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What Math syllabus best to try with my daughter(s)??

Guest rachnov1

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Guest rachnov1

Hello all, this is my first post, hope you don't mind it being too long!


I have a near-8 year old daughter who's just finished Year 2 before I took her out of school to home-educate her. In England Year 2 is the 3rd year of formal schooling for a child, and I'm not sure if there's an equivalent of this in the American system. After reading online sources, I'm guessing that the English Year 2 might be somewhere in between an American grade 2 and 3??


The thing is she is really just okay at Maths. She seems to get the concepts she's taught in school but not a very clear understanding of it. For instance she was taught to use the number line to add/subtract 2-digit numbers, and sometimes she applies the method correctly and gets the right answer, but sometimes she uses the method incorrectly. I get the feeling her understanding of that method is very superficial. Also she has a strong tendency to use finger-counting when doing add/subtract (this is her preference over having to use pen and paper to work out the answer with number lines). So she always gets stumped if you ask her what's 38+59 for example, because that would involve too much finger counting and she loses track. But she'd be able to get the answer if you ask her what is the answer of any number plus or minus 12 for instance, because she could still use her fingers to count out the answer without losing track. So we tried teaching her to add/subtract 2-digit numbers using the carry-over method that we ourselves were taught in school when we were children, but she couldn't understand this method at all. It seems her understanding of what Units and Tens are,is quite superficial. If asked, she could tell us perfectly which numbers in a 2-digit number are Units and which are Tens... but she doesn't understand how the carry-over method works and we just don't know how to explain it to her so that she understands - I must admit my own understanding of it must sound very murky to some. Take for instance 80 -39. The way I see it, we are using number bonds i.e. 80 = 70+10, and then we use the 10 from the 80 to minus the 9 in 39, before using the 70 from the 80 to minus the 30 in 39. But that's the way I understood it, and I'm at a loss how to explain it to her in a way that she can understand. As a child I was drilled and drilled into using the carry-over method perfectly, and for years I went through school passing Maths exams and doing the methods I was taught and getting correct answers, without really understanding perfectly why or how the methods work! I suppose some of you reading this won't find this surprising at all... When I read John Holt's how children fail, I thought he put it really well that its very hard to teach math to someone who doesn't understand the concepts in the same way you do.


Another thing about her is that she is quite resistant to formal Maths teaching and any kind of "schooly" approach - all it does is make her fidget, switch off, and get stroppy. Now that I am home-educating her myself, I want to teach Math to her in a more appealing way to her. I don't think she hates Maths, I just think she dislikes formal Maths teaching like the way it was done in school - i.e. class-based formal teaching, workbooks and worksheets, etc.


She has always loved playing with building blocks though (any kind, Lego, wooden blocks, Megabloks, etc.) and to this day, still loves building intricate buildings and designs with them. She also loves patterns and often makes her own patterned gift wrapping paper or when she sits down to draw something on paper she'd draw lots of patterns on it. She likes anything to do with patterns and likes very hands-on activities.


I've been looking at Cuisenaire rods and Base Ten blocks... I know they differ in terms of whether they are notched or not. I think she'd like them, either way. I don't know if an abacus would appeal though... maybe not as much as blocks?? As for the syllabus though, I have really mixed feelings about this. Knowing how much she hates workbook-style teaching, I'm not sure at all what would suit her best. I looked at Miquon and think that's the least "schooly" type workbook I've seen so far, but I don't know.


I also have another daughter, soon to be 4 this year. I was thinking of trying Miquon Maths with her, with the Cuisenaire rods, just to see how it gets on, but it might be too soon to start her on it. Right now she can count up to a 100 and do simple add/subtract with her fingers up to 5 on her own... sometimes up to 10 as well. She doesn't know fractions as yet (I think she can comprehend what's a halve though). I do know that my older daughter (the nearly-8 year old one) enjoys sitting around with me and my younger daughter when we work through workbooks (because my younger daughter actually has a penchant for workbooks and often asks me to do them with her!) ... I was thinking this might make Maths teaching more appealing to the older daughter this way... if she just sits with us and watches and listens but is not the "main person being taught" and if its not too simple for her (as she gets bored then and would walk away to do something else...)


Would really appreciate any advice on which types of books/approach would be helpful for us to teach Math to my daughter in a more appealing way (to her)?


EDIT : In short, would like recommendations on what would be good Maths teaching materials to use with an 8 year old who is a very hands-on learner and who hates workbook-style teaching.


Thanks in advance,


Edited by rachnov1
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