25 Tips for Math Success
- Monday, June 07, 2010
Below are some insights we've gained over the years about teaching math. Many of these are based on personal experience during many years of homeschooling, but we've also learned a great deal by observing other outstanding homeschooling families who have applied wise, effective strategies in their homeschools.
As homeschoolers, one of the challenges we face is that of figuring out a way to teach many different subjects at many different levels—at the same time. We encourage you to recognize and take advantage of the benefits of your "one-room school" as you teach math, from first-graders through high schoolers. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless you with wisdom and joy as you serve Him by instructing your children in the ways of the Lord and preparing them academically for future success.
1. Build a strong math foundation with each student—no shortcuts. It will pay off in the long run.
2. From the beginning, try to make math a fun subject. Even if your child is not an "active" child, incorporate "active" teaching methods as much as possible, so that your young child will associate "fun" with "math." For example, in our Spring 2010 issue, Carol Barnier offered a fabulous list of ideas for teaching "the fidgety child." Use those ideas to teach math in your homeschool, even if your child tends to be a "book learner" type of student.
When you use games and activities to learn and review math, the entire family can participate! TOS's Schoolhouse Store offers a wide variety of outstanding resources, including several excellent math games.
3. Make simple, inexpensive manipulatives and use them often: flash cards, cardboard clocks, fraction strips, measurement manipulatives, etc. Construct them with sturdy materials so that you can use them over and over. Beans, candy, toothpicks, and money make excellent manipulatives too!
4. Regularly assign "math review" responsibilities to your older children, providing them with the tools and specific instructions necessary for them to drill your younger students effectively. This not only will benefit both of them with a review of the basics, but it also will build camaraderie—if you take time to establish the older student's authority and equip him with the tools he needs to do the job well.
5. A favorite of homeschoolers is CalcuLadder math drills, which offer daily timed drills. Children must finish the page within the time limit before moving to another page. This reinforces the basics and creates memory recall on a daily basis.
6. Read lots of reviews about lots of curricula. The Old Schoolhouse's Homeschool Crew has worked diligently to provide you with a variety of reviews about excellent homeschool resources that have actually been used by families like yours. Reviews from moms like you can also be found on our website.
7. Talk to fellow homeschoolers who have successfully taught math to their families. What tips can they give you? Experience is the best teacher—about what works and what doesn't.
8. Initiate simple "math drills" (remember doing Bible drills when you went to VBS long ago?) with a small group of children who are on the same math level as your child/children. With other nearby homeschooling families, coordinate the study or review of one or two basic math topics (e.g., long division, times tables for 2-6, decimal equivalents of fractions, etc.) and then designate a day (once a month? once a week?) when you will meet to have a friendly, competitive math drill. The participants could be rewarded with a homemade pizza and brownies or a trip to the park together after the competition.
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