What is important to emphasize in Middle School with Arithmetic? They know their sums, multiples, how to maneuver the numbers through fractions, squares and word problems. Each day seems like a repeat of the past, with no end in sight, and no reason on the horizon.
We’ve gone through this ho-hum stage at the exact same spot with both boys now. Saxon 7/6 around lesson 60, roughly half way through the year’s lessons.
Elementary was fun and exciting as we took our time going through Miquon Books using Cuisenaire rods and rulers from Timberdoodle. Each day was a puzzle to be solved. The boys barely knew they were doing math. It seemed like an extension of our board game time.
As the skills firmed up we moved to more traditional curriculum created for homeschoolers, with the crew we’ve tried many, and they were excited to have work ‘like their friends’. The joy of being able to do the work with ease fueled the day and the sense of accomplishment moved them forward.
And then Middle School. The learning of the day seems short. The repetition as fun as washing dishes 5 times a day.
The wall we have run into has been specific to Spiral Math Methods. I’ve written a lot on Spiral vs Mastery. The basics is that with Mastery you work on a specific skill many days in a row, with the exercises reinforcing that skill. There may be 4-6 review questions in the day, but they are not key. With Spiral you learn a slice of a skill each day. Focus on 5-10 practice exercises demonstrating how it is used, then perform 25-30 problems that represent a piece of each skill learned throughout the year.
So – with Saxon 7/6 I find it easy to figure out how the wall is hit. My sons can no longer just wake up and do their math without me after bible. Although with the spiral programs we always use a video tutor, after the tutor, it is hard to translate what he just said, into the practice problems. Then, to go onto 30 questions (we usually do odds or evens) trying to remember what was done 3 months ago gets exhausting.
Each math curriculum we use tries to alleviate this problem a bit. Saxon’s newer homeschool books puts the number to the chapter for each problem near the number of the question. So if you don’t remember, you can go back to chapter 14 and look it up. With our first son, that sounded wonderful. With the same problems with the seconds son, it seems wrong. They are to assume that each child will not be able to recall how to do the problem so they put the numbers there? Teaching Textbooks has a smilar bail out, as for each problem you do not understand, you can slide in the green answers disk and watch a video on how they solved the problem. Problem solved, right? We even have a Math Dictionary to help us remember the spiral math problems.
So, for example, this week’s spiral topics are:
- Adding Three or More Fractions
- Writing Mixed Numbers s Improper Fractions,
- Subtracting Mixed Numbers with Regrouping Part 2 (Where was part one)
- Classifying Quadrilaterals
- Prime Factorization Division by Primes and Factor Trees
- Multiplying Mixed Numbers
- Dividing Mixed Numbers, Lengths of Segments Complementary And Supplementary Angles, and
- Coordinate Planes.
So this week, they sort of stay with Fractions, but then mix in some Geometry and Linear Equations. Joy. For a 12 year old to figure out how to jump around like this, is insane!
We have seen the problem for about a month now, and have been looking at options. We are thinking of Math U See since it is so close to Miquon and has the same tools as Teaching Textbooks to help the teacher and the student. We may still eventually move towards this option. However, December is not the month your child wants to spend a hundred dollars on – More Math Products.
So – our answer was found this week with the chance checkout of a book – The One Room Schoolhouse. I’ll tell you what we’ve been thinking in my next post.