First of all, I apologize for the lack of regular updates. I’m working full time again from home, and still trying to find a rhythm to our day. I’ll get there!
Right now we’re on break. But I want to share with you a rookie mistake I made regarding Boobear’s math.
I’ll admit it – I’m a curriculum junkie. I want all the shiny things! But shiny things aren’t always what we actually need.
I was using the Amish math program Learning Numbers with Spunky with Boobear. It’s not flashy, it’s black and white, and very traditional. It’s just good ol’ basic math the way it’s been taught for ages. And it was working. He was learning his addition facts with little trouble through repetition, he liked Spunky and the cues given in the program using the donkey, and he didn’t fight about doing math.
But then I went to one of my favorite homeschooling forums and got slammed for using the Amish program. Didn’t I know it was outdated? That it wouldn’t prepare him properly? That it wasn’t sufficient challenge? That it wouldn’t explain the whys behind everything?
And I fell into the doubt trap. I started doubting my choice, doubting that this program was really going to do the job, doubting myself as a teacher and whether I was doing the best by Boobear.
So I changed programs. I tried a couple online programs – A+ and CTC. Neither one of them was a good fit for Boobear, despite the glowing reviews I kept seeing.
So I instead decided that we’d try Math Mammoth and stick with it. It would take him all the way through pre-Algebra, teach the concepts and whys, give him challenge, and was the superior program compared to Spunky.
We stuck with Math Mammoth through most of the first unit. I brought in pages from other units like time and money for a bit of variety. And you know what? It was a huge mistake.
I went from having a child who enjoyed math to having a child who cried at the sight of the page. He sobbed his way through his lessons. I tried to vary things, added games and manipulatives, cut problems out, even let him choose which ones to do. But it just wasn’t a good fit for him at all.
When he tried to hide under his bed rather than do math, I realized that we had a serious problem. And that I had made a serious mistake.
I sat Boobear down and asked him exactly what he hated so much about Math Mammoth. See, I thought he’d like the color, the layout, the challenge. Nope. It was “too hard, too much on a page, too confusing.” He just couldn’t seem to grasp what was being taught, no matter how I presented it. And I figured that if he were dreading math that much and crying his way through it, no matter what I did, then he wasn’t learning a thing anyway.
So I asked him what he wanted in a program. I showed him online samples of Horizons and other maths. His choice?
Learning Numbers with Spunky.
He wanted to go back to the Amish math we’d been doing. I sat down and hunted up the scope and sequence – something I should have remembered to do already – and found that while the program moves slower and things are taught at different times, it’s actually not behind. Numbers to 1000 in first grade? Adding four digit numbers? My neighbor’s kids are only working with up to 100.
It seems that it actually is the more advanced and is a program that you really need to give time. Time for the fruit to ripen – it’s only as you get further into the program that you see how it really is designed and how advanced it really is.
The same is true for the Amish English program, but that’s another post.
So we went back to Spunky. And when we picked up where we left off, you know what I realized? We were doing the exact same thing we’d been doing in Math Mammoth, only without tears, frustration, or fighting. He aces his timed drills (loves them, the oddball,) has no complaints about the number of problems, and doesn’t find the pages too cluttered.
So we’re sticking with Spunky and in third grade, we’ll switch to Study Time, made by the same publishers. We’re a little behind now where I’d like us to be, but we go year round so it’s not that big a deal. And I would rather he be learning however slowly than sobbing his way through a lesson!
Someone gave me a great bit of advice – “Pick your math for K-8. Stick with it if it works. Then choose for 9-12. Get the basics down and the higher math will come.”
I also need to remember that what is right for others may not be for my child. And I can’t let the doubt others might put in my mind decide how I teach.
Teach the child you have.