Giving My Kids The Math Education I Never Had
While I wouldn't say I was bad at math, I didn't excel at it. I got decent grades and often times had the highest scores, but it wasn't fun and it felt like a chore. It was my least favorite subject. Once I got to high school this became a hindrance when the concepts started getting tougher and I wasn't top of the class anymore. I didn't enjoy it, didn't like homework, and it was hard to pay attention. This was around the time I realized being smart wasn't "cool" and I wanted boys to notice me. With that attitude, I got behind really quickly and took the minimal amount of math classes I could to graduate, which in my school district wasn't much. As an adult I realize I made a terrible mistake.
Fast forward 20 years, and I'm a mother of 3 young children. I'm determined they will have a better education than I had. At first I was really drawn to the Montessori math sequence. I was amazed at the method of teaching really young children deep mathematical concepts with concrete objects. The problem is, the numerous materials are cost prohibitive and hard to present without extensive training in the method. It seemed overwhelming for an untrained parent to do alone.
I then find Crewton Ramone's House of Math. I realize it is significantly cheaper and easier to implement than the Montessori. I buy a set of Mortensen blocks and a password from CRHOM and jump in. It's kind of overwhelming and I don't know where to start, so I do what he says and just pick something, and we play blocks.
I pulled my oldest daughter out after Kindergarten to homeschool. We have been playing with blocks for the last year and a half. She now understands basic algebra concepts and can factor polynomials with her eyes shut, along with mastering math facts at the same time, she can do all four operations. She calculates multi digit multiplication problems in her head, and has great number sense. She just turned 7 and just finished the first grade. Years ahead of me when I was at her age, and I was in the "gifted program".
My son is almost 5, starting K this fall and he already knows his addends to 10, can add to 20, and understands place value into the hundreds. He is starting to grasp multiplication by skip counting. Just by playing along and watching me work with his sister. I have a 3 year old too, and by now the start up cost of the blocks is negligible, since she will follow along with her brother and sister.
We got these results just playing blocks for a year, less than 30 minutes a day. No drills, no worksheets, no tears.
The best part? I am learning along with my kids. Algebra concepts that befuddled me in high school are now made visually obvious, and so simple I can't believe the difficulty I had then.
My husband is of course pleased with the kids' progress, but he is most amazed by my progress. He says I have gained more math sense and understanding of algebra in the last 2 years than in the previous twelve that he has known me. He is a really "mathy" guy and I used to just ask him the answers to save me the time. Now I don't need to nearly as often. Just by playing and having fun with my kids!
We like this method so much, we did math camp with Crewton Ramone this summer, which went so well, I will write about it in another post.
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