She is barely a year behind
by whose standards? And why would you care? I don't mean that
to sound harsh, but I homeschool because my children are not pairs of
one-size-fits-all pantyhose and I don't want to be stuffing them full
of someone else's educational goals.
I am not surprised that she didn't pick up and become interested in
the math books that were left out. Take a new approach.
Put the math books away. Let her do some practical things - I'll
give you some suggestions. You will know these things involve
math skills, but don't rub it in.
Math is such a part of our everyday lives that there is little difficulty
for our children to pick up the skills they need. And they
will learn these skills when they see the need to know them. My
son never had any formal math training and was able to pick up a Saxon
65 when he was in 6th grade and be right on target with what was being
presented in the book. I would have been content to have gone
much longer without a math textbook.
Examples of Everyday Things
That's all I can think of right now because I haven't had any coffee yet.
- Have her plan a party (birthday, Christmas, New Year's) and do all
the decorating, baking, etc. Give her a budget to work with.
- Let her redecorate her room (this is a great birthday present) and
give her X amount of money with which to do this. Painting and
sewing both involve math skills.
- Play games. Not "let's sit down and do our math games" but
regular games that involve math skills to be played whenever your
family plays games. Let her be scorekeeper when you go bowling.
Some math games: monopoly, Yahtzee, any of the strategic games involving
logic and thinking skills (Battleship, Stratego).
- General budgeting. Let her help with the family budget.
Meal planning and coupons are good for developing math skills.
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It seems like 'teaching' math is the last area that
unschoolers are able to let go. Maybe the only 'real' curriculum
used will be a math curriculum. I used to be like that, but now
rarely refer to math curriculum at all, but we still 'do' quite a bit
of math. Here are some of the things we've done over the years...
- Let the kids keep score for games (Double digit addition, maybe
even triple digit in action <G>).
- Let the kids play around with the calculator.
- Ask the child to keep a running total while grocery shopping (maybe
rounded to the closest .25).
- Include the kids in household projects such as building, plumbing,
etc... anything that requires measuring, estimating, and so on.
- Play mental math games in the car or while waiting in the Dr's
office such as 'I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 50... nope,
guess higher... nope, lower.. great! You got it!
- Let the kids keep their own calendar, marking off days until some
I'm sure there are many more examples. Overall, I've tried to show the
kids where math is needed in every day life. I don't think we ever finished
any math books (although we've certainly purchased quite a few. LOL).
- When eating out we often let the kids figure out how much change
we'd be getting back and what the tip should be.
- Keep a log of miles driven and gas used in the car and figure out
- Estimate how many steps out to the mailbox (or wherever) and then
see how close you are.
- I have lots of 'math manipulatives' that we just enjoy playing
with... pattern blocks, centimeter blocks, pentanimos, tangrams, Cuisenaire
- Let the kids see you make mistakes once in awhile.
And just because a child balks or plateaus or whatever at one point does
not mean that they are forever destined to be 'behind' in math.
Marci in Illinois
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First, here are some Web sites:
- Hoagies' Gifted Education
This first site is absolutely full of great ideas and books about
math (and other things). Even if you don't agree with the labeling
of gifted, it is very worth a look.
- AIMS Education Foundation
This has a problem of the day (week?) that can be lots of fun.
My son and I did one today in which you had to figure out how to use
12 toothpicks to form 6 "pens" of equal shape and size. (Could be
sheep pens, etc.)
This has a math baseball game on it and other goodies.
- Set Enterprises
This company makes 3 great games: 2 math and one spelling.
Worth a look.
- Maze books are great if your child likes these (as are dot to dots
for younger ones). "Puzzlemania Magazine" is great for
logic and problem solving and it's colorful and fun. Any brain
teaser book that looks interesting to your child can be a real math
- "Time Life for Children" has a series of books called I Love
Math Series. Some of the titles include Amusement Park
Math (my son's fav), Play Ball, Sports Math, and
The House That Math Built. The drawback is that I could
only find 2 in my library's system (I bought one). Hoagies page
(above) lists The Number Devil and Enzensberger (sp?).
This is great for upper elementary skills and Jr. High, but
if your child has fears, (the main character unfortunately looks like
a little devil) this is not for you. I'm still searching for
a comparable book without the scare factor.
- Family Math
- Any Marilyn Burns book about math.
- Harold Jacob's Mathematics, A Human Endeavor
- Math Games and Activities From Around the World, by Claudia
Zaslavsky (ages 8-12 from Northrop Publishing (888-576-8532)
Games and any building set you can think of:
- Monopoly, Stratego, Forget It, Racko, Chess, S'math, Zometools,
Stratomatic Baseball, any game with a regular deck of cards such as
Math Wars, Magic Math (Scholastic, I think)
Fun stuff and real life:
Any game can be taken as far as you want. E.g.,
my son decided that instead of 5 dice for Yatzee, he would play with
10 and take 14 rolls. He even renamed his new game. Also
as we play dice games, we talk about probability and chance at his level.
You can cover virtually any skill with dice and card games.
Another example: Today as we were eating our Valentine's candy
early <G>, we decided to estimate how many of each color hearts there
were, then how many in all, then we looked at the nutritional (huh?)
contents and saw that there were 14 servings and each serving contained
17 pieces so we went to the white board and figured out if our estimates
were close to the actual number, then we figured out who was closer.
OK! I know this is my kid but do you see where this might
be going? Not every day is like this, but since I pulled out of
a curriculum with him, he now joyously does math because he calls the
shots. He and a friend ran a lemonade stand one day. Fractions
and percentages are all over the place in measuring, food bills and
tips, tax on sales items, paying bills.
Do I have workbooks around? You bet! My son loves to do
mystery math type workbooks while we're driving. I need to say
that it's almost all done in his head because he's basically a non-writer.
Do I have curriculum around? Yes. There are some questions
I need help with answering myself.
I did this because wanted to nurture the uniqueness that God placed
in my son.
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