# SCM Living Math and math facts drills

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• lettucepatchkids
Participant

I am absolutely loving the Living Math DVD and learning how Charlotte Mason would teach math, and am super excited to use it this next year as the backbone for our math studies.

The one thing I’m stuck stuck on is how (if at all) do math fact drills come into play? This has been an area I’ve always failed in, mainly because frankly flash cards and drills just feel like drudgery, yet everywhere I turn it seems that is a huge focus. Of the 3 kids of mine who are doing school (11,10&7) all 3 can do mental math pretty well, and I’m certain they could all construct a table, yet none would be able to rattle off the times tables or addition facts very quickly just from memory. Is this a problem? What would Charlotte say about math drills? And how would this look?

Richele Baburina
Participant

Hi lettucepatchkids,

Yay, I’m so glad! I wanted you to know I’ve seen your 3-part question and will be answering in detail. Also, please let me know if you have the book as I can steer you to the exact pages where I discuss this.

Warmly,

Richele

lettucepatchkids
Participant

Hi Richele, yes I do have the book. Looking forward to your response! Thanks!

Richele Baburina
Participant

Oh, lettucepatchkids, you are right as the type of drills you describe are a drudgery while Charlotte Mason’s teaching was living.  She had a few key ideas surrounding tables and facts.

Each line of the addition table was first proven in the concrete and exercised upon with the aid of objects, then imaginary objects (beans laid out on the table but your questions are about sheep, cars, cousins, etc.), then exercised in pure number, until the child can answer without looking at the beans (or coins, etc.).

As always, habits and ideas are important.  5-10 minutes of rapid mental work given either at the end of the lesson or at a different time will reinforce and cement those math facts while nurturing habits such as concentration, fixed attention, promptness, etc.

Questions are lively, interesting and engaging before moving on to abstract number.  For example, which would be more interesting to a child?

“3+4=? Or “How old will your little brother be in four years?”  Note: always get a full sentence for each question, whether using abstract numbers or things by asking “why?” if need be.  The child knows his little brother, Luca, is three years old so:  “three years plus four years equals seven years” or “3 + 4 = 7.”   These engaging word problems would then progress to oral work with abstract numbers.

You can see how the addition/subtraction tables were worked out in the concrete on pp. 24-25 of the SCM math handbook, point #11 and the chapter on Mental Arithmetic and Oral Work.  Multiplication/Division tables begin on p. 34 of the handbook.  Sessions in the dvd to watch are:

Mental Arithmetic

Multiplication

Constructing Multiplication Tables

These will show just how everything would look.  You’ll see that they little resemble what we think of as “tables” in our own experience or what is focused upon today.

Ambleside’s lecturer in mathematics stated:

There is no royal road to the multiplication table; it must be learnt by heart.  This is a fact which faces every teacher of elementary arithmetic, and which each must prepare for in the best way possible (Irene Stephens, The Teaching of Mathematics to Young Children. p. 10).

You will see in the dvd the “best way possible” to prepare for it.  Though we can, of course, go on to lead our lives without learning to say our math facts quickly, the greater goals in a Charlotte Mason education is the discipline and ideas put into place by her methods in these areas.  You will also greatly ease frustration either when going on into the next step of working with fractions or when beginning Algebra.  It’s really a gift to give our children firm ground to stand upon.

Best,

Richele

lettucepatchkids
Participant

Richele, thank you so much for your response! I went back and rewatched/reread the segments you suggested with fresh eyes 🙂 The first time I went through the material I missed the fact that the mental math exercises and the constructing of the tables WAS the place where the child learns their math facts by heart… To me it just seemed like a natural extension of the lesson and I was left wondering “where are the time drills and flash cards that most every other math book out there says are necessary?!”

Your response and going through the materials again… Lightbulb moment… THIS is why I love Charlotte Mason’s methods, you don’t even realize the depth until you’re forced to look at it from another angle. And I love that I’m discovering that her methods in teaching a subject like math are no different! It seems opposite of what I’ve seen in most other math books which starts with the rote memory in order to interact with the ideas. It so resonates with me to begin interacting with ideas and letting the rote memory come as an extension.

Thank you for helping me process through this and to let go of the idea that math facts are just drudgery every student just needs to memorize. I’m very excited to revive our math time next school year! 🙂

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