Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh Math.... sigh...

I love math! I enjoy numbers - I was a Financial Advisor for years and much of what I did each day was about math! But somehow, math in our homeschool has eluded me, challenged me, frustrated me and given me a few tears now and then. 

The problem with me is I am constantly torn between three factors in math. The computational drill of math, the conceptual math and then the practical math. How much of each can I balance, how much of each should I include, how much of each is valuable and worthwhile given our techno age? 

We have used Math U See and I have found it to be an excellent program in the younger years especially for helping children to get place value firmly embedded in their math beginnings. Later when Math U See focusses on one topic in detail for an entire year it didn’t really fit for us.

We have used Discovery Education’s Discovering Math program and found it to really help math students to understand the application of each math concept. This was valuable for the concepts of math and in many ways practical math, but the lack of computation was a problem. I added in Daily Math Reviews like these to help with this. Because the videos cover 3 years, it was a one year commitment for us at each level as I couldn’t see our daughter watching the same videos over and over. 
We have used Singapore Math, which I truly believe is an excellent program, it just went too fast for our daughter as it got to the transition to middle school. 

I have looked into Living Math. I love the concept of learning math in a living way, but I never could really get this into a format that felt like a complete math program to me. We read lots of the living math recommended books though when our daughter was younger including the Cindy Neuschwander books, What’s Your Angle Pythagoras by Julie Ellis, The Math Start Books by Stuart Murphy and many of the “food” math books that are available. 

We have tried our best in practical math with cooking, budgeting, counting, subtracting, dividing, multiplying at home. We have had pattern blocks, money sets, dice, stopwatches, base 10 blocks, flashcards and lots of other math materials. We have played lots of games over the years including ones like Monopoly, The Game of Life, Settlers of Catan, lots of card games, Uno, and so many more. We have had many computer games and apps including Math Blaster, Math for the Real World and business games like DQ Tycoon.

So I ask myself, as you may be asking, why is math such a challenge....sigh...I think that it is searching for a feeling that our math is incremental enough, conceptual enough and practical enough and that there is a good measure of drill for those basic skills. All this and at the right pace, the right blend of manipulatives and the right amount of visuals. It’s a new year coming, and maybe this year I will find our ideal math program!! Right now we are using a combination of Math resources. It would be nice to have all that we need in one program, but I am getting more comfortable using many different resources. I will save our current math for another post,


  1. Natalie I am convinced you are a way better math teacher than me, so lead on! I have come to realise that God has given me more of a left brain and after numerous years at school trying to conquer my right brain I have surrendered to someone else doing it for me:) You and Shandra are my right brains! Happy New Year, Pippa xx

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