Math, along with reading and writing, is the foundation of an education. Arithmetic is obviously essential for getting along in every day life whether you're baking up your favorite cookies or shopping for an insurance policy. But the importance of math goes much deeper than that. Mathematics teaches thought patterns, logic, and mental discipline. Every high school graduate should have a thorough education through algebra and geometry at the very least.
MATH IS FOR EVERYBODY
We wholeheartedly believe in rigorous mathematical education for all students. What you'll find below are mostly games, tips, tricks, and positive methods we've used when teaching our own kids math skills.
TIPS FOR TOUGH PROBLEMS
MATH CURRICULA WE RECOMMEND
There are lots of lots of terrific math programs out there for homeschoolers. They are suited to different learning styles and families, and what works for one may not work for all, but these are a few that we've tried or seen and feel good about recommending to you.
Saxon has been a staple in our homeschool since the beginning. It is thorough and well-designed. It uses a cyclical approach, meaning the learned concepts are repeated over and over, expanding with each repetition. The early grades begin in workbooks and then progress to textbooks. There are teacher's manuals, answer keys, testing booklets, and manipulative kits. There are also CD's available with lessons for more advanced courses.
I've used Saxon every year in our homeschool and have been incredibly happy with it. The biggest complaint I've heard from other homeschoolers is that it's repetitive. I love the repetition though. I am not a servant to our curriculum, but rather, I make it serve our needs, individualizing it for each kid. I don't assign every single problem and work straight through the book. Rather, I sit with my child and we go through the lesson together, then complete the lettered problems that accompany the lesson. After that, I assign appropriate work - sometimes every problem, but often just odds or selected problems that I choose. Sometimes we progress though several lessons a day. The thorough nature allows us to have plenty to choose from.
Math-U-See is really popular among homeschoolers. It is a hands-on, manipulative based approach. There are video lessons as well as workbooks. I have not personally used it, but many homeschooling families I know have used and really enjoyed this program. For hands-on learners, this may be a good fit.
LIFE OF FRED
This series is fun and silly, and better yet, teaches kids to think like mathematicians. It is story that teaches how to think about math and numbers. I wouldn't recommend it as a your only math curriculum, but it is a wonderful resource nonetheless. Too often we go through the motions of math without real understanding. Anything that can help kids see past the page into the real meaning behind the numbers gets my seal of approval. Put this with your favorite curriculum and you'll be golden.
RIGHT START MATH
Right Start Math uses a hands-on, number sense approach to math. We've used it to help our kids develop an understanding of what numbers are, to work on mental math, and to aid them in visualizing numbers and grouping.
Like Saxon, it is a cyclical curriculum. It is thorough and easy to understand, although you will need to read the instructional materials as it will likely feel a bit different from how you may have learned math as a kid.
Their abacus approach is brilliant, and we have used the abacus with all of our kids, whether or not they used the entire Right Start program.We didn't particularly enjoy the card games, but the abacus has been the best tool ever, and the lessons are clear and approachable and teach number sense really well.
Singapore Math uses a mastery approach. You focus on one concept at a time until it is mastered in depth, and then you move on to the next concept. Like Right Start, this program teaches number sense really well. It uses pictorial lessons to teach about numbers.
I have preferred to use Singapore workbooks as a supplement to other programs rather than using it as a stand-alone curriculum. The workbooks are friendly and there aren't very many problems on a page, so it makes a great extra practice for math operations. We've especially used it in the summertime or during other school breaks to stay fresh in math concepts without the burden of new lessons.
Teaching Textbooks is a great program if you really don't feel you have time to sit and teach each math lesson. It has consumable workbooks and video lessons on CD. I have reviewed this program, but never used it with my kids personally. Many homeschool families I know really love it. It begins in 3rd grade math.
You may also be interested in teaching math in a mastery approach without a curriculum at all, or just filling in gaps of understanding if you have a kiddo who struggles in math. If you think that may be more your style, check out this post that includes a printable knowledge map of concepts to learn.