What do you do for Math? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 06-17-2013, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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We have been playing a bit with math for a while but now dd aged 8 want more,I am clueless as to what to do next.

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#2 of 6 Old 06-17-2013, 05:06 PM
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I have a 9 year old dd.  Mostly, when I see her ambling around looking bored or uninspired I ask her if she wants to learn some Math stuff.  Sometimes she says yes, but not always.  If she doesn't, then I don't push it.  There are times when she wants to do Math daily for a week, and then times when she's uninterested for quite awhile.  I've learned to be OK with that.


I've learned the thing with her is that she really needs to understand the practical application of it and understand there is actually a point to knowing whatever concept it is and that it's not just some brutal busy work designed to torture and annoy her.  lol  MythBusters is GREAT for this.  She loves Science, so showing her how Math and Science are linked is always helpful.


Oddly, she loves Khan Academy.  It's straightforward and no nonsense and he doesn't present concepts in a way that makes her feel like a "baby", as she says.


We have several Math text books, all different grade levels.  We jump around in those to find things that grab her interest.  What I've learned is that we do not need to do problem after problem to drill concepts into her head.  I let her decide how much, how long, and more sinks in then I realized would at first.  She really loves learning new concepts (her latest is figuring out area and perimeter) and she keeps drawing little diagrams all over the white boards and chalk boards in our house to figure them out.  I have a feeling that if I had given her 20 problems to do on a worksheet she wouldn't be enjoying it so much now.


She wants to learn "the Math with the xes and ys in it" lately, I just got a Barron's Guide to learning Algebra at a yard sale.  Until now she's been very resistant to multiplication and division but the quadratic equations are mesmerizing her, so she's been using a few different apps on the kindle to practice her math facts.  (She already knows most, but not very quickly.)


I've heard "Life of Fred" is very good, but my dd is going through this phase where she gets very offended if something is determined "below" her level, so I don't think she'd be open to it.  I think it looks adorable, though.


There's also a really fun game we like, Smath.  It's like Scrabble with math facts.

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#3 of 6 Old 06-17-2013, 08:34 PM
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When my kids say they want to learn more ____, the first thing I try to do is tease out what is motivating and inspiring the interest. I can imagine all sorts of possibilities in the case of math.


Perhaps there are practical things (saving money, estimating a tip, price comparisons, adding game scores, etc.) that the child wants to be able to do easily in her head. Perhaps she has been made to feel insecure in her math-fact memorization by an acquaintance who tried to drill her on 7x8 or something (kids love to do this to other kids when they've been memorizing their own math facts). Perhaps she wants to try out some school-like structure to see if she likes it. Perhaps she is curious and excited to learn about mathematical ideas like multiplication and algebra, or to just to be able to make sense of numerical relationships. 


As to what to do, that depends a bit on why and a lot on learning style and preferences. There are lots of possibilities... 


Reading math-inspired books like "The Number Devil," "Penrose the Mathematical Cat" and "G is for Googol."

Doing math projects like origami, geometric constructions, data collection and collation etc.

Playing mathematically-influenced board/card games (Yahtzee, Monopoly, chess, poker, cribbage)

Playing number guessing games ("Guess my number: it's a whole number between ten and thirty, and it's half a perfect square")

Playing "store" with real money and pretend purchases, making change, etc.

Practicing math facts through games or straight-up drill (orally, on paper, through computer games or using a dedicated math gadget)

Using a workbook-based curriculum

Exploring math concepts with manipulatives using a guided program of math labs  with or without workbooks (eg. RightStart, Hands-On Equations or Miquon)

Using a textbook-based program -- either traditional, or in graphic novel format (Beast Academy), or in story format (Life of Fred)

Using a computer-based curriculum (possibly Khan Academy, though I think it's a little thin until the upper middle school level, or Teaching Textbooks or other)


I wouldn't lay out that much detail for your child, but I would explain in general terms that there are many ways to learn math: you can read books, or practice it on paper, or use special math toys, or play games, or practice on the computer .... what does she think she might like? 


And from there you'll probably get a better handle on why and how she wants to do "more math." You can then start looking for specific resources, or plans, or sources of inspiration or whatever is appropriate.


In our case we did a ton of informal math games (number-guessing, especially), and played lots of board and card games. We made some use of manipulatives for gently directed "math lab" work using Miquon Math ... just whenever the kids wanted to "do some math." And eventually, somewhere between age 5 and 10, if/when they expressed an interest in a workbook oriented systematic approach to math, I introduced the Singapore Primary Math workbooks. 



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#4 of 6 Old 06-21-2013, 10:18 PM
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In Growing Without Schooling, John Holt recommends the book Mathematics: A Human Endeavor.


Jan Hunt from The Natural Child Project speaks highly of it as well, as you can read here:


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#5 of 6 Old 06-21-2013, 11:56 PM
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First off, Idan, welcome to the board! We have Mathematics: A Human Endeavour, and I'd agree its a very good book. Quite cheap on Amazon too iirc. Another good, similar book, is Challenge Math.


OP, could you maybe say a bit more? You say she wants to learn math, that you've been doing some math. What math have you been doing, what does she enjoy?


The approach I take with my kids if they want to learn something is talk about what exactly they want to learn, how they think they might learn it etc. I put the ball back in their court as much as possible, tbh. 


My kids tend to do quite a lot of math in general, and I can certainly recommend resources which seem to work well (I have a nearly 8 year old and a nearly 10 year old) in a context where they don't have to do math but choose to, but I think it might be helpful to know a little more about what you are after first. What does she enjoy? When she says she wants to learn math, what does she want to know first? Does she have a practical need (paying for stuff in the shop, telling the time) or a more conceptual need (my son is very motivated by understanding physics, computers and electronics) 

Raising Geek_Generation_2.0 :LET ds= 10 ; LET dd1= ds - 2; LET dd2=dd-2; IF month=0.67 THEN LET ds = ds+1; 
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#6 of 6 Old 06-22-2013, 12:59 AM
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Thanks Fillyjonk!
I wanted to send you a private message, but I probably didn't post enough yet.


Now please continue this thread, as I'd like to learn more about these math resources that you recommend. thumbsup.gif


Edit -

I'm subscribed to Sandra Dodd's newsletter, and funnily enough this is what I received in my email a few minutes ago:


"Unschooling is simple but not easy, and it's not easy to understand, but when math is a normal part of life then people can discover it and use it in natural ways and it becomes a part of their native intelligence. All that's left is for them is to learn the notation, later, when they need to."


with this link attached:


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