Thursday, September 07, 2006

Rethinking Math

My son only enjoyed Math while all aspects of the proceedings included tangible items - fish counters, cuisenaire rods, number boards - and no pencil. Even though he does an incredible job at mental math and seeing patterns, he loathes math. Just the mention of the subject produces a facial expression that would send any sensitive hearted mother to tears. We have been using Saxon Math all these years. I liked the manipulative approach and the "meeting." We made it through the first three years, not easily. Saxon 5/4, which we used last year, lost the manipulative approach and used a pencil profusely to copy problems, etc. I worried daily that I would be the receiver of the "black spot (Treasure Island)." Math shouldn't be that painful. In fact, it could be great fun.

The first weeks of school we did some fun cuisenaire math puzzles and practiced some math facts. My son enjoyed these weeks, but as soon as the Saxon text appeared on the kitchen table, I lost him. I tried to get him interested, to no avail.

I e-mailed Mother Crone and sought her help which was a very smart move. She had abandoned Saxon Math years before and had some good ideas and, more importantly, support and kind words. I felt guilty that I had waited so long (until near crisis) to make a change. Homeschooling gives you the option to change direction and rethink any time resources are not working. So, why was I so stuck on this one program? Why did I insist that math needed to be endured? Why didn't I trust my son?

It will take me a while to do all the proper investigation to rethink an entire year of math and get new resources. While investigating some of Mother Crone's suggestions, I found and purchased a few ebooks that will get us through until more permanent decisions are made. Funny, the author, once responded to one of my entries lamenting teaching math. If I had listened, I could have saved months of torture for my son and for me. The ebooks appear clear, use sound math logic, and have plenty of practice, but not mind numbing quantities. Even better, you only have to print the pages you intend to use which saves tons of paper. Even though there are many typos (which drives me insane), I feel that these ebooks are a bargain.

Just losing the signal for misery (Saxon text) has made all the difference.


Jennifer said...

If only you had been my math teacher! Your son sounds just like me.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are making headway, and happy to help. Isn't that the coolest part about homeschooling...knowing you can change the things that don't work!

I can't believe I forgot about the ebooks...we used those last summer as retention is a big problem with my kids. Reagan actually liked them so much we do a few pages here and there, just to keep practice in arithmetic, while she is moving on with fractions,etc.
Angela, Mother Crone

Becky said...

Have more fun this the year, the both of you :)

Are these the same ebooks JoVE has talked about too? It's starting to seem like a mini groundswell lol.

wisteria said...

I'll look back at Jove's site.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog at the beginning of this summer when I was thinking of moving back to Mississippi, just by typing in Google search the words, "the red hills of Mississippi" your blog was ranked number four on the first page. Since that time I've enjoyed reading your descriptions of Mississippi country living, gardening, and homeschool. I homeschool my two youngest children (ages 10 and 12)in southwest Florida. We have greatly enjoyed using Singapore Mathematics for the last 3 years, have you tried it? My kids and I like the straighforward linear approach and the absence of distractions from over busy illustrations. It is fun and challenging to us all. My married daughter also uses Singapore Math for my 3 grandchildren. She and I found it on the internet at almost the same time and were each considering it without knowing the other was!

Your blog has been a kind of Mississippi visit treat for me, thanks.

wisteria said...

Jennifer, I never thought I liked math. I did alright, but once I was in High School, I had a teacher who had us stand at the board until we got the problems correct. He always gave use a problem on "our" level. I stood at the board a lot, because I was so embarrassed to be standing with my behind shining the class that I couldn't for the life of me decide how to work the math. Math, for obvious reasons, left a bad taste in my mouth.

When I was teaching in Chicago, I met these wonderful math geeks. One was a super cool Beloit(undergrad) and UIC(grad) and the other was a MIT (undergrad) and Chicago (grad). They were full of puzzles and exuding love for anything mathematical and logical. I learned that I had some natural math ability (albeit undeveloped). That in itself was freeing. Believing you can't do something is three quarters of the problem.

Thanks Angela!! You can't imagine how much I need your positive support!

Are you moving to Mississippi??

matermuse said...

Hi! I'm the "Singapore Math" anonymous, just registered to blog.

Yes, if we can sell our home for enough to make relocation worthwhile we will move to Mississippi. We have 11 members in our immediate family here in SW Florida, my husband of 30 plus years and myself, and our 4 children, 2 sons-in-law, and 3 grandchildren. Our nucleus family would make the move first and pave the way for the marrieds' families. I'm an Alabama native, but schooled in NE Mississippi, therefore I don't consider myself an Alabamian very often. I have roots in both states, my mother is Mississippian, my father is Alabamian. I have hopes of sharing the rich heritage of our extended families in both states and having my youngest children grow up among their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I've loved living in SW Florida for 25 years, will always love it, but the area has quintupled in population since we moved here and become one massive traffic jam that no longer lessens during the summer "off" season when the Snowbirds desert us year rounders for their northern homes.

In all our years here it has been rarer than rare to see a Mississippi licence plate, and not a single visiting member of our families ever even considered moving here. It seems that Southeners don't transplant as well as Midwesterners, and here I am, kind of in a state of mild surprise to be trying to "go home" myself.

I miss the families most of all and in a few years my husband will be retiring that makes us both slow down and think about how we want to position ourselves to give our children the best choices and share the second half, God willing, of our lives with our extended families.

But I've got to admit, the pictures and tastes I conjure up of growing my own turnip greens and tomatoes, picking purple grapes while sheltering from the sun under the vines and eating warm watermelon with my hands from a busted melon in the patch under the moonlight on a hot summer night and laughing as the juices run down my elbows with my sweetheart of many decades as when we were courting just makes me long for the red hills of Mississippi.

In the meantime I'll thank you for the sharing of Mississippi. Many regards for a good and prosperous Autumn.