Monday, February 27, 2012

A Break From All the Seeing of the Math

Um. Wow. Last week was a big ol' blog fail! Really? Only 2 posts all week? Sigh. Third trimester. (That excuse has 3 months of staying power. Get used to it!)

Today I'd like to share our switcherooskies in the math department of late. First, some history:

1. The year we started homeschooling, Sweetheart was in 2nd grade and just home from private school. We stuck with what we knew from private school: A Beka curriculum. It worked fine that year.

2. In 3rd grade we changed a lot of things, but stuck with A Beka Arithmetic. Then, half-way through the year, it all fell apart. The book was going 100 mph and we were still back at the traffic light. Seriously. It really had less to do with A Beka being a "bad" curriculum, and more to do with Sweetheart's shaky math foundation. But whatever. I told her to throw her book away one day.

3.  I researched and purchased Math U See. I started her way back on Alpha to catch up on all that foundation that was shaking. We flew through that book happily in about 2 or 3 months and started Beta. Flew through that one too. Math U See was awesome and it was working. I was happy. Her foundation was firming up.

4. We continued Math U See all the way through last year, where we found ourselves on Delta. We needed to finish a bit of Delta at the beginning of this school year and then I planned to go on to Epsilon. But...

...something wasn't working anymore. Sweetheart was confused and frustrated and we weren't getting anywhere. Hmm.

Now. I think Math U See is wonderful. I agree with the way the program is laid out. Mr. Demme rocks. I really like the whole thing. But WHAT ON EARTH SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME could be so hard about long division? I mean, I know it isn't EASY, but sheesh! So I ran across this little tutorial online one day and had Sweetheart watch it. And POOF just like that a light bulb went off over her head and she got it. I blogged about it here (with a link to the tutorial.)

So that really got me thinking about Teaching Textbooks. I had looked at this curriculum before but dismissed it because of the price tag. Then I saw a post on the Used Curriculum Group on The Homeschool Lounge. Someone was selling TT Grade 5 for a reasonable price. I snatched it up. I've had Sweetheart working on that for the last few weeks. She's on Lesson 16 and doing GREAT. Since it is a grade level "behind" her, she should be doing great. But actually, it has been a bit of a challenge. Did she know and understand place value from Math U See? Yes. But TT presents it SO differently she really had to think and work on it. They review a lot, which I like. And I'm not teaching her, which I like too. We both needed a little break from us+math.

I have not given up on Math U See. I still like it and we might pick it back up one day. But my plan for now is for her to finish TT Grade 5 (working on it over the summer too) and then make a decision. Basically, I'm procrastinating but my child is still learning math in the meantime. WIN!

As for Little Bit...well. Math U See wasn't working for her either. Mr. Demme is big about NOT moving on until they have mastered something and we were part-way through learning the addition facts and stuck from moving on because they were NOT being committed to her memory. Where is that place you can unscrew the top of their head and just pour the knowledge in? Cause I really needed to find it. She's such a smart girl and we were stuck on stupid addition facts!!

So, last month I decided there were lots of other things she COULD be learning until we reach that magical moment when she just gets it. Because that's how she works. Just up and learned to ride without training wheels a few weeks ago. Just. Like. That. Until then, we are learning money, and place value, and time and all kinds of things. And enjoying it, by the way.

So, now that you know we were stuck on addition, you've probably surmised that we never made it to subtraction. No stress there. I KNOW how far behind we are! So this week she and I were working on the white board writing and reading bigger numbers and she started making up "word problems" for me with illustrations. We took turns doing that. You know, Alex had 4 apples and he ate 2. How many does he have now? That kind of thing.

And then Little Bit says, "OK-I have one for you Mom. (she draws this out on the board) Mike had 8 toy cars. He lost 2 of them, but then bought 3 more. How many does he have now?"

Um. Did you just make a multi-step subtraction problem? Why yes, she did. AND she totally understood how to do them as well! I shake my head at that girl. I never know what to expect.

I plan on finishing this school year Math U See Free. We shall see what next year holds. It's a good curriculum, but sometimes other things work better.

The best laid plans...


  1. okay let me just state that I am a FIRM lover and believer in Math U See as you well know... but I am also a firm lover and believer of Dave Ramsey but well we have a car note! What I mean to say is use the program and following it 100% will absolutely gets you the absolute best results... you will also get amazing results IF YOU MOVE ON BEFORE YOU KNOW ALL THOSE ADDITION FACTS. Now I dont mean if she has to literally drag out the blocks or her fingers and toes to get an answer to basic addition facts-- but if she is just not quick as a whip shooting them back to you at the speed of lightening! Emily generally freaks at flash cards-- and will miss 90% of them. If I waited for her to have all her "facts" down she would still be on Alpha-- but she can do a math problem and has since she was 4 quicker than either of the other two! She knows them and she completely has the "CONCEPT" so we moved on. Same with subtraction. Now with multiplication we hold back a little more-- I do believe they need to be a little more "memorized" and she is actually doing better with those- maybe it is an age thing? But I don't question her math foundation does that make sense? SO while I agree knowing all those facts is optimome! I don't believe in holding back the kid as much as we "feel" we should because I think it causes other issues, personally. IT is a different story if it is a concept issue-- if they don't get the concept than slow it down...


  2. edited to say: I was talking about Little Bit--- for Sweetheart I think it is awesome you found a curriculum that is speaking her lanquage! I just read a post from See Jaime Blog and it was sorta from the daughters perspective but they are really enjoying the TT for a lot of the same reasons!

  3. I agree with you but really you shouldn't have to stop and think on 1s!!!! I suspect when we get back to addition she will ge ready and fly through it. There are so many other concepts to learn in the meantime.

  4. I agree completely with Carrie. I didn't start making sure my kids had anything mastered until we got to multiplication, and by then, they were so used to the addition and subtraction facts, most of them were mastered already. However, I am really, really glad to hear the glowing review about TT. I am always tempted by TT - especially when we get stuck on MUS stuff, too (the way he explained multiplication with carrying was just not working... and then converting fractions... those are both times when I've stepped in and said "Here's how I learned" and just skipped his methods!). I love how homeschooling allows us the freedom to really "go off the beaten path" if need be to help our children succeed... you are totally right about Little Bit and having more to learn while those addition facts are simmering.

  5. That's what we're doing! Simmering. I like that.
    And thank you both for letting me know you moved on. We'll try again when her frustration level is down.

  6. It's ok to try a different approach when something isn't working...
    We personally choose Abeka up through 3rd grade (& you are right, the last half of the book advances rapidly! more than I would think 3rd grade would be) in which I think my kids are ready for Saxon 5/4-7/6 then we head into M.U.S. for the Algebra portion (haven't had a student higher than that...yet). I always think it is fun to see what other families do. =)

  7. We were doing BJU exclusively for all subjects until this last quarter. My middle daughter would take sometimes FOUR HOURS to do her math- one class of it! Long division was not hard for her, I think she just felt overwhelmed with all the problems on the page.

    So we switched to TT. LOVE IT!! All the girls actually switched over. The youngest is doing the Grade 3 which I think is great for her, and what we were already doing. The middle one I've pushed back to Grade 4 just to make sure she's getting everything. The oldest os doing Grade 5 and has almost finished the set of DVDs!!

    Nothing wrong with switching and finding what works for you. Different learning styles require different methods. Each child will be different're doing a good job Brenda!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)