2015-2016 School Plans: Math

Because I am a Super Planner, I already have about one thousand thoughts about our next school year swimming in my brain. I originally thought I would just jumble them out in one long post, but quickly realized that wouldn't be feasible. So I'm starting with just one primary subject (math) and rambling a bit about what we will be doing this fall, interspersing some tidbits about our general plans for next year as well.

Math is one of only two subjects (the other being language arts/reading) that we "cover" five times a week. Even if it's just one short worksheet, or a few minutes spent counting change, or a favorite Kindle game, rarely a school day goes by that we don't purposefully explore math. (And yes, I know that math is all around us and we don't need to intentionally "do" math because it's there every day anyway, but you know what I mean.)

We don't use a set curriculum, and probably won't until I feel like I can't explain concepts sufficiently. Right now, we're primarily dealing with basics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, measurement, money, place value, estimating, and simple geometry (adjusting for grade level as needed). Agent E seems to intuitively get math very easily. Agent J needs a bit more point-by-point guidance. We're just starting out with Agent A, so I'm not sure about him yet.

Even though we don't follow a laid out curriculum, we (I) like to have a reference point of sorts, so I keep the World Book Typical Course of Study bookmarked and use it as a loose guide to what is taught in each grade, especially for math. (In some other subjects, like history and science, we are more likely to follow rabbit holes.) You can find more detailed benchmarks at education {dot} com (this is the fourth grade "what to expect") and Scholastic {dot} com (here's an example of the second grade one). 

(Warning: Do not attempt to read any of the articles specific to homeschooling on the Scholastic website, unless you are prepared for your eyes to roll out of your head. The homeschool section at education {dot} com is way more balanced, IMHO.)

Anyhoo . . . math.

Basically we choose a few age/grade appropriate workbooks and complete a page or two a day, adding a bit more practice if they don't seem to catch on right away. We do a lot of the ever-popular word problems, attempting to apply math to the "real world" (or Star Wars, which is pretty much the same thing).

Sometimes we keep at one topic until they understand it thoroughly and then and move on, but sometimes we simply need to let go of it for a short while and come back to it. In general, we take it slow, giving concepts time to sink in, and avoid repetition for the sake of repetition. We neither purposely seek out nor avoid the words Common Core when it comes to choosing materials.

For the coming school year we will be using the following resources:

Agent E (4th)

Math Basics 4 by School Zone Publishing

Brain Quest Workbook: Grade 3 by Workman Publishing

(Note: We'll be finishing up a few of the math sections from grade 3 at the beginning of grade 4 because we did not discover Agent E's love of BQ workbooks until half way through this school year.)

Brain Quest Workbook: Grade 4 by Workman Publishing

Agent J (2nd)

Math Basics Grade 2 by School Zone Publishing

Star Wars Workbook: 2nd Grade Math by Workman Publishing

(They totally need to expand this series past grade two.)

For both Senior Agents, we'll also be utilizing our favorite go-to websites for free math printables, including education {dot} comKidzoneTLS Books, and Worksheet Works {dot} com.

It's also highly likely that we'll be picking up a few "extra" math practice books for Agent J at The Target once they put them out in the dollar section, like this multiplication one we used with Agent E during her 2nd grade year.

If this sounds like tons of workbook-y stuff, know that I'm only going by the number of pages we covered this year, which ended up being, um, a lot. Even just doing a couple a day adds up. Plus, the Agents like to have more than one book to choose from. We don't necessarily go "in order" or finish one book at a time (unless they want to).

Agent A (K)

(Truth: Agent A only wants this workbook because Chewie is on the cover. I don't think he's quite there yet as far as patience or fine motor skills to get much out of tracing and writing numbers, or doing the math puzzles, so this may be a mid-year start instead.)

Kindergarten Common Core Standards Math Workbook by The Clever Factory

(Again, something that we have on hand but may not use until closer to the end of the school year. I should note that the link goes to the first grade version.)

I'm anticipating Agent A's kindergarten year will look a lot like Agent J's kindergarten year.

(Note: Agent A will only be four when the school year begins. Because he has a fall birthday, in most states K wouldn't even be an option for him until next year. However, the cut-off in NY is pretty late (age 5 by 1 December) so if he went to public school he could start this fall. Honestly, I don't think we would send him if he were "going" to school. However, since we do school at home, we're giving it a try, partly because I think he will have fun having "school time" with his sisters, and partly because I like the idea of each of the Agents being only two school years apart. Worst case scenario, we decide he's not ready and hold off until next year. We don't need to report anything for him this year, so it wouldn't really matter.)

We will incorporate other math resources for all three Agents, including computer games, Kindle games, and manipulatives. Of course, we will also stick with our usual plan to Read All The Books. I've written about some of our favorite math titles (mostly geared toward younger kids) here. We have been reading more books about math for older elementary (e.g., the Sir Cumference series, this awesome book by Basher Basics) lately as well. The section of math books at the library never ceases to amaze me. We find new ones all the time, and they are both helpful and hilarious.

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