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Both of my children expressed an interest in the natural sciences at a young age so I had a feeling that math would end up being an important subject for them both. Math is also a subject that lots of young children hate. I didn't want my kids to hate it too. For this reason, I decided to introduce as much math as I could through games rather than through textbooks and worksheets. I wanted to make it both meaningful and fun.

Early on, I fortunately stumbled onto a yahoo group called "Living Math" which provided me with a community to discuss our approach and to share ideas with other parents and teachers. As a homeschool mom, that meant a lot. Having a group of people who share your goal can help tremendously when things get tough.

More than 10 years later, the group still exists. The founder has this to say on her website:

~ Insisting a child must be taught traditional, scope-and-sequence arithmetic to learn mathematics is like saying one must learn classical notes and scales before one can learn music. You might get there, but you miss out on the inspiration of beautiful music created by the masters along the way. We need not master all the "basics" before being able to experience the appreciation that carries us through the hard work of learning. Think of applying living math principles as developing a "mathematical ear" while working toward the mastery of basic theory. ~
Below the fold, I share with you some of our own Living Math experience in hopes that some of you, homeschoolers or unschoolers, public schoolers or private schoolers, students, parents, or teachers, might be intrigued and discover a possible new way to introduce your kids to more math and have them like it.

Teaching Living Math with young children is easy and most of us do it without thinking. We count the steps as we hold our 2 year olds hand; we sing counting songs; we cut cookies in half and pizzas in eighths. And we talk about these things pretty naturally with kids. If you don't, you should start. It's the beginning of holding more advanced math conversations later in their lives. If you start talking about math while they are this young, it won't seem so strange when you need to talk about how to multiply fractions, for example. And, one day you might find yourself in a conversation about why 0 is a number (still being debated) or whether or not it is positive or negative or neither.

Providing math stimulation for young kids is pretty easy - for example, an egg carton and some buttons can provide tons of entertainment while helping kids learn how to count, how to build patterns, how to discover patterns, how to differentiate size, how to organize pieces.

Where it starts to get more difficult are the ages where we start expecting kids to memorize math facts - those mid to upper elementary ages. Most of us fall for the trap that kids need to memorize in order to learn or to pass tests. Actually, IMHO what they need to do is repeatedly use math facts in meaningful ways. Then the memorization happens despite all else. Facts memorized from usage tend to stick with us. Facts memorized from flash cards are only a number in your head. It's also important that kids understand the concept behind the number. When they use the concept in real life, the concept is more concrete and easier to understand. So using games that function like flash cards and using math in games and in real life are a great combination to help kids memorize those facts they need to know.

Some of the things we would do in our house to help use math facts repeatedly:

Play games. Lots and lots of games.
  • We would play War with a deck of cards but instead of the highest card winning, the person who could add the numbers first would win. When they were older we changed the rules to multiplication.
  • Casino is another great card game that requires addition as well as logical deduction (an important math skill)
  • Shut the Box - you can make up your own rules to include subtraction
  • We played Knock-Out, an entry level math game for addition and subtraction made by an American company.
  • We also introduced basic strategy games. Tic Tac Toe is the most famous but there are lots of other simple ones like Goblet
  • or Labyrinth.
  • We also introduced the basics of Chess and started going to a Chess Club.
Read math literature. Didn't know that it existed? There are lots for young children:
Cook together. Recipes all require math. This is especially true if you have to double or halve a recipe. Pancakes on Sundays were really popular in our house.
Have kids help in the grocery store, especially in the produce department. When they're really young, they can help count out 8 apples into the bag. But when they get older, make sure you need 2 pounds of apples instead.
Because we played with math concepts, my kids brought math into their own play world. One son created his own money and used it in his own town where his stuffed animals all held elected office. Both children built endless creations with Legos, with blocks, with Knex, with cans from the kitchen cupboard, with moving boxes. Building teaches a lot about math concepts but, of course, kids don't consciously know that's what they were doing.

We also used a math curriculum known as Miquon. It was introduced to the education world in the 1960's and though it never took off in public schools, it is still used in some. It is a curriculum that lent itself to our style of learning and teaching. To help kids conceptualize math concepts, they recommended the use of Cuisinaire Rods, which also meant my kids could build while learning math. I could jump around the book and not introduce topics in a specific order. That meant if a child was asking about fractions, we could concentrate on fractions. If they were interested in shapes, we could concentrate on geometry. Miquon made it easy to for us to be flexible and take advantage of child centered learning.

I also relied on Peggy Kaye's Games for Math and Strewing, a term coined by Sandra Dodd, a self-defined Radical Unschooler. It is the art of allowing your child to discover something you have casually left out. Just leave a ruler out on the table and see what your kid starts to do with it. Don't call attention to it. Just let them discover it and see what they do. Be warned, it might take a couple of days or so before they even realize it is there.

Ironically, despite my efforts to help my boys love math, both have had moments in the upper primary grades where they hated math, despite all my attempts to help them love it. What they actually hated was the process of learning math alogrithms - such as how to multiply and how to divide. They are both global learners, not sequential ones, and processes that are sequential have been very difficult for them to learn (that's a diary for another day!). During this time, we decreased our curriculum based math and increased the math games because they liked them and found more literature books that included math:

  • Muggins and Opps - games by the makers of Knock-Out, above. I ordered a wooden board with Muggins on one side (a game that uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) and Opps on the other (a game that adds the element of integers to the four operations of Muggins).
  • Any game with strategy - chess was a big one but also Japanese Go, Carcassone, Elvenland (board game that plays off the Seven Bridges of Konigsberg conundrum), Settlers of Catan, Tayu and Blokus
Our favorite books were:
We used building toys like:
For the computer we discovered:
We also watched science and math videos like:
I still needed the occasional book to turn to for ideas. We had outgrown Peggy Kaye so I found Family Math from the Lawrence Hall of Science instead. And, for those times when we felt like a little bookwork was called for but we weren't ready to face a full curriculum, we turned to Singapore Word Problems and the Key To series of workbooks.

