I know math can be intimidating for many homeschoolers. I wanted to take some of the mystery out of math and give you some thoughts on what your child really needs to learn. If your child is going to major in math in college, they may be highly self motivated and learn more than I am going to recommend in this post.
But for most parents this post will help you to have an overview of what is truly important to cover in your homeschool math program. And even college bound students will need this solid foundation. They will just probably cover the material a little earlier.
This post will help you if you want:
- Your child to have a very good grasp of basic math
- Your child to be able to use math to figure prices and balance a checkbook
- Your child to have enough math background to run a business
- Your child to have a good foundation for learning higher math
First, I want to give you a few foundational principles when teaching math. Then I will share which concepts are foundational for all math, as well as give some help with choosing curriculum.
Foundational Principles for Teaching Math
1. Use Real Objects when Introducing New Math Subjects
In the beginning grades, math needs to be concrete. Teach counting by counting actual objects. Later on you can add and subtract using objects.
At our house we used Baby Bear Counters. We would have 5 bears playing and 1 would go home. Then I would ask how many bears were left. When my daughter would say 4, I would praise her and say “That’s right, because 5 minus 1 equals 4”. Even though she didn’t know exactly what that meant, I knew that if I kept repeating math terms it would eventually start to make sense.
Later on, when we were playing with the counting bears again, I would do the same thing but I would also write 5-4=1. Of course I would say the problem out loud as I was writing it.
I always continue to use real objects until I can tell that my child really “gets it”. Then we move on to using just pencil and paper to practice the math concept.
Currently we are using fraction pieces, and my daughter loves them. Because we did school with them and “played” with them, she is getting a firm grasp on fractions.
|Hands-On Math Fraction Pieces, 51 Pieces|
2. Teach for Mastery
I was talking to my sister on the phone about teaching math. She says she wishes she would have stayed on one concept for a longer period of time. When she was teaching her oldest, she feels that the curriculum she was using moved on too quickly and kept changing to new concepts.
I feel the same way-that I should have taught for more mastery when I was teaching my oldest. We have both learned now! We both work on making sure that the concept is grasped and that the child has had enough practice problems before we move on.
Of course we don’t continue to assign the same types of problems if we can tell that the child can do the problems and get most of them right. That is one of the advantages of homeschooling-We can move on if we need to or do more of the same if we need to.
Major Concepts to cover in Math
I want to give you a list of foundational math concepts so that you will know what you need to cover in your math program. So that if you find yourself running out of time, or your child is struggling, then you have an idea of what are the most important math concepts to cover.
The Major Concepts that you will want to cover in the first 6-9 years of math are:
- How to Read and Write Numbers (Each year your child will understand larger and larger numbers)
- Place Value (For example, in the number 834 the 8 has a value of 800)
In many math texts, other concepts will be introduced like some very basic geometry, measurement, temperature, time, and graphs. These things are also important, but not foundational to understanding math. Those things could be learned at other times, or after the basic math concepts have been learned.
Another good way to gauge what is fundamental for your child to learn each year is to take a look at placement tests. You will notice that many times, the same concepts are being taught year after year. But, the concept will be taken one step further.
One year multiplication will be taught. But only 1 digit x 1 digit like 4 x 7=__. The next year, your child will do a problem with a 2 digit number 21 x 3=__. You will also notice on many placement tests there are no questions on time, temperature, or graphs.
Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum
There are many things to consider when choosing a math curriculum. But I am going to share what I think are the two most important things you can do when choosing a curriculum.
- Prayer-God cares about your child’s future. He knows what is important for you to spend time on this school year. He can help you find the curriculum that is the perfect fit for you!
- Look at the curriculum or at sample lessons. Christian Book has many Math Curriculums to choose from, and if you choose one, you can often see inside the books and view sample lessons. (Simply click on more images under the product image.) Whenever you are able to see actual lessons, it really helps you to decide if the curriculum is a good fit for you and your child.
I have enjoyed teaching math from a variety of curriculums. The one I have used the most is Singapore Math. I like it for a lot of reasons. It isn’t too expensive. It teaches most concepts in multiple ways. This really helps my students to truly understand numbers and how they work. This also gives my child more than one way to understand a concept (if she doesn’t get it one way, she will often understand the concept taught a different way).
Singapore also has pictures that really help a visual learner like me so that I am better able to explain the concepts to my children.
|Singapore Math: Primary Math Workbook 4A US Edition|
Singapore Math is also advanced. Many times homeschoolers use the books with the number below the grade that they are actually in. (For example 5th graders will often use the books marked 4a and 4b.)
Other Recommended Resources
An Easy Start In Arithmetic-This book gives specific teaching techniques for teaching math in the early years. Even though this is a very small booklet, there are many math lessons that could come from this book! Whenever I read Ruth Beechick, I feel like I have a mentor holding my hand teaching me how and what to teach! There is also a listing of what math concepts to cover in the early years up through to the third grade.
|You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, Hardcover|
You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, Paperback-This is another book by Ruth Beechick. She gives a breakdown of what is important to learn for grades 4-8. This book covers many subjects including language arts and mathematics. She gives grade level guidelines for math concepts to help you know what is normally covered in each grade.
Homeschool math can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Sticking to the foundational concepts and having a great curriculum and resources can help you to be successful!