Notes from Anne:
I’m excited to tell you about our arithmetic program! It is divided into two levels, and although we have given them grade levels, please don’t feel tied to artificial grades. The lower level teaches adding and subtracting, and the higher level teaches multiplication and division.
- In the lower level, K-1 math introduces the numbers, coins, telling time, and simple adding and subtracting. 2-3 math reinforces adding and subtracting skills, so that it becomes EASY for your child, and it also introduces the concept of simple multiplication.
- In the higher level, 4-8 math teaches multiplication and division, and it applies everything learned to fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, and real-life math. Once your child has mastered these concepts, no matter how old he is or what official “grade” he’s in, he can go on to advanced math, such as Algebra and Geometry.
I have been homeschooling officially since the year 2001, when my oldest son was 5, but I’ve struggled in math to be consistent in drilling my children and checking their work in math. I would have good intentions, but I wouldn’t be able to keep it up, as I added more and more children to my day. Planning, drilling, teaching, checking, and grading six different levels of math each day was more than I could consistently do. Unfortunately, Scripture says that a child left to himself brings his mother to shame, and I have been ashamed many times at my children’s lack of ability to do simple math calculations in their heads, to remember their multiplication tables, or even catching them trying to cheat or to simply not finish their work, because they gambled with the idea that I wouldn’t check up on them anyway.
YHVH really been convicting me on this over the years, so as we’ve been building this curriculum, my prayer has been to be able to combine the children together as much as possible. I believe that YHVH’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. I also don’t believe that we mothers and fathers should exasperate our children or provoke them, giving them more worksheets and more practice problems than they are able to bear. For that reason, if you feel our worksheets have too many problems, then feel free to only assign half — or whatever you (as teacher) feel is best for your child!
I think you will be pleased with how YHVH has guided this curriculum. First of all, with the help of many advisors much wiser than I, we have scoured textbooks from the mid-1800s through the most modern secular, public-school, common-core textbooks. I think we’ve found the best examples, ones which are built on godly principles, not on secular ideas. Secondly, we have carefully reviewed and used common homeschooling curriculum, from the very advanced ABeka curriculum, to Rod and Staff and Horizons, Alpha Omega and PACE, Saxon math and Singapore Math, MathUSee and Systematic Math. We’ve studied books by authors such as Sam Blumenfield, Ruth Beechick, and Harvey Bluedorn. This curriculum is the result. We’re pretty excited about it.
One thing we have noticed. There is a specific body of facts to be learned, and after that, it’s all about reviewing concepts until they become automatic. It’s a lot like grammar in that way. Once you know it, you know it. But you can’t really use it in life until you over-learn it. Math needs to become more than an abstract concept. It needs to become automatic.
For that reason, we now firmly believe that you really can teach all your children together. For instance, on a Monday morning, a 10-year might be introduced to decimals for the first time, while his 13-year-old sibling can have the same lesson and review it. Both need to study it over and over, but for the 10-year-old, it is for the purpose of learning the concept. For the 13-year-old, the purpose is for review and to help the concept become automatic and second-nature.
Do you remember the exact math problem you did in 7th grade on the 43rd day? No, I don’t either. I firmly believe that your children can do much of the same work each year, repeating it over and over, without getting bored. Especially if time is spent with Mom each day, who customizes and explains the lessons for her own children, making it unique to their needs.
So here is how our curriculum works. Mom has a meeting with her children on the first 3 days of each week. She reviews and drills them on rote arithmetic facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and practical life skills, such as measurement problems. Our curriculum has tried to make this fun! She then teaches and reviews a new concept, usually one or two per week. She might teach them with a white board. (I love white boards!) She watches them solve the problem, first with her help then independently.
After that, the students do a worksheet on their own. I think it’s ideal if they copy it from the assignment sheet (or a tablet or Kindle, if you want to get high-tech and use less ink). Copying gives their hand practice in being neat and tidy, an essential skill in life as well as arithmetic! Besides, it saves money. We just use simple notebook paper. However, you are welcome to just print the worksheets and let them write directly on them.
Mom has an answer key, or if you have several children, they could exchange papers the next morning and check each others’ work.
Once a week (beginning in Week 2), we have a test for your children. YHVH tested the children of Israel in the wilderness, and we believe in testing in math as well. In addition, we believe in expecting good grades. If your children get a 100% score, then reward them handsomely. I give my kids a piece of candy, which is a special treat in our home. As we tell our children often, an architect building a bridge over a body of water would not be rewarded for 95% accuracy. Actually, the bridge depends entirely upon 100% accuracy – or people will die. So we only give candy or a reward if they get all of the answers correct.
On the other hand, some children have not had a good foundation in arithmetic. In that case, Mom, use your best judgment, and praise your children for improvement, for neatness, for a good attitude and character that is godly. We suggest praise and hugs – but save prizes and physical rewards for the ultimate goal of a 100% on a test.
So in a nutshell, drill with your children 3 times a week. (The other 2 days, we’ll supply word problems for them to solve, usually from Scripture). Then give them homework assignments or tests to do independently, on their own time, 5 days a week.
- You’ll have a Together Time with your younger children, and a second one with your older children (if you have various ages of children.)
- You’ll need a system for checking their work consistently.
- You’ll be teaching your children to be careful, to be accurate, and to know their facts quickly.
- You’ll show them how to apply math to daily life through word problems.
- And you’ll prepare them for life as well as advanced math in high school and college, if you should so choose.
May YHVH put His hand of blessing on our children, as we seek them to be skilled workmen for Him. And may His yoke be easy and His burden light.