Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How I Homeschool - Teaching Math

Math.  Ah.  This is seriously my weakest teaching area in our homeschool.  I think every homeschool mom has a weak area.  And, this is mine.  So, this is truthfully, not going to be a long post like some of my others.  I have 2 stages in our math education - K - 2 where I teach them myself and 3 on up where someone else teaches them.  This was not always the case, however, but I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to do it this way now.  I am thankful that my oldest 2 didn't suffer too badly before we were able to switch to this method for our family and that their CD school was able to fill in the gaps so nicely and they caught up.  More on this in a moment.

Stage 1 - K-2

We have tried a variety of math textbooks for these years - from simple dollar store ones to Abeka.  I have found that we love the Spectrum series the best.  As I said in the kindergarten post, I use a lot of hands on and because these books aren't super thick like some of the other maths we tried, it leaves plenty of room for hands on time.  My only beef with them is they are Common Core aligned.  However, from the first child who used these (my 3rd) to my current child using them (my 6th), I have not seen any changes to show that they are common core aligned.  And, I am thankful.  You can get Spectrum online or at any Barnes and Noble bookstore.  In my kindergarten post, I listed off the math manipulatives I like to keep on hand.  The other they got, I did add a couple more like flash cards and dice (these are awesome for fun addition or subtraction review).  But, for the most part, I am able to use the same stuff over and over again.

I really feel math is a personal thing after talking to so many other homeschool moms on the subject.  Children learn in a variety of ways and this is what has worked best for us.  I tried Abeka, Math U See, and Saxon (especially with my 2nd who math is very hard for) and nothing really clicked till who I use for my 2nd stage of math came out.  Please keep trying. If one curriculum isn't working, try another till you find your best fit.

Stage 2 - 3rd till graduation from high school

After many trials, experiments, and failures, we are a 100% Teaching Textbooks family once a child hits third grade.  Wow, did we battle with that decision.  With each course costing about $150, we weren't sure we wanted to drop that amount on one subject.  But, with ebay and all the other good used sales facebook pages, I have been able to keep the cost of the program under control.  And, once you fork over the money, it can be used for all that follow, unlike consumable ones.  It is 2 brothers who teach the course on computer CD.  They are thorough and very good in their explanations.  There are about 5 nongraded review questions and about 22 graded exercises with each lesson, some of which is review.  There are also quizzes sprinkled throughout.  In the younger years, there are fun speed tests to get those math facts drilled into their minds (my kids love these because they get bonus points).  And, with each exercise, if you get it wrong, you can click to see how to do it which has been very beneficial for my kids, especially the harder the math gets.   We have always stressed to our kids that even though they have these guys as their teachers, never hesitate to ask us any questions that they need to.  We want them to be sure they don't feel they have to struggle with a concept alone.

My second daughter who was really my guinea pig the most through the various trying days can tell you it was the best thing that happened to her.  We spent many days before these were available crying through lessons and it is amazing that is doing as well as she is now in high school.  But, she was able to catch up and catch on thanks to this math program.  I am ever so thankful for it.  

A lesson I learned through our trial and error years of math was don't be afraid to get outside help.  I think sometimes us homeschool moms feel bad when we can't do a certain thing.  After all, that is what we set out to do.  But, never be afraid to admit you are not good at this or that and seek outside help.  There are so many good things out there now for us that we have no excuse but to look and seek advice from those around us or have gone on before.  

A couple of additional resources I like to have on hand are good math fact flashcards, math facts set to music on CD, a load of Lego, and an abacus.  These simple things can go a long way to making some math concepts easier to grasp or even just plain "get."

Goodness from around the 'net:

I don't have alot today.  We rely mostly on Teaching Textbooks for it all.  But, I have found a couple of apps and a website that I rely on for good followup or reinforcement in certain area. - this has stuff for all the way up to 5th grade - all concepts, all subjects.  It has been a big help to us

As far as apps, abcya also has an app, though it isn't free.  We stick to the computer to avoid the monthly fees.  However, if you have a kid who loves Fruit Ninja, they also have a math operations app that reinforces addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts!  Totally awesome and very fun.  My kids love it.

Another app we have loved is the starfall app.  They also have a website (  We have paid the yearly fee for it (it is really really cheap unlike abcya) so we can use it on our tablet as well.  Their concepts only go up through 2nd grade but that is perfect for us since that is as far as I teach on my own anyway.

Well, that about wraps up how we do math in our home.  I have unashamedly turned it over to someone else once they get old enough.  And, praise God, they are doing well despite my early fumblings.  

What do you do for math?  What is working best for your family?  Tell us in the comments below.

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