by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
When I started homeschooling my 2 young sons, I wasn’t exactly sure what that experience would look like. I had some pretty strong ideas about what it would NOT look like. We would not have desks. We would not have set hours. We would not be tied to text books. And the boys would NOT hate math. I knew too many people who were intimidated by numbers and calculations. I wanted my sons to find math interesting and useful and fun. So our homeschooling process evolved from those basic tenets.
I used curriculum (several textbooks) to guide me (and to make sure we didn’t miss any important steps in math skills development), but the boys didn’t use the text books or do worksheets until we were well into fractions and decimals. We played games and did activities to learn each skill. Check my resources page for some starter math games and activities. We made them up as we went. Nothing fancy, but plenty of fun and plenty to discover. We used dice, cards, dominoes, toothpicks, straws, legos, hot wheels cars, and whatever was handy. Like I said, nothing fancy.
We watched the math videos from School house rock (they are available on DVD and Youtube now). We learned the symbols of math (Call it a “code” and you’ll have their attention!) and we also found some great stories to spark interest and curiosity. How Much is a Million, Counting on Frank, Even Steven and Odd Todd, and anything by Mitsumasa Anno. You might not be ready to abandon worksheets and your math texts, but check out some books that go along with your current topic of study and you will breathe some life into an otherwise stale lesson. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying. There are books that handle multiplying and dividing, geometry terms, fractions and decimals.
Here are some of the big names in Math stories. Your library will have plenty to get you started. David Adler, Stuart Murphy, David Schwartz, Greg Tang, Cindy Newschwander and Mitsumasa Anno. You’ll find books for little mathematicians (even those just learning to count) as well as the more challenging stuff. And you might just learn a few tricks along the way, yourself!