Many parents feel confident doing animal crafts, reading stories with lots of enthusiasm, putting together exciting science experiments, and introducing letter sounds to their children. But when you ask most parents how they feel about teaching math…well, that’s an entirely different story. Do you have anxiety about teaching math to your child? Let’s break down a few myths that will help alleviate your fears.
Myth #1: Teaching math is hard.
The fact is, most of what your child will be learning this year (no matter what year they are between preschool to 5th grade) is math you use in your everyday life. Take a mental note of when you use math and make it a part of your daily conversations. Whether you are shopping, cooking, or making a daily schedule, you are using math. And don’t overlook the fact that children are naturally curious about the world around them! They will ask questions, and this will give you opportunities to introduce topics in a simple, practical way.
Myth #2: I have to stick to the “school” schedule.
As a homeschooler, you are the boss of your homeschool. That means you get to decide what topics you teach and when to introduce them. As a homeschooler, you have the freedom to meet your child where they are—which may not be exactly where every other kid is. They may need more time to explore and practice topics, or they may leap ahead of their peers. You can use several resources to guide and inspire you and help you choose what math concepts to bring into your homeschool. Not sure where to start? Here are a few places to get ideas on what to teach grade by grade (use these references as a loose guide to give you ideas, not as a strict format to follow):
Myth #3: You need a math curriculum.
You actually don’t. Math is all around us, and many concepts are learned innately. Look for the teachable moments in your everyday life that apply to different math concepts you would like to teach or practice. Of course, we aren’t saying you shouldn’t use a math curriculum. We simply want you to feel confident knowing that you don’t have to use one. You should trust yourself and your child and find whatever works for your family. If the curriculum you choose isn’t working, it might lead them to “hate math.” So be flexible and match your child’s learning style to the teaching methods and programs you try.
Myth #4: Math is boring.
There are so many ways to introduce and explain math concepts to your child in fun ways that don’t involve curriculum! Here are some of our favorites:
- Baking and cooking. This is such a great way to cover so many topics, including arithmetic, fractions, measurements, weight, temperature, and time. Bring your child into the kitchen and make it your next math lesson.
- Board Games. Games are a great way to practice mental math and spatial reasoning. Here are a few of our favorites for teaching math concepts:
- Living Books. Books that are written by an educator or expert are so much more valuable than textbooks written by committees. They tackle one topic at a time with wonderful illustrations and story lines, and they introduce topics in fun and engaging ways. Here are some of our favorites:
- Calendars and clocks. Having wall calendars and play clocks and real face clocks around the home will help bring these into their everyday life.
- Computer and digital games for math practice. If your child enjoys screen time, they might enjoy a website like Math Playground and Minecraft Math to practice concepts you have already taught them.
- Hands-on manipulatives inspired by Montessori. Learning with hands on manipulatives brings the lesson from the abstract world of worksheets to the concrete tangible world of play. Here are a few of our favorites:
Myth #5: Math is one size fits all.
There are so many ways to approach math, so think outside the box. If you shop for a curriculum, do your research and look for something that appeals to you (because you should love it, too!) and matches with your child’s learning style. Here are a few unique options:
- Music- and story-based videos like Times Tales that help kids memorize multiplication facts.
- We love how Beast Academy brings comic books and puzzles and games into the world of math. (Note: This curriculum is for kids 8-13 years old.)
- Literature-based math like Life of Fred will be great for kids who enjoy story lessons and want to know how the math applies to real life. (Note: This series is not secular.)
- GameEd Academy uses Minecraft as their platform. They have a 5th Grade math program that looks like a kid’s dream come true: Minecraft for school!
What’s the takeaway? You can do this! Feel confident in your ability to teach math to your child, and your enthusiasm will rub off on them. Math is everywhere in nature and in your everyday life—fold it into your daily routine to make it fun and natural. Follow your child’s curiosity and watch them make connections. Add in a little joy to your math lessons, and then get ready to watch their love of math multiply!
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