And I found a book for myself - Math Matters. It is a book for teachers that:

helps K-6 teachers clarify their own understanding of the mathematical concepts they are required to teach. It is a resource for math teaching no matter what instructional program is being used. Math Matters not only will help teachers become more comfortable with the important underlying ideas in the elementary math curriculum, it will also prompt teachers to ask better questions of students, explain ideas more accurately, and stress important relationships and concepts.
It provided me with the clues to help my kids learn algorithms. I learned that there isn't one way to multiply multiple digits and proceeded to introduce Lattice Work Multiplication to my boys. It made a huge difference because it removed the heavy sequencing necessary for learning the traditional algorithm. They still use lattice today and enjoy seeing the looks on people's faces as they complete multiplications problems quickly and easily but in a very different method:

Where are we today?

When I published the first diary about living math we were here:

Both boys are attending school in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the year due to their father's military assignment. They were more than prepared to tackle math in the classroom and have held their own, even in a foreign language.

As for practical matters, my kids have their own savings accounts and my teen has his own checking account. They spend their own money when on vacation so that they understand the value of a dollar (or an Argentine peso). They have helped measure furniture and floors and walls for placement of our things when we move (as a military family, we do this a lot). They figure out gas mileage on long trips. They figure out the tip at restaurants without the use of a calculator. We listen to audiobooks as a family and often choose titles like Freakanomics. We read the newspaper and magazines and analyze graphs and data presented in articles.

Today, we are in Washington DC. Both boys passed their math classes in Argentina though my oldest will be taking more Algebra II here in the States. Math in Argentina is covered differently and he learned a little more Algebra, Trig, and Geometry but not enough of any to progress through an entire year. He will take his classes at the local community college under their dual enrollment plan for high school students. My youngest learned that he is great at math puzzles but still hates long division. He is looking forward to using math in his science projects this year - more real life for him than the classroom instruction of last year.

Some of you may be wondering where we found the time to do all these things. First and foremost, we turned off the television at a young age. You would be amazed how much time that adds to the average day. It doesn't hurt to be a stay-at-home mom and to homeschool but a lot of these things were actually done during normal family time - cooking normal meals, sitting at the dinner table, and on weekends and during family vacations. Anyone can start to include these activities into their daily life, not just homeschool families. I bet a lot of you already do. I would love to hear about your Living Math experiences in the comments below!


Thanks for reading Education Alternative's Series on Homeschooling!

We publish Saturday mornings between 8am and 12noon EST

We follow the kos rule of Participating in someone else's diary

Follow us at Education Alternatives for our occasional weekday pieces on homeschooling.

Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 5:54 AM PT: Please check out Tomster's comment below - he has three great additions to the list:

http://www.dailykos.com/...

Originally posted to Education Alternatives on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tipped and Rec'd and Reposted (11+ / 0-)

    to SciTech. Thanks for this excellent diary.

  •  Mathematical reasoning (10+ / 0-)

    lies deep within the human consciousness.  All humans are capable of performing math, and all do it on a regular basis, whether they know it or not.

    Your analogy with music is something I find personally appropriate.  While I have always enjoyed listening to music and singing, much more recently I have started writing music, which involved leasing certain rules of harmony.  It all makes perfect sense in the context of what I knew intuitively, and helps me to understand how certain musical constructions (such as chord sequences) can have the effect that they do.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:46:57 AM PDT

    •  It's amazing how much we discount intuitive (10+ / 0-)

      understanding, for young and for old. We as a culture really focus on the ability to explain our understanding. While that can be handy, sometimes it isn't practical and it doesn't always seem to help us learn. If we understand something intuitively first, I do think it helps us grasp the specifics later... sometimes much later than the current system would like!

    •  I dispute this assertion to a point. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gizmo59, Lujane

      There are people who cannot do math, just as there are people who cannot perform music or read. For some of us doing math requires a calculator and even then multiple times entering numbers to get it right. It's called dyscalculia. In simplest terms it is for numbers what dyslexia is for reading, and how much math you can do depends on the severity of the disorder.

      For kids with dyscalculia you should focus more on compensation techniques then memorizing math facts, for example. They may be able to remember math facts one day and the next they are gone, then they can come back again. It's an odd disorder. It doesn't matter how often or how long you drill, all that will do is increase frustration.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 08:52:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the issue is less (12+ / 0-)

        kids with dyscalculia, who we certainly don't want to fall through the cracks, who should be diagnosed and taught with a program that is right for them.

        It is rather that math curricula appears to be designed by English majors and taught by teachers who are not comfortable with the subject, who assume it is common for perfectly typical children not to be able to learn math.

        In the years I substitute taught, I met so many kids who were capable of learning basic math with a few minute of individual attention, but had not. They had fallen behind their class and had basically been abandoned by a system that takes it for granted that it is very common not to be able to learn math. So why bother?

        •  This raises an important point. (8+ / 0-)

          It has been my general experience that people who become elementary school teachers tend to be afraid of math.   They transmit that fear to their students, and the cycle continues.  Only the gifted students, who can figure things out for themselves, end up actually learning something.  It's a real flaw in our system.

          -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

          by gizmo59 on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 12:04:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As an adult who suffered through child hood (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lujane, angelajean

            with undiagnosed dyscalculia I can attest to the fact that while those are valid points, there are kids like me who fell through the cracks. I spent 6-8 hours a night on math homework trying to figure it out. It wasn't for lack of trying, and the fear only came into play because everyone told me I was at fault for not getting it.

