Best math curric for a child to self-teach? something visual? help? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a very bright 9 year old boy who has essentially been unschooled, not due to my own convictions but because he tolerates no less. He is very self-motivated and curious; he strenuously resists instruction. As an example, he completely taught himself to read somewhere between ages 5 and 7, with zero instruction, games, DVDs...just out of the blue; he reads on a very high level. I tried introducing phonics games and DVDs but he shut me down very quickly. It's just how he is.

So, I see that he reads very well, writes well and has a very good general base of information (history, science, etc). The one glaring gap that I see is math. And math is something that I have always struggled with and loathed, so it's not like an easy thing for me to play with or talk about.

I had tried Singapore math worksheets but he complained and moaned about it being boring. I discovered he could do multiple digit subtraction but in an unconventional way (taking away tens and stuff, probably much more intuitive than my grasp of numbers). It is my impression that he has a very natural knack with numbers, much like his father (who is a computer programmer). But I know he has glaring gaps in his math understanding. I'm sure he can divide, for example, but not do long division. I'm sure he doesn't understand decimal places, but could quickly pick it up. Ditto for fractions.

As I've said, I would not have chosen unschooling but it was the only kind way of treating him due to his strenuous resistance to instruction. Now that he would be in 4th grade, I'm trying to move a little bit away from that. It sounds silly but I've had some nightmares lately about our homeschooling and I guess what is my discomfort with the math issue.

What I am looking for are recommendations for the best math curric for a child his age to *self-teach*. I wondered about Math-u-see. It has to be something that he can sit and do himself, because that's what he likes. And he seems to be a very visual kid, so it needs to be something like that. I already have my eye on Borenson's "Hands on Equations" for basic algebra which I'm confident he could do. But I really want to address the gaps I'm sure he has in basic arithmetic. It has to be something he can self-teach, ideally something hands-on and something with a very minimum of repetition.

Thanks for any advice you have.
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#2 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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I just ordered the Mathtacular videos for my 6 year old DD:

http://www.mathtacular.com

I haven't received them yet so I can't offer personal advice but I read about them on Living Math sites.

We like these too:
http://www.khanacademy.org/

I looked at Math-U-See but it just didn't look like it would appeal to my DD. We use Right Start as our main math curriculum but she isn't thrilled with it. She wasn't thrilled with Miquon or Singapore either. She really just doesn't like anything requiring worksheets. So, I'm hoping she'll enjoy the Mathtacular approach more.

Holli
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#3 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 11:54 AM
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We like these too:
http://www.khanacademy.org/

Holli
OK, now that Khan Academy is cool! I can't believe it is free. If I had the $$$ available to donate, I would--it is so nice to see someone doing something because he thinks it is the right thing to do!

But, anyways. . . for my workbook hating dd we ordered Life of Fred this year. We bought both the fractions volume and the decimals/percents. She is really liking it. However, your son should have a firm grasp on all basic arithmetic first (including long division). So, you may wish to just file this title for the possible future.

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#4 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 01:27 PM
 
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The problem with self-teaching curricula is that they tend to move at a snail's pace, making sure there is enough teaching and repetition built into the program for every learning style and pace. In other words, they don't trust that there's an overseeing adult who will say "I think you need more practice on this before moving on" and therefore they build in more repetition, just in case. Saxon and Teaching Textbooks are two that are like that. I have a feeling Math-U-See is similar. In order to make sure you're not missing small gaps in mastery, you have to watch all the videos and do all the work.

I would have thought Singapore would be a good choice. It moves quickly and it's easy to skip through using the workbooks since they're all laid out by topic groups. The workbooks include all those puzzle-ish self-checking exercises that my kids have found nice for variety. But if it didn't work for your kid, you obviously need something else.

Once he's a little further along I think the Key To... series would be good. They're quick and dirty topic-oriented workbooks on specific middle school math topics: fractions, decimals, percents, measurement and early algebra. They tend to work very well for unschoolers who are gap-filling.

