Simply Homeschool Maths For Your Family
I was recently gifted one year of MathsOnline for my daughter. I was dubious. Any online maths programs have never lasted long in our house. But, they offered to sponsor me a small fee to write a blog post about Maths for homeschooling, including MathsOnline. The terms were clear, I was to be honest - I didn’t (and don't) need to post a positive review.
Write a blog post about maths?...How hard can it be? Well, read on... (particularly if you want a MathOnline Free Trial or to find out how to purchase a membership for 50% off!)
I have noticed that maths is one of the subjects that raises a lot of angst for homeschool parents. Every week I hear comments such as:
- I wasn’t good at maths - how can I possibly teach my child?
- My child hates maths - how can I change this?
- School has failed my child - My year 9 son doesn’t even know his times-tables!
- I hated maths - Where do I even start?
- How do I cover the syllabus?
- There are so many options - which program do I choose?
If any or all of these are your thoughts and questions, you’re not alone! We all know that being a maths-competent adult is important. So how do we navigate this maths journey well? How do we help our kids develop the maths skills they need for life and for their chosen future?
I have a friend who breathes maths. and I know this because all of her children are maths savvy. I have tried inviting her over to breathe maths into my kids - but it hasn’t made much difference*. Most homeschool parents are not maths teachers. So is there a basic plan that will work for the average homeschool family that doesn’t have a maths-breathing parent?
If you’re just an ordinary parent who wants to give your kids enough maths for life...read on for some maths essentials that work for homeschool maths.
Sorting Maths Fact From Fiction
Our children do not need to complete high school maths to be maths competent in the real world. So start where they are.
By that, I mean that you start at their current level (no matter where that may be) and keep building to create a strong foundation. It matters most that our kids are strong in the basics. Our Simply Homeschool maths whiz tells me that most of us don’t use maths above Grade 8 in our daily lives.
So how do you choose a curriculum, activities or resources that support your kids to build a strong foundation and then move forward at a pace that suits them?
- Integrate real-life maths through daily activities and good books - everyone can do this!
- Find an expert - and it doesn't have to be a person. Choose an underlying, flexible structure by adding a textbook or online program.
- Research career-specific maths when your child is ready.
Integrating Real-Life Maths
Maths is everywhere in the real world. If we keep teaching our kids about the maths we encounter in everyday life, we will raise maths competent kids. Why? Because we will be modelling to them everything we, as adults, know about maths in the real world. Some examples of real-life maths are:
- When we purchase food, prepare meals and bake cookies, we model how to measure carefully, multiply and divide with fractions and manage time and money.
- When we run a business, plan a holiday, make a budget or prepare our taxes, we model how to manage finances.
- When we renovate our house, we teach them how to measure length, calculate area and solve complicated, real-life maths problems. Eg. What size tin of paint do I need to buy?
- When we use a trip planner app, we teach our kids to read 24hr time and data tables.
- When we use a weather app we help our kids to understand temperature. Why not set different locations from around the world to compare and discuss?
- Spend time with Google maps, travel maps, Google Earth, topographic maps, event maps, any type of map! Maps are fabulous maths!
Books And Games For Real-Life Maths
Good Books introduce maths in an engaging way. Many kids are relational learners and as human beings, we learn well through stories. I particularly love the Sir Cumference Series and Life of Fred. These books tell maths through story and the characters are engaging and fun. The pictures help visual learners to see maths and these stories can be read repeatedly.
If you’re looking for a book to re-engage a reluctant learner, then ‘Think of a Number’ is one of my favourites. It points out many ways that maths is relevant in life. Simply Homeschool includes a Core Program for this book specifically. Our graded Core Programs for Kindergarten to Grade 4 also include many real-life maths activities (such as making pizza, running a cafe and maths art).
Games and maths play provide opportunities for our kids to explore maths concepts in a non-school-like manner. And often they don’t even realise they’re learning maths. Yatzee has been a great game for my kids to practice times tables and addition. Lego has been our main 3D learning opportunity and games with 2 dice are great for addition facts. Many of the Simply Homeschool Core Programs include maths games for hands-on, engaged learning.
Find A Maths Expert
One of the significant keys to our maths has been the underlying expert - often in the form of a textbook. And now, I have Maths Online. So how do textbook maths and Maths Online compare? What is my honest review and which does my daughter (a reluctant maths student) prefer?
Textbook Maths - A Summary
Textbooks are comforting to many of us. They are familiar and they have the advantage of systematic study. They make us feel assured that we won’t miss anything important. We can see we’re following a system and most of us can use the textbook to help our child understand the concepts.
There are so many textbook options - and some are definitely better than others.
