Math As They Grow

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As I mentioned in this post, my own math instruction as a child was concentrated on workbooks and left me ill-prepared to understand more advanced math. In the last few years, I have come to the realization that our own attitude about math affects how we teach it, and I've taken pains to project a more positive attitude towards math instruction.

I love the way many Montessori schools present math, and when my children were preschool age, I would make sure and present all math concepts using these hands on methods. 

Check out The Peaceful Preschool for hands on math ideas for young children.

With my older children, I transitioned them into more traditional math programs, but was happy to start Right Start Math with my youngest son. I've loved the concrete way that they present math concepts, and have found my own mental math skills strengthened as I've been using it with my son.

Right Start also uses playful activities, such as games, to reinforce skills instead of tedious drills and flashcards. Playful forms of learning are much more attractive than drills and flashcard to many of us as adults, as well as to our children. They help us retain the information that we have learned.

Finding the right math program for your early elementary student might require a little research. Each parent and child has a different learning style, and learning styles have a lot of bearing on your child's success with a program. As well, many children are not developmentally ready for abstract learning, so programs that rush this with too many worksheets can ultimately make math more difficult later on.

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For your preschool learners, keep using the counting and fine motor skills included in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, as well as playing math games and counting throughout your day.

For kindergarten students, keep on counting and playing math games. If they are ready for more math, start with Right Start Math or Math U See. 

For later elementary students, if they have a strong command of underlying math principals through Right Start or Math U See, Teaching Textbooks is a great resource. I added it last year with my third grade student and appreciated the extra accountability and motivation. My children enjoyed hopping on to get a lesson done, and it reinforced what we were learning with Right Start. If you do switch your children to computer based math, make sure they have learned good study skills, including concepts such as writing math problems clearly, labeling papers, and watching the full lecture, before you set them up with a more independent math program. I've learned from experience that my older children started to struggle with computer based math when they didn't follow these steps. My bad for not holding them accountable.

If they need additional help, and homeschooling is your educational choice, look for a math tutor or group class that they can join. Even Khan Academy can be a valuable resource in making math meaningful for your children. We've also found some math apps, such as Smartick can be a valuable resource in developing strong math learners.

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Finally, no matter what math program you choose, try to use positive words to describe math, and help them to see that math skills are an important part of our daily life.

Check out our other curriculum for elementary students.

The Playful Pioneers

The Precious People

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Favorite Math Resources

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Since the day I began homeschooling, over 20 years ago, I have tried many math programs. I spent my early childhood in a private school that used a workbook style program for math, and it definitely stunted both my enjoyment and confidence in my math abilities. I want something better for my own children.

My hands down favorite of all the math programs I have tried for early childhood is still Right Start Math. Their hands on approach appeals to my child, and I can see the connections being made as we learn together. Even with the first few levels, I felt like my own skills at mental math were improving.

This year with my 3rd grade student, I also added Teaching Textbooks. I have used later grades with several of my older children, and was excited about adding as many math resources as were enjoyable. As my first set of children have reached college age, I’ve seen them manage their higher maths but not necessarily enjoy them, and I want to develop more of a love for math, as opposed to just a tolerance for it in the youngest two. Teaching Textbooks grade 3 is very engaging and simple, while incorporating a great amount of review.

Another resource we have tried this year has been Smartick. It is an app that claims to help your child advance rapidly in math in only 15 minutes a day. It has been a great  addition to our repertoire of math resources as well, giving me the help of a tutor without actually paying the hourly rates of a tutor.

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When a little younger, my children also enjoyed using the app, Montessori Preschool. Montessori style math produces amazing results and even the app helped my children with skills such as place value and other numerical skills. We limit use of devices, but found these two helpful exceptions when used a few minutes a day.

We also recognize the important math benefits of other skills and subjects such as music, art, and cooking. As we continue learning in those areas, we are developing greater levels of understanding that can also apply to math.

You can also find insightful articles about teaching math in recent bundles of Wild and Free, the one by Rachel Kovac was especially encouraging to me. Her thoughts on how the attitude of parents towards math, directly affects the math performance and understanding of children, were very helpful for me as I work to develop a love of math for my children’s sake.

What are your favorite resources for teaching math?

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Our Peaceful Preschool curriculum includes phonics, math, and motor skills training connected to beautiful literature, to help prepare your child for school success. Order your copy today!

 

 

Math For Young Children

As a child, I went to a private school that focused on reading quickly, but did nearly all math instruction through workbooks. This method left me ill-prepared to understand more advanced math, and I labeled myself a struggling math learner from then on. 

With my own children, I have been motivated to use more hands on methods to teach math, but have still vacillated between several math programs, because while I might wish for a magical math that teaches itself, there is no such solution. Believe me, I have searched. With my oldest children, I was especially pressed for time and usually chose a method that involved hands on learning, but that was also easy for a student to complete fairly independently. 

As those students grew, each of them struggled with algebra. I used several different programs, Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons, and Math U See, but it wasn't until they were in an actual math class at the local junior college that algebra began to make sense for them. Although none of my oldest students have gone on to pursue a career in math, those who are pursuing college have been able to complete the upper level classes necessary for their degree.

I feel like there are a few lessons that I can take from the experiences my oldest children have had with math. The first lesson is that math requires a teacher (even a non math loving mother can be that teacher), and the second is that early-hands on math experience is essential for later success.

With these lessons in mind, I have switched to Right Start Math with my youngest son, and I am moving slowly through the lessons. I would rather do each lesson thoroughly and make certain that my child is understanding it, than to push quickly through and end up with roadblocks as he approaches upper level math. Right Start uses many concrete examples and activities to make manipulating numbers second nature for your child. 

Right Start also uses playful activities such as games to reinforce skills instead of tedious drills and flashcards. Playful forms of learning are much more attractive than drills and flashcard to many of us as adults, as well as to our children. They also help us retain the information that we have learned.

Finding the right math program for your early elementary student might require a little research. Each parent and child has a different learning style, and learning styles have a lot of bearing on your child's success with a program. As well, many children are not developmentally ready for abstract learning, so programs that rush this with too many worksheets can ultimately make math more difficult later on.

For your preschool learners, keep using the counting and fine motor skills included in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, as well as playing math games and counting throughout your day.

For kindergarten students, keep on counting and playing math games. If they are ready for more math, start with Right Start Math or Math U See. 

For later elementary students, if they have a strong command of underlying math principals through Right Start or Math U See, you could try switching to Teaching Textbooks. Make sure they have learned good study skills, including concepts such as writing math problems clearly, and labeling papers before you set them up with a more independent math program. If they need additional help, and homeschooling is your educational choice, look for a math tutor or group class that they can join. Even Khan Academy can be a valuable resource in making math meaningful for your children.

Finally, no matter what math program you choose, try to use positive words to describe math, and help them to see that math skills are an important part of our daily life.

To purchase The Peaceful Preschool CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

 

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