A family-centered homeschool math curriculum
Here are some of the unique ways in which Math on the Level can help you provide the best math instruction at home to your children.
The Whole Family can Learn Together
Have you ever been frustrated because each of your home schooled children is learning something different in math? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have all your children working on the same general concept? You can!
With Math on the Level, you have the freedom to teach the concepts in any order that works for your family using activities the whole family can enjoy. For example, using the Fractions Teaching Guide and cooking as your Math Adventure, your youngest ones can be learning about half and whole (one of the beginning lessons) while the older ones are adding or multiplying fractions.
Math on the Level’s homeschool approach looks at math in a new way. By leaving behind the grade levels, it reduces math competition between siblings. Even if a younger child is stronger in math, the focus is learning together and reviewing individually instead of how many math books have been completed.
Teach at each child's best paceThe name "Math on the Level" describes its "Maturation Level" emphasis. When learning math, there are times a child simply cannot grasp ideas and concepts that are obvious to an older child or adult; once the child has further matured, the concept suddenly makes sense. This growth is mental maturation, and it is why you should not force a one-size-fits-all approach to learning.
The age at which a baby first walks (whether at 8 or at 14 months) does not predict future athletic ability. Nor does it matter as long as she learns to walk. Likewise, the age at which a child is mature enough to understand a math concept doesn't matter as long as she eventually does understand, and it does not predict future intellectual ability (unless stress and failure demoralize the child).
With the traditional approach, you have three options if your child isn't getting a concept:
- Teach the child anyway to just do the steps without true comprehension (producing confusion); or
- Move on, and hope that the child will catch up later (producing confusion, stress and failure); or
- Stay on the concept until the the child is able to get it (producing frustration, boredom and pressure).
This is why children who are slow to mature often end up feeling less intelligent or else "bad at math." We should not do this to our children!
The Math on the Level approach
Math on the Level has no grade-level expectations anywhere.You teach in the order and at a pace that works best for the child, whether fast or slow. If a child has difficulty understanding a concept in Operations, you can slow down or switch to a concept in Geometry and Measurements, and use daily activities to help the child get comfortable with the difficult concept. The review keeps track of what has been taught keeps the child sharp with what has been learned, so nothing is lost by waiting except the frustration and failure from teaching before the child is ready. You can also catch up an older child without stigma of working in a lower-grade book.
Combine Real-life learning and long-term (5-A-Day) review
A child must practice math or else he will forget, which causes problems later on. The traditional approach for reviewing math is to make the child work pages of generalized practice problem sets of 20 to 30 problems which emphasize the most recently learned concept. In addition to being not-all-that-motivating, this short-term drill is not effective for long-term retention. Instead, practice is most effective when distributed over time and concentrated where it is most needed. The Math on the Level 5-A-Day system gives continual practice with every math concept that using only 5 review problems per day. Most children find the 5-A-Day review method far more motivating than doing pages of busywork.
Practice where needed
After a concept has been learned, it goes on the child's Review Chart on daily review. Other concepts learned earlier are also on the Review Chart on less frequent review. Therefore, each day, the 5-A-Day paper will include a mix of new and old concepts for the child to solve independently. Over time, concepts are gradually moved to a less frequent review schedule (to every other 2 or 3 days, weekly, etc.). Every concept is practiced at least once a month for the duration of the program (and more often as needed). If a child forgets something, you find out within a few weeks and can make necessary adjustments. A record keeping spreadsheet provides a convenient way to track and automatically schedule the 5-A-Day reviews.
Children love having only 5 math problems to solve independently each day, and they often look forward to doing their 5-A-Day papers. And since the problems are chosen specifically for each child, those 5 daily problems effectively solidify the math knowledge in each child's mind for the long term and keep them sharp in all of their math, so both parent and child move forward with confidence.
Use every-day activities to teach math concepts
Math is often viewed as a formal paper-and-pencil (and eraser) exercise of abstract concepts. When taught this way, children often ask, "When am I ever going to use this?" However, everyday activities – like cooking, shopping, using money, keeping track of gas mileage, or even scoring games – all contain math! Therefore, instead of trying to imitate the classroom, the Math on the Level teaching approach helps you take advantage of your home learning environment. Math on the Level reinforces a child's understanding of math by having lessons involve normal daily activities like cooking, playing games, doing mental math, or even having a garage sale! Instead of being tied to a workbook or restricted to a specific set of manipulatives, the curriculum gives the flexibility to teach math while having fun with your family.Children enjoy the variety of activities and experience math instruction in ways that are meaningful and practical.
Include math in unit studies
Many families enjoy using unit studies to teach other subjects (history, geography, literature, language arts, etc.). With the Math on the Level teaching approach, you now can include math instruction in the unit study. Because you control the teaching sequence and are teaching math through life, this becomes a very straightforward task -- your field trips become Math Adventures.
Adapt math teaching to fit each child's individual needs
Math on the Level acknowledges the uniqueness of each child instead of forcing all children into the same one-size-fits-all box. It helps you modify your math instruction to meet your child's specific needs. For a child with dyslexia, for example, problems can be solved orally. A child with what is called a “Right-Brained” learning style may prefer to solve his 5-A-Day review problems using colorful chalk on the sidewalk. Accelerated learners can cover several concepts in a day. Math on the Level lets you use any manipulatives you find effective, and it can adapt to any teaching or learning style.
Math on the Level is extremely flexible and can be as formal or informal as desired (it even has record keeping forms for those who wish to delay formal math). The curriculum provides parents with a complete set of tools for teaching math at home, with enough structure to guide and keep track, but also with the freedom to adapt to the needs of each parent, child, and family situation.
For example, here are some ways Math on the Level might look:
- Children of a variety of ages may participate in the same learning activity; or
- Each child can be working at his or her own level within the same general area (for example, the youngest might be counting pennies, the middle child learning to multiply money, and the oldest calculating compound interest – all working with Money and Decimals; or
- Each child can be working on completely different concepts.
At any time, these groupings can be switched or modified. If a child isn't ready to learn a particular concept, the parent can move to a different concept. There is no set sequence that must be used.