Read these 19 Homeschooled Math Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home School tips and hundreds of other topics.
The most important teaching tools involved in providing an educational mathematics program for students is to make the learning objectives fun, relevant to real life and challenging for the learner. A well-planned homeschool math program is going to teach the student the mathematical concepts in a well-organized and realistic manner that will enhance the learning style of the student. Many families have discovered that bringing mathematics into everyday activities often provides a quality learning experience in a real-life setting, enhancing the comprehension of the student. Using the kitchen or grocery store to teach such concepts as sorting foods, counting, fractions thru reading recipes, patterns in food shapes or colors, subtraction or addition through eating and preparing meals or snacks allows the student to submerge themselves into real-life applications. Using concrete items and daily practices to teach mathematical concepts allows children to learn and apply mathematics within their own daily lives. Another real life tool that can facilitate the mathematical homeschool curriculum is learning math through money. All children learn the basic ideas of money within their own lives on a basic day-to-day experience, whether they are homeschooled or taught in a public or private school. However, for the homeschool family, money as a mathematic unit is an ongoing and daily lesson in the making. Using money to teach values, decimals, percentages, interest, making change and carrying and borrowing and other mathematical concepts provides a realistic way for students to understand and apply these skills within their own lives.
Teaching children to cook is a lesson in mathematics, science, and language arts. If you teach them to create recipes for holidays and other family celebrations, you can include a bit of sociology in the curriculum as well. There is no better format than the kitchen to teach fractions, addition and subtraction, chemical reactions and the use of reading skills to create and read different recipes. Simple children's cookbooks become invaluable pieces of the homeschool math curriculum. Easy to find and often written in such a manner than children can read and process the recipes themselves, daily tasks suddenly take on mathematical comprehension without the student even realizing what is going on. There are many different children and family focused magazines that offer monthly segments designed to get both parents and children into the kitchen together, an activity that promotes the understanding of basic life skills, increases the awareness of math and science in the daily life of everyone and the enjoyment of spending quality family time together. It is important to realize that the faster our country moves, the further it moves away from the family dinner hour. It is not difficult to understand why the family unit becomes more disjointed with the increase in busy schedules. Many commercials now advertise the "take out" meal brought home to the kitchen table as the “family dinner hour”. With this in mind, it is important to realize the powerful influence parents have over defining just what is important about quality family time. As parent and teacher in the homeschool curriculum, it is important to not only teach our children the value of their education but also the importance of their morals and values as a positive member of the family and the society in which they live. The most basic of skills, food preparation, is one that is vital to any homeschool curriculum; the kitchen is rich with many academic and social skills that cannot be learned in any other classroom.
Anytime you can teach a child a math skill using real life objects and experiences you should do so. If your children are learning about measurements you should actually have them go around the house measuring things. If they are learning about weight, have them weigh things. If they are learning about division, purchase a bag of candy and have them divide it up between their siblings. Using real life experiences goes far in reinforcing what your children are learning in math.
Many homeschool parents freeze up when it comes time to teach mathematics to their children. Still inhibited by their own perceived math failures in life, the homeschool parent often shortchanges their own ability to teach a quality homeschool math curriculum. It is important for homeschool parents to realize that the actual instruction of the homeschool math curriculum allows them to simultaneously teach and learn the mathematical concepts alongside of their children. This teaching and learning environment is of great benefit to both the parent and the child, learning together and facilitating such an environment allows for honest exploration by both teacher and student. The most basic and elementary math skills are the initial stages of any homeschool math curriculum. These are skills that any parent understands, as the ability of the student grows, so will the teacher. Each adjustment in the homeschool math curriculum that is necessary to build a strong foundation for the student will also provide the learning environment for the teacher. The more difficult advanced mathematical skills encountered in the later years, will be tackled one step at a time in the natural progression of skill acquisition. If at some time in the educational process a homeschool parent discovers that they are unable to understand a formula or mathematical process, there are many different text books, online resources or homeschool co-ops and support groups that are available for guidance or resource information. However, it is important to keep in mind, that education is gained through slow and calculated steps, each piece of knowledge fitting together like a puzzle piece, building upon the comprehension of the previous lessons. As you teach a homeschool mathematics program, so will you also learn and enhance your ability to lead your student onto the path of understanding.