I don't have any experience with it but you might look into ALEKS, which is on-line and apparently pretty responsive in terms of allowing students to move ahead as soon as mastery has been demonstrated.

HTH!

Miranda

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#5 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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MUS can be adapted. There are 6 worksheets per lesson. That makes for 180 days plus tests.

If my kids really get a concept, they do the test only and move on.

Even the guy on the video states that you can skip worksheets if you wish.

Use the program in whatever way best suites your son. We are really enjoying MUS. I am using it for 5 different children and have been using it for 2 years now.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#6 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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Take a look at Math Mammoth and see what you think.

I own the whole series, and it turns out that it isn't the best fit for us. However, it sounds like the kind of thing that you are looking for. It is supposed to be "self-teaching," in that the workbook instructions are geared toward the student. The parent really doesn't need to present the lesson. Each concept is developed very incrementally, and the problems tend to present multiple strategies for approaching different concepts.

There are also recommendations for computer-based games that go along with each section of lessons, and the author of the series has posted a bunch of videos that go along with many of the lessons.

I'd have to say that the downsides are that the workbook format is very dry and somewhat unappealing visually. I don't know whether that will matter to your ds. Also, there are many, MANY practice problems. You could get around this by having your ds skip every other problem, or whatever makes sense.

Is your child amenable to playing math games with you? Perhaps that's a way to "sneak" some instruction or review in as well.

Kelly
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#7 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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Since it sounds like he likes to control his own education, he might like MUS. He can watch the video and go back to it or not (with the "wand of power" ei remote control) and just take the test if he doesn't need worksheets. It also has manipulatives which he can do along with the guy on the screen (or not do). You can do parts of it.

It takes time to find the right fit for math...since every kid is different. Good luck.

Being right is not always fair, but being fair is always right
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#8 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 07:10 PM
 
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Teaching Textbooks. It is pricey but has a very high resale in the used market. I actually know a few unschoolers who went from unschooling to this program and made a smooth transition. I've used a lot of curriculums (too many) inculding Saxon, Singapore, Math-U-See, Developmental Math, and MCP and Teaching Textbooks wins for student approval and ease of use for both mom and child.

http://www.teachingtextbooks.com

Karen, homeschooling Catholic mom to 8. #9 due 6/10
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#9 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 07:37 PM
 
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We love love LOVE Teaching Textbooks!! My son adores it and I am honesty very impressed with it as well, plus their customer service was simply wonderful! You can check out their website and have your ds try out quite a few trial pages and see if it is your style, and what level you will want to go with. My ds is 8.5 and in grade 3, but he is doing TT 4 just to ensure there were no gaps, he placed at grade 5 level so we'll be moving on to TT 5 in the new year as he is blowing through his current one. There are a ton of moms in my hs group who also love TT, from varied perspectives- some of their kids love math (like my ds) and some struggle with it and they have found TT to work for them. My good friend lent me hers for this year, but I would have gladly payed every penny for it!

Jewels & Jon (Married 11+ yrs)- Homeschooling, No Circ, BF, CD Mama to:
Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
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#10 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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It sounds like my son and yours have a lot in common- very self motivated, he hates worksheets, hates phonics practice, likes to learn by doing and being engaged in something of his choosing,etc and he did not take to Singapore Math at all. He briefly did some Saxon math worksheets last year but eventually refused them, too! He learns in his own way.

This year I was thrilled that he immediately took to Teaching Textbooks. He likes being able to do it independently, and I think the CD Rom lectures are done really well and move at a nice pace. They mix a bunch of things together to keep it interesting. He has done the first 20 lessons or so in the Teaching Textbooks 3 level and so far they have gone over addition and subtraction strategies and ways to remember them easily, even and odd numbers, the order of the days of the week and months, shapes, different types of lines and angles and basic concepts of geometry, etc. He seems to like that he is not just going over one thing over and over until it becomes boring as seemed to be the case in other curriculum we've tried. He got really frustrated with Saxon and Singapore because once he had memorized basic addition he did not understand why the worksheets kept drilling him over and over on the same problems. They are a little dry.
The TT workbook goes over the same things but gives them practice with writing the numbers. There is a good amount of repetition but they don't overdue it.