            So yes, how math is taught needs to change, but teachers need to be better informed about disabilities and what to look for as well. A lot of that falls on the degree programs.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 12:11:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I taught "Math for Elementary School Teachers" (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, gizmo59, Nance, LakeSuperior, kyril

            at the local university while I worked on my master's degree, and most of the young women (there were no men in the class at the time) were afraid of math and really did not understand some of the important concepts.  I worried for their future students because I know that fear of math is easily, if unintentionally, passed along.

          •  My sister teaches third grade. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gizmo59, kyril, freeport beach PA

            She recently reminded me that she barely got enough credits in math to get her degree. She teaches the science and math classes to all the third graders in her school. A little scary, as much as I love my sister.

          •  My experience is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gizmo59

            that a lot of graduates of teacher training programs simply cannot pass the Praxis math test they need to pass to get certified. It got so bad that finally the college I trained at began giving the test before students entered the program rather than as they were leaving.

            They would provide students with coaching, but I think their fear was a result of legitimate lack of confidence in their math abilities.

      •  perhaps the problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        with dyscalculia is that while it may exist in small numbers (hey, anything exists, brain is complex), what you are describing

        . They may be able to remember math facts one day and the next they are gone
        looks like a problem with bad teaching.

        There are no "math facts". There are a couple of axioms and everything else is derived. But alas, there are "teachers" who come up with idiocies like "fact families".

        •  It's not. it's actually a symptom. (0+ / 0-)

          this is from dyscalculia.org:

          Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Poor long term memory (retention & retrieval) of concept mastery- may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! May be able to do book work but fails all tests and quizzes.
          It has nothing to do with teaching, it is a symptom of the disorder. So is inverting numbers (for example I tried to read the post with the graphing numbers in it, but they kept moving around, I warned Caedy she can expect to do all measuring for dinner tonight LOL).

          Full list of symptoms here.

          For the record I recognize I have a pretty severe case of this. I have documented brain damage in the left parietal lobe. There are two symptoms on the list I do not have.  I have musical ability, and my spatial reasoning isn't as affected. This has been attributed to where the damage is (left brain while right brain is unaffected).

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:04:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Florida... (4+ / 0-)

            Ben used to qualify for gifted in grade school because he got the "mathematical concepts" while he scored very low in mathematical computation, below grade level. I tried to teach him his math facts for ages.  I just gave up.  

            Do you see this in yourself or your children?  Ben had a psychologist who was ADHD, who said he failed Algebra but "got" trigonometry and calculus. Angela mentioned about her kids being "global learners", which is a way sometimes used to describe our kids learning style.  They learn the difficult and dismiss the simple.  Weird, I know, but it's come up before..

            Ben's never taken a higher order class, but his test scores show he would probably "get it" if he did.    

            When Ben was young, I had to "show him" language, in pictures.  He didn't just naturally pick it up.  I saw this pictorial representation of mathematical concepts and wondered if it would have been helpful to him.  Visual Math Animations for High School  I love these people, they just get our kids.
            http://dyscalculia.dyslexicadvantage.com/

            If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

            by rosabw on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:42:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Rosa, my oldest doesn't think in words but in (3+ / 0-)

              pictures and he sees numbers as colors. He has tried explaining it to me but it's obviously complicated for a word person like myself. But visual learning has always been important to him - and not just words on a board but pictures and hands-on. He grasps Algebra in a different way than I did and can actually see the slope of an equation before plotting it.  He will love the Visual Math Animations!

            •  My kids.. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean, kyril, freeport beach PA

              show signs of a very mild form of it. Not as severe as mine, so there may be some genetic link there. Mine though is mostly from brain damage done in a fall when I was 3, cracked my skull, had stitches, etc. I still have an extra flat/soft spot on my head.

              Algebra, some of it I can get, but applying it is tricky. I can memorize the formula (a squared +b squared = c squared) actually using it is entirely different. And fractions, I have to keep a cheat sheet telling me how to add, subtract, multiply etc.  I can almost never remember how to do it. With the information in front of me I can usually manage it.

              My Algebra II teacher figured out the basics of what was wrong, though he never put a name or diagnosis to it... he used to write numbers for graphing out in words (nine, six) when he wrote them on the board so I wouldn't invert them.
              I'll have to look at the math animations. That may help me and my son.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 02:10:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I don't disagree that it exists (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril

            But probably majority of people bad at math rather have crappy teaching than a disorder.

      •  Mathematical reasoning (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        entails more than the ability to calculate.  Humans were capable of mathematical reasoning before numbers were invented.  Some non-computational mathematical abilities include the ability to group objects according to likeness, the ability to determine if one group of objects is larger than another, and the ability to use deductive reasoning.

        -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

        by gizmo59 on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:06:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can compensate for some of those... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gizmo59

          as reading and logic are intact. If the difference in the size of the groups is obvious I can tell, if it's close not so much most days without actually counting them (and then often I lose count, I tend to group things by tens when I count them so I can go back and recount easily). Deductive reasoning.. I can do it, but not if you listen to my Geometry teacher. I often do it in round about ways. If I didn't have to show my work I could get the right answer, if I did it was counted wrong.
          For example, I don't multiply by nine. I take 9x7 and apply a trick to it. You subtract one from 7 and get 6, that's the number in the tens column. 6+3=9, therefore the answer is 63. It's not fast, and for most people it's more confusing than multiplying by 9, but this way I a) don't invert the numbers and b) don't draw a blank. I can usually add and subtract correctly. Multiplication is up in the air, division is often a guess. I used to have similar tricks for Geometry. I had steps he claimed I didn't need. But for me I did need them. Without them I couldn't keep things straight.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:14:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That trick with the 9x table (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM, kyril

            is something I figured out for myself sometime in junior high school.  It's a perfectly valid way to get the right answer, so you don't have to make excuses.  I was actually quite crappy at arithmetic before I got to junior high.  Maybe it was puberty?

