Can you really decide on a math curriculum before your kids are 4+? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm the type of person that likes to plan. I like looking at curriculums and saying "oh we'll either use this or this for elementary age science" or "I will use this method to teach reading". ...my oldest DD is only 2. The earliest I would start formal math with her would be at 4 and that is ONLY if she showed a desire to learn it. We'll wait til 5 or 6 if she doesn't show that much motivation to learn it.

Anyway, is it really possible to have a curriculum picked out (or, you know, if you were to happen to find a good deal on it used, for example, and decided to buy it in advance) before you know what type of learner your child will be?

I feel like whether or not your child will need (or benefit from) manipulatives vs. written practice is so important in how they will learn math best.
Is it silly to even be 'shopping around' for math curriculums? Should I just wait to even look at them?

How old was your DC before you really got a handle on what type of learner they were? Is that something that you can start to pinpoint at 4 yrs old? Or is it later?

student momma to two great girls

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#2 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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I did! I bought RightStart A when DS was just barely 3. He's something like gifted or very smart (not into labels here, but the point is he's very able) and was doing mental addition and subtraction at 2.5, so I decided to buy RS to try to give him something to work with. Then I decided (being somewhat Waldorfy) to hold off and just count apples, etc for now.

Anyway, I think we won't know if something doesn't work for him until he's tried it anyway--so for now I am building his Kindy stuff based on my pedagogical beliefs, what I know of his learning style at 3 (a good deal, actually) and reviews.

Currently researching language arts programs.

I like to plan, too!
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#3 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyway, I think we won't know if something doesn't work for him until he's tried it anyway--so for now I am building his Kindy stuff based on my pedagogical beliefs, what I know of his learning style at 3 (a good deal, actually) and reviews.
You know, if we had a bigger budget, I would just not worry about it and do that. But we don't. We're both students. We will both be grad students when DD1 starts her Kindy year. I will have graduated by the time DD2 starts Kindy and DH will either be just graduated or in his last year. (We're planning on attempting to WOH and homeschool! Wish us luck! haha) And after we're in the work force again, we'll have a load of student loans to pay off. So anyway, i don't have the money to just buy stuff. For at least the first year or two, we'll need to stick with what we buy (or just supplement with something free or nearly cheap)

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#4 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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I think it's ok to gather info on different curriculum, jot down notes, pros and cons, read reviews, etc. if you have the time for all of that. (Keep in mind, time is a pie and if you use time for things like that, you're taking time from somewhere else.)

But I wouldn't recommend buying anything until you know what your child is like at that stage. While their basic personality and temperaments pretty much stay the same, you don't usually have enough information about the person they are going to be, how they are going to learn, etc. until they are at that point in time.

To really take advantage of the benefits and blessings of homeschooling and tailor their education to their strengths and weaknesses, I think it's best to wait until you cross that road.

That's my opinion.
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#5 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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Honestly? OK here goes.............

When dd1 was a year old I knew that we'd end up using Sonlight for history, science, and lang. arts. By the time she was 3 I knew she'd excel with Miquon math, and then I discovered Math-U-See and went hmmmmm maybe that would work better. Well, guess what? We're in the process of withdrawing from our k12 virtual academy to hs independently, and I'm planning on Sonlight for history, science, and lang. arts and dd1 will do Miquon math and Math-U-See. LOL (if you must know, dd2 will do Horizons math most likely, or something else, I'm still deciding on her math, and dd3 will do the same math program as dd2 when she starts while dd4 ends up most likely doing the math that dd1 is doing)

So, in my personal opinion, you can have a good feel for a child's learning style by the time they are 3 and start planning and saving (just not buying yet in case they totally throw you for a loop and change on you lol) if you are in tune with your child and observant enough to see how they master skills. I knew from the start that dd1 is a kid who likes to do it herself and work on it on her own until she masters it and THEN show me, its how she learned to walk and crawl and stand and even tie her shoes. It all depends on the child and the parent, not all parents can pick it up quickly like that. Just research and observe, take notes on how your LO tends to learn new things, and then see if you can determine how to best teach to that style and find something that works well within it.

Cat- FT ministry student and Sonlight hsing momma to a wild crew of girls
Melissa 4/03, Lydia 5/04, Kimberly 1/06, and Jordan 9/07

And waiting impatiently on baby Isaiah ******* to appear around 3/12

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#6 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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I have a tough time even deciding on my 12 yo's curriculum without trying a few out! I buy a few different things used, see how they look, how they're organized, how user friendly they are. And if that all passes my inspection, we'll try using that year. Occasionally, we have to completely switch curriculums because they just don't work for my son. He's not retaining it, he's confused by it, it's not challenging enough, etc.

I too LOVE to plan. And when I'm completely unsure about which curriculum I want to use for a subject, I buy a few used sets to see what I think. Like, I'm sooo confused about which science curriculum I want to use with my now 2 & 4 year olds! I research a ton, & have ordered 3 different things that I've found for super cheap used on the WTM forums to check out. Great Science Adventures, & some Apologia & A Beka books. I looove to flip through & read them & wonder if they'll be a good fit for us. So yeah, I'm a big huge planner person, too. And I don't think I'd know what kind of learner each of my kids are until we try out a few different learning styles/curricula.

But also, I am a total curriculum junkie. I wish I could own one of everything I see in the catalogs, just to pet it & read it & decide if it's the "perfect" fit for my kid or not.

