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!

Feeling Overwhelmed? How do we keep it straight?

If you’re a busy home school parent like me, it’s hard to keep the schedule straight.  Between co-op classes, working at the Bookstore, Favorite Son’s swim schedule, and Favorite Daughter’s dance schedule, I get a little insane.  If I can remember what day it is, I can work at getting us to where we need to be.

With extracurricular activities, it’s a bear to keep it all straight.  This year, with all the activities, I think I’m going to have a daily chore listed on the schedule…  Maybe we can keep the house clean, even though we’re never in it!  Funny thing about HOMEschooling… we’re never home!

Weekly Planner

Weekly Planner

I love this simple little Weekly Planner Sweet Sister created.  We have shared it with everyone for the past 9 years.  I use Good Notes on the iPad to edit the basic form each year, plotting out the dance schedule and co-op classes.  I print it in color, and post one copy in the kitchen (for Dear Husband), and I have one copy posted at the Bookstore.

The kids use it too!  Usually right as they ask, “What time do we need to leave?”

Life can be fun if we keep it organized!  (Well, organized mess in my case!)

About me… Homeschooling by Liz

“About me”…  Ha!  I’m staring at a blank screen!  This is the probably the place that I’m supposed to prove to you that I’m an expert in my field.

Right.

So let me start from the beginning.  The first thing you should know is that I was never supposed to be a homeschooler.  That’s right.  My sister was the homeschooler.  I was the woman with a career and on a path up the ladder.  And God said…

Trust in me, and I shall make your path straight.

So twelve years later, I am a home school mom of 2.  I’ve been selling books to homeschoolers for 10 years, and running the bookstore at the Christian Educators Resource Center for 8 years.  Exciting stuff!

And this is where I use my tag line.  What I know about curriculum comes from listening to other homeschool moms.  There are tens of thousands of books, whether it is curriculum, curriculum helps, teacher books, readers, reading systems, or even pamphlets.  The business of homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds.  I cannot experience EVERY book or curriculum.  My children will tell you that I have tried many.  They know, they’ve been my guinea pigs.

So I have to rely on the opinions of other homeschool parents.  I have to ask and listen to what they say about their experience with the curriculum.  Hopefully, this blog will help to store some of that knowledge, as well as gather more.

Well, what do you use?

I hear this question often, as if I’m an expert, then what I use is perfect…  Far from it.  Every year, and sometimes 2 and 3 times a year, I evaluate how the curriculum is working, and if my child is learning.

Every child is different.  In their learning styles, attitudes, activity levels and abilities.

Every family is different.  Lifestyles, goals, activities, and needs.

I used to think my son was normal, and something was “wrong” with my daughter.  In the last couple of years, I have adjusted to understand that my daughter is brilliantly normal, and my son is not.  He is brilliant and creative, and learns things easily and quickly.  They are different from EACH OTHER.  One curriculum does not work in our school, I can’t imagine trying to manage ONE curriculum for a classroom of 30 DIFFERENT kids.

My kids are not perfect, and what we use is not perfect.  So if, in this blog, I tell you “I just love this curriculum”.  Read the fine print.  And don’t take my word for it.  Go out, touch it, feel it, read it, and evaluate it for yourself.

And join in on the discussion!