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#11 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by musingmama View Post
He got really frustrated with Saxon and Singapore because once he had memorized basic addition he did not understand why the worksheets kept drilling him over and over on the same problems. They are a little dry.
The TT workbook goes over the same things but gives them practice with writing the numbers. There is a good amount of repetition but they don't overdue it.
That's funny, because my kids found the exact opposite. They found TT slow and repetitious, but Singapore much quicker paced and challenging. My kids are pretty advanced in math (11yo is in her second year of high school math, 7yo is in Singapore 5A) and they like that Singapore lets them fly through things with little unnecessary repetition. Teaching Textbooks, at least at the level we tried (algebra 1) was glacial in its speed.

The main difference is that Singapore is more mastery based, teaching a topic in a fair bit of depth, to completion, before moving on, while TT is quite spirally, revisiting a new topic over and over again, gradually teaching new bits of it, while mixing in other topics. My kids much prefer to get to the bottom of something before moving on. Other kids thrive on variety; for them spiral curricula are a betteer choice.

Miranda

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#12 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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Has anybody come across a video-centered curriculum where the lecture portion is streamed online instead of being on a DVD? The idea of having a set of DVDs to keep track of, constantly put in/take out of my computer etc. is very offputting to me, but ds is not loving Singapore 1B and I think a video component would help.
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#13 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 11:15 PM
 
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The main difference is that Singapore is more mastery based, teaching a topic in a fair bit of depth, to completion, before moving on, while TT is quite spirally, revisiting a new topic over and over again, gradually teaching new bits of it, while mixing in other topics. My kids much prefer to get to the bottom of something before moving on. Other kids thrive on variety; for them spiral curricula are a betteer choice.

Miranda
I think it's great how kids respond differently.
Something about Teaching Textbooks resonated with my son's learning style, so that a short lesson would hang around in his mind for a while and he would use that as a spring board to learn with more hands on experiences later and expand the lesson mentally to more advanced ideas on his own while busy doing. For example, a lesson about doubles up to 20 would then get him talking about doubling numbers in the hundreds, thousands, etc. and fractions and money later on in a different setting. He would mentally jump to much more challenging concepts on his own without any curriculum spelling it out, which seems to be how he really gets things.

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#14 of 16 Old 10-19-2010, 11:49 PM
 
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For example, a lesson about doubles up to 20 would then get him talking about doubling numbers in the hundreds, thousands, etc. and fractions and money later on in a different setting. He would mentally jump to much more challenging concepts on his own without any curriculum spelling it out, which seems to be how he really gets things.
This makes me wonder how he'll respond when he meets these lessons in the curriculum later. We found TT difficult to skip through when the kids were already comfortable with the material because nowhere was it clear what was review or just embellishment of a previously-taught concept. They had to read through each lesson to figure out if something new was being introduced.

You're obviously at a much earlier stage of the program than we were. It may be very different at the early levels. I've never used it with my kids prior to algebra. It's possible it's improved as they've worked their way back into the early grades.

People love to love Teaching Textbooks. I think the presentation is brilliant. But while many kids do well with it, it isn't a magic bullet that suits everyone, and it's an expensive gamble. The on-line tutorial only gives a sense of the format, not the pacing and spiral nature.

Miranda

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#15 of 16 Old 10-20-2010, 12:25 PM
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Has anybody come across a video-centered curriculum where the lecture portion is streamed online instead of being on a DVD? The idea of having a set of DVDs to keep track of, constantly put in/take out of my computer etc. is very offputting to me, but ds is not loving Singapore 1B and I think a video component would help.
Did you check that link to khan academy posted earlier in this thread? It covers all of elementary math --just sort by topic and go to arithmetic. However, you would need to supplement it with the practice.

Amy

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#16 of 16 Old 10-20-2010, 04:41 PM
 
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I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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