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The new DVD is great. I love the ideas and the gradual progression in the CM approach to math. I can see that this will be a wonderful way to begin things for my 6 year old son who loves math. I have two questions, first for my 6 year old math loving son.
My 6 year old seems to be a natural at math. He can count well into the hundreds, skip count the first 10 or so for 1-9, knows many of his addition facts by heart, he constantly is asking me math questions (“Mom is 20 plus 20 40?”), he knows all the coin values and understands how you can exchange them etc. This has all come from just his curiosity over the last year or so (no formal sit down lessons thus far). I’d like to know the best way to begin things for him this fall. Do I start at the very beginning and just progress quickly as he shows understanding covering all the topics in order to be sure nothing is missed in his understanding?
Second question: my oldest son is 11 and is just beginning fractions. This is on the tail end of what was covered in the DVD. How do I progress in a SM approach though more advanced fractions and once fractions are done? What is recommended from there?
This is a quick message to let you know I’ve noted your questions and hope to respond within the hour.
Hello again homesweetschool,
Thank you for your words regarding the DVD and CM math. It was a project buoyed by so much prayer and hope.
Now, what you have done is not a small thing. You’ve allowed your 6-year-old son to develop a relationship with arithmetic based on his natural curiosity. I’m sure that when you begin his formal arithmetic lessons he will, as Charlotte maintains, “hail the new study with delight” since he has been allowed to think and connect with math in his natural environment.
I would advise to start from the beginning in his formal study though you will want to move at your child’s pace, which may move quickly based on what you’ve said. The reason I’m not suggesting skipping directly to Year 2 is that you want him to gain the good habits formed in Charlotte’s math lessons as well as the ideas and comfort he seems to already possess. Her methods in the beginning will help your child form natural connections as larger numbers and new concepts are introduced.
Reading back through your post, I see I could have simply answered, “yes” but now you know the reasoning behind my answer. For your second question I’ll need to know if you are in possession of the SCM math handbook as that will help me formulate my response.
I am following this thread. I have a 14 year old who has been struggling with factions. We started them 2 years ago wih MUS and then tried life of fred, then went back to MUS because we’d made more progress that way. His “I hate math” attitude was our biggest obstacle — he would get very upset over having to go over it again or correct his work. This school year we used Kahn Academy for his math. It has allowed him to regain some confidence while taking away the strain that been building between us whenever he was informed their were corrections to make. He is still making minimum progress with fractions, however. I am hoping, Richele, that some of your answer for the original poster would shed some light on this for us. We do not have the book or dvd. My younger son is almost 11, headed for 6th and will be using MUS pre algebra this coming year, so unless it could be of help with my older son, I’m not sure there would be value in purchasing.
Hi 4myboys and homesweetschool,
It’s birthday party day for my son who will be turning 13 (he is doing this totally without my permission and absolutely without me being prepared… turning 13 I mean). I’m about to head into some extreme housecleaning but am looking forward to talking CM fractions and corrections with you both if you can wait until tomorrow.
homesweetschool, what I said before about what you had done not being a small thing, I meant it was a very good thing. I wasn’t sure if that came across properly.
Thank you very much for your reply. I love your encouraging words and I think the main reason I was able to comfortably “sit back” and let my 6 year old “develop a relationship with arithmetic based on his natural curiosity” was because I was able to watch “The Early Years” DVD last year and become cemented in my desire to wait and let him just be a kid a little longer and play and explore and work on habits and all that good stuff. Your suggestions confirmed my internal leanings to “start from the beginning in his formal study” so thank you for that.
