Saturday, November 7, 2015

Let's Talk Math

When my husband and I initially began to contemplate homeschooling our girls, I was introduced to the classical method of education. I'm a reader and for the last six years I've gone through quite a few books on this subject. Recently, I've landed on a book by Diane Lockman. Her book, Trivium Mastery - The Intersection of Three Roads, discusses classical concepts in a down-to-earth manner that resonates with me. Her writing is helping me organize our curriculum and set tangible goals while also giving me tons of new ideas that will lead the girls to mastery of the trivium skills: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric or (more easily understood) reading, thinking, and speaking.

Today, in preparation for our 12-week evaluation, I want to talk Math.

We do math... every day.  We love Saxon Math. I was pointed to Saxon on homeschooling day one and I couldn't be more pleased. This curriculum teaches new concepts while methodically reinforcing what has been previously learned. 

It's presented in the mindset of Andrew Pudewa's EZ+1 rule.(IEW) Continue with the old stuff until it's relatively easy and then introduce something new. The child doesn't even realize that she's learning something brand new. It's incredible. 

Math teaches critical thinking skills. I don't want our children to only memorize information, I want them to know what to do with that information. 

Simply possessing information won't make your homeschool child intelligent. He needs to learn how to analyze, organize, evaluate, and apply information so that he can make intelligent decisions about daily life. Trivium Mastery by Diane Lockman. 

In other words we 
1. gather
2. evaluate
3. conclude
with the goal of developing critical thinking skills.

We complete several Saxon 5/4 lessons a week. Each lesson involves a math fact page, a review section, a new concept, and problems that span all the concepts learned to date. I usually read through the lesson with her, but sometimes I just let her figure it out herself. By allowing her to gather, evaluate, and conclude on her own, she is developing independence and self-confidence. She reads the lesson, figures out the steps necessary to solve the problems, and then verbally explains the process to me. In this manner, she is concurrently working toward mastery of all three stages of the trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.

Mathematics reveals its secrets only to those who approach it with pure love, for its own beauty. ~ Archimedes

I must admit (blush) that my critical thinking skills are lacking. But the wonderful fact is that my learning days are not over yet! We love Mindbenders by Critical Thinking Press. We spend time with these puzzles every week. Honestly, I have to chew on a couple of them before I get my brain thinking logically. As we work through them, I actually feel my thought process changing.

Now for the fun part. We play math games. Because I am the Essentials tutor of our local Classical Conversations homeschooling community, I've discovered the beauty, effectiveness, and just plain joy of learning through games. Testing the games I use in class has led me to incorporate a few of them into our weekly routine.

Shut the Box
Spunky Spiral

N2K or Board Slam

Board-slam-battleship - so much fun!

Multiplication Headbandz
Math Mania - Math facts in one minute.

I appreciate the fact that homeschooling allows our children to grow and learn in whatever manner works best for their individual personalities. And a side benefit is that I get to experience all of it right along with them. All I can say is - thank you.