Monday, February 22, 2010

Before My Math Epiphany....part 1

*Disclaimer: If you are one of my visitors who does not home school and doesn't want to read about it, scroll to the bottom of the page and read the last 2 sentences.* When I began home schooling my boys, I had math issues. I love math. I know math. I like to add in my head, I estimate my grocery cart accurately. In spite of this, I have a problem. My math brain cannot teach math. In my mind, the math facts that I know exist already in my sons' heads. I used to fumble through teaching math. I have tried different curriculum. Here are my personal failures. Notice I say 'personal'. That is because they could not be taught by me to my loved ones. They probably are great programs, the companies are still in business, so it was my inexperience that caused the failure. I am thinking these might be great programs for 'girls'. Oh dear, I said it.....yes, there are some serious stereotypical thoughts in my brain spilling into my blog. Let's return from this tangent back to math and my first experiences.
  1. Miquon Math: I thought this was going to be perfect. I remember the colorful Cuisenaire® Rods from my own childhood. This was about teaching relationships with numbers. This never set right with me because the option to use each worksheet in different ways. Oh no, impossible for my concrete brain. My math thoughts are in black and white. I have since altered my narrow opinion of this, but it wasn't overnight. I have to teach, assign, correct and check off the box. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
  2. Life Pacs by Alpha Omega: Why did I think a first and second grade boy needed to learn how to write a check? O.K. boys now let's write four thousand, three hundred and eighty three, then write what number comes next. After weeks of moaning over what really amounted to 1/2 of a page of math and 1/2 of a page of handwriting number words, my kids were plotting to enroll in public school. My rigid personality hated to say "just skip it". Remember, I was new to homeschooling and enslaved to the teacher's manual. I since then have discovered that most little boys are allergic to pencils until about they are 8 or 9 years old. If they must get writers cramp, let it be on spelling, not math. Another frustration came when I figured out one of my kids could not add without a number line in front of him. I started to get discouraged. He cannot show up at the Stanford Achievement Testing with a number line. It just didn't feel right to me.
  3. Math for your First and Second Grader by Steve Slavin: This parent friendly book wasn't really a flop, it just only covered two grades. I enjoyed this book. It used household items to teach basic math facts. I can't call it a failure, but I couldn't continue with this. I needed to get serious. Third grade was looming, I needed curriculum. About this time, one son got lost in the telling time shuffle and had a serious gap. Thanks to the microwave and digital media, I found out he couldn't read a clock face the same week he started driving. Only kidding, he doesn't drive yet. But it was late. We were able to remedy this in a few days. A very cool thing about home schooling.
I did finally succeed in procuring an excellent math program, but in the interest of keeping this blog short and to the point, I'll save it for another blog. Oh and by the way what was my point? There are many cool things about home schooling. Thanks for stopping by.

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