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Posts Tagged ‘math’

Fabulous Family Friday–‘Rithmetic

Friday, February 11th, 2011



I have a confession to make.

Math is the “bug-a-boo” at our house!  :o 

Whenever “life happened”, guess what was first to be dropped?!

Guess who has gone through about 8 math programs over the course of her 19 years of homeschooling?!

If you guessed “math” to the first question and “ME” for the second, you are right!

I thought for sure it was more like TEN math programs, but here’s the line-up:

Bob Jones Math (kindergarten)

A Beka Math (first grade–didn’t even finish unit one!!!  I am NOT an A Beka Mom!)

Saxon Math for 2nd grade (we did get half-way through that one…)

Back to Bob Jones Math for 3rd grade (I think we actually finished that one…)

Miquon Math (that was fun!)

Math-U-See–loved it!   For awhile, anyway…

Developmental Math–the older girls appreciated this one more.   The smaller booklets to work through weren’t so intimidating!  However, it does get pricey.

Mastering Mathematics–one I looked at when I first started and wish I had just went with it–I probably wouldn’t have changed so much!  We have been doing this for several years now and have overall really liked it.

But now….. ;)

I have found what I believe is THE math program, especially for more relaxed “math-as-real-life” moms!

Introducing……Math on the Level!

Let me say right up front–this is not a “take it out of the box and hand it to your child” type of program.  And it seems pricey until you realize– it is a one time purchase!  That’s right, NO workbooks, NO consumables!

I am just learning this myself, but so far, I am really impressed and decided to keep it after my 60-day trial period was up.  That’s right, you get SIXTY days to try it out, not just 30!  When I was reading testimonies like “You couldn’t pay me to give it back!” and “I teach all three of my children in half an hour”, I was ready to try it!

I actually had Susannah look it over at first and explain a lot to me as I was in the middle of another project I needed to give much of my brain power to!  She is going to help me by teaching math, so I felt she should feel comfortable with it.  She really likes it!  And as I am spending more time with the materials, I do, too!

The overview is very readable and understandable.  Carlita Boyles is a homeschool mom and developer of Math on the Level.  Here’s what the Introduction says about the development of MOTL:

“The Math on the Level teaching approach was developed over many years as Carlita taught her own children at home.  At first, she started out each year trying to use a textbook for homeschool math instruction, but each time she became frustrated with the textbook, put it aside, and used her own ideas to successfully teach her children.  After a few years, she gave up on textbooks altogether and developed what would ultimately become the Math on th Level teaching approach, teaching children at their own level of maturation, focusing on practical family life activities, and reviewing topics on a daily 5-A-Day paper.

“In early 2006, Carlita was approached by several homeschooling moms who asked her to write a math curriculum so they could use her teaching approach.  After prayerful consideration, John and Carlita decided to take on the challenge.  This project grew into an extended effort in which both worked together, blending their backgrounds in education and engineering to produce Math on the Level.”

I really love this approach!  It actually validates the “real life learning” math we’ve been doing, and gives me a way to “document it”, without making my children copy and copy and copy a bunch of problems.

I’ll give you a quick overview of what’s ahead, and then, because I am still in the “learning stages” myself, I plan to share some each Friday about how it is working for us!

Okay, first off, you have a concept chart where you can go through and see where your child needs to start.   And it starts in the very beginning…things like “Beginning Counting” and “One-to-One Correspondence”.

Let’s say you get close to where your child is, but aren’t exactly sure if they really know one-digit multiplication or not.  You would then create a 5-a-Day review paper (she has LOTS of ideas so you don’t always have to use your brain to come up with some!) that would include that concept.  If your child breezed through it, then you would mark it as learned.  If not, you would mark that as a concept to teach.

(I was going to link to a page I thought that showed this concept chart, but alas, MOTL is not coming up for some reason!)

What are 5-A-Day review papers?  That is where your children will review concepts they already know.  Although there are only 5 problems (at all levels!), those 5 problems could end up covering 19 concepts!

For example, let’s say one review problem is:

Is is < , =  or > ?  Fill in the blank.

1.802 ÷ 0.53   _____   7 1/4 – 3 3/4

You are covering math symbols, dividing decimals, subtracting mixed numbers (like denominators), but since one answer is in decimal form and the other in fractions, the child will need to convert the fraction to a decimal and compare the decimals. 

Isn’t that great?!  And the best part is, as I said, she has pages of problems you can draw from!  Yeah!

There is the overview book (in a binder), which really explains things pretty well.  I would say if you have either 2-3 hours to just sit down with it all, or have half an hour or so a day for a week, you would get this and be able to go with it.  Actually less–I spent maybe an hour, read most of the overview book and have enough of a grasp to get started!

The binder with the overview also has record keeping forms, and once you decide to keep MOTL and register with them, you will get a download link to where you could even keep their records on the computer! 

I bought the complete set, so I also have 6 spiral bound books:

 ~Operations (+ – ×  ÷ )


~Money and Decimals

~Geometry & Measurements

~Math Resources (Charts, Graphs & Set Theory, Word Problems, Math Dictionary, How to Memorize, Memorizing Math Facts)

~Math Adventures (Cooking, Using Money, Travel Time, Games, Math Vocabulary, Unit Studies)

Each of these books are color coded in the Concept chart, which is really nice! 

