Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012-13 Homeschool Year: Math

Math, how ambivalent I am toward thee. (Or used to be.)

You know that words and grammar and reading (and run-on sentences...) are my first love.

Want to know a secret? Math is more fun the second, third and fourth time around.

It's true. Helping my kiddos make connections, finally understanding just how much some Math matters to every day life, knowing more than they do (for at least a little while) - all help make Math time not quite the drudgery I remember.

Required by the state? Definitely.
Curriculum used: Saxon primarily and then a lot of other stuff.

Read on if you'd like me to be more specific.
Polly is using this Saxon set:

I stock her folder at the beginning of the week with her time sheets and anything she might need. Her assignments are written down and placed in her folder. She is responsible to get the work done. I check her papers once a week. She makes corrections once a week.

If she comes across something she doesn't understand, or we notice her consistently missing the same type of problem, one parent deals with that or helps her with the concept. If that parent (and it could be either of us) can't help her understand, the other parent gives it a try.

She writes her answers in a spiral bound notebook. This is so much easier than individual sheets of paper.

Tigger is working through this set:

Her process is similar to Polly's: I stock her folder with everything she needs to get done for the week. She works through it. I help with anything she doesn't understand.

One difference is that she still has worksheets. She won't have to transfer answers to a separate piece of paper for another year.

Sweet Pea would be in this book:

But we decided not to buy the student pages. I have the teacher's manual and I use it to choose what activities to do and what worksheets to print out.

Tigger, Sweet Pea, and I are using some printables from the Motherhood on a Dime Site to do calendar work, a number of the day, a weather graph, and telling time together.

Tigger has a mini- office (similar to these) made of tri-fold foam board. Using a page protector for some of the things we printed off means that we can use a dry erase marker and not have to print new pages every day. (And, yes, I'd love to own a laminator some day.)
(You can see the back of Tigger's mini-office in the picture above. Those are her Latin flashcards. The other girls have their own mini-offices as well. Highly recommend this if you do school all together at your kitchen table the way we do.)

Here are some of my favorite online resources I've used over the years and especially for Sweet Pea this year:
Math Worksheets for Kids from Kids Learning Station.
Math and Geometry Materials from Montessori for Everyone.
Kindergarten Worksheets from Math Worksheet Wizard.
Kindergarten Worksheets from Kidzone has lots of resources. has printable flashcards (and lots of other things!)
The Math Worksheet Site has a great online worksheet generator (also printable)
A Plus Math has printable worksheets
Free Online Graph Paper / Grid Paper from Incompetech is very useful because you can customize the sizes.
Living Math has great book lists divided by particular math subjects. So if you want a book that talks about Money or Telling Time, they're easy to find.
Math Games - my girls love these online games.

I've posted before about our favorite Math Manipulatives and also about some Math games we enjoy.
Some kids love having a worksheet to do (Sweet Pea does), some don't. There's nothing wrong with using a worksheet to keep a kid busy while you help her sisters, as long as you're not overwhelming a young child with seat work. Please, take my free pass from guilt: there are worse things in life than worksheets. If you are in a season of homeschooling that has you using a lot of worksheets, don't sweat it. You are not the worst homeschool mom ever. Your kids will survive. Yes, read all the blogs with hands on activities. Just don't feel guilty if you pull out a worksheet every now and then. (Rant ending now.)

How we "do" Math is similar to these teaching styles, as I understand them, in these ways:
Classical: we're thorough with lots of repetition. We use Saxon, although I throw out most of the "sample dialogue" between teacher and student and I have no qualms about doing fewer problems or skipping a lesson if the child is beginning to get bored.
Charlotte Mason: lessons are short, based on the ability of the student. A dawdling child will, obviously, be spending longer on Math than is strictly necessary. That would be her own fault because this teacher does not lecture for a long time (or, um, at all) or assign more than a child is capable of doing in a reasonable amount to time.
Unschooling: We play lots of board games, card games, and games that we make up on our own. We cook, shop, travel, craft, build, measure, and play. We read books about Mathematical concepts (and talk about them = narration!). We use calendars, thermometers, clocks and scales.

That combination of things is one reason why I call us a "Relaxed Classical" homeschool.
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