I am glad that 4myboys chimed in with her questions about her 11 year old son. Much of what she said is similar with my older 11 year old too. I’ll give a little more background on him as well. We started homeschooling about 2 1/2 years ago. We began with Math U See. I knew he didn’t have all the addition and subtraction facts mastered so we started at the very beginning (Alpha) and worked up from there. I felt the program was laid out really well but over time we found that there was no “fun” in it and the constant drill of the facts made it quickly slip from being a subject he enjoyed to one he just endured. I can see now looking back that it was missing the fun “real life” oral interactions and such and that I was really just trying to move through the curriculum quickly so we could “catch up” and “be on schedule”. At the time however I didn’t know how to fix the problem and thought something more “fun” would help so we moved to Teaching Textbooks as our curriculum. At first he LOVED it. We started with a level (3) that reviewed a bit of what he already knew and he ate it up and zoomed right in. It was like a game to him. Then, when he got into level 4 the novelty had worn off a bit and he got encumbered by the length of the lessons and the tediousness of entering in the answers. If we could have just done some of the problems and not all of them that would have helped but only doing some of the problems would not mark the lesson “complete” which is hard for both his (and my) personalities. I also started getting concerned as to the depth that he was understanding the mechanics of what was going on “behind the scenes” so to speak to arrive at the answer. I started considering switching back to MUS. The concept of division was my main concern. It has been a hard one for my son to master and I think this is because of a side method we used to learn multiplication (where you learn a little story about the facts and have a picture in your mind about it that helps you recall the answer). That method made it super fast for him to learn his multiplication facts but I think sort of backfired with the division because the relationship you develop with numbers was overlooked and the story became central and has made that process harder to relate multiplication to division? We switched back to MUS at that point doing division last year in the Delta level. We also added in Life of Fred at least once a week (and he loved that). MUS was I felt better in that we could customize the lesson length better and move more at his pace. If we wanted to just to 1/2 of the questions on the worksheet that was fine etc. I feel he understands division. He gets what is happening but he still cannot spit out the answers quickly for those facts. To be honest I cannot either, somehow I had a gap in that in my childhood so I have a hard time knowing do we say lets move on, you understand the concept and you can arrive at the answer, or do we say we are going to stay on divison until you can do all the facts within 3 seconds (or so) as MUS would suggest. We are a few lessons away from finishing Delta and next we come face to face with fractions which if I am being honest is where my personal comfort for teaching math begins to waver. I am confident in teaching “off the cuff” or “away from a boxed curriculum” up to this point but I feel I need points of reference from here on out. My son is good at math, I can tell his mind is quick and he often gets it. I hate to see his love for math wain and I start to feel worry when a large concept like dividing facts not being fluently memorized is occurring. I have a hard time knowing do I go back again over division this year working on more memorizing when he indeed understands what is happening and can arrive at the correct answer just not within seconds or do we move forward and just continue to review and practice those facts? I don’t want to beat the joy out of the subject. Did Charlotte require the facts to all be memorized and said within a 3 second (or so) timeframe? Do I use MUS and a starting point and then implement SM approach from there or ??? Do we continue to do most of our stuff orally at this level? I do have the SCM math handbook on my tablet and I have read the first 25 or so pages but when the DVDs arrived I watched all of those and have not yet finished reading. By the way it was SO helpful to me to see rather than read about the process, it cemented it so much for me.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts and time. It takes a lot to respond to questions like these and I am so grateful that you care. I hope your party goes well and congratulations on your growing family :).
P.S. I do also have a 9 year old daughter who I know will LOVE the changes that will be made to the way we do math. She LOVES when we pull away from the math books and “do math” orally and watching the way you did it on the video assured me that math will begin to be a favorite subject for her again this coming year.
Oh, I thought of something else. . . it was mentioned (and I have heard/read before that Charlotte saw math as a subject that stood alone and did not need to be taught with living books). When I have heard this I have wondered: does this mean that we should avoid books that incorporate math or just not lean on them for the spine of our education? Does this mean books like disney coloring books that have you connect the 4 apples to the number 4 or books like Life of Fred and everything in-between? I mentioned previously that my son enjoys Life of Fred and that we have used it on the side. He is a READER at heart and reads all the time so naturally I suspected that if there was a book about math he might eat it up. At the same time I have loved learning Charlotte’s methods and we school “her way” almost exclusively. I need/want to know more about the reasoning here and how it would or would not apply to using Life of Fred to help me know how to navigate moving forward. Thanks!
Hi again homesweetschool and 4myboys. I’m going to do my best to answer your questions succinctly.
homesweetschool, you asked how to progress through more advanced fractions and what happens after fractions. You can find a detailed scope & sequence on pages 47-48 of the math handbook. I won’t list it out here because of that but, in general, after that introduction to fractions we see to complete the idea of division in the DVD, we have Weights and Measures, introductory Decimals, Factors, and Fractions. The next two years we have more advanced work in all of these areas following a review, ending with some business math. 7th and 8th grade also have Geometry and Algebra is begun in 9th grade with some business math continuing through the high school years.
How is it all approached? Lessons are still short, no more than 30 minutes. Oral work is still an important practice in the upper grades. Problems are interesting and aimed at reality while long and boring calculations are excluded. Emphasis is still placed on understanding rather than “getting through.”