Family game night, a universal concept to enhance family unity, can provide a mathematical format for learning in any home. However, in a homeschooled home, these weekly family games can become a foundation for the homeschool math curriculum. Many homeschool families utilize the family game night into a nightly gathering of the entire family to enhance the homeschool mathematics curriculum and the family unit. Using card games such as Uno, SkipBo, Cribbage, War and other numerical card games provides an educational format that teaches numbers and strategy through game night fun. Board games such as Monopoly, Life, Cranium and many others also enhance the mathematical thinking and learning skills of the homeschooled student without every opening a textbook. Dice games, dominoes, Legos and Tangrams also provide a learning format through family fun. Critical thinking, strategy, mathematical equations, subtraction, addition, and many other mathematical concepts become a concrete concept when practices through play. As a homeschool family, utilizing games to teach math is a logical transition from fun to learning. A homeschool math curriculum is built upon realistic learning and comprehension scaffolded by the parent. In a family game night format, not only is the family life enriched but the overall comprehension of math, it is enhanced through family playtime. If your homeschooled student is intimidated by the mathematics curriculum that is presented in your current homeschool curriculum, introduce new concepts and explore the basic math skills while playing a game. There are many different games that specialize in specific mathematical concepts, introduce the new concept while actively using it during play and it will remove the intimidation factor almost immediately.
Today's technological age has come to the rescue when it comes to homeschool math. You can purchase fun math games that your children can play on the computer. Nothing compares to a math computer game when it comes to getting children excited about numbers and problem solving. You will be surprised at how quick your children will start doing math problems, especially if the life of their alien depends upon their correct answer! Math computer games are a great way to supplement concepts your children are learning in their schoolwork.
One of the best ways for your child to learn homeschool math is through song. Learning multiplication tables to song is the easiest way for children to memorize their multiplication tables. Simply pick a beat or tune your child loves and replace the words with the times tables. It works like a charm and everyone in your home will be singing their multiplication tables!
If your children reach a point in their homeschool math curriculum and they are still having problems grasping a concept, practice is the best learning tool. If your child has used up all the problems in the book you can easily find consumable math worksheets online which you can download and print off for your child. Do not worry if your child lingers on a concept for a while. Homeschooling allows you to take all the time your child needs to master a concept.
Do not fall into the math trap. Homeschool math curriculum should not be purchased based on your child's age or grade level. It should be personalized to your child's individual math skills. Learning math is a process and it should be taken step by step. Rushing children into a new math level simply because they have had a birthday or because they are in a new grade is wrong. Children that are rushed to higher levels of math before they are ready will fall behind. Math levels should be mastered before a child is moved up to the next level.
Parents often ask whether I think the higher math subjects are valuable. Do my children really need algebra, other than to get into college?
I am a mathematician and I have to admit that other than for math intensive degree fields (such as architecture, engineering, and programming) there is really no practical use for much of upper-level math. However, I have to say that learning just for the sake of learning is always good. I also stress the need to teach trigonometry to all who may enter a trade like carpentry and machining. It is invaluable.
If you are fortunate enough to have a child who is crazy about homeschool math, you should use this to your advantage. Have your child research famous mathematicians such as Lovelace, Banneker, Archimedes or Pascal. The research and reading will not only teach them about the individuals, but it may inspire them to come up with new math theories of their own. Who knows, you may be living with the next Pythagoras!
Are you dreading April 15th?
With the help of the IRS, you can turn tax time into math time!
Here are some fun math exercises your children can do, based on a *tax time* theme:
1. How much income tax would have to pay based on their weekly allowance. (OK, so unless your name is Rockefeller, their allowance won't be much. Don't let that stop you!)
2. We all want to be millionaires, right? What would the income tax be if we were?
3. How much of a deduction could we have taken if we had kept receipts for all of those Girl Scout Cookies?
4. The standard mileage deduction is 32.5 cents per mile. If we went on a business trip from San Francisco to New York (2917.8 miles) what would our deduction be? You can find out what the mileage to and from any two cities and use any cities you want on sites like mapquest.com!
5. How much tax would we owe the government if we lived in the United Kingdom? Australia? Canada? ** You can use this as a starting point to learn about these (or other) countries!
6. If we lived in a different state, how much tax would we owe? Print the forms and fill them out for handwriting practice!
