Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Doing 'Rithmetic

In Laura Ingalls Wilder's day, school was all about the three R's, reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Funny how two of the three aren't technically "r's". Spelling must have rated less than phonics.

Our home school topic today is all both the last r, a-rithmetic. "Math, math, all about math." That's how the syllabus puts it.

I have to say, that once again, my traditional method of homeschooling leaves me a bit short for this post. Hmmm...

I could say, "we do math." (We even do math everyday.) That'd about cover it. And would earn it the vaunted spot of shortest Barefoot Hippie Girl post ever.

When I was growing up, and doing home schooling, we used BJU curriculum, including their math program. I have heard it is challenging, but it is what my siblings and I all used, and it didn't pose any unnecessary difficulties.

Being the if it ain't broke, why fix it? person that I am, when deciding on curriculums to use with my own kids, I chose to go with BJU (Bob Jones University). I am familiar with it. I like it. Plus I get used books from my mom for free.

I start all of my curriculum usage in first grade, not kindergarten. I use cheaper bookstore options for curriculum for kindergarten. Thus, to date, I have used BJU up through fifth grade with my oldest, and third for my second oldest.

Here is what I like about having my kids do the same curriculum all through the grades. The patterns of the textbooks follow the same flow. So, if my 5th grader is doing geometry in lesson 101, chances are, my 3rd grader is also doing geometry in lesson 101, albeit at a more basic level. This continuity is very helpful for me as the teacher of multiple grades. (the same principle carries over into grammar and spelling.)

I like BJU because it hits the same principles over and over, adding a new concept each time. And they use a lot of review. It has worked very well for us.

I also like BJU because it has worked well for both my boys, and that is saying a lot. They are both vastly different, and have different learning styles. Freckles works well both seeing and hearing something. (there probably is a proper term for that, but I don't know it off hand) He verbally works out a lot of his math. By hearing the information, it sticks in his mind better.

I know a lot of people use manipulatives for math. I really haven't up to this point. We did just make a set of multiplication fact flash cards to use with my third grader (Freckles). This ties in with his verbal-auditory learning style. I want him to be able to rattle those things off before the start of school next year. We will be working on it all summer.
when my kids don't get a math concept,  make up my own problems, and work with them until I know they understand.
My go-to math curriculum for Kindergarten has been Kumon. Have you heard of it? Kumon started over 50 years ago, as an after school math and reading tutoring center. They made up their own curriculum with the philosophy of practicing material until concepts are mastered, and advancing in small, manageable increments. Most of their workbooks have 30-40 lessons. Each lesson takes 20 minutes or less to complete.

Kumon starts very basic, and they use fun concepts. Dot to dots and mazes. Learning to count and add. It has given all three of my oldest kids a great foundation for the math skills they have continued to use with the BJU curriculum. At $6-8 a book, they tend to be quite a bit cheaper than traditional curriculum. I have also used Kumon's telling time and money books. Again, because of their step by step philosophy and practice.

They are available online, or at Barnes and Noble. And, how about a plug for B&N? Home school moms get the educator discount at B&N. It is a 20% savings. That knocks the price down even further.

What I have found interesting about this series is that I write what works for me, and what I am doing. Not what others are doing, or even what else is out there. I am sharing from my experience. And each of the other ladies are sharing from their experiences too. I hope you take the time to look everyone's posts up. What works for me, might not be your cup of tea, but maybe one of the other lady's ideas will get your juices flowing.

Oh, so you want to hear my greatest math moment this year? It ranks right up there with the yellow dyed sugar scrub...

I was cleaning my basement closet the other day, and discovered that I have the 5th grade math teacher's edition. Yes, it is the end of the year, and I have figured out each and every one of those math problems/answers on my own this entire year. End of year, end of book. Sigh...

At least I rediscovered the 6th grade teacher's edition at the same time...

What curriculum do you use for math? Do you use manipulatives? What is your favorite thing about your math curriculum? Your least favorite?

For more tips on math, check out JulieHweeChareen, and Savannah.