North Idaho rural living  mama to: 23 yo DD, 16 yo DS, 8 yo DS, 6 yo DS, 4 yr old DS, 2 yo DD, and 1 yo DS. And someone new coming this Christmas!
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#7 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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Choosing math materials is not something that can or should be planned, but researching the wide range of possibilities certainly doesn't hurt. The child's needs are not obvious until the time comes when you're trying to provide for them. My child started homeschooling after 1st grade, and we used a variety of materials over the years - I learned that he was the real expert on how he learned best, and my efforts were best spent in researching what was out there, so as to be able to provide some of the very best materials he could try out as he went along. The important thing is to facilitate a curiosity about math and a sense of the fun or enjoyment it can be. We didn't do formal programs, but just a little of this and a little of that, but he scored well on the math portion SAT when applying for college - he had just needed to do a little brushing up on his own with some good texts and a tutor to fill in things he knew he was weak on. - Lillian
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#8 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zjande View Post
I am a total curriculum junkie. I wish I could own one of everything I see in the catalogs, just to pet it & read it
me too. some days i believe we homeschool simply to feed my curricula addiction

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#9 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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me too. some days i believe we homeschool simply to feed my curricula addiction
That's hilarious. I love it.

North Idaho rural living  mama to: 23 yo DD, 16 yo DS, 8 yo DS, 6 yo DS, 4 yr old DS, 2 yo DD, and 1 yo DS. And someone new coming this Christmas!
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#10 of 15 Old 10-20-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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Maybe I'm just less perceptive than the average parent, but many of the things I might have predicted for my kids with math at age 3 were totally off-base. Ds has always been a visual-spatial hands-on guy and I thought he'd love Miquon. Turns out he wanted nothing to do with math curriculum until he was 9.5, at which point he jumped into Singapore Math at a 4th grade level and finished pre-algebra six months later, using a very workbookish approach. I could have sworn my youngest, who has diligently practiced violin as instructed by her teacher since age 2.75 and who loves to read and write, would love a clear sequential workbook approach like Singapore, and she's used that to some extent but really thrived with oral games, Miquon and various enrichment type math activities like Hands-On Equations.

I agree that research is definitely a good thing but personally I wouldn't be purchasing anything until such time as my child was ready to dig in. That continues to be true even at the middle school and high school level for us. My kids' needs and priorities and desires for particular sorts of structure can shift quite quickly.

Miranda

Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#11 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 12:48 AM
 
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Isn't part of libraries, curricula fairs, and other homeschoolers with older kids so that you can check out how your kid interacts with stuff before it's time for them to really use it?
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#12 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 01:00 AM
 
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I say for sure keep looking at curriculum and pick out your favorites.
My advice would be don't buy anything until you are ready to start. For one thing, new additions may come out in the meantime and usually new means improved.

DON'T do what I did. I didn't do any research or looking into curriculum until the September that my son would have been enrolled in grade 1 (so...last month!) It left me scrambling and in a state of panic.
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#13 of 15 Old 10-23-2010, 09:12 AM
 
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I think that you can. We started RightStart this year with DD who is 4.5. We looked into the philosophy of different programs and absolutely LOVED the approach used in RS. I am not a math person at all but my DH is. When he talked with the RS woman at a conference, he said to me, "THIS is what I do in my head and what I am always trying to explain to you!" Reading about the studies they have done and the success rates in classrooms also sold me on it. I know this program is not for everyone. It is a little more time consuming and takes more prep. But I am really committed to it because I believe that these principles will help my kids with math in the long-run. I don't want them to struggle the way that I did. RS is also one that you should start early on if you are going to do it, before the child becomes dependent on other strategies to find answers. I would encourage you to look into it earlier rather than later.
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#14 of 15 Old 10-23-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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I could. Once I realized my big girl was an aggressive math learner who needed little repetition, I could eliminate all of the more "gentle" math programs like Saxon or Rod & Staff (though I hear this picks up later on).

We went directly with the Singapore Math/Horizons Math combo. Yes, Horizons has too much repetition but we work 5 lessons at a time and skip most of the repetition. I like it because it's about 6 months more advanced so she gets new concepts often while we work on Singapore strategies.
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#15 of 15 Old 10-23-2010, 12:20 PM
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One more point to consider. The curriculum isn't JUST about the child! You are a big component too. So, look at the choices and think about how you would like them from a teaching standpoint. Some parents love spiral approaches, some prefer mastery. Sometimes, this aspect is best decided when you understand your child. Some parents want a complete package with all the manipulatives etc built right in. I like to use manipulatives that make sense to me, I like to find things around the house to use, and I like to use them when I think they will be helpful. I find that one child does well with certain manipulatives and the other does better with other ones. Same thing with supplemental games etc. Some parents are math phobic and really want something scripted. Others, like me, is irritated by a scripted math program (though I love the scripted style of our spelling program). So, for now, you can look at the programs based on your strengths/weaknesses/budget. As you get to know your child and how he/she learns, you will be able to eliminate some and eventually choose.

We use Singapore mostly. I add in manipulatives and games based on each child. If we need extra practice we download some pages from MathMammoth OR I make it up myself OR we play games that use the skills. My oldest is finishing up 5B this year (we use it Mondays only) and is trying out Life of Fred. But, Life of Fred isn't an option until the kids get older.

Amy

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