            Mathematicians can be real pricks sometimes.  The fact is, it is often the case that there is more than one way to prove a mathematical conjecture.  In any case, your teacher should have allowed for your particular disability, though if you hadn't been diagnosed yet, that would have been tricky.

            -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

            by gizmo59 on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:26:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My geometry teacher.. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gizmo59

              was an ass. He taught from the book, if you asked a question he said to read the book. If he found out you were getting tutored he found an excuse to flunk you. The only people who did well in his class were the mathematically inclined. I somehow managed a low C and passed well enough to graduate. I still don't know how I did it.

              But I wasn't diagnosed until college. I had two teachers recognize there was a disability, but to everyone else including my parents I was just "lazy" and "didn't try hard enough" despite straight A's in everything else (except PE).

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 02:13:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  My kids use all kinds of tricks for multiplication (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM, kyril

            The 8 times table is the 4 times table doubled. And the 4 times table is the 2 times table doubled.

            We do 9's by multiplying the number by 10 and subtracting 9.

            Some of the facts we know are less applicable but still can come in handy:

            A number is divisible by 3 if all of it's digits add up to a number divisible by 3.

            I'm sure there are a few others we use but I just can't think of them right now! But the point is the same you are trying to make, I think. There isn't one way to figure out a problem. And if you know how to use tricks like these, then when you are faced with a problem you don't know how to do, you have some tools that might help you figure it out.

      •  I have this. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, angelajean

        Its miserable. I can handle up to multiplication fine, but thats it. If I have to divide, i spend more time remembering the rules than working, but i'll eventually get it.

        if you ask me to do anything with fractions or decimals, my head blanks. I Cant do it. And I mean, I tried. I really tried! I went through algebra six times. After the second time i asked my teacher for extra tutoring.

        no matter how much we tried, I could not retain the systems. They would vanish the moment i started trying to use them.

        ...But then something strange happened. I heard this song:

        I can repeat it perfectly. Its very weird for me! Cause I cant remember number chains more than five long. I jsut wish I had some way to integrate math into that mechanism but...All i can do is remember the song, not the results.

        Its..frustrating, to say the least.

        Already, I've a kingdom in my prospects, a land to rule. What to ask for? Perhaps a frozen scone...

        by kamrom on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:52:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The few multiplication tables I can remember.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean

          like five's and three's are thanks to Schoolhouse rock. Because the music portion of my brain works I can sing the "mulitplication rocks" songs... and the ones that count by the numbers (like 3's and fives) I can do, but I have to sing it every time and count out the multiplier on my fingers.

          I got through Algebra in college because I had accommodations. I was allowed to use the fraction rules cheat sheet during the tests, I was allowed to have someone to check my work and tell me if I'd inverted numbers (especially with graphs, I was as likely to get the opposite slope as the right one), etc. I still spent a lot more time and work on that class than I did on any other one. Many nights I went to bed with migraines. And I spent most of that class in panic mode.
          I was so terrified it was going to hold me back, prevent me from moving on to my core courses. Luckily that was the ONLY math course I had to take.

          Once upon a time I wanted to be a nurse. I'm glad now I never went that route. Can you imagine if I'd inverted numbers when dealing with a medication dose??? Just the thought is terrifying.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 07:28:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  My advice for homeschoolers : (6+ / 0-)

    Seek professional help, in math that is. Arithmetic is one thing, higher math is another. I taught my son the baby stuff in his preschool years and over the summers. (Yes, I had him memorize the multiplication tables.) But when he got to middle school I realized that I was in over my head. Not that I didn't understand the stuff, but that I didn't understand how to teach it. An experienced math teacher will know lots of different ways to present the material and lots of tricks and shortcuts. Intermediate algebra is absolutely crucial. A student who fails to master these concepts will find it immensely difficult to move on.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 08:03:22 AM PDT

    •  I think it depends on the homeschooling family (9+ / 0-)

      and on the kid.

      I know some families that are handling higher mathematics just fine. And others that have turned to help in various forms including online classes and online tutoring. Like people everywhere, there isn't a single solution that is the right one.

      I have to say my understanding of Algebra increased 4-fold when we tackled it together. And my son loved watching me figure things out (again, after 20 years or so) and we were able to work through many things as a team, something that was encouraged by the curriculum we were using. I thought it was good for him to see my frustration and my mistakes as they taught him a different lesson - that adults don't always understand either and that learning is a process that all of us undertake for the rest of our lives. I think I've succeeded. I'm looking forward to seeing what his Algebra II class will be like at the Community College.

      •  Love the diary, angelajean. There are so many (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        fabulous suggestions for any parent to follow in helping their children understand and appreciate math.

        When we were homeschooling our son, we were fortunate to have a friend who wrote books on fractals and software programs. He made math so much fun for our son that he was awarded attendance to a summer math camp for the top 30 math students in our state two years in a row.

        Then when it was time to review Algebra II as a preparation for calculus, I took the Community College class with him. We had a great time seeing who could get the best grades on their tests. He delighted in beating me, and I enjoyed both the time with him and the friendly competition.

        HumanKind ~ be both

        by 4Freedom on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 12:31:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We love fractals! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          4Freedom, blue armadillo, kyril

          Our Algebra 1 text used fractals as a way to review math skills before jumping into Algebra. I learned so much!

          I considered taking a class with him but I think I'm going to let him tackle this one on his own. I think he needs that more this time than I need to review my own math. Though I have always said I would go back to school and pass Calculus!

          It's great you and your son were able to have that experience together. I love how homeschooling can help build tight relationships among a family.

          •  It was a truly wonderful experience. (4+ / 0-)

            We had so much fun planning activities and filling days with learning experiences.

            Field trips would involve geology and botany, but they didn't require textbooks or note-taking. The trips were geared for hands-on learning, which has helped my son build his career fabricating jewelry, and faceting and wire-wrapping gemstones.

