Saturday, October 23, 2010

Math Curriculum

I'm trying to continue my overview of the resources and curriculum that we're using for the different subject areas. It's taking me a while, and I apologize!

The purchased curriculum that I use is Bob Jones and I supplement with Jump math. I find that Bob Jones is definitely the most thorough and the one that best suits my children. I did not select it because of it's Christian content. I selected it because:

1) it's visually appealing (colourful, bright, lots of images, etc...)
2) it covers all areas of the Ontario curriculum and prepares learners for the next year
3) often goes beyond the grade expectations, and finally,
4) reinforces past learned material

On almost every page of Bob Jones Math is a word problem and although the child may be working on fact families, let's say, the book also includes questions from past lessons (other strands) to help reinforce learning. It's not enough to cover a topic once and then move on. In math especially, students often forget their skills when they're not usually them daily. Not only do kids need to understand the concepts and relationships, but they need to be able to do them fast. The more proficient they become, the more confident they will be with higher level thinking.

I can't say that I'm thrilled with Jump math. In the words of my mother, who's a retired primary school teacher (educated in the British system), "it's ridiculous!" It does have it's purpose, especially when combined with another source. I don't believe that it should be used on it's own. It simply does not cover all areas and doesn't use a variety of strategies.

We also use a number of other resources and manipulatives. Here are just a few of the manipulatives that we use:

Base Ten Blocks. I would not do without these!

We use these cheap plastic toys from the dollar store as counters and other manipulatives. An inexpensive tool.

We've had a few different clocks (including homemade which serves a purpose), but this is by far the best. I like that the time also shows up in digital format at the bottom and that the child can select AM or PM. It also has a handy stand on the back so it doesn't have to be hung up or lay flat on the table.

The kids love the play money. This set was a bit expensive, but after much searching and not being able to find a set with a good number of coins and bills, I settled on this one.

Flashcards. I don't use them often but the kids like to play with them and test each other. They see how fast they can say their facts.

A variety of different manipulatives.

Number stamps. These were given to us by a friend and although I wouldn't have purchased them myself, they've been a lot of fun. Great for encouraging them to make up equations.

The great thing about homeschool math is that we just keep going. We don't stop when the kids finish a grade level. It's a continuum. That's why, when people ask me now what grade the kids are in, I have to stop and think, what the "proper" answer is, not what grade level I'm doing in each subject area. My guys are starting to get very confused! It's great. They're moving at their own pace and that's what matters.

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