Math for the Natural

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair Button
Teaching a subject to a child who seems to naturally acquire knowledge in that area without underchallenging them can prove difficult.

My children clearly have inherited my husband's mind for all things mathematical. Logic comes natural to them, numbers made sense from early on, and my sophomore is now racing beyond my knowledge and ability in the subject.

The individuality of homeschooling means that they don't have to stifle their natural gifting in this area to remain at level with 28 other kids. But, how do you let a child soar most effectively when walking is clearly easier to teach?

In our own homeschool we have applied these principles to math, but many will carry over to other areas where you might see advanced skills.

Don't hold them back. Stating the obvious, I know. I often hear parents talk about the kids reading chapter books at a young age or delighting them with advanced artisitic abilities. Wouldn't if be ridiculous to tell a child, "You can't paint that you should just be scribbling at your age." or "Don't read that book, in first grade you should still be learning phonics. Put that book down so we can work through the material." For some reason, in math we tend to follow the book and might ignore early signs that our child is ready for much more mathematically.

Don't let their developmental ability hinder them. My kids did not like writing (still don't), in part due to some issues with dyslexia and dysgraphia. No problem, math can easily be done orally. If they had to write all the answers to their assignments they dragged through it. Orally we could plow through two lessons in 15 minutes. Let them fly rather than clipping their wings so they stay in the fence. By third grade I would require that they completely wrote out the answers to their tests, and we gradually phased out most of the oral "homework" by 5th grade.

Part B to that, start "formal" math when it's right for the child. I know some buck formal math until double digits, but I think it can be introduced gently and even with rigor long before then. My 4 year olds always want to do real school like their older siblings, so we jump right into the 1st grade math book at whatever pace they desire. Often they are done with first grade before first grade age and we move on from there. We make it light and fun and integrate it with real life, but I don't wait until the "right" age to begin.

Skip what they already know. This is probably the second biggest reason my kids are way ahead of where they should be in math. Most curriculums begin with LOTS of review. If you compare the lessons to the previous year the first 20-30 lessons are just catching up the "class" to the same spot and reviewing what kids might have forgotten over a summer break. I begin where I know my child needs to begin.

Here's how this looks in our routine. We review about 10 lessons a day for 2-3 days when first starting a new math book. When it seems like we are hitting some potentially challenging material I have them take the test that we had worked our way up to. As long as they do well on the test (A or maybe a high B) we start there. Sometimes we might still do a couple lessons a day for a few more days, or if they struggled with the test we will back up a bit.

Reward their success. Even gifted kids will sometimes hit a roadblock and even feel dumb. Rewarding their success, bragging on them (not to the annoyance of others, hopefully), and encouraging their hard work will help them see their skills. I don't know how often I have to tell some of my kids that they are brilliant at math and they still go through spells of questioning it now and then when they struggle with a new concept. Eventually it sinks in. Some might find benefit from the "proof" in a standardized test. Whatever it takes, let your child know they are smart and give God the glory for making them in that way.

Don't test them to death. Speed drills definitely have value to cement basic math facts, but many math curriculums have tests every week! I don't need my child to take a test that often. We do every other test and I still sometimes feel like they are testing too often.

Toss the calendar. Schooling at least somewhat year round will help them not have to waste so much time on review. We take breaks here and there and school fewer days a week in the summer, but when they finish a book, they get a week off, and then start the next grade level. This is easier for us since we have always homeschooled and most of our good friends homeschool, so we don't have the pressure to conform to the school calendar (other than our human desire to be lazy now and then).

Thinking outside the box will help your child learn to truly put their wings to good use.This can be done with any curriculum or educational philosophy. It's all about knowing your child and praying for wisdom as to how to capitalize on their strengths.

Check out the rest of the Virtual Curriculum Fair for more math ideas and thoughts.
Delight Directed Middle School Science?  by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy

A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way

Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education

It's Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses

Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Math and More!  by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs,
and Curriculum

The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

High School Math - Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words

Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics,
Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road

The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The
Planted Trees

Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann  @ Montessori Tidbits

Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculums by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings


Susan said…
This are all great tips. I agree, that one way to hold kids back (and make them hate math) is to force too much review on them. Unfortunately I know this from personal experience. ;0)

Thank you for contributing to the Virtual Curriculum Fair!
Anonymous said…
Wonderful tips! We generally school year round, for that very reason--do eliminate unnecessary review, and to keep our skills fresh. Thanks so much for sharing!
Katie said…
Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

I also wanted to mention that I'm creating a blogroll of blogs that blog (at least occasionally) about homeschooling high school. ( I came across yours today and would LOVE to add it. If you would consider this, could you email me? Thanks in advance! Blessings...


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