My goal this next week is to get fine-tuned where my younger set are in this book.   Of course Noah and Isaiah are very beginners, so they will be easy! ;)  

This program is billed as Pre-K to Pre-Algebra, and that is really about all we need.  Yes, I know you are supposed to do higher math.  Did you know I got the Algebra II award in high school 32 years ago, and it hasn’t made me a better person, wife, mother, or Christian?!

I’m not knocking higher math, I just think it’s interesting that now everybody needs it.   I have one daughter that wanted to do Geometry, so I bought her Patty Paper Geometry.  Yes, it’s an introductory program.  But it is all she needs at this point. 

I have another daughter that was overwhelmed with math.  So for “higher math” she is doing a consumer math (remember that? Do they even do that in public schools anymore?!).

Math in Everyday Life

Teacher’s Edition  (pretty much just has answers)

I will say that this text has a bit of an overkill on some of the forms, so I do not make my daughter do it 12 times or whatever they have her doing!

I also have her do only 1 internet activity–there is more to life than working on math all day! ;)

If my daughters were to need higher math (meaning algebra, geometry, etc.) I would probably invest in Teaching Textbooks.   They have math at all levels down to 3rd grade.  If you want something they can pretty much do on their own (with the computer) then this is the program for you.  Personally, I would prefer the Math on the Level approach for younger years, even into “middle school”, with consumer math for high school, Teaching Textbooks for algebra, et al.

One other possibility for “consumer math” that another daughter did, was Dave Ramsey’s Foundations for Personal Finance  .  The HomeSchool Buyer’s Co-op did have this as a special recently–I’m not sure if it’s still on or not.  That’s how I got it–my daughter loved the dvd presentations!

I hope this gives you a glimpse of some good resources, and please stay tuned–I promise, whatever else I write about on Fridays, I will give you updates on how Math on the Level is going!  :D

(And hopefully they’ll back online SOON!)

Have a blessed weekend!

My girls have a few new items on their Etsy shop, if you want to check them out, PLUS a Valentine’s Day coupon!  Click here!

They’re Catching Up!

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

We get a quarterly mailing from our local school system.  We live in a rural area with a consolidated middle and high school that serves parts of two counties.  Not a huge school, but bigger than the less-than-500-total K-12 school I attended!

This issue was about math. 

Now, I’ll be the first to say that I know there are many wonderful, caring teachers in many schools.  I don’t fault them.   It’s the system that isn’t always in the best interest as someone in Washington tries to “standardize” academic learning as if children are widgets on a factory conveyor belt.

The title of the main article was how mathematics proficiency is about understanding and application.

I certainly agree with that!

This particular paragraph amazed me, and then tickled me.

We know that what children need to learn in mathematics today is vastly different from what they needed to learn only a few years ago.  Computation, basic math skills, and memorizing formulas remain important, but math proficiency today is all about understanding and application.  Students must be able to connect mathematics to other subjects and the real world….”

I found myself scratching my head that until today, apparently, understanding and connecting math to the real world wasn’t as important?!  I don’t think that’s what the writer really meant….was it?!

I know when we used Math-U-See,  Steve Demme had shared how some of his students in class knew the basic operations, but not when to use them.  Both are important! 

A few paragraphs later:

Schools in the United States traditionally teach mathematics an inch deep and a mile wide while schools in other countries teach for a deeper understanding.  We can no longer teach as we have always taught.  Today’s children must be able to apply mathematics skills to everyday situations; they must know how, when and why to do it.

Again, I find myself wondering…what have they been teaching?  And up until recently we haven’t taught this way?

I think if we look at the history of education, someone may find that 100+ years ago math was taught quite differently in our schools.  A quick look at Ray’s Arithmetics, which were finished in 8th grade, would show that they knew their math waaaayyyyy better than most college bound seniors today!

I agree that schools teach math (and other subjects) an inch deep and a mile wide–it’s the nature of the system.  There have certainly been strides in many schools to change some of that, but quite frankly, you can only do so much when you have a student for 1 hour a day, in a class of 20-30 students with all their varying degrees of need and abilities of understanding.  I have learned from teaching piano that you can’t go home with the student and motivate them–especially if they don’t have the support at home.  I really feel for public school teachers who really care and try–they have a hard job!

I think the acknowledgement of needing to teach math differently and make sure it applies is commendable. 

I also think homeschoolers have been doing this for a long time!  

I am perpetually “behind” in math, it seems, yet my children have always seemed to have a strong conceptual understanding.   I always felt if I had to err on one end of it or the other, knowing the when and why was a bit more important than speed. 

Soon I’ll be reviewing a new math program we are trying and are really liking!  One that I believe fits the criteria the article in our local school’s mini-magazine is looking for, but this one was developed by a homeschooling mom for use by homeschoolers (although those wanting extra help remediating math could use it, too!)  Stay tuned in a few weeks for the review!

It was funny how the captions to the pictures all involved math–a young man saying how music helps him with his math, another saying, “Believe it or not, there’s a lot of math involved in sewing!”

Not news to us!  :D

I’m not knocking the school–kudos to them for trying to do a better job.

It just makes me feel good to be able to homeschool and be on the cutting edge–even ahead of the public school!

I think I might keep this one and put it in my “Why I Homeschool” file!   If I’m ever questioned, I can show how we were doing this before it was the “going thing”! 

Isn’t it nice to know the public schools are catching up to us?!   ;)