Singapore Maths has long been a favourite of homeschoolers around the world. This is because kids in Singapore have topped the world in maths for many years, so they must do something right. There are now many versions of Singapore Maths at various price points. If you’re looking for a textbook series for Kindergarten to Grade 6, these texts are tried and true. Keep in mind that they are also about 1 grade ahead of most other countries, so you may need to choose a lower grade. Our Maths Core Programs for K-4 are linked to Singapore Maths.
ICE-em Maths is an Australian example of a maths text done well. Simply Homeschool currently have a discount with Five Senses for ICE-em Maths and our Maths Cores for grades 5-10 are being written based on these texts. They include a wide variety of detailed visual examples, clear explanations, discussion questions, games, challenges and various levels of practice questions.
When using a textbook, your child doesn’t need to complete every question or even every chapter. Start with the Review for the chapter to see what they know. If they can complete the test easily, skip the chapter. Search the chapter for lessons, examples and practice for the skills and concepts they need to learn and practice.
Simply Homeschool has integrated real-life maths with SAP Learning Maths (a version of Singapore Maths), living maths books and logic books to provide your children with an engaging, hands-on, systematic maths program for Kindergarten to Grade 4. We have included activities to make your own hands-on resources such as a walking numberline. We know that many kids - particularly those with learning difficulties, need kinesthetic maths and we provide this. Simply Homeschool Core Programs can be your ‘expert’ and providing the support you need to feel confident.
MathsOnline - An Honest Review
The internet is flooded with online maths programs - and we’ve tried quite a few. Many programs are not effective and none of us like wasting time and money. So how does MathsOnline stack up and how does it compare to the textbook options?
MathsOnline has been a pleasant surprise, and as an ‘maths breathing expert’ substitute - I’m pretty impressed. What do I love?
- There are no gimmicks and no distractions - it’s just maths. For kids with ADD and other challenges, this is important.
- I can choose the lessons my daughter does and the level she works at. We are not locked into a particular year level. All grades are available from K-12. Kids can work at any level, and can change up or down a grade when necessary at no extra cost.
- The video lessons are clear and concise, and, so far, match well with the questions. I have spoken with a friend whose children use Maths Online for upper high school and they say sometimes the questions are harder than the lesson explained.
- The questions are achievable - a maximum of 10 questions per lesson.
- I set the pass mark. I’ve set it at 80%. I’ve noticed my daughter working to achieve this goal in a way I haven’t seen before in textbook based programs.
- My daughter can be more independent in her maths work and I receive a weekly progress report. She can generally understand the videos and complete the questions without my assistance.
- It’s an Australian program - many other homeschool programs are from the US.
- I have the option to plan her lessons and assign them to her with built-in reviews. We don’t use this feature because I don’t want her to feel under pressure if a topic is more challenging. I’d rather her take her time and feel confident.
- My daughter is doing more maths than she’s done in a long time. She still jumps back to her SAP books sometimes - but I’m seeing more confidence across all of her maths.
In short, Maths Online is the best online paid maths program we have ever used. And we’ve now set up our very own Maths Online discount link for Simply Homeschool families. If you are a full member with Simply Homeschool you can now receive 50% off MathsOnline Membership in our Resource Shop.
If you need a free online program, Khan Academy provides maths lessons and very engaging maths videos. However, Khan Academy also provides an enormous amount of other learning and I have sometimes found it hard to keep my kids focussed on maths rather than watching interesting videos. My best tip - if you’re using Khan Academy, set up the computer in your direct line of sight to help keep your kids on track.
The Dragon Box Apps area well-designed group of Maths Apps that cover number, algebra and geometry. These are worth playing as a parent so that you can use the game concepts to explain these topics to your kids.
Research Future Maths
At the end of the day, we want our kids to have the maths they need for their future. Apart from daily life maths, they need career maths. In my middle daughter’s case - this was maths for nursing.
This daughter hated maths. In actual fact, she had copied the answers out of the back of the text for most of highschool (which I didn’t find out utill later). But she needed maths for nursing. And she needed to get 100%. When it comes to nursing maths, being right most of the time is not enough.
We had been given a little pocketbook called ‘Maths for Nursing’. I told her the pass mark was 100%. It worked. In the first week of her degree, all the students had to sit a maths test and she was one of the few who passed. Three years later she has graduated as a nurse!
So, wherever you are in your homeschool maths journey, I encourage you to integrate real-life maths through daily activities and living books, choose an underlying structure by adding a textbook or online program, such as MathsOnline, and then research career-specific maths when your child is ready. You can do this!
Enjoy the Journey!
* My maths breathing friend is Kylie - she is also the maths whizz writing our Maths Core Programs for Grades 5-10. Kylie is a homeschool mum who reads ‘The Joy of Mathematics’ on holidays while watching her toddlers in the playground.