Something great happened one day when my kids were in Kindergarten and 2nd grade- something that had never happened since we started homeschooling. On that day BOTH of my kids stated that math was their favorite activity they did in school that day. Math had often been approached with the “do I have to?” attitude. That night as my kids were about to sleep my 6 year old asked to do math again the next day.
So what was the difference? We made a few changes that year and I set up specific math goals to accomplish that 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 was enjoyment of math. That night was one sign that that particular goal was in progress. We were using a variety of resources and methods that school year. Our previous approach was workbook-based that focused on practical application of math and word problems. That year we switched to Singapore Math combined with a living math approach.
Singapore Math was a teacher-intensive program for us. Starting a lesson involved me teaching a concept using manipulatives. Following that we went over the textbook together. Then they did their workbook pages independently. Because I had two using Singapore math I switched back and forth. For instance I started off teaching one kid and got him set up on his workbook and then I started teaching the other kid. By the time the second child was on the workbook I taught my first child the next segment.
I also used Singapore’s Math Express Speed Maths Strategies with both kids to help improve their mental math skills.
For living math I used a variety of math DVDs, games, and living books. In addition to that I used 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 helped keep them interested. It broke up the lesson into manageable chunks that were varied enough to ward off boredom.
Manipulatives weren’t only for learning place value. My creative little guy used the last few minutes of math to build a little castle.