What do we do with math?

Math, math, and more math.  Every time I turn around, there’s a new article on math.  How to choose the curriculum, how to teach the math, and why it’s important.  Let’s face it, everyone needs to be able to do some form of math.  And yes, even simple counting is math.

Obviously if math were easy, there would be very little differentiation in math curricula.  However, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, and wholly unique.  Some of us can see math, some of us can hear math, and some just DO math.  So curriculum producers try to reach all of our unique learning styles with their method.  Go to any homeschool bookfair in the spring or early summer, and you can see ALL the variety of math curricula available.  It boggles the mind.

So how do we choose?

First, you need to know the students learning style.  Dr. Kathy Koch of Celebrate Kids, Inc. identifies the “smarts”, aka multiple-intelligences, in which we all function.

All children – and adults, for that matter – need to know they are smart. It’s a power word and a powerful concept. And, it’s realistic because everyone is smart! – Dr. Kathy Koch, CelebrateKids.com

I heard Dr. Koch speak at the Texas Homeschool Coalition bookfair this past May.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you get a chance, go see hear and see her workshop.  My daughter struggles to identify herself as smart, especially as she compares herself (Body Smart) to her older brother (Logic Smart).  This year we hope to learn to be confident in our smarts!

I highly recommend reading through 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch, PhD before choosing new curriculum, it’s an eye-opener!  CelebrateKids.com

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As a bookstore manager of a homeschool resource store, I get the questions, “What do you recommend?” and “What did you use with your kids?”  Because we are so uniquely created, and our family lifestyles are different, and even our family dynamics are different, these are actually tough questions.  What is the warning, “Results are not typical” or “Results may not be typical.”  I don’t mind telling you what I used with my kids, but just because it seems to have worked with my kids doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

What we use(d):

For my oldest Logic Smart child, math and science has always come easy.  A Beka Arithmetic was “easy” enough (on me) that I could give him a page-a-day.  With very little help from Mom, he worked the problems as given on the page.  He’s my independent learner, and he just DOES math.

  • Kinder – 1st Grade: A Beka Numbers K and Arithmetic 1; we skipped 2nd grade.  We used Math-U-See Alpha and Beta during the summer as a supplement for math facts.
  • 3rd Grade: Alpha Omega Switched-On Schoolhouse – as we were skipping A Beka Arithmetic 2, SOS Math 3 worked for us.
  • 4th-6th Grades: A Beka Arithmetic 4-6.  In 4th and 5th, my Logic Smart child participated in a “Rapid Math” co-op class.  This was an excellent class for establishing mental math.  In the 6th Grade, we added the A Beka Academy streaming videos for Math.  The teaching method was a SHOCK!  We were not quite prepared for the speed in which math facts were drilled.  Although the Speed Drills were not a problem, the oral drills within the video class were amazing.
  • 7th Grade: The Great Switch-a-Roo.  My sister, who has been successfully homeschooling for many years, and liked to teach math, opened an opportunity for us to take Fundamentals of Math at our local co-op.  We were so excited!  Within a couple of weeks, we discovered that Aaron could work the BJU Fundamentals of Math (2nd Edition) text much better, if he was not in class.  So for the Fall semester, we switched to the BJU Resource Lesson Plan at home.  He was making 95-105% on his quizzes and tests.  He was not being challenged.  So for the Spring semester, we switched to the BJU Pre-Algebra (2nd Edition) text.  Although the first seven (7) chapters were slightly redundant, we began anew.  It was much more challenging, and we completed all the chapters in the book by the end of August. (Again, results are not typical).
  • 8th Grade: My oldest Logic Smart child had no problems continuing with BJU Algebra 1 (3rd Edition) text.  Again, we used the BJU Resource Lesson Plan, and he worked independently.  Whenever questions arose on a particular concept, we used the Student Activities Book to reinforce that concept before we moved on to the next section.
  • 9th Grade: I decided for Geometry, we would use the BJU DVD’s for BJU Geometry (3rd Edition).  I wanted to make sure he heard, and saw the lesson material.  The 3rd Edition is a good, solid text.  The class DVD was a recording of the old BJU satellite classes, and poorly edited.  With the onset of the the new 4th Edition, this will no longer be an issue.
  • 10th Grade: With the new 3rd Edition text came NEW BJU Online video courses.  They are very well done, and gone are the old satellite recordings!  I could not be happier!   So for BJU Algebra 2 (3rd Edition), again I wanted to make sure he heard, and saw, the lesson material.  The new streaming videos were a perfect compliment to the text material.  The only thing I changed was using the printed quizzes and tests, and not the online tests and quizzes.  I found them to be more challenging for my Logic Smart child.
  • Junior Year: Based on a comparison of the BJU Algebra 2 (3rd Edition) text and a College Algebra text, there were only 2 concepts that were unfamiliar.  My oldest Logic Smart child was able to CLEP out of College Algebra.  He is currently taking Plane Trig through the local community college for Dual Credit.  I am so proud of him!  He amazes me!

Results are not typical…

My youngest Body Smart child did not see the same results.  She does not hear, or see, math in the same way as her older brother. And she is definitely doesn’t DO math.

  • K-6th Grades: I was concerned my youngest Body Smart child would not be able to get the lessons she needed, as I was getting busier in the bookstore.  For her 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade years, it was a real struggle to find her confidence.  We used the A Beka Academy streaming videos for Arithmetc 3-6.  She truly believed she was not smart, even though she was scoring 90+% on her tests.  I would not recommend only video for a strong Body Smart child.  I used it as a last resort when I could not find a co-op class.
  • 7th Grade: Having been tested her 6th grade year, my Body Smart child was smart enough to have started BJU Fundamentals of Math, a 7th grade curriculum.  We decided not to skip the last year, so she started the co-op class this year.  I believe in her ability, and I know the A Beka Arithmetic 6 prepared her for this class.  I am praying her confidence is restored this year as she matures into a teenager!

In closing, I do recognize that there are many curricula to choose from: Right Start Math, Life of Fred, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons Math, Saxon Math, MasterBooks, etc. The list is long.   There are so many to choose from.

Feel free to send me your questions about any Math program you have come across, and I will do my best to answer your questions.  Personally, I’m Picture Smart, so I might have to do some research and LOOK at the curriculum in question!

Recommendations:

  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round!  They can help you find the best curriculum for each of your children.   If you have trouble finding one in your area, let me know!
  • Shop the publishers directly!  These publishers put much energy into creating great homeschool resources,  so I recommend shopping their web-sites:
  • For this particular post, just for fun, I’m including Amazon pictures and links, which may or may not be relatedBy clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.

Came across the Kim Sutton series recently through our homeschool bookstore.  I find them interesting!  And who doesn’t love double dice or math manipulatives:

Thanks so much for visiting!

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