Cake
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    • Math! I love it. I am in the minority among homeschool moms, though. I think most find it a difficult subject to teach because either they don't feel confident in their own math skills, or they struggle wanting to make it "fun" for their kids and it turns into a battleground.

      I haven't had any kids who don't love math so far, and I wonder if it's because they pick up on my attitude or because I try to pick up on their learning style. I have one kid who thrives on challenge and one who thrives on an incremental, confidence-building approach and shuts down if we take too big of a leap. So with her I make sure we're doing plenty of review. With the other I still do essential review but I take care to avoid unnecessary repetition so they don't get burnt out. (My third is more typical and would go with any kind of math flow.) Another key is that I teach to mastery, so my kids get the satisfaction of knowing something really well and applying it to interesting problems before we move on.

      I focus a lot on number sense when they're young, favoring concrete tools like an abacus and a ten frame to visualize addition and subtraction and base 10 blocks to show place value. I love making other mathy things available as well: pattern blocks, tangrams, logic puzzles, brain teasers, etc. because we all really enjoy those things.

      In terms of curriculum, we use Primary Mathematics for levels 1 and 2 and then transition to Beast Academy for levels 2-5. I teach them myself with occasional backup from my husband or Sal Khan (Khan Academy) if my explanations aren't clicking. I wouldn't hesitate to use a tutor or an online course for teaching math though, if I felt like I wasn't able to muster up passion for the subject. We use DVDs to learn Latin around here for just that reason!

    • I've been asked about homeschooling high school since my oldest was 5, and I've always answered that I have no idea.

      Just recently I've started to think that I would like my kids to go to high school, so we'll see in a few years if I still feel the same. I would honestly be sending them mostly for opportunity to navigate some of those social things I talked about earlier while still living at home, so they don't encounter them for the first time in college.

      Still though, it seems so far off! I know it'll happen in a blink but for now I'm just taking it one crazy year at a time with this crew.

    • Another key is that I teach to mastery, so my kids get the satisfaction of knowing something really well and applying it to interesting problems before we move on.

      Wait!  You don’t give them a math test on an arbitrary date but instead continue to teach and practice to mastery?!

      What an incredible world if all students were allowed to stay with a concept until they achieved mastery.  

      In sharp contrast to your children’s  experiences learning math, I remember a freshman math class I once taught where we spent the first three weeks of class reviewing fractions, decimals and assorted other concepts that they should have learned in elementary school but were still struggling with four years later.  

      One of the bright spots in public education is the self-paced learning systems where struggling learners practice to mastery and where teachers provide encouragement, motivation and reteaching as needed.  I have taught in such a classroom environment: it is a humanizing experience for students who thought they were incapable of learning math.

      Final thoughts

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights.  You’ve shared some helpful tips during the interview. Any final thoughts or suggestions for our audience?

    • Thanks for the fun interview.

      Hmm, I would just encourage anyone who is interested in their child’s education to think of it in its entirety. It’s more than a worksheet. Even if they’re in a traditional school setting, the things we do in the margins matter. Protecting playtime, allowing kids to experience boredom instead of constant entertainment, reading aloud great books, pointing out the beauty of math... we can do so much help our kids learn.

      Of course if you’re reading this and at all interested in homeschooling, know that it’s simpler than it sounds! It can be tailored to fit just about any circumstance. I’m familiar with someone who was homeschooled for just one year because his parents were concerned he didn’t yet love reading. He spent the year immersed in great books, went back to school and eventually became a great author himself.