19 December 2014

Maths


Maths was one of my favourite subjects at school but I know that I am likely to be in the minority.  Sadly there are too many who not only hate maths but were actively put off the subject by poor teaching, we don't all learn the same way and this is a subject that can be hard to learn if you are not taught in a way that you understand.  A few months ago I posted about a day in our learning life, maths didn't really feature at all in that day.   Some of my fellow home educators teach maths along with English both important subjects and skills to have.  At the moment I don't teach anything and I have yet to be convinced that I need to teach any Maths but time will tell.....

My children have both learned to count in their own time and in their own way.  In many ways counting and understanding numbers is one of the hardest concepts to understand for a young child,  especially as when you get beyond ten the numbers don't follow a pattern, eleven, twelve....  It is not surprising really that many children leave primary school unable to count or understand numbers.  It is one thing to be able to count to ten or further but it is another skill to be able to use and manipulate those numbers.  It is important to me that I do not mention adding up, taking away or multiplication until I am absolutely sure my children have fully understood numbers.  In my opinion this skill needs to be there first, it would be a bit like trying to build a house without digging the foundations properly.  What do I consider to be fully understanding numbers?  Well I think they need to be able to count in the correct order, both forwards (1 - 10) and backwards (10 - 1), if you ask them a number they know what comes next without having to count out up to that number. Playing board games with them is an excellent way of helping this skill.  The dice will also help with pattern recognition which is another maths skill.

My eldest prefers to learn on his own, he resists most activities I suggest.  This does not particularly concern me but has meant that if I want to ensure that he is learning maths skills all the time that I find resources that enable him to find out about maths.  I have bought a few maths stories from this series but I was very disappointed in them.  The concepts were at his level but the story was so simple and basic, they are a simple picture book style with a few sentences on each page, that he just wasn't interested in them.   I have yet to find any stories that are entertaining for him to read and at his level of maths understanding but I will keep looking..........if you have any recommendations would love to hear them!  I discovered a series of books which have fitted the bill but are sadly not stories,  Murderous Maths are like the Horrible History books if you know about them but are about maths not history.  We have found a few of the books in secondhand book shops and now have quite a collection.  I have realised in the last week that he now understands the concepts of fractions and percentages learnt about through these books.  I also bought one of the books by Rob Castaway who has written many books on Maths.  I have found him reading this on many occasions so we may be adding more of his books to our collection.  He also asks questions, which we do our best to answer by helping him to understand how we got to our answer, rather than just giving him the answer.

I have yet to work out how my youngest will want to progress with maths.  She is still at the learning numbers stage.  We are playing lots of board games and a set of number games that I acquired called NumberStart by Living and Learning.  We are also make good use of the book mentioned in this post, Learn to Count.

We have a box of cuisenaire rods which I bought as I used them as a child and loved them.  They have not been used much for actual maths but the children do love making pictures with them, I am sure that this is a useful use for them but I have yet to work out what they are actually learning by doing this.  There are many resources that you can use alongside these rods but my eldest has not been interested in any of these, maybe my youngest will when she is older.

That is what maths looks like in our house at the moment!



9 comments:

  1. I loved maths at school too - it's a great subject but you're right about good teachers making all the difference. I'm curious to hear how your two progress with their maths by osmosis, it sounds like you've made a great start

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  2. the words 'poor teaching' in your first paragraph sum up to me everything we are going through right now!!
    my son is not being taught - math, grammar etc, in a way that he understands. I am almost ready to take the homeschooling route but am a bit at a loss - almost all my entourage is against it, would you mind if i sent you an email on the subject?

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    1. Please feel free to email me as many times as you need I will try to help and answer your questions if I can!

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  3. This is a very interesting post. I struggled with maths at school (but did manage to scrape through) and this was my eldest's experience too. I would love for the little two to get more pleasure from the subject but I feel very uninspired and don't want to communicate my negative feelings to them!

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    1. It is hard when you struggled with a subject yourself isn't I feel that way about science it has always been a bit of mystery to me............I don't think it matters that much when they are still little but as they get older I do worry that they will be short of knowledge :). I would say with Maths go for games and making it fun and just concentrate on numbers for now. Cooking and Baking is good for maths too, particularly if you want to double or half a recipe or convert from pounds/ounces to grams, we have an old weighing scales which is great for adding up to get the right weight. Cooking maths is such fun!

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  4. When we were homeschooling we did a lot of applied maths which I think helped the children's understanding greatly. Cookery was a great favourite and I would pick recipes where things could be added to the bowl on the scales so that addition began to make sense, and mutiplication. Nothing beats maths you can eat ;)

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  5. Funny, I loved maths too until we progressed beyond algebra in high school- then, I really struggled. Your children are so lucky to have a teacher/guide that appreciates how each child approaches learning differently or in fact, learns differently - something our generation missed out on, I think. xo

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  6. my daughter is doing further maths at GCSE. she is loving it, but I am constantly wondering how USEful it is.......

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  7. I loved maths at school and beyond. I find the negative attitude to maths frustrating. Agree with you about the Sir Cumference series, as it didn't fit the bill. I have just found the Murderous Maths books (second hand shop too), so hoping to inspire my children. I like maths games and logic books, as it treats the subject as fun and a puzzle.

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Hello......would love to hear from you :)