Math and Logic Tips and Tricks

If you know me, you know that I don't believe math needs to be formally taught until the middle school years.  Once children can reason, teaching math is a much simpler process.  However, during the younger years, I do believe that something math related needs to be done every day.  Especially games and activities that reinforce logic skills and quick recall of facts.  Make math fun!  My advice would be to shoot to do something math-related for 45 minutes a day.
Rather than vacuuming my living room today (it desperately needs it) I opted to showcase my most favorite math-related activity posts in one place.  Scroll down because following all the fun links, I've shared what I'd do differently if I started on this journey again.

Elementary Years

Roll of the Die Place Value

Multiple Game

Mental Math with Dice

Who's the Greatest?

The Average

Multiplication Drills

Card Countdown

Mini Card Game Boards

Candy Land Math

Menu Math

Pi Skyline

Times Tables Spirolaterals

Middle School

Pi Day

Arrangement and Factorials

Activity Tracker Math

Pyramid Solitare

Color Puzzles

Code Breakers

High School

Math During Morning Time

Take a 30 Day Math Challenge

Managing Money

Fun for All Ages



Multiplication Circle Patterns

Knight's Tour


Gaining Math Confidence

It was such a delight to scroll through my blog and once again be reminded of the joyful learning I've shared with my children.  We've had fun!  However, math has been a weak spot, and we've had to catch-up a little the past two years.  Here's what I've learned --

1.  I'm committed to Saxon Math.  

Originally, I used the Saxon curriculum because I was 'highly suggested' to use it.  Now, I use it by choice.  I understand it.  I recognize its consistency.  It makes sense.  Over the past four years, I've learned/taught from Saxon 7/6, 8/7, Algebra 1/2, Algebra I, and Algebra II.  I believe Saxon is written for the homeschool parent who first has to relearn a mathematical concept before helping a student learn the concept.

Plus, with its spiral approach, each level builds a foundation for the next.  Many times, my son has been tripped up on an advanced Algebraic problem, and he is simply missing a step that showed up in an earlier level.  Saxon has become familiar, and my children understand its expectations.  This makes learning math easier!  I'm assuming this is true of most math curriculums, so now my biggest piece of advice to homeschoolers is to decide on a curriculum and stick with it.  Being familiar with a text and understanding its expectations is half the math battle!  Changing math curriculums often doesn't help.

2.  Math should be easy.

If a student is properly placed in a math level, math should be fairly easy for him/her.  Proper placement is key!  Do not worry about grade level.  If you need to spend multiple years in the same level until the arithmetic concepts are simple, do it.  This leads me to my next lesson --

3.  I'd have a more disciplined plan for the middle school and high school years.

It would be as follows --

I'd still have fun in those early years, but I would be more consistent in drilling math facts daily.  Times tests, multiplication tables memorized, no skip counting, more mental math drills, etc.  Then --

6th Grade(ish) - Saxon 7/6.  3 - 4 lessons a week with the Practice Sets.  30 - 40 problems a week from the Problem Sets.  This will take about 3 hours a week.  There are 120 lessons in 7/6.

7th Grade(ish) - Saxon Algebra 1/2 or Saxon 8/7 (they are nearly identical).  The same schedule as above, but I'd include the Tests.  A weekly test will add 20 more problems a week.  There are 123 lessons in Algebra 1/2.  The last third of the book will show up again in Algebra so I would aim to complete at least 100 lessons in this text.

8th Grade(ish) - Saxon Algebra.  2 lessons a week with the complete Problem Sets.  Break it down into manageable chunks.  Shoot to complete 50 lessons (a little less than half the book) over the school year.  Attempt to master the concepts on the first 10 tests.

9th Grade(ish) - Saxon Algebra (again).  This time complete 3 - 4 lessons a week with 40 - 50 problems a week from the Problem Sets along with the tests.  Try to finish the book.

10th Grade(ish) - Saxon Algebra II  but on the same introduction plan as 8th Grade Algebra above.

[** My son, a sophomore this year, has nearly completed the Algebra II text.  Overall, he's done fairly well with the coursework.  My original plan was to bump him up to Pre-Calculus starting in the fall.  But, here is where I return to my second point above:  Math should be easy!  I am not worried about the courses my children have completed.  I'm more interested in what they have learned.  Within the past few weeks, I've made the decision (and he is fully on board with this!) to have him repeat Algebra II.  We both desire that he relearn the concepts again so that Algebra II will be easy.]

11th Grade(ish) - Saxon Algebra II (again) with the 9th Grade Algebra completion plan above.  The Saxon math curriculum has Geometry woven into its coursework, so technically I could award my son a Geometry credit when he has earned two Algebra credits.  Again, this is stuff I care so very little about anymore.  On his transcripts, I'm planning on listing math as Math I, II, III, and IV.  I believe his ACT scores will show potential colleges whether or not he's learned any math during his home education.

12th Grade(ish) - I believe there will be much freedom this year.  If all goes according to plan, our son will be dual-enrolled by the time he's a senior so his math will come from a local community college.  If he's not dual-enrolled, we could start Pre-Calc at home.  We could also complete a Consumer Math course or a Business Finance course.  Any Business Math will be far more applicable to a future job situation than Pre-Calc.

4.  I need to relearn math with my children daily, so I need to make the other subjects self-managing.

I'm actually surprised when parents complain, "I need to sit at the table with her the entire time she does math.  It's exhausting."   Yep.  It is.  But, I also still need to sit at the table with my children while they learn math.  That's what homeschooling is.  Sometimes they don't need me at the table, they just need me in the vicinity.  I can't always help them solve the problems, but I can help them think through the process and reason with them if necessary.  Two years ago we changed our entire homeschool plan for this one thing.  It was impossible for me to manage 2 - 3 hours of math per week per child while I also had to manage several hours a week of  Latin, Logic, Apologetics, a Mock Trial, etc.  That was exhausting.  Now, I only manage math.  Everything else my children teach themselves.

5.  I let my children use the answer guide regularly.

Algebra is a puzzle.  It's hard to complete a puzzle without seeing the picture you're creating.  I tell my children (and other students) to use the answer guide.  Don't copy the answers.  But, use the answer and work backward to see if you can solve the puzzle.  My children have taught themselves more math this way than from the textbook itself!

6.  It's okay to hire a professional.

My children work with an upper-level math teacher once a week.   She previews a few Saxon lessons for them, and then we come home and learn the rest.  I used to fall into the trap of thinking that in order to homeschool well, I had to teach my children everything.  Now, I know that sometimes I need to view myself as the General Contractor of my children's education.  If I need to hire out experts to complete the job, that is okay.  Honestly, the best part about hiring out an expert is she keeps us on schedule to get the job done on time.

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