Monday, October 8, 2012

How We Do Math in Our Homeschool


"Of all his early studies, perhaps none is more important to the child
as a means of education than that of arithmetic."



"And you studied algebra?"
"Yes, I studied it just as I should take a dose of medicine, 
swallowed it down,
and then helped myself to a lump of sugar,
to take the taste out."
~ Elizabeth Prentiss, The Home at Greylock

The time has finally come to discuss math (sigh). We are definately a reading family. Literature is our first love.  Math is…  well… just there to hinder all the fun of homeschooling (just kidding, well not all the way...). We wanted something thorough but with a "get in and get out" format.   Finally the solution for our homeschool presented itself. It's called the Practical Arithmetic Series and here is how we implement it utilizing some of Charlotte Mason's ideas. For the record, I am not claiming this is the best or only way to go, but simply how we do math in case any one else is struggling and needs ideas.


Introduction

The title says it all, "practical". They offer three, hardcover, vintage style volumes (reprinted from the 1930's) in the series which will take your student from basic math addition/subtraction (third grade-ish) to pre-algebra (eighth grade). They are also working on printing the fourth volume which will take students to higher levels. A few pages a day will keep your child learning on track. I did notice that there are times when they give way too many problems of the same sort (busy work) and I usually slice that in half, if not more. One of the Charlotte Mason concepts I gleaned was to not beat a dead horse on a certain subject. If the child understands the concept then move on. Don't dull their desire to learn with mounds of busy work. Fifteen to twenty minutes of math a day is sufficient.




Importance of Word Problems...

What really pleased me was the fact that this curriculum is full of word problems. When explaining our purchase with a cousin who teaches math in high school, she said that the key to any math curriculum was story problems. She shared that although the math concepts are being taught in the schools, children have lost the skills of how to apply them which defeats the whole purpose of arithmetic! Word problems are a necessary tool used to implement the application of math in the real world. 

Practical Arithmetic $

The best part? It is probably one of the most affordable math curriculums available (approximately $50 for all three volumes equalling six years worth of material)! Now that's what I call GOOD MATH! (As shown in photo above, we use copybooks to work the problems in. I just made a little cover for each one to match with the corresponding math book so this product could work for all your students.)




"Demonstrate. --The next point is to demonstrate everything demonstrable. The child may learn the multiplication-table and do a subtraction sum without any insight into the rationale of either. He may even become a good arithmetician, applying rules aptly, without seeing the reason of them; but arithmetic becomes an elementary mathematical training only in so far as the reason why of every process is clear to the child."


Introducing Math Concepts with "Living Math"

To supplement the dryness of the textbook, we usually introduce the main math concepts as they appear in the curriculum with math games, math learning songs and/or hands-on instruction whenever possible. When teaching fractions, we utilized the kitchen as a schoolroom with baking and cooking. When teaching multiplication, we used beans as manipulatives to present the idea and then let them loose on the corresponding math problems once all is understood. Our arithmetic curriculum just reinforces what we have learned in practical demonstration (when applicable). I will share some of these resources and ideas in a future post.

"He has a bag of beans; places four rows with seven beans in a row; adds the rows thus: 7 and 7 are 14, and 7 are 21, and 7 are 28; how many sevens in 28? 4. Therefore it is right to say 4x7=28; and the child sees that multiplication is only a short way of doing addition.

A bag of beans, counters, or buttons should be used in all the early arithmetic lessons, and the child should be able to work with these freely, and even to add, subtract, multiply, and divide mentally, without the aid of buttons or beans, before he is set to 'do sums' on his slate."


Disclaimer

I am not affiliated with this math company in any way. I just like the price straightforwardness of it. Second, I am by no means saying this is for everyone since it is so basic. There are wonderful math sets out there that teach in fun, hands-on ways with some of them being done for you on the computer. What I will suggest is that a regimented math curriculum is a must (reasons are shared here). I hope this helps some of you out there. Don't feel guilty if a certain subject isn't your forte, just do your best and purchase a curriculum that fits your needs! Rainbow Resources provides further information about this curriculum here if you are interested.


"Carefully graduated teaching and daily mental effort on the child's part at this early stage may be the means of developing real mathematical power, and will certainly promote the habits of concentration and effort of mind."

22 comments:

  1. Very interesting post, I have been contemplating the math we currently use which is Singapore. Math is not my strongest subject, so I don't always feel confident in my skills to teach it to my dd, so I am always looking for very practical ways to teach it i.e living math. We also practice the Charlotte Mason methods of teaching, and I am wondering how this would compare to Singapore math? If anyone has viewed them both and can compare the differences? Thanks for the post, and the great information!!

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    1. I have never used Singapore but have a friend who LOVES it, however, she LOVES math… Farmlife Chick has some suggestions on the comment below that may be of help...

