This is the third installment of the Tressays Virtual Homeschool Convention. I was just thinking that maybe I should make a category for this. Keep it all in one place. That makes sense. If you would like to read other installments, but not necessarily this one you should be able to find it.
Math. The subject that homeschoolers love to discuss. It incites more arguments across the homeschooling blog waves than any other subject. I have written about math several times before, and so I am going to be lazy today (because this serious blogging thing is hard, people!) and link to some of my previous posts. I am also not going to search the internet to see what other people have to say about teaching math. From experience I know that it will just make me angry. I haven’t had all my coffee yet, and it is Monday. Two more reasons to avoid all articles.
I am a math person. Math is one of those things that makes sense to me. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but it is my best subject. I am not saying that I have all the answers for those don’t care for math, but I am saying that math (especially elementary math) isn’t the great big mystery that homeschool curriculum developers want you to believe.
Here is a post I wrote awhile ago. My amateur advice on teaching math. I still believe everything I wrote.
Here is another post of mine that I wrote awhile ago. Who wants to talk Math? This is the one I wrote about the dismal state of Washington math according to a UW professor. It has a link to a test that he gives his Atmospheric Sciences 101 students. Fun stuff!
Conversations in Math. A blog post that gives a pretty good example of what our math morning sounds like.
You probably noticed that I don’t spend a lot of time “teaching” my kids their math. I still do for Freckle Face, but not so much the older kids. I don’t have time….no, maybe I do. I don’t have the ENERGY. There we go. I don’t have the energy to teach every single math lesson to all three of my kids. That is what I love about Saxon. It is all in there. My older kids read the lesson and do the lesson. When I notice that one of them is consistently getting a certain type of problem wrong, I stop them and we go over it together. That usually fixes the problem.
Some people will say that I am not doing my job as a teacher because I am not teaching the kids. I think I am. They are learning to teach themselves, and I am supporting them. I do, however, look over their work. Every. Day. It is terrible, but you have to do it. If you choose to use one of those computer based math programs, do not allow yourself to believe that the program is doing all the work. You can not be hands off-especially in the early years. What happens when you haven’t checked your kid’s work in 3 months, and one day you decide to look and realize that he can’t do long division? The computer program says he is doing a stand up job! But his test score shows otherwise. Everyone is frustrated. You have tears. Lots and lots of tears. So, a word of caution. If you choose to use any kind of DVD program, be it Saxon Teacher, Teaching Textbooks, or anything else that requires a DVD, YOU still need to make sure they understand the math.
On another note, I despise Geometry, friends. Spatial reasoning is not my thing. Remember those test questions that had flat shapes, and we had to fold them up in our brain and pick what three-dimensional shape they would be? I couldn’t do those. Ever. I still can’t do those. Geometry is my nemesis. I can’t rotate triangles in my brain. I can’t visualize how many lateral sides a hexagonal prism has. I know how many, but I can’t visualize it. Anyway, the Geometry is hard for me. But you know what? I don’t tell my kids that. I fake it. Because if my kids know it is hard for me, they will think it is hard for them and not worth trying. Fake it til you make it, baby! I am getting better at Geometry, but I still hate it.. If you want to complain about math, do it on Twitter. I do!
Finally, have confidence in your choice of math program. If your kids are doing well, leave it be. When people at homeschool park day start talking about this great math program that they love, stick your fingers in your ears and say “lalalalalala!” I am not kidding. Walk away. Don’t engage. This is my best advice I can give you about homeschool math.