As I reflect back on our homeschool journey, I always question whether I’m doing enough for the children. I believe that’s a normal course of thought in parenthood, even more so with the homeschooling parent. I have developed the belief that their spirituality and uniqueness and talents are to be nurtured and built up. I make lots of time for things that interest the children.
I find it easy to know where the children are when it comes to Language Arts. I hear them read, I see their grammar in action, I read their reports. I do not have any concerns when it comes to their language skills. Mathematics is where I question myself, which is ironic considering Math was my best subject. As a student, I saw, I did, I tested, I aced. There was no confusion for me in that area of schooling. I did not question methods and always expected perfect or near to it on tests.
My children however have not been so one-sided, with the exception of Frankie who like me excels in everything mathematical. I believe I should have been diagnosed with Autism in school, but it wasn’t even considered back then. But that’s for another post.
I figured that because I had skills in Math that I wouldn’t need to purchase curriculum and just be able to print off some worksheets that they would happily and quickly fill out. Was I wrong. The youngest three need to “see” the concept, “feel” the concept and then “do” the concept. It is like learning a foreign language for me. It has definitely stretched me beyond my abilities, in a good way.
I’ve always taken the approach with Math not to push too hard too fast. If they don’t understand a concept, I leave it. We cover a completely different topic, then after 6 months or so, I try reintroducing the previous roadblock and see if they are better able to comprehend the material.
My littles were having a hard time understanding fractions and insteading of beating my head against a wall because “they have to know fractions!”, I switched gears and spent the next four months on geometric concepts. It took the pressure off but they were still learning.
I had homeschooled my children until they had reached 3rd, 2nd, 1st and SK. I put them in school due to family stresses and ended up pulling them out after a year and a half. My oldest daughter, Casey was struggling with Math. She is an artsy, musical, boundless free spirit who hates everything to do with Math. She struggled to find her footing and knew she had alot of ground to make up. There were many tears over the years and alot of going back to the very basics and taking it slowly (so as not to spook her!)
I am not the type to rely on chapter and unit tests. I don’t quiz them as I go along. I do not wish to give them any pressure when it comes to mathematics. I will however suddenly say “O.K, take a seat at the table, it’s time for a Math test.” I usually grab a test that is a year summary and always let them know that I don’t expect anything, I just want to see what they know and where the gaps are. Normally when they are done I mark them right away and sit with each child and try to explain what they got wrong and why. I can always tell from their reactions if they just transposed a number wrong or added a column incorrectly or whether it really is a gap in their knowledge. I usually do this near the beginning of the school year and near the ending. This method has worked out well for me and the children do not fear testing.
I have used several programs before and have pieced together some curriculum online or otherwise. However now I am going to try out Teaching Textbooks. I have been hesitant at using this program in the past solely because of price. I finally decided to watch the intro videos and read reviews.
||Teaching Textbooks Math 7 Extra Workbook & Answer KeyBy Greg Sabouri & Shawn Sabouri / Teaching Textbooks IncTeaching Textbooks, whose upper-level math programs have debuted with much acclaim, has now published Math 7! Designed specifically for homeschoolers, Teaching Textbooks is for independent students, with the “teacher” and “workbook” elements combined! The workbook offers detailed instructions, fun illustrations, real-world examples, extensive review and already high-lighted important concepts. Topics covered in this program include: adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and using whole numbers in the real world; fractions; decimals; percents; geometric measurements; graphing and more!This is an extra workbook set only; this does NOT include the Teaching Textbooks Math 7 CD-ROM Set; this book is not designed to be used without the CDs. Teaching Textbooks Grade 7.This kit includes:
- A 588 page workbook, spiral-bound, softcover
- A 44 page answer key, softcover.
I chose to go ahead with this program this year, even though it will be our biggest expense so far. I like that it has videos that they can review, rewind and receive instruction from someone other than me. I can say there have been tears in the past, from the children and myself (ahem). They can look up the answers and only then, if they don’t understand, they can come and ask me for help. This will free up precious time to focus one other more neglected subjects. Unfortunately Math has taken up lots of our time that I would have loved to spent more time on building maps and science projects, nature study and more art.
When I gave the children their placement tests I started out with the Grade 5 placement for the younger three. All of them passed. I felt that Jayme, my youngest girl would do best with starting at Grade 5, just to cement some of the concepts. Andy, my young boy and Casey both wanted to try Grade 6 and I’m happy to say both passed. So they moved on to try the Grade 7…..and…….both passed again! I am so proud of both of them. Casey has worked so hard and now she is on target with starting Grade 7 Math and Andy is ahead a grade.
In a continuing post, I will break down some of the other programs we’ve used and talk about the pros and cons.
As for Frankie, I am going to be writing a seperate post about him soon, because there are big plans coming down the pipeline for him…stay tuned for that!
By the way, I would love to hear what you all have used to get over the mathematical hurdles in your paths. God Bless.