What an exciting time of year this is. Looking ahead to a new year, a new term, and spring! (Yes I know winter has officially only just started, but there’s something about the days beginning to get longer and the promise of imminent snowdrops that fills me with hope!) Last term, which marked the start of our first full academic year as a 100% homeschooling family, we’ve been more structured than before. In this series of posts I’m going to look at what we’ve been using for curriculum and talk about any tweaks and changes I’m planning for the coming term, starting with maths. For maths, we’ve been using living books and the Math Mammothcurriculum.
What’s been working
- I love Math Mammoth. The level is just right for my children, and as there isn’t a separate teacher’s book, it’s very easy to use. It is inexpensive and comes in electronic form to print at home – useful when you live outside the US. There is also a separate UK money section, and I like that the sections on measuring cover both imperial and metric units. UK schools have taught only metric since I was in school, but in the real world we use pounds, inches, miles, etc, so the children may as well know about them!
- We’ve read a few living books, like Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland. I love how these books introduce mathematical concepts and vocabulary in the context of fun stories.
Tweaks I’m planning
- We do maths four days a week, but I’ve found that in order to cover all the material in Math Mammoth, we haven’t been spending as much time on living maths as we’d like. To address this, I’m going to go through the Math Mammoth material ahead of time and pick out the essential bits, so that we can spend slightly less time on workbooks and more time really enjoying real maths. Here’s a list of some of our living maths books from my Library Thing catalogue.
- I’m excited to have just found a UK supplier of Life of Fred, which I’ve been considering investing in since they brought out their new elementary series recently. (See Conquest Books.) I’ve read great reviews of Life of Fred, and I have a feeling my children will love them.
Back when I was training to be a lawyer, we were taught to use precedents (pro forma legal documents) “as a tool, not a master”. I need to keep reminding myself of the same when it comes to curricula. Curricula are incredibly useful to the extent they serve your intentions and meet the needs of your family, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of using them as an excuse to beat yourself up for being “behind” or not covering every single thing. For example, last term’s Math Mammoth included a subtraction game with Euclid’s Square. I played it with J for several days running, but then – looking at the amount of curriculum left to cover – I insisted we move on, despite J’s requests for more. Going forward, I intend to be guided more by my child than by a one-size-fits-all curriculum. One of the reasons I home educate is to personalise the children’s education and to give them a chance to follow their own interests. Even with a subject like maths, as long as we’re covering the basics, my priority is to foster my children’s love of learning. If that means regularly jumping off-curriculum, or lingering longer on some things than others, then that’s ok. I’m thinking perhaps a large mummy-reminder sign in our school area might be useful … 🙂