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Teaching Tips - Math

Get a Good "Home School"
Math Curriculum

Get a good "home school" math curriculum that is made "specifically" for home schoolers.

Note, a curriculum is a list of topics and concepts to cover. A "home school curriculum" will also have the books and other materials you need. This is more properly called a "program." Since most home schoolers use the words "curriculum" and "program" interchangeably, we have done the same thing here.

School Curriculums

You "can" use a math program that is made for schools, but curriculums designed for home schoolers usually work a lot better at home. School curriculums tend to have teacher's manuals that are more complicated and more expensive. And they tend to use mostly paper and pencil methods only.

Hands-On Activities

Home school curriculums put more hands-on activities in (which are not practical in a classroom with many students and only one adult teacher). Look at the hands-on activities in any program you are evaluating.

Lots of hands-on activities will be based around the manipulatives, but there are other hands-on activities. For example, when covering measurement, the instructor manual may suggest you go around your house and measure how big things are. Or when covering weights, to go into the kitchen and feel how heavy things are, and check their weight by the product label, or even better, if you have a scale, by measuring their weight.

Manipulatives

A math curriculum, especially for younger children, should use manipulatives (blocks, marbles, etc.), that the child can touch and experience the concepts.

Some programs come with manipulatives included, but often their manipulatives are a separate price, on top of the main program (this is so you can buy the manipulatives once, and use them for several children).

Some people make their own manipulatives. Lego blocks can be very useful for this. If you are trying hard to save money, you can make math manipulatives out of cardboard.

Parent Instructor Manual

A home school curriculum should have a "parent" manual that is designed to explain to a parent, what they have to do and teach. The parent manual should explain what you have to do each day, in such a way, that you can just sit down, read it over, and teach it.

Get What Works for You

Because each of us have very different backgrounds, what works for you might not work for me, and vice-versa. Before buying any curriculum, if possible, look it over carefully, to see if it makes sense to you. Check the instructor manual carefully.

It's also a very good idea, if possible, to visit another home schooling parent who is using the curriculum, and ask them to go over it with you, and to tell you what they like, and what they don't like about it.

Get What Works for Your Child

What works well for one child, may not work well for another child. Sometimes, the way two children learn, can be quite different. And they can have different interests. And, what works for a girl, may not work well for a boy, and vice-versa.

What We Use, Personally

We use Math-U-See (www.mathusee.com), however, don't run out and buy it until you check it out yourself, first. I know lots of people who are using it, but I also know a few people who have tried it and switched to something else.

And we also add things to it. For more information on this, see our article "Always Add to Prepackaged Math Curriculums."

Summary

Make sure the curriculum has:

  • Lots of hands-on activities.
  • Manipulatives (blocks, marbles, and other things they can touch and work with).
  • Instructor's manual written for parents:
    • That you can read day by day, as you go.
    • That explains what you have to do in a way you understand.
  • Works for you.
  • Works with your child.

For more information, see our article "Finding Prepackaged Curriculums and Resources."

Also check out "100 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing The Right Curriculum And Approach For Your Child's Learning Style (Paperback) by Cathy Duffy." It covers many major home school curriculums, and has many excellent suggestions to help you choose what is best for your child.





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