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  2. If you have little ones I recommend Teaching Early MathSkills Through Favorite Picture Books by C. Leuenberger grades K-1, and Teaching Math with Favorite Picture Books by Hechtman & Ellermyer grades 1-3. My all time favorite though is Dr. Ruth Beechick's Easy Start in Arithmetic grades 1-3. Literature based math is awesome! Thanks for this post!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions! With your reviews, you come across a lot more curriculum to share! I do have a lot of respect for Dr. Beechick so I am disappointed that I missed out on her "easy starts"… I am sure I would have liked them!

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  3. I should have stated my dd is doing 4th grade math. I know a lot of people who do really like Singapore, and I don't dislike it but I don't "love" it, I would however love to find a more literature based math for her age!

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    1. How about the "Life of Fred" series? I have not tried it because I already had this going but it is literature based and recommended on the Charlotte Mason Supplier website called "Queens Homeschool Supplies"… It looked really interesting and may be what you have in mind. Here is a link:

      https://www.queenshomeschooling.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=67_70&zenid=4bba676572f360938518c63dd310adb0

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  4. Oh great thanks so much, I will check it out!

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  5. Jes, I just ordered this! It was exactly what I was looking for!! Thank you SO much for the information.

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    1. Excellent!!! Thanks for letting me know! Let me know how you like it! :)

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  6. A wonderful post, my friend. Miss Mason's perspective on Math has changed the way I teach the subject. We use Saxon Math (probably one the "driest" Math curricula around, but buying a new curriculum right now isn't a possibility), and my children loathed the daily lessons. But teaching it the CM way has made it easier and less boring. I think that for my younger ones, using manipulatives is the key to "getting it"..especially for the adding, subtracting, multiplication, and division facts. :)
    Hope you're having a lovely week.
    Many blessings,
    Lisa

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    1. I am right there with you. Our curriculum is pretty dry which is why we try and spice it up with the manipulatives and games. We just have to do our best with what we have sometimes :) Thanks for sharing!

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  7. How about Math Lessons for a Living Education. http://angelaodell.com/math-lessons-for-a-living-education/

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    1. Not heard of that… Will have to check it out! Thank you for sharing ;)

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    2. Ah yes! I remember seeing that in the Queen Homeschool catalog AFTER I purchased our stuff. Also, I believe they only had the younger ones available at that time. Maybe that has changed… Thanks for sharing!! Hopefully it will help other readers!

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  8. Had I not of already purchased Ray's Arithmetic I would get this. But I am pleased with what we have. They have a lot in common; word problems, being dry (ha), covering from k-8, awesome price, etc. In fact, they have so much in common that I had to double check that the curriculum wasn't the same one with a different name. Enjoying your blog!

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    1. Hi there Robin! Funny because Ray's was on the list for me as well! It was between Practical Arithmetic and Ray's. I went with this one because it was less inexpensive and re-usable (I believe Rays were in workbook form?). Thank you for introducing yourself! :)

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  9. Do these have answers in the back or are there separate keys to buy? These look great to me! Yes, I may sound boring compared to some of the fancy programs, but these are quick and to the point. ...ready to do, get it done and move on to reading :)

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    1. Yes, my sentiments exactly! And all the answers are in the back of the book making it VERY affordable. You may also want to read the comments here as some other curriculums are shared which look interesting too. Hope you come up with something that works for your homeschool! :)

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  10. The link for the math is gone from keepers of the faith website. Is there somewhere else I can order??

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  11. Thanks for letting me know. It looks like they are fazing out their curriculum... Anyways, I found them at good old trusty RAINBOW RESOURCES and they are even less inexpensive!

    https://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?subject=Mathematics/10&category=Strayer-Upton+Practical+Arithmetics+Series/9224

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  12. Though I know this post is old, I was curious if you found success in these 'Practical Arithmetic series' books? I just ordered them (1 and 2) for my little ones, because I struggle with math myself, therefore I struggle in how to TEACH math..I am hoping these will give a simple clear step by step instruction (which Im no good at verbalizing for my children)on how to learn the basics from scratch...
    I would love to hear the pro's and cons' of this series, that you experienced after you were 'said and done' with them... And what ages did you use each series for?
    I appreciate any feedback- Homeschooling has been such a blessing for us, but come math time- its less then enjoyable :)
    Thank you so much for your blog- its been a blessing to me...

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    1. Hi there! We are still working through the series and are on the last book. I have found that sometimes their way of teaching something is quite a different method than how I learned which can be frustrating at times... But, I have also found that I can point my student back to their example problem at the beginning of a new concept and usually it is figured out by plugging in the numbers... It does seem to move fast at some times but there is enough busy work to keep them at it until they get it. If I feel the concept is learned, I assign less problems than what is given on the page. What is nice is that they do constant reviews at the end of the chapter and you can see if they really understood the concepts or not fairly quickly without moving too far ahead... I really can't say this series is the "answer" but I feel it does what it needs to do.... Sorry I can't be of more help. I still don't enjoy that part of homeschool either but the other 90 percent outweighs that sentiment as homeschooling has been such a blessing to us! If you have a problem teaching a specific problem, there is a website that teaches every kind of math problem on video that may be helpful to you when you are "stuck"... I think it is called Khan Academy. Sorry I couldn't be of more help! Love, JES

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