Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kindergarten Math...Take Two

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This week I am taking the time to talk about how I teach each subject and also what changes I am making for the rest of the year.  If you didn't read the Classical Kindergarten...Take Two intro post, take a minute to read that first so you understand why I am making some changes for the rest of the year.

How we have been doing Math

Since last year we have been using Ray's Arithmetic for our math studies.  I got this suggestion from classical-homeschooling.org.  I've written two posts about how we have used Ray's:

Essentially, the grammar of math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) is taught through story problems.  The child is encouraged to use manipulatives to solve problems until they understand enough to do the problems in their head.

Each day we will talk through about ten story problems like, "Johnny had 9 apples.  His mom gave him 3 more.  How many apples did he have then?"  Then my son will do a corresponding workbook page to reinforce the math facts.

I really do like this no-frills method.  My son is learning his addition and subtraction very well.  He truly understands what is going on and this is setting him up for success later on in his math career. 

The problem is what I talked about in the Classical Kindergarten...Take Two intro post.  My son is getting super frustrated and easily discouraged lately.  While I know that he is capable of doing the work from Ray's Arithmetic (because he gets the answers just fine when he focuses long enough to do the problems), I feel like I need to bring things back a bit to help him re-gain confidence and to show him that working to get things done is worth it.  I want to remember that he is just five and don't want to push him to frustration while missing out on these special early years.

Math Changes

I decided to take a look at what other classical education folks suggested for kindergarten.  I don't know why I hadn't noticed this before, but Veritas Press, The Well Trained Mind, and Classical Conversations all recommend Saxon for kindergarten math.  Veritas Press mentioned that most kindergarteners would be more than ready to handle Saxon 1 (instead of K), but I decided to start at the beginning.

What I feel my son could benefit from is the fun part of kindergarten math.  Things like patterns, simple measuring, counting money, etc.  This is exactly what Saxon K offers.  Another bonus (for me) is that it is a scripted program.  Every few months I get overwhelmed with planning and think "I'm just going to buy a box curriculum!"  I look online and am reminded why I don't want to do that (personally).  I'm thinking that a few subjects being scripted might be a good compromise for right now.

We've just been doing Saxon for about a week, but so far it is the perfect way to start the day!  Another bonus is that my preschooler can also handle it (remember, everyone says it's easy for kindergarten) so it's something that we can all do together.  The kids both LOVE the manipulative set and ask to use items from it even when it's not math time.

So right now we are doing a lesson (or two) from Saxon K each morning and then a few times a week we are still doing a lesson from Ray's (because it's so good for learning the math facts). 

How do you teach Math to your kids? 

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  1. I love Saxon Math! We've used it since my oldest started Saxon 1 in the 1st grade, and we're still using it now.

    The manipulative set is wonderful. My children used the linking cubes for math, for creating horses, knights, people, etc. The teddy bears were also played to death. I'm about to order a new set for my youngest children.

    We tried Ray's arithmetic, but it didn't work well for us. What is the secret of your success?

    1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing. So far we are loving the Saxon K. It's definitely not challenging at this point, but it's covering just the things we were missing.

      I agree, my kids LOVE the manipulative set too!

      I really do like Rays for truly understanding the grammar of math. My son surprises me at how much he really understands how numbers work (for being 5 years old). Something that helped me understand how to use it was getting the workbooks that go along with it. Have you used those? Now, I'm not going to say that it's a 'fun' curriculum, but I think the way it gets a child to truly understand arithmetic is fantastic!

  2. We use Singapore Math Essential Math Kindergarten. We just started book B. Some people say it is too simple but it is inexpensive and is working for my daughter. I feel she will be ready for Singapore Math Primary Math 1A and B next year.

    1. I'm not familiar with Singapore. Inexpensive is nice =) Thanks for sharing!


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