Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Elementary Math


Math curriculum choices are always the most difficult for me. I want to make sure I am giving my students the best possible opportunity to have good experiences with math. In addition, math curriculum is probably the most expensive part of any homeschool budget. So, this is one product I will not purchase without touching and feeling and reading through the materials.

My biggest issue with my first child was that most kindergarten curriculum seemed too simple - covering shapes, colors, and numbers with some basic addition/subtraction. Most of these concepts were already mastered with preschool activities and workbooks, and it seemed ridiculous to pay $100 for her to go through it all again. As I looked through the different offerings, I started looking for something that stayed simple and was easy for me to teach.

The first curriculum that most people review is Saxon Math which is similar to the math textbooks that we all grew up using. This is considered the "textbook method" where review is the game - you keep going back over learned concepts as you incorporate some new concepts a little at a time. There are lots of problems to work on, but they have started to incorporate hands-on activities as well. You will find similar math programs with all major curriculum providers such as Abeka, Bob Jones or Alpha Omega.

If the "textbook method" seems like too much for you or for your student, the next program to review is a math program that is more hands-on and interactive. These programs really appeal to teachers who have a hard time getting their students to enjoy math or sit still long enough to get a concept. They also save the teacher time with video and computer teacher options. Math U See is all about making math visual, and Teaching Textbooks is a fun computer software that leads your student through fun activities and visuals.

I ended up choosing the Right Start Math program which mixes visuals, games, and worksheets together to make a math program that is fun and engaging, but incorporates the written work needed for future math applications. The teacher must stay involved through the process, so it is not for those who need something that is independent for the student. You also have to trust the process since it does not introduce math concepts in a traditional way.

What if you can't pay $100 a year for math curriculum? Or what if you like to be creative or follow the unschooling method? There are wonderful websites and even learning games that can be used. Right Start Math has a Math Games book and cards that cover all the basic arithmetic needed for elementary grades. Cool Math 4 Kids is a FREE online math curriculum that can be incorporated as well. Don't forget the power of the internet for FREE resources, and you can check out my math links by clicking here. I use these links when my students need a little extra review or help.

I want to encourage you, most of all, to find a curriculum that makes sense to you; then, you will be able to adjust it for what your student needs. Also, take your time and don't feel like you have to rush through the materials. Elementary math is the basis, the foundation, and it needs to be built firmly not only for upper level math, but also for daily life!

1 comment:

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