## Thinking Mathematically – How I Choose Math Curriculum

*in*Curriculum Talk

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through an affiliate link, I will receive a small percentage of the sales price.*

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.

Yep, I think I’ve gotten over my delusion that I will just used the same curriculum with each child, too. It might be a great selling point for publishers, but the reality is often quite different. ;0)

Thank you so much for sharing what you are doing in math with the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

Thank you so much for sharing the Life of Fred series! After reading your post I went straight to the web site and ordered the fraction book for my son. I think these books will turn math from a much despised busy work chore into a fun and exciting experience (for both of us). This is exactly why we homeschool. Fire. Adjust. Repeat as necessary.

Hello! Had to stop by your new, all-to-yourself domain and say “welcome home!”. A math post couldn’t have come at a better time. We need help. What I really need (and maybe someone could help me with) is a math book (or series of booklets) that goes over individual concepts, one at a time. Our eldest is starting high school next year and I feel like there are too many things that she just doesn’t have a grasp on. So, if anyone has some advice for me (too late to start over! lol), please chime in.

And again Kristen – welcome to your very own domain

Thanks for visiting Karen! I would highly recommend Math Mammoth for what you are looking for. Math Mammoth has very affordable sets on specific topics. (They also have grade level texts, but you don’t need those.) That and possibly Khan Academy videos.