            He facets the stones he finds, which takes lots of math to figure out the correct angles for the brilliance of the stone. Each gem has a different refractive index, so each facet requires different calculations. He loves the way he can apply his math background in practical ways.

            HumanKind ~ be both

            by 4Freedom on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:49:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  a friend of mine went to a tiny "religious" school (8+ / 0-)

      where she was one of two in her class year. They forced her to take geometry first, without the requisite algebra. She muddled through with incredible frustration and managed a "C." To this day she has no idea how smart she is.

      Meanwhile, for kid's math I like the book Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, and upon linking it I see there are more like it. Yay.

    •  We used (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, angelajean, 4Freedom, Lujane, kyril

      kinetic textbooks this past year, will probably order it again for Algebra 1 next year. It uses whiteboards and videos, has games, step by step 'help', etc. It worked well for my son.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 10:01:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Useful info, angelajean. Thanks! (7+ / 0-)

    Hotlisted for future reference and application with a grandson (going into 3rd grade), who loves math and math games.

    The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

    by SoCalSal on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 08:19:04 AM PDT

  •  Nice piece... great for Math resources! (6+ / 0-)

    I learned lots of probability and systems theory playing historical war board games which used weighted probability tables and die throws to add some randomness.

    http://www.leftyparent.com/...

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

    by leftyparent on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 08:55:07 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the resources angelajean.. (6+ / 0-)

    I will forward this to my other half since he handles most of the math curriculum with the kids, especially with the youngest. Maybe some of these will help her keep up with her multiplication over the summer.

    We use Multiplication.com
    to help keep skills up and for practice. She likes it and will usually play the games for about an hour every day.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 08:56:05 AM PDT

  •  A fun math puzzle game (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, 4Freedom, Lujane, pdxteacher, kyril

    like Sudoku, but with math concepts is KENKEN.  It starts very simple in a 3X3 grid with only addition, to 9X9 grids with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  It really helps reinforce basic math skills as well as problem solving and logic skills.

    Look for math in unusual places and patterns.  The distance formula is direct variation, but the time it takes to get there is inverse variation.

    What does math look like with numbers? Pictures? Formulas? Patterns? Words? Graphs?  There are  many ways to represent the same ideas.

    Fractions are critical for algebra.  Make sure your kids understand that fractions and divide are the same thing.  In grade school and middle school teachers stress not leaving improper fractions, but in high school, improper fractions make the rest of the problem easier most of the time.

    In the end, theoretical mathematicians may disagree, but life is a story problem and math is a tool to use for cooking, architecture, physics, chemistry and the rest of life.

    •  Positive and negative numbers (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, 4Freedom, Lujane, pdxteacher, kyril

      A lot of people have trouble with adding and subtracting negative numbers.

      The standard number line is set up from left to right, but I like to think of it as up and down.  Negative is digging a hole and positive is a mound.  Left to right is useless for kids just learning their hands or for dyslexics who may never figure it out.

      Also, money is a great way to remember certain values.  A quarter of a dollar is 1/4 of a dollar which is also .25.  Money is also motivating when thinking about different operations.

  •  Your usual excellent exposition! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosabw, angelajean, 4Freedom, Lujane, kyril

    The pre- and even school age games information comes a little late for me, as my youngest grandchild is about the age of your elder son, and a thousand miles away. So that horse has already left the barn for me.

    But that doesn't mean I couldn't use some tips now. Not with the very basic stuff like addition and subtraction, but trying to older folks who are looking to take advantage, say, of the VRAP program and find that they are totally unprepared to even approach a community college assessment test. Fractions, multiplying and dividing, adding and subtraction, might as well be Classic greek to them, factoring trinomials the Impossible Dream

    Do you have any "fun" suggestions that might be effective in getting the message through to grizzled old homeless vets who have a rare opportunity to better their lives?

    O/T, how about a pm about your "scores" on your own tests?

  •  My daughter and I... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, jk2003, 4Freedom, Lujane, kyril

    ...are doing lots of interesting math stuff.  She's 7.

    She's learning how to plot points on a graph - reading x and y coordinates - day before yesterday I wrote out a long set of instructions for her: "draw a line between (-9,5) and (-9,2); draw a line between (-8,5) and (-8,2), then between (-8,2) and (-6.5,2)," etc., etc.  When she finished, she discovered to her delight that I'd coded the words "I love you."

    We are cutting out shapes in graph paper and folding them together to make different shapes; we're going to start doing flexagons soon.

    One day we took a walk from our house to the center of town.  Before we left I cut a 20-foot length of string; we paced off the distance in 20-foot increments, calling out the numbers as we went along.

    And on the wall we have a number line.  I got a 10-foot strip of paper and drew a 10-foot line down the middle, then marked it in 1/2" increments and labeled them from 0 to 153, where the paper ran out.  I cut pieces of cardboard to 1", 1.5", 2" .... 5.5" lengths (2 through 11) and we marked off multiples of each of these numbers in a different color.  All multiples of 2 have a pink line, all multiples of 3 have a yellow line, etc.  6 has a pink and a yellow line!  Now if I ask her what two numbers can be multiplied to make a particular product, she can go to the product and choose the appropriate color.

    Finally — I'm relearning math myself, doing it in front of her, false starts, erasures, mad scribblings and all.  If she sees me doing it almost every day, then math is just another thing grownups do — as opposed to something grownups make kids do, which is the difference between cool and suck.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 09:40:06 AM PDT

  •  My son spent 9 years trying to figure out (5+ / 0-)

    Math in the public school system.  Then I tried backing up and teaching him the things I thought he needed to pick up on.  All to ready for college.  He finally ended up teaching himself Algebra online with Aleks.com  

    It's all very kosher.  Some public schools use it for helping kids make it through.

    He's dyslexic, dyscalculaic like FloridaSNMOM's son.  He's going to college now and I'm telling the psych who will help him get accommodations that he always qualified for gifted in grade school without knowing his math facts.

