Math has been an off and on struggle for us during our homeschool journey. When M was 3 she was very interested in patterns and numbers so we started using the older version of Singapore Kindergarten Math which had 4 books and was designed to be used over two years. When she started K and went to school 3 days/week, the school used Developmental Math along with supplemental activities in geometry and other mathematical topics. She loved the “special math” as she called the activities. At first she was happy to do her workbook pages, but after a while getting her to do workbook math was torture for both of us. Many tears were shed.

When we decided to homeschool full time, we returned to Singapore Math and things improved for a bit, especially when we did topics other than arithmetic – measurement, geometry, etc but after a few weeks, we were back to math as torture. I got Peggy Kaye’s Games for Math and began working in games to review basic math facts. That helped. Then we took a break from the workbook for several weeks doing logic puzzles, geometry and games. Now we’ve returned to it to try and finish up a few more topics before celebrating the end of first grade. Thus far things are going well.

So I’ve learned that tidal learning works best for arithmetic. A few weeks with workbooks and time with games for review and other math topics. I’m also trying to work in more “living” math – hands on, real world math using good books to illustrate mathematical principles and demonstrate that math is a lot more than 2+2 or 2 x 2.

I’m trying to educate myself about new ways to teach math. I like checklists and neatly organized workbooks and it’s hard for me to let go of that approach. I don’t think I will entirely, but living math is something that can be incorporated with a traditional curriculum. You could use math games and readers one day/week or in alternating units or as part of tidal homeschooling.

I wish I could remember where I found the link but somehow or another I arrived at Transitioning to Living Math, a Squidoo lens that chronicles a mom and daughter’s journey to add more games, living books, and hands on activities to their homeschool math curriculum. I found it inspirational and it led me to several other resources.

I’ve also been exploring the Living Math website. Julie, the site creator, has developed lessons that follow the history of math and include games and lots of book suggestions. I’ve purchased the first set of lessons which can be used in a variety of ways. For us, I believe they will work best as part of our ancient history studies. The site also includes articles about math education, long lists of readers and links to games that are all free. I’ve also joined the Living Math yahoo group.

The girls are calling and I want to go ahead and get this posted, but I’ll be sharing some of the activities we’ve tried and more book resources in another post.

on May 7, 2010 at 8:12 am |Paula (Belgium)I like the word ‘Tidal Math’. Never heard before! It describes our math-development quite well. Our latest success has been Math Centers by Evan Moore. It is colorful, playful and educational. To overcome math-boredom we use many different workbooks. To prevent math-meltdowns I use soft background music, our guinea pig supporting my dd by simply sitting on her desk and ……chocolate. (really, believe me, I am in Belgium, the country of the best chocolate).

on May 7, 2010 at 11:08 am |RisaOur approach and experience in math has been similar, and I have also used Peggy Kaye’s books and am on the living math group. One thing we’re doing differently with workbooks–we use Math-U-See–is moving on once my son has understood a concept, rather than once he has completed a workbook page (or series of pages). He is, at nearly 8 years old, able to tell me when he needs more practice on a topic, and when he is ready to move to the next lesson. Since making this change, workbooks have been a much more enjoyable part of our math learning–and we still have tons of time for other things. I’ve written several blogposts on math and our changes to it–games, math art, a different ‘problem of the day’ approach–that you might find helpful. (Click on ‘math’ under ‘categories’ on my blog.)

on May 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm |inneedofchocolatePaula, M would love to have a guinea pig 🙂 Tidal Learning is a term I learned from Melissa Wiley of Here in the Bony Glen. I’ve realized that we tend to have a few weeks with a lot of sit down work and then need several weeks of unschoolishness. M actually said she thinks her brain needs time for things to sink down and stay.

Risa, I’ll definitely check out your math posts. I’ve started doing something similar with the workbooks. This week, we also jumped around, doing a few problems on different pages and then coming back the next day a doing a few more on those same pages rather than doing problem after problem that is essentially the same.

on May 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm |SheilaWe also use Singapore: have you bought the homeschool instructor guides? I started buying them when my eldest was in 4A, and struggling with fractions. They really helped ME – they give you ideas on how to teach the unit, how to help the learner visualize the question, and they give you all the answers (sometimes no small thing if you’re math illiterate like me). I found the easiest way to ‘teach’ math was to do it daily, and even when walking or playing have little games to play orally. Otherwise things get forgotten and rusty. We also tie math in to history: Mathematicians Are People Too, Pythagorus, String Straightedge, etc. Good way to keep it in the mind.

Love your typo (Here in the Bony Glen).

on May 13, 2010 at 6:03 am |Rethinking Math, Part 2 « In Need Of Chocolate[…] May 11, 2010 by inneedofchocolate You can find Part 1 here. […]