Saturday, November 8, 2008

Math Dilemma

Almond took an assessment test about a month ago in math, and scored below average. I know that tests aren't a true indication of intelligence or learning, but I think it confirmed my fears. She is trailing behind most 2nd graders in math (thinking about this, I don't know if this is really true, or just my neurotic thoughts getting the best of me). But I have been questioning whether or not I'm using the right curriculum. We used Singapore for Kinder, but then I switched her to Math U See (MUS) along with all the other kids in the house, since my Macadamia had been using it and absolutely loved it! And I was sold on using a mastery program vs. spiral (see below). Well Almond and Pistachio didn't like it much and begged for something else... Almond was annoyed with using manipulatives and would say, "I know the answer, do I have to use the blocks?" Everyday she would say, "this is boring, do I have to do this?" Pistachio went back to Saxon and I started Almond on a no manipulatives workbook program, Developmental Math. It is a great program, focused on mastery. But she seems bored and complained and cried on a daily basis about doing math... It was torture just to get through 15 minutes! So I decided to switch her... Well, since she did well with Singapore in the first place, I went back to try it again (duh!). She is more eager to get her math done, complaints are less and life is a bit happier around here! BTW, Singapore has been labeled as a mastery program, but it covers other topics that correlate with my state standards, so it seems to be a complete program with great reviews. Here's an article with a brief description on mastery vs. spiral math.

Spiral vs. Mastery

When evaluating a homeschool math curriculum, pay attention to whether or not it is a spiral or mastery type program.

Spiral programs introduce a variety of topics without expecting children to fully understand them. With repeated exposure and continuous review, children have numerous opportunities to learn and master all necessary concepts.

Mastery programs require children to fully understand a concept before moving to another one. For instance, a child learning addition would learn to add 6 digit numbers before moving on to subtraction. Because mastery programs require full understanding of the subject matter, children do not move through lessons quickly and encounter very little review of previously covered material in subsequent lessons.

There are homeschoolers who have success with spiral programs and those who have success with mastery programs. When choosing between these options, focus on selecting a homeschool math curriculum that will be a good fit for your child.

~Successful Homeschooling

For the complete article, click here.

In my perfect homeschooling world, all of the kids would be using the same math curriculum... Not so! We are using 4 different curricula in our house. This only gives us another reason to homeschool... Each child has a different learning style. We cannot put our kids in a box and expect everyone to learn the same thing the same way. My goal is to educate my children using curriculum that is tailored to their learning style and that will be most beneficial. For each child, that may mean something different, whether it is Saxon, Singapore, MUS or Teaching Textbooks!

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