Monday, April 30, 2012

Back to our math curriculum

Since my last post on this subject, I haven't been able to stop thinking about what my next step should be regarding our math curriculum.  I have been able to do a lot of research on line and I have been able to talk to many people about what they use and why.  It is always interesting to me what works for one family absolutely doesn't work for another family.  This all goes back to one of the reasons I decided to homeschool, so I can find the perfect fit for each individual child.  I heard about many companies and typically pros and cons to all of them.  I would like to say this dilemma did come at a good time since our local homeschooling curriculum fair just ended.  I was able to do the research I needed and ask the questions I needed to ask and flip through the different workbooks to see what might be a good fit for our kids.

In my mind I had 2 pretty clear options.  Stick with Horizons and see if things get better or switch to a curriculum that uses a mastery approach.  I, of course, was leaning towards switching since my 4 year old was already talking about the repetition involved with Horizon Math,  I would almost call it "busy work."  Singapore was always the first name that came up when talking about a mastery approach so that is what I looked into.  It is a completely different style, but one I think my kids will enjoy.  The biggest con I heard was that if you want to switch back later on, it can be a hard switch for the kids to understand a different learning style.  I guess I will just have to see if that is ever an issue for our family.

We are about a week away from finishing the first of two Kindergarten workbooks from Horizon, so I wasn't exactly sure where to start looking for my oldest.  Do I start Kindergarten all over again with Singapore or do I start her halfway through and hope the material is similar?  I looked the Kindergarten A and B textbooks and I knew Addison would have no problems.  I then looked at the 1A book and felt pretty good about it.  It was some stuff I thought she knew, plus others that she could learn.  That is what we are looking for, something to learn, right?  However, I was having a struggle putting my 4 year old into 1st grade math.  I mentioned it to another homeschooling mom and she was like, "why not?" Simple sentence, but it sure did make me feel better!

Singapore does have a placement test to judge where you should start your child, so I decided to have Addison take it just to double check myself.  As we sat down, in my mind, I thought I knew what she could and probably couldn't do, boy was I wrong.  I can't believe how well she did on the test.  There were word problems (which she had never done before) that she just sailed through.  There were of course some things she didn't know, but overall, she did way better than I expected.  Since she did so well, I knew I was making the right decision  with purchasing Singapore's first grade math curriculum!

A little side story...

The girls were having a snack and we were talking about Laney getting ready to turn 3.  All of a sudden, Addison looks at Laney with such excitement and says "Laney, when you turn 3, you can start doing math lessons like me!!"  They both started screaming and giggling with excitement.  I had already decided Laney was ready for Singapore's Kindergarten math, but I was going to wait until the fall.  However, after I saw the expression on her face when she got her very own math workbook, we will be starting sooner than later!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Homeschooling Conference and Curriculm Fair

It was just about a year ago when I officially decided I was going to homeschool our kids.  I was totally bummed when I found out I had just missed the 2011 Homeschooling Conference and Curriculum Fair, but I must tell you that someone was looking out for me.  Had I gone last year, I would have been totally overwhelmed without a clue as to what I should be doing.  Who knows, it could have been enough to make me start doubting my decision. 

I am truly thankful that I have had a year to research as much as I possibly could.  I have been able to read a lot of books and blogs, come to an understanding of the different teaching approaches and the curriculum that goes with them, plus I have met a lot of homeschooling families who have been able to answer the massive amount of questions a new homeschooler may have. 

Going into the conference, I was feeling pretty good.  I had basic knowledge of what I needed to know, but I also knew the people I wanted to talk with and the questions I wanted to ask.  Luckily, I was able to flip through different books that I had been interested in and be able to make a more informed decision on what I should be purchasing for the fall.

I was also able to go to a couple of workshops and listen to what those speakers had to teach me.  One was actually called How to Homeschool.  I thought this would be a perfect place to start.  Sitting through that class made me feel pretty good about where I am at.  I actually had some knowledge of everything they were talking about.  It is always great to hear other peoples personal stories and how they want their days to go and how they actually go!

Leaving the conference I felt energized (my goal) and very excited for the upcoming school year.  If new baby wasn't so close to being here, I would start the kids up now.  However, I am smart enough to know things are going to get a little more crazy around here before we can get back on a "schedule" of any kind.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Math Curriculum

Well, I am not sure where I really want to start with my blog, but I know I want to have a record of what is going on at this point in our journey.

A couple of months ago I started my oldest on Horizons Kindergarten Math and she absolutely loves it!  Almost every afternoon she asks if she can work on her math lessons.  After the initial introduction, I have never asked her, she is always the one wanting to do them.  We typically sit down and she does 2 or 3 lessons at a time.  She is flying through the first workbook and is almost ready for the second.  As I looked through the second workbook and noticed she could probably do every lesson today without a problem, I started to think about my next move.  Do I really want my 4 year old doing 1st grade math in the fall and at the rate she is going 2nd grade math before she is 5??

I started thinking about Horizons Curriculum and so far, I have found the lessons to be very repetitive, but I continued to just go with it until one day Addison said "this again?"  that is when I knew I needed to look into some other options.  As I started researching I found there are 2 different approaches, spiral and mastery.  Horizons is, of course, spiral meaning it gradually teaches you something by doing it again and again.  You learn new things along the way, but the old stuff is always brought back into the lessons.  The other option is mastery.  Basically they teach you a skill and you don't move on until you have mastered it. 

I am thinking she needs to be doing a mastery curriculum since she is catching on so quickly.  Granted you can ask her what 13+6 is and she won't know the answer without thinking about it, but she knows how to get to the answer and that is the most important part.  My personal favorite is when you give her a problem and she taps her pencil against her head like she is thinking, but she is actually counting the numbers.

Our homeschooling conference is coming up next week so I am super excited to be able to talk to a couple of different companies about their math curriculum and which direction I should take my daughter.  I will keep you posted.