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!