Thinking Mathematically – How I Choose Math Curriculum
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As an elementary student I don’t remember being too fond of math. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t particularly like it either. I do remember shedding tears over division of fractions. I just didn’t understand WHY division was the same as multiplying by the reciprocal, and that really upset me. That and the fear that I might make a bad grade. But that’s a topic for another day.
Everything changed when I started Algebra. I was blessed with an excellent teacher. He had worked as an engineer, but for various reasons had decided to become a math teacher. (The reasons did not include not being a good engineer. He really knew his stuff.) It was in Algebra I that I learned to love word problems. Call me crazy, but I really like a good word problem.
I think largely due to that Algebra teacher’s influence, I ended up majoring in engineering. (I not only had him for Algebra I, but also for Algebra II, Algebra III, and Advanced Physics, in addition to being the coach of the math team. Yes, I was on the math team. Go ahead and snicker.)
And what does all this background have to do with my homeschool curriculum choices?
Quite a lot actually. The single most important objective I have for my children in their math education is that they understand math. I do still want them to know their math facts. But if I had to pick, I’d chose mathematical understanding and application over computational speed. No question. That definitely influences my curriculum choices.
My oldest son has always shown a high aptitude for math. When I started researching homeschooling curriculum (way earlier than I care to admit) I finally settled upon starting with a combination of Miquon and Singapore Math. I didn’t do anything fancy trying to coordinate the two curricula to mesh the topics together. He just worked through Miquon Orange, then Singapore 1A, back to Miquon for the Red book, then back to Singapore 1B. We kept alternating until we ran out of Miquon books. (There are 6). Then he continued using Singapore Math through Singapore 6A.
It was in Singapore 6A that he began to point out that there really wasn’t anything new he was learning. So I went to work looking for Pre-Algebra options. What I settled on for him is Life of Fred. Life of Fred is a series of math books in which all the math is taught in the form of a story. My son loves Life of Fred because of Fred’s crazy adventures. He likes the quirky sense of humor. I love to hear my son laughing doing his math. Life of Fred books go off on some wild tangents that have really gotten my son to think. He does a lot of thinking about mathematical patterns. He asks me theoretical questions that I cannot figure out. My son is midway through Advanced Algebra, and he is understanding math.
I’ve read many reviews of Life of Fred that say it’s a good curriculum for a more literary inclined student. Maybe that’s because it might catch the interest of a student who likes to read. But that makes it sound like it’s watered down math. I assure you, it is not. And my son is far from literary. He likes to read computer manuals and books of facts–not literature.
This sequence of curricula has worked great for my math minded son who needs very little practice to understand a concept. Who, in fact, detests anything that seems even remotely like “busy work”. I have a hard time getting him to write enough of the problem steps down.
I used to be under the crazy delusion that I could pick out curriculum once and just use the same thing for all my children. I have determined that I—-
- Like to research curriculum way too much to find one thing for the whole family to use forever, and
- Have 5 extremely different children.
Starting with Singapore and Miquon was also a good fit for my oldest daughter, but she has already told me she doesn’t think she could learn from Life of Fred. And my middle son has some learning issues that made Miquon and Singapore poor choices for him. Who knows what will be the best choice for my youngest 2 children?
The freedom to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student is one of the reasons that homeschooling works so well. It’s a good thing I’m a curriculum junkie!
For more Virtual Curriculum Fair Posts visit these great blogs:
Math Lapbooks—Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 Angie Wright @ Petra School
Virtual Curriculum Fair Week Two: Discover Patterns, Mathematics, Logic and Some Science by Leah @ The Courtney Six Homeschool
Our Choices For Math by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool
A Magnificent Math Manipulative by Letha Paulk @ justpitchingmytent
Our Math Choices – Virtual Curriculum Fair by Tristan @ Our Busy Homeschool
Math Literature?!?! by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
Learning Math at My House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
Math Using Hamburger Paper by Debbie @ Debbie’s Digest
Math Facts or Fun? Why Not Both! by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings
Heart of Dakota- The Fine Details- Part 2 Science by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles
Learning Math Block by Block by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World
Plugging Along with Math by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
What’s Working and What’s Not: Math Edition by Leann @ Montessori Tidbits
Math Anyone? by Cindy @ For One Another
Ahh, Math. by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
Flying Without a Parachute: Math with no Curriculum by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
Math in Our Homeschool by Christine T @ Our Homeschool Reviews
Math, Math, and More Math by Dawn Chandler @ tractors & tire swings
Discovering Patterns: Math, Logic, and Some Science by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy
The Science of Math by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning
“Mom, did we do math today?” by Chrissy at Learning is an Adventure
Math, Math, and More Math by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
By Kristen H.