    "How is that possible?"  he says.

    "You tell me..." I answer.

    Beyond all my blah, blah, blah what I am trying to say is, I think there are 2 languages of math, one rote memorization...the one I get, and another, higher order that he gets.

    ~ Insisting a child must be taught traditional, scope-and-sequence arithmetic to learn mathematics is like saying one must learn classical notes and scales before one can learn music.

    Yeah, I wish I had known that before he graduated.

    If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

    by rosabw on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 09:42:03 AM PDT

  •  Khanacademy.org has some quite good (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, 4Freedom, Lujane, kyril

    tutorials on math and other things.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 10:10:28 AM PDT

  •  you reminded me of my son when he was little- (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, 4Freedom, Lujane, Mostel26, kyril

    i had very little money, but i wanted my son to not hear me saying "no" to everything he wanted to buy, so i gave him a decent allowance- $1 for each year of age. he was able to save up and buy things he wanted. he learned about tax, how long it would take him to accumulate $, etc.

    in the grocery store if he wanted something i didn't want to get, like if it wasn't on sale or something, he'd have to contribute the difference between what i was willing to spend and what the item cost. that helped him w/ math too.

    the most fun thing we did was play uno- his school didn't like to assign homework, but one year he had a teacher who assigned twenty minutes of math each night. you had to figure out what kind of math. we used to play uno, and my son had to add up the hands and the running total. we had a cat that used to lie down w/ us when we played, so we used to deal him in and play his hand for him.

  •  I've found it rathr amusing.... (7+ / 0-)

    ....that a kid who says he can't do math can calculate in an instant what armor/weapon/spell combination would be best to fight a frost dragon in Skyrim.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 11:19:57 AM PDT

  •  When I was younger (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Lujane, angelajean, kyril

    my older brother and I played a lot of board games. One game we had was a variant of Scrabble called Numble -- you had the same style board and tiles as Scrabble but the tiles were all numbers (0-9), and the object was to make a sequence (ascending or descending) of numbers that added up to a multiple of 3. (There were a few other strategic rules but that's kind of the basis.)

    My brother (who is 6 years older than me) wouldn't let me use pencil/paper to do calculations either when we played board games (we pretty much had to for card games -- he's the one who taught me both blackjack and 7 card stud), so I became proficient in doing simple calculations in my head, as well as rounding so I could keep a running total in the store when shopping if I was on a strict budget. (Used that just today, as I was trying to get close to a particular dollar amount to qualify for a coupon discount when clothes shopping online.)

    Mitt Romney: the Etch-A-Sketch candidate in the era of YouTube

    by Cali Scribe on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 11:56:22 AM PDT

  •  Moms and dads whether homeschooling or not, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Lujane, angelajean, Nance, kyril

    can benefit from this diary. And you mentioned one of our favorite books, The Number Devil! Rote learning can really be stressful for kids, but using an organic approach just makes math a life lesson like any other.

    You have lots of good suggestions here, angelajean. I'm done schooling mine, but I recommend this to anyone with kids.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 12:14:56 PM PDT

  •  I hated math until my 30s... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Lujane, angelajean, kyril

    All through grade school, high school and my first go-around in college I despised it.  I hated it because I was told I had to learn it, but nobody could ever explain why.  The answers they gave to that question were weak and trite.  

    "You need to know math to balance your checkbook and be a good consumer" they'd say.   I'd then ask "Why is algebra II necessary for balancing a checkbook or determining the tip to give to your waiter or waitress?  Isn't it all basic arithmetic?"  

    Then they'd tell me to shut up and just do it or I'd fail out of school.  

    Even in college, none of the math professors ever bothered to explain WTF any of this stuff was for.  I had the feeling that the professors -- just like the students -- felt they had to be there and would rather be doing something else other than teaching math to a bunch of disinterested undergrads.   Not a single one of them ever took the time to explain to us what we could do with this math.  

    It wasn't until years later in my 30s when I truly began to appreciate math, and some of the things I could do with it.  I learned how to use it to answer real world questions.  When I changed careers in my 30s, I went back to school for another bachelor's, and I took every math class I could.  This was far different than my first time, when I took the minimum necessary to graduate.  

    For me, I had to learn the value of math on my own.  To me, anything that can help children understand the true value of it is a good thing.  

  •  here's another link (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, 4Freedom, kyril

    you may like then: http://www.maa.org/...

  •  A driving game we used to play (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, angelajean, Mostel26, kyril, seabos84

    Dad would pick out something in the distance, and us kids would estimate how far away it was. He'd name the thing ("the water tower" "the pole with the transformer" "the overpass" "the railroad crossing") and the reading on the car's odometer. We kids would shout out our estimates in miles and tenths, and when we got to whatever it was, Dad would tell us the odometer reading again. We'd figure out the actual distance, and whose estimate was closest, declare a winner, and do it again with some new thing in the distance.

    I think he invented the game because we would all be super quiet in anticipation while approaching the distant object.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:24:22 PM PDT

  •  Gamble, gamble, gamble (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, FloridaSNMOM

    This won’t work with all types of kids, but certain sports/competition/dorky (like myself) types of young folks can get a fun handle on math with:
    -    Betting horses and pre-calculating payouts, etc.
    -    Keeping track of one’s own sports stats
    -    Playing cards for small change
    -    Rocking out some serious rounds of Dungeons    and Dragons with 4, 6, 8, 12, and 20 sided dice

  •  Great diary -- some suggestions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nance, kyril, angelajean, DawnN

    Hi!  I'm a university math professor and one of the people interviewed in the "Between the Folds" documentary that you mentioned.  (I study the link between math & origami.)  I have a few suggestions/comments on what you wrote:

    (1) Rather than using Geometer's Sketchpad, I highly recommend the free software Geogebra.  It works just like Geometer's Sketchpad (but is easier, IMO) but also makes the geometry <--> algebra connection by showing the equations for the lines & circles you're constructing.  I dig it.

