Our Curriculum Choice 2014 ~ Mathematics

Monday, January 13, 2014

This week for the Virtual Curriculum Fair we are talking about Mathematics.
One of my favourite subjects to teach is mathematics.  The beauty of numbers & algebraic problems & the logic behind them seem to sing to my overly-logical brain.  I therefore find it amusing that when I sat the children down individually the other day & asked them a list of questions about our homeschool, three out of four answered that the thing they least liked about last year was maths.  ~Sigh~  So I was left in a bind as to whether to continue with my projected plan for the coming school year or to scrap it & begin again.  However after further thought, discussion & prayer I realised that while Maths may not be the favourite subject of my children (who am I kidding, it wasn't until senior that it was my favourite subject), each child is achieving well in their maths work & the effort to find & produce another plan that in all likelihood would also be equally unappealing to their young brains, was too much effort for this busy mother.  So I stuck with my original plan (which you will find out still has some holes in it)!

Supplementary Maths Work:
I have used quite a curriculum mix over the years of the children's homeschooling.  I have been very unimpressed with the majority of it, so when I find a 'keeper' I tend to keep with it.  One thing we have been using for a fair few years now, & I love, is the Australian Signpost Maths Mentals books.  The children complete a column of assorted mathematics problems four days a week. The variation in the problems presented allows them to be continually revising the work they have already learnt & it also means that I can easily identify any gaps or difficulties they may be having.  Zai & Ellie have been using these  for a few years now & I am introducing the twins ( second grade) to this in 2014.

I also find an online choice to supplement their main Maths curriculum very beneficial.  This not only gives them additional practice of their Maths work, but uses another, more fun, medium (according to the children).  I have mainly used Mathletics over the years & I highly recommend it.  However in 2013 I was blessed to review IXL.   We all really liked IXL.  I appreciated how IXL has the learning areas set out to correspond to the Australian National Curriculum.  This makes it easy for me to find a section that corresponds to what the child is currently learning in their Maths books for them to complete.  The program also sends me regular updates of what has been completed by the student & their results allowing me to ascertain if they have really mastered a topic (I try to get them to complete this four days a week also).

Main Mathematics Texts:
As you can see we use different texts depending upon the child's individual learning needs. Here is what we are planning on using this year:

We have chosen to continue to use Signpost Maths with Zai (we use the NSW National Curriculum textbook). Of all the Australian National Curriculum textbooks I have seen, the Signpost Maths books are my choice.  Unlike other texts, they ensure the student has enough practice of new work to enable actual learning.  This is important because this curriculum uses the 'spiral' teaching method which means that the student will learn small sections of a particular topic before going onto the next topic.  Each topic is revisited various times throughout the year.  Some of the texts I have seen are not comprehensive enough in teaching the child the basics giving them just a few practice questions which really aren't enough to solidify a concept in their brains.  This means that the next time the topic is revisited, the student must relearn that work again before building upon it.

Eli & Jud:
Although these two precious boys are at very different academic levels (albeit in the same grade), I have chosen to continue to use Math Mammoth with them both.  We received Math Mammoth as a review product  last year & we found it's explanations were thorough & easy for the boys to understand.  It enabled the boys to work through at their own pace which is essential for our twins who have such variation in their learning abilities ( I attribute this difference to the  TTTS they suffered inutero).  Even though at times I thought the teaching methods of Math Mammoth were a little unusual, the boys so thoroughly understood the topic by the end of each chapter, that I couldn't help but be impressed.   Math Mammoth uses the Mastery (Immersion) technique of teaching. This is where a topic is taught until the student has a thorough & complete understanding of it.  Generally it begins at an earlier grade level & quickly builds upon that knowledge until by the end of the section,  the child has completed all the work for this topic for that grade.  I personally prefer this technique.

It's only three weeks until school starts & I am still trying to decide what to use for Miss E! Last year she used A+ Tutorsoft for her Maths lessons.  While the lessons were great, I did have to supplement in some areas where she had a little trouble understanding.  My other choices are Signpost Maths (as Zai uses) or Math Mammoth (as the twins use).  I love Math Mammoth because it is well explained & very independent.  I love teaching maths using the immersion/mastery method & I know it ensures a thorough understanding of the topic for the student.  However that method can also on occasion be overwhelming & I wonder with Ellie if that was the case last year (A+ also uses this method).  Signpost Maths uses the 'spiral' method of teaching maths which seems to be most popular in the Australian texts I've seen.  While I'm not convinced it is better or even as good a method, I wonder if it would give Ellie some grace when she is struggling in an area knowing that it is only for a few pages until the topic changes.  So I'm praying &  this week I'm travelling to the city to look at a physical copy of the text.  I have given myself until next weekend to make this decision as I need to put in my order soon to ensure I receive it before school commences for the year in early February.

Maths is a wonderful subject to teach & it's always fascinating to watch the child 'get' a new concept and celebrate with them each & every achievement!  

What do you use for your Maths Curriculum?
What method of teaching mathematics do you prefer & why?

Have a lovely day friends
For more reading about Maths, Science & Logic please visit:

Our {almost} FREE 2nd and 4th Grade Math Program by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Supercharged Science's Mathemagic  by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Math & Logic Resources by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

How We Tackle Middle School Math, Logic & Science by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

 A Peek into our Homeschool: Math & Logic by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Math and Logic: Patterns and Reasoning by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

Discovering Science & Math w/ Apologia & Saxon  by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles

Make Math Fun: Your Kids Will Thank You by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

My Favorite Math For Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Math--Our Four Letter Word by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Math and Science anyone? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

My 7 Favourite Math Resources by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Basic Instincts by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Getting My Teens Ready for Algebra by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Math We Love by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Math & Science by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Our Take on Math, the Elementary Years - Charlotte Mason-style by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio</ p>

Tackling Math and Science from Multiple Angles by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
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