One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.
To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.
Arithmetic. While reading may be a parent’s nightmare, arithmetic usually sends kids running.
My kids constantly ask why they have to complete twenty addition problems, why they need to do word problems, and why they need to memorize their multiplication tables. Do they really need to know how long a tree’s shadow is from twenty feet away when a train is sweeping past at 50 miles an hour?
If your littles are having a hard time understanding why arithmetic is important or how arithmetic corresponds to daily life, it might be time to take a step back from those workbooks and go back to basics. It might be time to take a course in Practical Mathematics.
Let’s explore a few basics when teaching arithmetic, and how we can help our children make the connection between those problems on the page and everyday living:
- Arithmetic Teaches Life Skills
- Arithmetic Should Prepare for Real World Math
- Arithmetic Should Teach Mental Computation (calculators are not always going to be available)
- It is Important to Know Basic Facts
- Using Calculators Isn’t Forbidden
- There Are Different Methods to Reasoning Numerically
How do we help our children take these basics and apply them to everyday living? We include our children in real life application. We teach them to budget their money, setting aside funds for savings and tithe. We explain how we budget our household funds. They assist us while grocery shopping. They add totals for us while shopping. We bake together; sew together; paint together; and more.
What about higher maths? I cannot tell you how often I use geometric formulas in projects around the house! Engineers use trig on a daily basis. And algebra, too, has it’s purposes.
“But, Mom! I don’t want to be a mathematician or an engineer. Why do I need to take algebra?!” (A question often asked in our home.) My response is usually something along these lines, “Well, honey. You’re going to want to make money writing those books, right? How will you know how much you made, so you aren’t cheated out of your earnings? How will you know how to pay taxes on what you earned? You’ll also need to establish a budget and set aside funds for various purposes. Arithmetic is practical. You’ll need it. Trust me.”
Arithmetic doesn’t have to be a chore. Believe it or not, it can actually be quite fun! But, until we help our children make the connection between the problems on the page and the application of everyday life, arithmetic will just be another task to cross of their list.
May we use our learning time to meet our children where they are and help them gain a better understanding of the world around them. May arithmetic be yet another way to increase our children in wisdom.
Now, it’s your turn!! Share your tips for developing a love of arithmetic. What’s worked for you and what hasn’t?