7. Print Federal forms and fill in the answers to above, for handwriting practice!
Need to build a new deck, renovate your kitchen or build that shed you always needed? Real life projects integrated into your home school math curriculum provide the opportunity to experience math in action through measuring, planning, and building. It not only helps to reinforce math skills but teaches your student that math is something they will need and use in real life.
Have you ever heard kids say, "I don't need to know that, I'll never use it"? Well, you won't hear your kids say that if you involve them in everyday math.
For some people these are simple non-questions. If you unschool, then you would unschool math. If you use unit studies, math would most likely be incorporated into those. If you are still looking for a math curriculum, here are a few tips to get you started:
• Ask around. It's true that this may seem counter productive—everyone has an opinion on math! But, if you ask people that you know you can trust, they can add valuable insight. "We use XYZ and my 3rd grader hates it!" or "My 9th grader loved ABC."
• Sit down and evaluate what you want your child to accomplish that year.
• Do you want them to simply recognize numbers or be able to recite the times tables?
• Are they going to college? If they are 5, this isn't something to be concerned with. If they are 17, and have no math skills, this is definitely something to look at.
• If they are going to college, what kind of math will they need? My major in college was Architecture. Obviously, I needed more of a math background than if I were majoring in English. Be aware that some schools, especially Liberal Arts Colleges, have a specific course of study, no matter what your major.
• What is your math ability? This may not seem important at first, but if you don't have a basic understanding of math, you will need a curriculum that will walk you through the steps, and not just assume you already know.
• Remember that no matter what you choose, if it just isn't working, you can always move on, and try again.
Examples of Everyday Things
• Have her plan a party (birthday, Christmas, New Year's) and do all the decorating, baking, etc. Give her a budget to work with.
• Let her redecorate her room (this is a great birthday present) and give her X amount of money with which to do this. Painting and sewing both involve math skills.
• Play games. Not "let's sit down and do our math games" but regular games that involve math skills to be played whenever your family plays games. Some math games: Monopoly, Yahtzee, any of the strategic games involving logic and thinking skills (Battleship, Stratego).
• Let her be scorekeeper when you go bowling. *General budgeting. Let her help with the family budget.
• Meal planning and coupons are good for developing math skills.
When spring arrives, your home school math program can easily transfer outdoors now and then where the fresh air and warm sun will inspire.
Planning a garden provides many opportunities to practice math skills by measuring, graphing your space, and counting out plants. You can even figure out what percentage of the garden is allotted for each vegetable variety.
Math drills are a very effective way for students to not only learn their additions and multiplications. And, by continually practicing, they will get faster too.
If you're interested in finding math drills, Sonlight has free home school math drills for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division that you can download and print.
Children of all ages love read-alouds, processing the sound of language with the visual pictures, growing both visually and audibly as they travel through the story. Throughout history, stories have been the medium used to pass down history, fairy tales, life lessons and other stories of make-believe. Today, children's literature has expanded into all areas of the academic curriculum, using picture books to teach mathematics, science, language arts, social studies and art. It is not uncommon for many middle school teachers to utilize children's picture books as a medium to teach character, plot, point of view and other writing fundamentals. Taking a seemingly simplistic children's picture book and dissecting it with teenage students allows for a simple yet ultimately complex group of ideas to be broken down into smaller pieces that can be processed without fear. For many middle school students, the “dismissal” of using a children's book also frees that same teen from believing the concept being discussed is complex. It is easier for the teen to believe the ideas being discussed are simple because they are in a “kid's” book. A perfect example is Math Curse by Jon Scieszka. As a children's book, this is a fundamental piece of math literature that is perfect for any homeschool math curriculum. The book takes the simple daily activities of a young child and provides detailed descriptions of every type of math problem that is encountered in the daily life. It is funny, simple to read and yet it packs a “powerful punch” that shows how important math is in reality. Not only do children, teens and adults enjoy the overall humor of the text but also in the powerful revelations on how many times we work with math without even thinking about. It is an excellent book to read for someone that is intimidated or struggles with math as it clearly shows how everyone uses math to some degree on a daily basis without even realizing it.
Homeschool math is one subject that really worries homeschooling parents. Many parents make the mistake of concentrating most of the school day on math. This is not necessary. Math should be delegated to its own time then it should be set aside. Focusing too much mental effort on math will make homeschool dull and lifeless. Math should be challenging and interesting, not something your child learns to hate. Take a look at your homeschooling schedule to see if you are focusing too much on math and see where you can make room for improvements.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|