Friday, November 8, 2013

Math decisions

And the third thing that's on my mind is math.  I am still not sure what to do about Chana's math.  We've been making very decent progress on positive and negative integers, and manipulating decimals.  I started combining them to make sure she knows them.  Now I think it's time to revisit fractions (last night's problems were very simple positive and negative fractions).  Then we just have percents and ratios and order of operations.  I've been thinking maybe I should just start algebra.  Take it slowly, keep it fun, and we'll have a year and a half, which is enough time to do it leisurely.
Although I wanted to truly unschool math, I also want her to be ok in school.  Unschooling was fantastic from 4-6th grade, and I don't think she suffered a bit for it and she's quickly picking everything up now.  I'm sure we could chill out and I could put her in the lower math in school, and she'd learn algebra in 9th grade.  But I'm an overachiever (one of the reasons I don't have my kids in school, because I didn't want them involved with the pressures of school) and I want Chana to have the option of the higher math class if she's capable.  And since she seems willing to sit and do the math, and we have time so it won't be pressured, why not?

But what math?  Now I'm beginning to have some more empathy for all you homeschoolers stressing about what curriculum to use.  I don't use curricula.  We just start at the beginning and keep going.  I was planning to use a math curriculum and Chana responds better to my lessons and my math problems than to a book.  And when I can write my own math problems, I can set them up to work on precisely the skill that I want her to work on.  Yep, I'm a control freak like that.  That's why I homeschool.

But for algebra, I would like to be methodical.  Sarah's algebra wasn't great.  I had a fantastic book but Sarah really needed at least a year and a half to cover it thoroughly, and she wanted to take the Regents, and by January we switched to working straight from the Barron's Regents book, teaching to the test and in my opinion not really grasping algebra.  I adore algebra, and it was not fun.  Sarah did ok on the Regents and was placed in honors math in high school, and ended up very mathematically inclined and is taking a lot of Math courses in college.  But I'd really like Chana's algebra experience to be more enjoyable, especially as math became so uncomfortable we ended up taking a break from official math for a few years.

So I put a call out to the homeschooling community, and they are terrific.  I got 5 suggestions:

Math U See
Life of Fred
and just now I got an email suggesting a combo of
Spectrum and Singapore

systemath and Lial were not from the SOS I sent out; they were from online reviews of Math U See.

Here is what I learned.  Some of the math curricula are hundreds of dollars.  Some people love them; for some kids, it's not great.  I might get lucky and hit the jackpot, or I might need to go through a few different hundreds of dollars curricula until I find what clicks.

There are curricula with manipulatives.  There are curricula that are largely self teaching.  For the mathematically inclined and those who are not.  etc. etc.

Oh how my heart yearns for unschooling!

But it is part of unschooling to teach your child when she requests it.  And when she requests to be prepared to enter high school, I have to figure out the best way to teach her.

So I knocked off all things that cost more than $25.  Some of them really called to me.  Systemath looked so nice and like the lessons were clearly laid out and it got great reviews... No.  I will not spend hundreds of dollars on algebra.

The Lial textbook was so highly rated and when I went to amazon and found it used for a dollar plus 3.99 shipping, I almost bought it immediately until I remembered I don't want to clutter my house with things I may or may not use.  Basically, it's the math textbook that community colleges use for remedial math, to teach basic math to one semester all the kids who haven't learned math in school (can someone say "unschooled"? Sounds like a great deal to me! Play and explore your interests and then learn twelve years of math in 4 months!!!).  People online mentioned they were going to continue using it for algebra.  I sent some links to my Mom's friend who is a math teacher.  She gave me great guidance for Sarah's math curriculum.  She wanted to look inside the book, and I ended up finding a free download of the book.  Whew.  Glad I didn't end up buying it.  Just saved myself four dollars and some space.   So that is one possibility.

The other possibility is  I'm not sure if I will register and become a member (that costs $25 for 6 months and you get unlimited access to their textbooks).  It appears that the videos are free.  I watched one yesterday.  It was under a minute and clear.  I'm thinking this might be the way to go.  Chana, as a rule, does not like videos.  Me neither.  But maybe we'll try these, since they looked so quick, clear, and systematic.  And then I will use the internet's handy dandy worksheet generators to make problems.  Or else I'll make them up.

So I'm thinking about Lial or mathtv.  And I'm wondering if I should use mathtv to be a little structured about the fractions and decimals and factoring.  Maybe she'll understand it better.  So maybe this week we'll try out a few videos and see if we like it.

1 comment:

  1. We are having fun with Hands On Equations bought at discount from Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I am using it before we start a textbook to build conceptual ideas of algebra in an intuitive and relaxing way. Extra bonus is that my younger son is doing it with us and we're having a blast all together.