On Math

Today at piano, my daughter mentioned Life of Fred. She is eight, she is doing MEP year 2, but we have made a pause now, and she is reading herself through the Life of Fred books. She is reading the one titled Dogs. (You can find them here, each elementary one is $16 and free USA shipping).

My daughters are in years 4 and 2 of Ambleside Online. For math, they both use MEP, but we also like Life of Fred.

I am going to share what I know about Math.

1. Find a curriculum you see others use successfully, and don’t switch.

  • Since I don’t know much about math, I looked at one who does, Jeanne, and Amy, and listened to them. They are Charlotte Mason educators, and they know about how CM view math.
  • MEP goes all the way from preschool to high school, and in math, it pays to become familiar with a program. The more you learn one system, the better teacher you will be, and it’s very beneficial for your children too.
2. Even if you were not good at math, don’t think a program is going to teach your child. If you homeschool, you have to learn to be the best teacher for your child, for every discipline. I am not saying you will know all, or master content, I am saying you need to be the best guide, and submit yourself to the delight of learning. You need to know the principles, and that’s great because everything, when learned right, it’s such a joy, and not impossible, nor drudgery.

3. Children could be grouped in two, those who take to math like fish to water, and those who seem to have a hard time (and changing math curriculum does not will not help).

  • For the first group, it’s easy and tempting to leave them alone completely. Nothing wrong with them doing math independently, but at least, be a guidance and share a bit of wherever they are, do offer support, do a lesson with them (even let them teach it to you). Be sure your child is not racing through the curriculum, nor doing much repetition.
  • For the second group, patience. If they don’t like math, if they are not “getting it”, you are doing something wrong. Maybe it’s the pace, maybe your expectations. With my first, I went too fast, and we both got burned. In desperation, I found Life of Fred, and for a good 9 to 10 months, we used those books in exclusivity.

But my conscience was burning, because Life of Fred is to me a recital piano book of sorts, or a historic fiction novel, not your piano books or your history spine. I admit they rekindled in me and started in them a love for math. They are a nice complement and math food for thought, or vitamins, or math candy! 🙂 What happens with Life of Fred is that, through the (yes, twaddly) stories, children learn math concepts and principles. This week my youngest learned patterns (ABBA, ABAB) related to poetry, and it included part of a Walter Raleigh’s poem, and another part of In Memoriam by Tennyson.

I was in for a surprise when, at the end of second grade, my oldest expressed she wanted to go back to MEP. In her year 3 of Ambleside Online, we went back to MEP2b (MEP has y1a, and y1b, an “a” and a “b”, like Singapore), and she was doing good, so, by year 3, we worked with MEP 3.
With MEP you don’t have to do it all, but you should not skip lots (because it has much meaningful practice of all math areas you don’t want to miss), nor should you stay in a very low year forever and ever.
Some moms envision their children working on their own math since a young age. Maybe because my 10 year old daughter has never been that independent minded and studious girl, I have learned that it’s fine to sit down with her and support her in her math. After all, math in the early years, should be a 20 to 30 minute affair. I only expect her to do her best. I only expect her to, whenever frustrated with something, look at how it can be done or solved and then try herself. I respect her when she has done an effort, even if that meant one exercise only.
It’s also a myth that MEP is parent intensive. It should not be. And the more you use it, the more you understand its format. You can read the lessons a bit ahead from your computer, ipad, phone… you don’t need to print it all, but if you want, that’s great too.
Currently, my y2 daughter finished y2a, and I think she is math maximized, :), she needs to stay longer wherever she is in math (numbers up to a hundred, etc.), so I let her loose with Life of Fred, we are playing Shut In Box, Speed, and other games, and she is enjoying the break.
4. We also have liked the many math story books we have read, the games we have and still play, so don’t forget to include those.
5. I also add that from 5 to 6 or 7 years of age, we enjoyed doing math orally, I cannot find those links now, but there are elementary books to be done orally, and the girls learned much this way too.
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5 thoughts on “On Math

  1. Lisa says:

    Math…bleh! We are certainly not Math lovers, but we do ok. Ian (age16) is finishing up Saxon Calculus. And we will have a huge party when he finishes his last lesson – lol.
    But seriously, we do not like Saxon Math and in the early years of our CM journey, I heard so many good things about MEP. Yet, I was advised by several other AO/CM moms NOT to switch to a MEP because as they said, “there will be gaps”.
    Well, I wish I would have done what I thought was best for my children and not let someone else decide, regardless of the fact that I was a CM newbie.
    Because I really feel that my children would enjoy Math a little more if I would have switched.
    But with one in Algebra 1, one in Algebra 1/2, I am now thinking it really is too late to take on a different curriculum.

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  2. Silvia says:

    I think you're right. You can change. The don't change rule doesn't mean you cannot abandon a dry curriculum specially when there is a jump like algebra. You can surely look at ME it doesn't hurt.

    Like

  3. Silvia says:

    I think you're right. You can change. The don't change rule doesn't mean you cannot abandon a dry curriculum specially when there is a jump like algebra. You can surely look at ME it doesn't hurt.

    Like

  4. ...they call me mommy... says:

    Good post, Silvia. 🙂 We currently use Life of Fred and love it despite the ridiculous stories. 😉 I know that it is a highly debated curriculum, but I had HORRIBLE Math experience in school and these are working for us now.

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  5. Silvia says:

    I am very glad that is working for you. It has a lot of math. After using it for a while, (and don't think I am pushing you or chastising you, :)), but give MEP a try, in the year 2b, or 3a, you will be surprised how much sense it makes once children don't have a bad reaction to the whole math thing. My daughter could not see one more page of MEP in her year 1, the second half. I did Life of Fred exclusively in her year 2, and nowadays, we have adjusted much more and find MEP complete and a wonderful curriculum. It's more than worksheets, and it is nice when you do it respecting the child's pace and without hurry.

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