Something great happened today – something that has never happened since we started homeschooling. Today BOTH of my boys stated that math was their favorite activity they did in school today. Math has often been approached with the “do I have to?” attitude. Tonight as my boys were about to sleep my 6 year old asked to do math again the next day.
So what is the difference? We made a few changes this year and I’ve set up specific math goals to accomplish this year:
- Addition and subtraction facts down
- Mental math strategies secure
- Multiplication facts in progress
- Enjoyment of math
- Complete 2 semesters of Singapore Math
Notice that one of the goals is enjoyment of math. Today was one sign that that particular goal is in progress. We are using a variety of resources and methods this school year. Our previous approach was workbook based that focused on practical application of math and word problems. This year we switched to Singapore Math combined with a living math approach. Singapore Math is a teacher-intensive program for us. Starting a lesson involves me teaching a concept using manipulatives. Following that we go over the textbook together. Then they do their workbook pages independently. Because I have two using Singapore math I switch back and forth. For instance I may start off teaching one son and get him set up on his workbook and then I start teaching the other son. By the time the second son is on the workbook I can teach my first son the next segment. So far it has worked out fine. I am also using Singapore’s Math Express Speed Maths Strategies with both boys to help improve their mental math skills.
For living math I am using a variety of math DVDs, games, and living books. In addition to this I am using the Fact Car Rally Race to help them learn math facts. I’ve found that the change from teaching with manipulates to textbook to workbook helps keep them interested. It breaks up the lesson into manageable chunks that are varied enough to ward off boredom.
Manipulatives aren’t only for learning place value. My creative little guy used the last few minutes of math to build a little castle.