ABC’s of Homeschooling ~ Extra Math Practice

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I try to pick a word that’s very relevant to the way we do school, or at least to where we are at that point in time. Today I chose “Extra Math Practice.”

There are a handful of common concerns among homeschooling moms, regardless of their methods and goals. One of those, almost universally, is math.

Math (and grammar/writing) is so fundamentally important, can be difficult to grasp, is often greatly affected by learning style and interest, and one of the biggest things homeschoolers will be judged on. It’s true. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a friend or relative tell you they were concerned that “Little Johnny” couldn’t do math in his head fast enough or that “Susie” was still trying to count on her fingers? Or, raise your hand if you’ve ever suffered thoughts like these:

“Am I teaching it well enough?”

“Do they understand it well enough?”

“Are they fast enough? Proficient enough? Correct enough? Strong enough?”

“Are they ‘behind?’ Do they need more work?”

Yes. Many of us homeschool moms do allow these fretful thoughts to take over on occasion. I try not to fret too much and just stay suitably aware instead. Being concerned about these things is not a sign of weakness or insufficiency (well, there’s something to be said for OVER worrying or caring what others think…) but instead it’s a sign of a present and concerned mother who wants the best for her kids.

Believe it or not, it can be hard to express concern sometimes,.. afraid that naysayers will take the opportunity to accuse a homeschool mom of slacking off or failing. It is OK to say, “You know, I think my kids may need some extra math practice, to brush up on their skills and gain some proficiency.” All kids don’t grasp all concepts at the same pace. ALL kids CAN benefit from some extra math practice, I’m just sayin.

All that said,.. we’re at that point now.

Right-brained, artistic, visual, Princess has always struggled a little with memorizing math facts. She has NEVER been great at doing math in her head quickly. As we’ve worked with her I’ve seen great improvements with her memory recall and even some improvement with her mental math speed. Though to be honest, I don’t care about her mental math speed. She’ll get it, it just takes longer. If you want the answer faster hand her a pencil and piece of paper. She’s VISUAL. It’s how she’s made. But as she’s getting ready to embark on Pre-Algebra, the time has come to make sure that she’s prepared and that her math facts are strong and her memory recall is good.

Talkative, energetic, short-attention-span, Drama Queen is at that 2nd/3rd grade pivotal point where they’ve just gotten the hang of addition and subtraction and now you’re adding multiplication into the mix and there’s so much going on at one time. Her math curriculum in particular takes a spiraling approach and is a bit challenging. For some reason Drama Queen has been resisting memorizing skip counting, number patterns and times tables. (Say what? She’s auditory and talkative! What’s up?) She’s been relying on adding in her head. And since she can, and she’s faster at that that Princess, she can fool you for a while… until you get to those bigger numbers. And then “Aha!” Houston, we have a problem. We definitely need to make sure that she’s remembering how to skip count and learning how to recognize and remember math facts without adding them in her head!

Boisterous, class clown, hands on, Little Prince is learning how to add. The little stinker has been doing it without my permission. He somehow learned how to count to 100 when I wasn’t looking, too. But with Little Prince I see an opportunity. And an admonition. I have an opportunity to give him good math facts habits from an early age. As he observes his older sisters practicing and participates with us, he can get pick up some good habits. But I also need to be careful that his seeming affinity for math doesn’t throw me off and I don’t let him slide by too unchallenged. If math is something he’s good at and interested in then I need to make sure his brain is getting the challenge and excitement it needs. He’s only 5, soon to be 6, I’m not talking about pulling out Algebra. But if he’s ready to do “big kid” adding and subtracting there’s no reason he can’t!

So I knew going into this school year that math was something that I wanted to provide a little extra practice for regularly. How do I do that?

Here’s a few of our favorite resources, and a few new ones that we’re really loving.

~ Family Math – math games for the whole family. The 5 year old gets in on this, too. We’ve done a few of them.

~ Kumon workbooks (we have Multiplication One and Two for the girls. I have them in sheet protectors for use with dry erase markers.)

~  Timez Attack – we have the full version. I’m planning on buying the Divison version soon. AND.. they’ll be coming out with Addition and Subtraction versions very soon! The 5 year old TRIES to do this, I let him play at it til he gets frustrated. An addition version for him would AWESOME.

~ Math Wrap Ups – We just got these! Love these! The 5 year old is learning/practicing with the addition set. The 8 year old is doing everything but division and the 11 year old is practicing all of them.

~ Khan Academy – has been helpful for Princess a few times, watching them go through and explain things differently than I do. ; )

~ Right Brain Math –  Hubby bought this for Princess,… we only just started using it, but it really does demonstrate the visual patterns of multiplication and Princess seems to like that. I’ll keep you posted.

~ Math Missions CD-Rom, Grades 3-5 – Racing to save Spectacle City, kids practice “real world math,” using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, weights and measurements, time,… it’s got everything, the kids love it, and I’m just heartbroken that ours is too old to work with the computer we have this year. I NEED to replace this!  I was wrong! This is one of the few cd-roms that actually still works! Drama Queen proved me wrong and popped it in yesterday. Check her “celebrating” getting an answer right by spinning the chair around and waiving #1 fingers in the air. 😉 Yes, she’s dressed like an Indian. Tiger Lily to be exact. (P.S… while I was looking on Amazon I saw there’s a K-2nd version. Ooh! I want it!)

I’m also hoping to purchase Times Tales at some point this year… I hear good things about it and I like to hit all of the learning style bases. =)

What do you use for a little bit of extra math practice? How do you fit it in and make it fun, too?

Link up to the ABC's

This is a part of the ABC’s of Homeschooling series hosted by Dawn @ The Momma Knows. You can find all of my previous ABC posts here.

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Gina, book dragon
Gina, book dragon
November 8, 2011 3:45 am

I’m not a home schooler (youngest is over 18 now) but I can tell you that questions about math is not reserved for the home school Mom….I should have had extra Math practice myself and I graduated in the 80’s

Correct most of the time is better than wrong but fast. And sure, fast and correct is great but when, except test time, will you need to crank out correct answers quickly?

Little jealous of you (as a group) wish I had had the, ahem, balls, to home school.

November 8, 2011 8:19 am

I’m glad you got the wrap-up set! Are the CDs any good?

November 9, 2011 7:15 pm

We use Timez Attack and the Wrap-Ups. The boys LOVE Wrap-ups!
And, ahem, when are you going to link this post up? 😉

November 9, 2011 9:21 pm
Reply to  Dawn

Ok, done!! There’s a reason I wrote this on Monday. =p (I’ve been busy!)

We spent the day at my mom’s today for her birthday and the kids took some school work to do while we canned pears. We also took the wrap-ups and when the girls pulled them out the 5yo came asked if he could do them, too. I leaned over to my mom and whispered.. “Did you hear that? My kids are ASKING to do math…” ;0)

November 11, 2011 12:05 am

I was thinking that you had a lot of extra math going on, but then I thought about what we have going. I hadn’t really thought about it, but we have quite a bit, too. Besides their Math U See, we have drill on a couple of different websites (done in differently), extra workbooks, and math games on the iPad. I think that’s it…

10 Steps For Teaching Math With Less Pain | A Classic Housewife in a Modern World
April 27, 2012 7:01 am

[…] up their own score for the turn for you to write down. I’ve also written about some of our favorite math tools before when I wrote about getting in some extra math practice. You can find more resource […]

Dennis Chepurnoy
Dennis Chepurnoy
January 27, 2018 12:30 am

Extra Math Practice very effective for kids.

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