I haven’t been sharing a lot about our homeschool curriculum. I’m sure you’ve noticed that. It’s not because I don’t want to help others, but because I have seen how easy it is to become caught up in what other people are doing and compare. And now that we have quit homeschooling through a traditional way, but focus more on our hearts, I pray that what I share will encourage you and not cause anyone to ever compare or make rash decisions.
However, I need to share something about our math. After all, we need to share our successes, right?
Why math? Well, when you have two children who are gifted in math and one who is extremely creative and does not filter the world in the same way, math can be a struggle.
For the first four years of homeschooling, we used the same math curriculum. I decided early on that I would use the same math curriculum to save money and because it appeard to be working well.
Then, reality hit. I realized two of my children were very bored, another was not grasping the concepts.
So, when I was at Teach Them Diligently Convention in Spartanburg last year, I finally decided to dig into Right Start Math.
And I am so glad I did!
You see, all of my children are begging to work on their math now. The two who were bored are excited about math and the one who was struggling is making great progress -and we are no longer experiencing tears and unnecessary frustration during math.
In the past, the children would watch a video and then finish their worksheets. Now- I sit with two of them for about 30 minutes each. I teach them the lesson (I have already reviewed) and we work through the lesson utilizing the manipulatives we purchased with the program.Truth be known, these have become the secret to their success. From using cards to an abacus, a math balance or tiles – they look forward to learning. And they are not just learning for the moment, I can truly see them progress in their understanding as they work through the lessons.
And me – I love the way the program utilizes different methods to teach various concepts. For example, a few days ago, I was teaching a lesson to one of my children about place values. The lesson used a calculator to help the child fully understand place value. How? Well, take a calculator and enter 449. Enter the value that will then show 409 on the calculator. The child has to understand the ones, tens and hundreds – in order to grasp that 4 tens needs to be removed, thus – subtracting 40 will ensure the success of finding 409. That is just one example and there are many others.
Our fun changes in math don’t begin and end with Right Start Math. My oldest is learning so much from his new program: Video Text. He is excited about math again. It’s wonderful seeing his eyes light up with excitement as he grows in his knowledge. I was afraid the program would be too advanced for him, but it’s just what he needed. He’s just like his Dad and thinks in mathematical equations. So, it’s been perfect – and he is no longer bored with math.I wish I had realized he was bored with math rather than thinking he was being lazy or had an attitude problem. I believe he would be even happier now and we would not have suffered through a few years of me pushing him.
For a little fun, we all love sitting down and reading through a chapter of Life of Fred. And we add in some good old Principal style math with Rays Arithmetic
when we are sitting around the table. The children like it when I ‘quiz’ them using Ray’s.
So, how do you identify math for gifted and struggling learners? Honestly, it takes trial and error. What works in my home may not work in yours. However, I do recommend this – if you can find a program you like with manipulatives that are already created for you – use it. The hands on learning without needing Mom to spend even more time creating something will help reduce stress and frustration in your home.
And last but not least – if your children are struggling with math, if you think they are being lazy – take a step back. You may have a very gifted child who is bored. You may also have a child who is struggling because the style of math you are teaching is not what they need. It’s difficult to identify what we need sometimes, but this is part of the beauty of homeschool. It shouldn’t be cookie cutter for each child. Use your days to customize the right learning environment for each of your children.