Now I’ll combine in 4myboys son who is making minimal progress with fractions. I might suggest reading Nursery Examples of Fractions found in “The Parents’ Review” by Mrs. Boole, Vol. 8, 1897, pgs. 76-82. These can be found online at Ambleside Online and might help you understand some of the difficulties your son is having. One of my boys loves to be on Khan Academy in his free time and one day he was having problems understanding what Mr. Khan was teaching in regards to fractions so I listened along and said, “Remember when you were making bookshelves with your dad…” and he stopped me right there and told me not to go on because that made him “get it” and he could continue working the problem. That link to reality is pretty important.
Okay, I’ll be bold since you’ve both asked for advice. There is not a perfectly written CM curriculum currently for sale (that I know of) but, Strayer-Upton Practical Arithmetics, Second Book (beige book) combined with either Ray’s New Practical Arithmetic or A New Junior Arthmetic by H. Bompas Smith for the factoring portion (or another source of your choosing) does a very good job of it. They are highly scripted and you can work them orally with your children. We have a stainless-steel refrigerator in the kitchen that I use as a dry-erase board and my kids sit at the kitchen island for math lessons. Strayer-Upton has a built in review making it really handy. Just remember, as I’ve said in another thread, Strayer-Upton can have terribly verbose and confusing instruction at the beginning of each new portion. Those are best skipped and I feel confident that Charlotte would have skipped them while her students were guided in discovery themselves. The problems are carefully graduated and have a combination of interesting, real-life questions (i.e. [and more advanced] gluing a 1/16″ layer and two 3/32″ layers of veneer to a 3/8″ board will result in what total of a thickness?) and abstract questions.
Okay, I’ve got to go for the time being but will be back.
Okay, to continue…
4myboys, you talked about your son’s frustration level when having to redo incorrect problems. Charlotte’s methodology would be to mark the answer as wrong but the student did not get to correct it. She would want to know if the student was being careless and negligent in his work or if it was a matter of not understanding. Rather, it was the teacher’s business to make sure he answered correctly the next time. She also felt it would help a student to see the absoluteness of math.
homesweetschool, regarding your son and division: secure understanding while working on the habits of accuracy and quick response. If your son has understanding, then you may move on but you will want to be sure to finish the lesson with five minutes of interesting mental math which will help cement those facts. You may add another lesson of ten minutes of interesting mental math at another point during your week. Say, between Picture Study and Dictation for example or between other lessons that use different parts of the brain. Facts were memorized after they were first proven and habits such as accuracy, concentration, clear thinking, rapid work and careful execution were important. I’ve never read anything regarding 3 seconds or the like and would believe that as long as the student was giving his best effort and you were consistent then all would be well.
Lastly, in the Appendix of the book on pp. 93-94 you can read about today’s notion of “Living Math Books” and how they relate to Charlotte’s philosophy of education. There is also a video in the SCM Learning Library where Sonya and I discuss the question “Did Charlotte Mason Teach Math Using Living Books?” She didn’t use twaddle-books or story-line curricula to teach concepts as she believed math was a living speech that met the “requirements of the mind.” Her students did have a wonderful book, Number Stories of Long Ago by David Eugene Smith that they read in their leisure time. My kids also love math-related books as they are exciting and help make math more than just a “subject.” In fact, my 12-year-old took “A Slice of Pi” with him as his bedtime reading tonight. The books should hold up to the same standards as other living books and, again, weren’t used during the lessons.
Okay, I’m signing off.
All my best,
Hi. I’m bumping this up for homesweetschool and 4myboys and hope you don’t mind. I’m about to lock myself in my office for some heavy duty writing and preparation for a new presentation so 1) if you see this, please pray for the Living Education Retreat as well as me and the words to be spoken and 2) I’ll be behind on forum questions until I’ve finished writing.
Thank you so much, Richele. I truly appreciate that you have taken the time to provide such a detailed response. I am checking out the resources you have suggested.
Praying God’s blessing on the retreat, your presentation and your writing.
Thank you so very much for your helpful reply. I am going to go back and study the sections you mentioned in my book now and work on getting a plan for the coming year. I think you are right about my older son just needing to continue practicing his math facts and we are working on that through the summer and will continue when we pick back up with school in the fall.
I’m saying a prayer for you now! Again, thank you for your wonderful wisdom and help.
just wondering about the manipulatives used in the video any recommendations of where to purchase themSonya ShaferModerator
You can use whatever objects you have around the house, as pictured in the video: beans, buttons, pennies, even small toys, candies, or cereal. Craft sticks can be picked up at a local discount store or hobby store.
(Now, having said that, I will mention that we are working on making it very convenient to have a colorful collection of objects like those seen on the video. But you didn’t hear it from me . . . )
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