Why is it that a big argument against homeschooling in the high school years is that moms and dads are not "qualified" to teach subjects like calculus and trigonometry? I'm not (for the moment!) going to disagree because personally, I have the math skills of one of those mythical and nonexistent "backward" nomadic tribes. They count "1, 2, 3, a lot, a really lot" and the biggest number you can get is "a really lot." I'm trying to think back, but I could swear we heard some tale about them in our very-useful sociology classes in college. Can you imagine the affirmative action programs to get folks who count like that into college? Hm? Would you want them doing your taxes?
Well, suffice to say my math skills are really, really deplorable. I'm admitting that up front. Right now. In print. Now that I've done that, I have something else to tell you: I was educated in the public school system! AACK! So *that's* where I got these awful math skills that make me "unqualified" to teach my own children!!
Does no one else see the logic jump that had to happen there somewhere on the part of these education experts who want math left to the professionals?
Now, I'm fully admitting they can do the math better! I'm just saying that I wasn't taught any of this stuff in any way that helped me grasp these concepts, let alone remember them 20 years later when it's time to teach my kids advanced math. It would be nice, actually, if the local high schools started a "Math for Moms" program and allowed parents to re-learn (or in my case, LEARN) how to do math that isn't just multiplying, adding, subtracting and dividing. Because that's *all* I know how to do. Once you get into drawing a math picture, graphing things on the pretty square paper or coordinating equations with your summer wardrobe, I'm lost.
Emperor has strange math skills. He's six, and people who are six must just kinda be quirky. I was explaining decimals the other day and how you could convert a decimal to a percentage by using the first two numbers after the dot thing. And to get a percentage on your tests, I take the number you got right and divide it into the total number on the calculator, like this:
24 (divided by) 25 = .96
So that's 96 percent. And then I write a 96 in your book.
Emperor jumps up. "I know what I'm going to do to buy a Bionicle!" he tells me.
"Well, I'm going to count alll my money and then I'm going to divide it by $10.63 because I need $10.63 for the Bionicle with the tax! Then, I will take the first two numbers and I will have a percentage of how much money I have so far!"
Blank look from Mom.
"It would be my percent!"
Does that make sense to you? It took me a while. No way the kid should have gotten that concept so easily. Wow. I was in awe. But later that day, he got stuck on a math problem. 4 plus 7. 4 plus 7. 4 plus 7. And he could not for the life of him get it, and we even tried COUNTING and he wouldn't understand. Finally I just put the math away, discouraged.
I don't get it. I tell you I work SO hard to help these boys, and here Emperor can't add four and seven. In that moment, he genuinely could not understand what "four plus seven" even MEANT. Hm. Then the following day, he did all that math and didn't have any trouble!
I've blogged before about how silly the Everyday Mathematics curriculum is in its teaching method. I use it because D wants the boys to be able to do the exact same thing as the kids in the public school if possible. So I am honouring his request in being sure the children are able to do the same math according to the "scope and sequence" in the teachers' manual. Of course, the teachers' manual reveals a nasty secret that is not even *whispered* to public school parents: All those homework sheets that you thought were way above your kid's level? They are. On purpose.
Here's how they work it: If you expose a child to quantum physics or whatever skill when he's in first grade, then... you can log that down as a "beginning" skill. Star on the chart right there. Yay! Does the kid know two facts about quantum physics? Wow! Now he has a "developing" skill in that area.
The tough part is getting from having a "developing" skill in an area to being "secure" in that area, which would mean having a good working knowledge of all the key concepts needed to do that type of problem. See, Everyday Mathematics doesn't know the alphabet (ya know, A, B, C, D?). They grade by "beginning, developing, and secure" in a given area such as multidigit multiplication. And so far as I can see, not achieving a "secure" in an area that SHOULD be "secure" for that grade level doesn't seem to be a reason to hold the kid back or do anything remedial. At least not according to the teachers' manual. But the special "Assessment Book" includes xeroxable "fill-in" report card sheets the children can make themselves to take home, telling Mom and Dad how they feeeeel about their math this term, with space for the student to draw a picture. LOL!
So, I skip bothering to try to teach it the public school way and use only the worksheets, which are actually pretty good!! I teach math as I understand it, and we use Horizons presently to get another perspective/balance. I keep looking at Singapore math, but it's just so overwhelming to look at. I am not sure I'm up to teaching it properly. I kinda want to order their stuff (shhh) for fourth grade, but I'm afraid to. We are presently almost halfway done with Everyday Mathematics, third grade, and about 1/3 done in the Horizons. We do EVERY worksheet in Horizons and almost every one in EM. Some of their methods are hokey, like making lattices for multiplication, so we skip those sheets. No point confusing stuff.