    (2) The card game SET is fantastic!  It's basically a "which of these things is not like the other" kind of game, except on steroids.  It does a great job of helping develop abstract thinking & reasoning skills, which are incredibly valuable but often overlooked in math curricula.

    (3) This is a bit self-serving, but origami (paper folding) is a great way to "teach math" without kids thinking that they're doing math.  There are a number of resources online for doing this (for example, just google "modular origami" to see dozens of wild origami projects that help develop strong 3D visualization skills).  Also, I wrote a book called Project Origami: Activities for Exploring Mathematics that provides lesson plans and origami projects that use all sorts of math topics, from counting to algebra to calculus.  

    Hope that helps.  Enjoy!

    --- Tom Hull

    •  Off to check out Geogebra. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      But I wanted to mention that is always tickled me that DD, the child who was "not good at math," kicked butt at SET. I don't know why but she just couldn't be beaten at that game.

      Thanks for the excellent diary, Angelajean.

      Nance

    •  I so want to do origami. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      If someone shows me step by step I can do it, I can never figure it out from websites or books, the diagrams just don't translate for me :(. My son can usually figure it out but he's not good at teaching it LOL.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:42:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't know how I missed SET! (0+ / 0-)

      We use it and several other games by the same author, like Quiddler and Five Crowns. Love them all! Thanks for reminding me!

      I will look into Geogebra. My 13 year old is just the right age.

      And I'm going to share your origami link with a few homeschooling friends. My boys like watching people do complex origami but they don't enjoy it themselves. It seems that it appeals to girls more than boys but I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the 'craft' connection though I see it as more of an art.

      I'm curious, have you ever seen this book Patty Paper Geometry? If so, what do you think?

      •  Patty Paper Geometry... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        is a book that I don't have a copy of.  I have heard good things about it from teachers.  My impression is that it's a good book for teachers, but I don't know if it would be suitable for students to self-study from.  I think it'd be worth checking out -- so long as you have wax paper or something like the "patty paper" they use.  That's important for these activities -- some kind of foldable, see-thru paper so that you can see through the layers and such.  The lessons in the book rely on that.

    •  oh, great suggestions! (0+ / 0-)

      I used to do origami a million years ago.  These days I seem to spend all my free time on the computer, but your book sounds fantastic.  I only wish I'd had it when I was still homeschooling my kids.

      I had forgotten about SET.  I used to do their daily puzzle.  I need to add that back into my daily routine--keep my last few brain cells from going dormant.

      Thanks!

      There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

      by puzzled on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 01:28:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone remember WFF 'N PROOF ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, kyril

    http://wffnproof.com/...

    There is more to math than arithmetic.  Learning with set theory, symbolic logic and alternative number bases may be especially helpful for some students.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 03:08:19 PM PDT

    •  I played WFF 'N PROOF in Junior High... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, kyril

      back in the late 1960s along with Equations.  Still have an Equations game set but have not seen the former for decades!

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 03:47:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have never heard of this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      Thanks for the link. I have some investigating to do :)

      •  WNP is a game where you build logical... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        statements from a random set of logical equation components.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 04:47:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wikipedia on Equations... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        Equations is a mathematics game created in 1965. The game uses a playing mat and 24 cubes, each labeled with numbers and mathematical operations. At the beginning of each "shake" one of two or three players uses up to six cubes to set a "goal." All players must use the remaining cubes to devise a solution that equals the goal.

        Gameplay can become more complicated through the use of "variations" called on the game. Applicable variations differ by the player's age division. The game progresses with each player moving one cube on their turn, or alternatively challenging that they can create a solution with the cubes in play, that a solution was possible on the last turn and the player before had missed it, or challenging that it is impossible to create a solution with the cubes available. When a player calls a challenge, it is called against the player who most recently completed their move.

        In a three player game, the indifferent player may choose who he sides with in the case of a challenge. A player who correctly challenges another player wins the game. The loser of a game gains two points, The winner six, and the sider (if he sided with the winner) gains four or two (if he sided with the loser). Equations games become interesting with the use of factorials, vulgar fractions, and even logarithms, in the Senior division.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 04:48:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wikipedia on WFF 'N Proof... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        WFF 'N Proof is a board and cube game that was created by Professor Layman Allen in 1961 to teach the basics of symbolic logic. [1] It is played with cubes that contain various symbols. The game board contains a required section, a rules section, and a premises section. To win the game, you have to write a proof, using the cubes to create "wff's" and the rules. This game is not competed in at the AGLOA National tournament.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 04:48:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wikipedia on On-Sets... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, kyril

        On-Sets is a board and cube game that teaches basic logic and set theory. This game also uses a deck of 16 cards that is used to make the "Universe". Each card contains a different combination of colored dots. The cubes contain numbers, colors and logic operators.

        Players learn logic concepts such as union and intersection, and learn to use restrictions such as subset. Variations can be also be used in On-Sets games. A player wins by using the cubes in resources to create a logical statement which equals the goal set using the numeral cubes. Challenges and multiplayer games work in a similar way to Equations game.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 04:49:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes !!! so much fun !!! (0+ / 0-)

      hmm, we must be same age (ballpark)

  •  Loss of Abstract Math Emphasis Dumbs Us Down (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eashep

    I'm pretty skeptical about the fundamentals of this diary and all of the changes in the teaching of mathematics away from abstract concepts and symbolic representation.

    If a high school student is not well versed and skilled in the writing and interpretation of equations, the ability to reduce equations to their simplest form, the ability to factor complex expressions, the extensive use of symbolic representation, variables and functions in equations and the manipulation and graphic features of functions, the fundamentals of set theory, basic arithmetic skills without the use of a calculator, the process of making a geometry proof and the use of geometric functions......such students will almost immediately run into trouble in college  physical, biological, medical and engineering courses where these skills are absolutely essential (and assumed for participants).

