Math is one of those things that gave me a stomachache when I was in school; in fact, it still does. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be teaching math one day. I didn’t always feel like math is a four-letter word. I loved math until fifth grade when the times table kicked my behind. Once the pace and difficulty of the concepts escalated, I got lost and never really felt in the loop again.
My poor Navy engineer dad couldn’t understand why I didn’t get it, and he tried and tried to help me with my homework, which always resulted in tears. I love geometry but don’t really “get” algebra, no matter how much I’ve tried. As an English/Education major in college, I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I found out I could take “Math for Elementary School Teachers” instead of Calculus–SCORE!!
Surviving Homeschool Math
We have tried a little of everything in our thirteen years of homeschooling: Singapore, Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons, BJU, Shiller…Yep, just name it, and we’ve probably tried it.
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Our favorite starter math is Miquon Math Lab Materials, which we’ve used with all three kids. We love the hands-on approach of this program and the way the program teaches kids to think mathematically and understand the “why.” The handwritten workbook pages and problem solving with Cuisenaire Rods add to the fun and make the material engaging. The only problem is, it ends by mid- to late-elementary, and we had trouble finding another program to move into that “clicks.”
Finally, I discovered Life of Fred High School. My writer/book lover/creative genius teen is thrived in this program. He “gets it,” and didn’t dread doing the work like he did with some of the programs we tried. Life of Fred is unique and is written as a narrative story. It also incorporates a wide range of subjects, so it doesn’t seem so much like math at all. I think the non-textbooky/workbooky style is the biggest draw, but the method used to explore the concepts gives students context for what they’re learning and makes it applicable to real life.
LIFE OF FRED recently came out with Life of Fred Elementary Series, which we’ve started with our youngest son, who is still finishing up with the Miquon books.
My teen is also working through the Keys to… books. These are great for reinforcing skills and for introducing new concepts. Because each workbook is self-paced and short, the work is not intimidating. We have done part of the Fractions, Percents, and Geometry so far, and their style is similar to the Miquon approach. The Keys to… books present the material in a student self-paced series of booklets that spur discovery learning.
Along with these curriculum resources, I try to incorporate math into our daily lives and make it just as fun as listening to read-alouds is for my kids. When it dawned on me that my kids and I are now enjoying math, I realized that a hands-on approach and real life application of math are key factors in understanding.
Fun Math Extras
- My youngest has fun playing with the Learning Wrap-ups, Multipication Wrap-ups and has mastered most of the times tables simply through playing.
- The American Educational Pyramath Card Game is a fun addition to our hands-on math resources. We all love playing this game, and the kids ask to play it all the time. Read my full review of Pyramath here!
- We also like the Yamslam game and have even taken it along with us on vacation to play in the evenings.
I am striving to keep a good attitude about the m-word so that my kids will enjoy it and want to learn and there won’t be any stomachaches or tears involved. So far, we are surviving (and maybe even thriving, a little)!
What do you do for math in your homeschool?
Curriculum Fair is a place for me to share the curriculum we use. We modify and revamp over the years as we go along. Our homeschooling journey is always changing!