Spiral Math: The post where I admit I was wrong

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Hopefully that got your attention.

And maybe it was a bit strong, but I’ve learned something.

I’ve always been a big believer in choosing math curricula that focus on understanding rather than rote learning.

Here’s my post from last year’s Virtual Curriculum Fair:

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

And while I don’t have big regrets about teaching my older 2 children in this way, I have gained a greater appreciation for the spiral approach to teaching mathematics.

After banging my head against the wall for several years, I have finally found a math program that is working for William, my middle son.

It’s Christian Light.

Every day there are an oral skip counting exercise, 2 sets of flashcards to review, and a speed drill. These are followed by the introduction of new material. Then the bulk of every lesson is the “We remember” section. So every single day William has to remember how to do addition with carrying and subtraction with borrowing. He frequently is asked to convert between inches and feet or gallons to quarts. There are word problems, and multiplication fact practice. Every single day.

I think he is finally going to remember how to do subtraction.

Is it fun?

No. But it doesn’t have to be. I firmly believe that everyone needs basic math skills. While I’ve heard many preach that making learning fun makes it easier, there comes a point where things have to be done. I need to make sure that he works up to his potential. That is not going to be calculus in his case and that’s fine. And learning to be diligent is a valuable trait.

Is it quick?

No. Due to his extremely distractible nature, it can take an hour or more for William to complete his daily math lesson.

But is my almost 11 year old finally remembering the mechanics of doing math?

YES! (Most of the time anyway.)

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in this journey.

1. Don’t assume that what works for one child will work for another (or that the way you learn is how your children do).

2. Don’t be afraid to try different things.

3. Don’t worry too much about grade level.

Don’t miss the other great math ideas at the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

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

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12 thoughts on “Spiral Math: The post where I admit I was wrong”

  1. I agree on all 3 counts. Each of my kids is an individual and has needed a slightly different approach to math. Having a good foundation is much more important than “grade level”—my oldest has similar issues to your son with arithmetic. It’s the mechanics of it that give him trouble, not the mathematical concepts. After a few years of a lot of work, he’s operating very close to “grade level” in the math department (he’s in 7th doing “6th” grade math) and I think you’ll find that your son will eventually catch up. Understanding what he’s doing is more important than getting to calculus before college, and college math teachers agree.

    Thank you for joining the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

  2. Kristen,
    I discovered the same thing about my daughter and I talked about it in today’s VCF post, too. I spent the entire first six weeks of this year doing nothing but math facts memorization exercises. Her not knowing them well was making our math time absolutely dreadful. We still practice weekly to make sure she can repeat them. It is not where I want it to be, but it is soooo much better.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. My two children are the exact opposite on the way they learn and the subjects they like the most. I don’t worry about grades levels much for one of my children either. I’m just thankful they are learning. 🙂 So glad that you have finally found something that works for your son.

  4. I could not agree more! We didn’t teach our big kids (now 11 and 10) the basics… their tables, the memorization. I so regret that I didn’t do that more. It makes math MUCH harder for them now than it should be. I’m not making the same mistake with my little ones.

  5. Loved this! So glad you found something that’s working for him. You’re absolutely right! Everything doesn’t have to be fun! I mean, really. Math? What’s fun about that. #1,2,and 3 are BIG homeschool mama lessons to learn. I’ve had a few of each!

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