Math with younger kids

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  • Paula Spicer

    I have an 8 and 6 year old.  I have always used McRuffy math.  It takes about 20 min max for us to finish.  However, I have to sit beside them step by step.  Does anyone else do this?  I don’t mind it, but I don’t want to make them dependent on me.  The parts I know they can do by themselves, I refuse to help them with.  At what age do you usually stop holding their hands?I’m probably a little upset, because one of them had a review of what he has learned, and he wasn’t able to do the money part.  Now take for granted they changed the format up and I think it confused him and instead of 5 adding problems they had like 25, which overwhelmed him.  I just got that old feeling that I’m not teaching them “good” enough.  I hope I’m not the only one who gets this.  Thanks,Paula


    I still have to help my DC (oldest is 10).  I sit next to them through their lessons…mostly to keep them on track, but sometimes they need help.  They especially have a difficult time with story problems and I remind myself how many problems we worked out as a class in public school, even all through high school.    

    It took quite awhile for my DC to grasp the concept of money.  Part of the problem was that they couldn’t identify the coins through black and white pictures (I admit this was difficult for me as well)!  I would pull out real coins to use instead of workbook pictures.  We also started having my oldest pay for small purchases in stores…I should probably work on this with DS.  

    I’ve also broken up longer lessons or wb pages.  We previously used Singapore Math.  Their reviews were very long, and I’d often have them do a page a day (in addition to the newer lessons).  It would take us a week, but it didn’t turn into a huge ordeal.  

    Richele Baburina

    Hi Paula, 

    Nah, you’re not the only one that gets this 🙂 According to Charlotte Mason we “Do not offer him a crutch; it is in his own power he must go” (Vol. 1, p. 261) but let’s zoom out on that quote a bit to see just what precedes it: 

    “Therefore his progress must be carefully graduated; but there is no subject in which the teacher has a more delightful consciousness of drawing out from day to day new power in the child. Do not offer him a crutch; it is in his own power he must go” (Vol. 1, p. 261).

    You see, whether it was a teacher in one of Charlotte’s schools, a governess in India or a mother at home with her children, they are actively “drawing out.” You are in a sweet time of elementary arithmetic, this time of a gradual unfolding of ideas when a child begins with concrete thinking (working with manipulatives) to mental images and then onto abstract or pure number. This is the time when we want to foster real mathematical thinking in our children, not just the ability to complete a worksheet with no mistakes. 

    Charlotte’s math lessons in these years are also mainly oral which also relies on the teacher’s involvement. Writing of sums was sparingly used as writing at this age for a child can take a lot of effort and takes attention away from what is most important in the lesson.

    @HollyS, money was the favorite manipulative in CM’s schools and children each had their own coin purse! Here’s my favorite tutorial for a drawstring change purse from a French blogger. Oo-la-la! 

    Paula, I don’t know what McRuffy’s lessons are like but here is the link to Charlotte’s methods on teaching math from SCM’s blog




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