type of learner out there.
We aren’t locked into Common Core Math. We aren’t stuck with whatever program our school district decides to adopt this year. We have the FREEDOM to give our children a beautiful, comprehensive math education.
That - in my book - is an exciting thing!
Make Math Multi-Sensory
From the time children are little - and onward - strive to make math multi-sensory and engaging. You might have a child that learns by doing, or maybe your child learns by hearing - know how your child learns and play to those strengths when teaching math!
Turn everyday activities into math
If you buy 8 bananas at the grocery store and dad eats two, how many will be left? If your child has 20 Matchbox cars, can you make groups of 5? Groups of 4? Can you tell a story about the cars and turn it into a math problem? Math is everywhere if you just capitalize on the opportunities.
This is something children of ALL AGES can do. Incorporate games into your homeschool and it won’t seem like “math” time. Check out some of our favorite fun math games here. We also have one game that is our VERY FAVORITE. I still play math games with my teen.
My children learned their math facts with music. The best success we had with multiplication facts was through Hap Palmer’s Multiplication Mountain.
Read Living Books
Check out living math books from the library - often! Sir Cumference was one of our favorite series. There are so many if you just look
Manipulatives like LEGO bricks, Unifix Cubes, Counting Bears — those all give our tactile kids a leg up in math! My youngest simply “played math” when his big sister was working in her math workbook. I gave him some addition flashcards and showed him how to build the cards. Who knew what a hit that would be?
Be Willing to Make a Change (but keep it consistent)
How’s that for confusing? Be willing to change, but keep it consistent.
In our homeschool we made some big changes in math at certain points in time. My kids knew, however, that math education was always consistent and that once we had made a well-researched change to a different math program we were going to STICK WITH IT.
Math cannot be a hit or miss endeavor.
I know there are many math programs available. We have experience with three, and I feel like both of my children have gotten a solid math education.
Saxon served us well in the elementary and middle grade years. I appreciated the spiral approach, drill, repetition, and rigor. Saxon laid a firm foundation for my children. We used the program exactly as it was spelled out - and we used the HOMESCHOOL EDITION - not the more recent editions which incorporate some elements of Common Core.
Oh how I love Mr. D Math! Mr. D’s program literally saved my oldest child from math meltdown! The key here was Mr. D’s personal interaction during his live lessons and a curriculum that was just enough for my non-math kid to handle. I highly recommend this program if your child needs confidence and a solid math program.
My youngest child is quite good at math - and enjoys it, too. We kept him going in Saxon Math until 9th grade. It seemed that the spiral design was just TOO MUCH for him. He was getting math done, but it was taking increasingly longer and he was seeing it as drudgery. Additionally, I needed a program that gave comprehensive video instruction that was designed for the more serious minded math student.
Enter Shormann Math. 75% of my son’s Challenge class has switched to Shormann from Saxon and the majority of them are happy with the switch. One of my son’s friends put it this way:
It's helpful to be able to go at your own pace by pausing the lectures. The way he (Shormann) layers new information on makes it easier to learn. The extra history and Biblical view point is fascinating.
The problem sets are quicker but more intense than Saxon which helps with the way I learn. It holds my attention better. When I don't understand a problem or concept in the problem set, I can go back to that lessons transcript of the lecture and find what I'm looking for quickly and efficiently.
Keep the End in Mind
What is your goal for your child’s math education?
Keep these questions in mind as you are thinking about (and constantly re-evaluating) math in your homeschool:
Do you have a math kid? (If you don’t, why are you pushing them through the most rigorous program out there?)
Is your child college bound? (If they are, know the math requirements for the ACT and SAT)
What is the highest level of math you want them to take? (Put that level in their senior year and then make your plan backwards!)
Do you need help teaching math? (Maybe your child needs an online program or a tutor/in person class.)
The Homeschool Parent and Math
Finally, I’ve had to embark on some serious self-education in math. This has involved research, and (yikes) sitting down at certain points to do the same math as my children as a show of solidarity.
Math is a thing of beauty. We don’t just do math for math’s sake.
The logical order of math is a gift from God, and it has always been imperative that my children know this.
God is in math - and in all things. This is the heart of it, really.