Jan 142013
 

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.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonDon’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

May 202012
 

Learning math facts brings up images of studying boring flash cards. And I don’t just mean boring for the kids! I really do think drilling math facts is important, but it has not been something that I’ve made enough time to work on with my kids. It takes time and my time is spread really thin homeschooling 5 children and working part-time.

What’s the answer, then?

Have someone else guide the drill. Or in this case, something.

There are many options for computer-based math fact drill. I’ve recently been given the opportunity to review one that I was unfamiliar with: CapJaxMathFax.

CapJaxMathFax

CapJaxMathFax is a simple computer program designed to drill students on all 4 mathematical operations. It allows students to master their math facts in a systematic progression. There is immediate feedback for the student and reporting capability for the teacher. It allows children to study math facts independent of the teacher, freeing up the teacher for other tasks.

The program is very simple to use. There are no distracting graphics and sounds. The problems are presented in a large font. Both horizontal and vertical problem orientation is used. The mouse is not used during the drill time, only the number keys (or keypad) and enter key. The student is challenged to not only get the fact correct, but to earn a SUPER rating on every math fact. The default setting for SUPER rating is answering in under 3 seconds. The student can practice or play for rating. Students build their rating over time and their progress is remembered in subsequent sessions. A bar graph is built on the screen allowing the student to visually see their progress.

I had my 10 year old son test serve as my main tester of this program. He has some learning difficulties and is behind in math, so he does need to work on his facts. He specifically needs to work on memorizing his multiplication facts, so that is where we started. I changed the Super Seconds from 3 to 6 for him. That is still tough for him. It just takes time for his brain to process what the problem is, then think of the answer, and then type in the answer. His progress on multiplication has been slow. Thinking that maybe the 6 seconds was an unrealistic target for him, I tested him with addition facts. I discovered that he can do the addition that fast because he knows it well. That definitely gives me hope for the multiplication!

He doesn’t love the program, but he doesn’t hate it either. (I know that doesn’t sound complimentary, but it actually is. He hates most everything that has to do with school. We’re really struggling.) I think that the program does exactly what it claims to do – helps students to master math facts. It is an ideal program for students who are easily distracted by games and sounds.

CapJaxMathFax is available to purchase through their website. A 12 month license is available for $29.95.

 

Disclosure: I received a 6-month license in order to review this program. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.