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Math. I said it.
This seems to be everyone’s most feared homeschool subject. I hear it all the time, “How I am going to teach math that I don’t remember and didn’t do well in the first time?!”
And I get it. Math was always my weakness, too. Every other subject was a breeze. I slept through my 9th grade physical science class. My best friend and I still joke about it. Math, though, we would work on for hours together and still just get average marks.
However, there is a secret about homeschool that I am going to tell you.
This experience isn’t about teaching math. This will be the best experience when you learn it together! I promise it will stick in both your mind and your child’s mind when you guys realize that you are learning the maths together!
So how do you go about this? It’s all about the resources!
I have a great link of math resources for you today! The Math Fundamentals by Evan-Moor Publishers. This book is more aimed at school teachers as opposed to homeschoolers so it aligned with the Common Core Standards; however, that does not detract from the quality of the materials.
Honestly, I like the standards because I feel that they transfer the focus from memorizing algorithms to solve problems back to understanding the way numbers function as a whole. I think that many people can’t think about math using language and that turns them away from the idea of recognizing their are many ways to solve the same problems. Sorry for the tangent. I have written an more in depth view of the Common Core State Standards that is here.
Back to the review!
These books are marketed as supplements because they tackle some of the hardest skills to learn. Early in the book, it explains that this book was written to complement the Math Daily Practice book.
This book is divided to several sections focusing on things like ratios, fractions, decimals, and data displays. These sections cover many of the math areas that overlap with science and provide a solid foundation for both understanding the functional use of numbers for drawing conclusions and the applied use of numbers to solving problems.
Each section begins with a teacher’s page that outlines exactly which standards it teaches and lists the concepts.
Next is a few pages for the students. The first is a models page, which includes examples and their solutions with all the work organized into easy steps. This includes some art with characters that explain how to approach the problem and provide a model for explaining the math using language.
Guys, I know this explanation stage is a big reason why many people don’t like Common Core, but I really feel like this is an important stage that has been neglected in American education. If you don’t understand how or why you are applying a skill, often you cannot recognize when you should apply that skill in a real world situation. So really, I am in love with this section that give students an example of math in language.
Third, you have a skills page that gives a short example, some computational practice, and then word problems. This build up is a good way to get student comfortable before stretching their minds with word problems.
I love how the word problems are sprinkled throughout the workbook, instead of shoved on the end of the chapter like some other resources I have used. It is just a better way of introducing them without overwhelming the child.
Fourth is a page with a more challenging multi-step problem. This is where you check understanding and integration of concepts. These problems were designed to put the child through their intellectual paces, but the book also provides a problem solving template that makes sure the child understand the exact question ask on each challenge page, that they can pick out the important information, and a check for whether their answer is reasonable.
I think this is a perfect addition because so many children see a challenging problem and just shut down because they don’t know where to start.
Last, the book does provide an answer guide if you get stuck!
First, this book is very thorough. It breaks each concept down into small parts and builds to a deep level of understanding.
Second, the characters and illustrations are engaging. They provide a different explanation that puts the concepts in easily understood language for you kids. This is a feature I love. I have already mentioned my belief that we need to focus more on understanding math and less on imitating math so I really appreciate this feature.
Third, I love the problem solving template, and the steps it teaches are printed throughout the book to reinforce them. The important thing is these steps are not confined to the maths. These are important skills in the sciences, too. Teaching these to our kids from a young age will sharpen and refine their critical thinking skills.
Last, I feel like this book would be great for kids that have math anxiety or seem overly reluctant to do math. All the examples are explained twice so the child can see it two different ways. The assignments are short and easily broken up into a Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 format so you can get a bit of extra practice in without it being overwhelming. Each section starts off with computational practice then moves up to word problems and multistep problems so it is a natural progression through the harder skills. The answer guide provides a point so the student can work backwards if needed.
In my review of Evan-Moor Publisher’s Writing Fabulous Sentences and Paragraphs and Daily Science Practice both for Grade 6, I thought the books were highly engaging. The exercises did a good job of holding Connor’s attention, but this book did not. He is pretty good at math and just found these problems to be easy. This book is marketed as being for those who need extra practice, though.
This is a wonderful supplement that gives students that extra bit of practice while promoting understanding instead of imitation. Although this is based on Common Core, I feel like the features that have the kids write out the math in narrative form are a great check for understanding the concepts. And if you really hate it, just skip that section.
Get your copy of Math Fundamentals (affiliate link). You can also browse Evan-Moor Educational Publishers' line of Skill Sharpeners, short exercises meant for kids who need extra practice.