I have four very busy boys between the ages of 2 and 9. Sitting still or concentrating on math problems isn’t on their list of favorite things to do. I also want my children to enjoy learning, especially at this age, and not fear math. Numbers are fun! This led me to put together a math program that works with my busy boys.
I looked for engaging games, memorization activities and songs, and a sequential order of concepts. I have tried many different curriculum and approaches over the years and I desired to just have something I could throw together to fit my family. Isn’t that what we all want?
Putting it Together
There are so many choices available today! How do you put it all together and find the math program that works for your busy boy (or girl)?
Study Your Child
The first step is learning about your child. How does he learn best? What are his weaknesses? Motivations are a driving force and an important part of this puzzle too. The Way They Learn is a great place to start when researching learning styles. Nurture by Nature is a fantastic book covering the Myers Briggs personality types. Study your child, no one knows him better than you!
Know your options
Shiller Math is a Montessori approach curriculum and covers pre-k to eighth grade. It’s a great program, but I can’t keep track of that many manipulatives. If you have a kid who needs to touch everything, this may be the thing for you!
Ray’s Arithmetic is a public domain curriculum from the one-room-schoolhouse days. You can purchase books or download copies, but be sure to grab the teacher guide. If you have an auditory kid, this program and some math songs could be the perfect fit.
Life of Fred is a story-based math curriculum that revolves around Fred, a 5 year old math professor at KITTENS University. The kids love the stories and that motivates them to continue. There isn’t much repetition, so adding flashcards or drill sheets is a good idea.
Math Lessons for a Living Education is a Charlotte Mason math curriculum. Also a story based curriculum about twins as they experience life on the farm. They use a worktext approach with homemade manipulatives.
Scaling and Supplementing
There’s two ways to do this. In a perfect world, you would find the perfect curriculum. You simply had to open it and go. Your child would enjoy it and learn amazing math skills. Back to reality….and we find the need to tweak the math program to fit our needs.
One option is to create a math program from scratch using ideas from books like Family Math, Understanding Mathematics and The Big What Now. Option two is picking a math program and then either scaling or supplementing to make it work for your child’s needs.
I went with the first option and built my own program. Please keep in mind that I geared this math program toward my little guy and you will more than likely need to tweak it a bit.
Create a Math Program
I put together different resources to create a math program that suited my little guy. He’s seven, a sensory seeker, ADHD kid that needs to move constantly.
First I needed a base to keep me on track. Understanding Mathematics lists math skills from counting to calculus. This isn’t something I hand my seven year old, but use as a reference for myself.
We chose to read one chapter a week from the Life of Fred elementary series. It’s fun stories and allows us time to do some mental math. We do this during our morning time as a group.
Our drill work includes math songs from Classical Conversations and addition flashcards. His writing skills still aren’t where he can write out numbers well, plus he isn’t going to sit for long.
Then I round it off with games and activities I find in Family Math and The Big What Now books. What we are studying will come from Life of Fred or Understanding Mathematics.
I feel this is a fun introduction to math and allows lots of opportunities to use math in real life. Math can be found in nature, in the kitchen, working with dad in the shop, and at the store. We throw in some fun reads, such as the Sir Cumference series and the Math Book* during morning time.
I would love to hear what math program you create!