    If our public education system allows mathematics curriculum writers to fail to place these kinds of skills as the first priority for the math curriculum, then we will inevitably dump down our population by failing to produce the scientists and engineers and emphasis on these disciplines that is our only key to future economic success.

    Saying that we must lose mathematics abstraction in order to teach math by rendering words to be the only or primary language of communicating mathematical relationships and solutions is a strategy for mass mathematics dis-empowerment.

    •  I don't remember saying we should lose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      abstraction. Not at all. And to say that this diary offers a strategy for mass mathematics disempowerment is crazy. We're already there.

      My answer for my kids may not work for all but I have at least one son who is intrigued by math and wants to delve in further. My second son isn't so interested and the last year at school in Argentina helped put some nails in that coffin. I have to see what I can do to pry them out. At least he understands that to follow his dream, he will need to take higher math.

      The thing about math instruction in the US is that we push algebraic thinking from a very young age - to young, I believe. Of course, I also think we push grammar and 'proper' writing way to young as well. I think young minds are best nurtured by letting the explore and discover. Kids have time to learn more advanced mathematics when they are older and many more would be interested in doing so if they hadn't been taught to hate math at a young age.

      •  One thing I learned in Neurology class... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        Algebra and advanced geometry and trig concepts require growth in portions of the brain that don't usually develop until the later teens into adult hood. Starting that early doesn't work for so many kids because they just are not developmentally there yet. Forcing them to be will only frustrate them. I think this is why a lot of people I spoke to remark that they had an easier time with advanced math in college than they did in middle and high school.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:45:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A future mathematician (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, smalakoff
    My youngest learned that he is great at math puzzles but still hates long division.
    is what you've got right there.

    Seriously, most people who really like math are bored by repeatedly applying algorithms - especially sequential, repetitive algorithms. Most of us enjoy the novelty and challenge of solving problems and puzzles.

    Applying algorithms is of course a necessary skill. Long division isn't terribly important once you figure out why it works (you can derive it again if a situation comes up where you have to divide by hand), but the overarching skill of following an algorithm is important for things like differential equations.

    But you don't ever have to like it.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:00:00 PM PDT

  •  Tipped and rec'd for an excellent diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, kyril

    Thanks for this, Angelajean.  I'm saving a copy on my hard drive in a folder I've created for my granddaughter, who's now 3.  Lots of excellent advice in this post!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 06:12:37 PM PDT

  •  Just trust your children, they will learn. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, DawnN, FloridaSNMOM

    one of the greatest expressions of arrogance in our extant public education system is that a teacher will stand before a group of children and teach them.  How silly and how arrogant.

    As an official old fart who homeschooled his children back in the 90's when there weren't alot of homeschoolers and those of us who did homeschool had to wear lead undershorts, I learned that we don't teach children anything.  Rather, we help them to learn.  

    Have any of you ever wondered what happens to that supremely curious 5 year old who turns into a lazy slug who cares nothing for learning in our public education system?  I know what happens to them.  They are diagnosed ADD if they are active children.  If gifted, they are supremely bored in classes that "teach" to the hypothetically average child.  If less gifted, they are supremely overwhelmed and unable to keep up.

    Let's not even talk about the tyranny of letter grades.  That is a topic deserving of many, many pages.

    Bottom line from a dad who has a daugher who received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at 23 and a son who has 2 Master's degrees and at 30 has all ready eclipsed in an economic sense where his mom and dad were at 30, trust your children to be curious.  They will learn.  simply provide them with resources and some basic knowledge of the 3 R's, then just stand back and watch them grow.

    I have no ax to grind with public educators.  The system sets them up to fail a significant portion of their students.  Public education could learn alot about helping children to learn if they cared enough to examine the practices of homeschoolers.  They could start by reading the works of John Holt.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by Randolph the red nosed reindeer on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 08:50:51 PM PDT

  •  I commend your efforts, BUT, your framing (0+ / 0-)

    about learning the facts and the algorithms -

    YOU are really missing what I experience as a high school math teacher -

    over 1/2 my kids in my classes did NOT have all the kinds of supports your kids had, OR, they would have learned something useful math wise by the time they get to me and are repeat failures.

    So all those years of K-8 touchy feely happy happy don't be boring math means they know almost nothing, and they're on the fast track to having few opportunities in life.

    So many pieces of your arguments are used to justify the complete SHIT touchy feely happy happy worthless 'math' that kids waste years of their lives with - kids who did NOT have the kinds of support at home that you've provided.

    Oh yeah - learning lots of stuff is boring. Get over it.

    I was a chef for 15 years, and the last time I paid the rent with a cook's job was 17 years ago. When I cook at home, I still have to do all kinds of BORING prep work, and ... TOUGH. On t.v. all you see is the fun of grilling the 3 different kinds of skewers - they don't show all the steps of the 2 hours of prep work or no one would do it.

    Best of luck to your kids, I'm really happy that you and your circles are growing future adults who will not only be able to survive in the world, but, who will be more likely to change the world.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:15:27 AM PDT

    •  Boring for an adult is very different from boring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftyparent

      as a kid. My kids understand the difference between prep work and doing something for fun and that prep work is often necessary for the fun. Not sure where you got the idea that they don't.

      I have a feeling we're more on the same page than not - a lot of what we work on with our boys is intrinsic motivation rather that extrinsic motivation. Why do you do all that prep work? Because some one makes you do it or because you know it is a means to an end? We're teaching our kids the latter. Yes, they are fortunate to have parents that want to teach them that. I also believe our public school system could do a better job of working with intrinsic motivation as well. It's not just something for homeschoolers. And unless we learn how to tap into that intrinsic motivation for more kids, our nation is in trouble.

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