Math is a tool, not a subject. It is best taught through real life application, not drill and kill exercises. I give some ideas for inventing your own low-cost math activities here. In this post, I point out that 100 years ago, formal math instruction before age twelve was shown to impede critical thinking skills. You might wonder, well, Julie, what do you recommend? What have you used? Here is my list of favorite homeschool math resources, organized by age group.
By elementary, I mean children who are at least six years old and up to about age twelve. Most parents are concerned about their children learning math facts and the four operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—along with decimals and fractions during this time. I don’t agree with the scope and sequence for teaching these skills. While any twelve-year-old with an allowance or small business can see the immediate necessity of them, an eight-year-old might not. I highly recommend an informal, living books, hands-on approach until the teen years. This is not a definitive list. There are many more great resources than what is listed here.
Games for Math by Peggy Kaye (contains instructions for math games)
Riddle Math, Mathmagical Showtime, and Math Facts to the Max by Carl M. Sherrill (great for math facts, learning about numerical relationships and algebraic concepts, and stumping people!)
Family Math books (lots of fun activities)
Sir Cumference books
Mathematicians are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians
Books by Theoni Pappas, such as Math for Kids and Other People, Too
Books by Marilyn Burns, such as Math for Smarty Pants
Books by Greg Tang, such as Math Potatoes and Math Appeal
Books by Jerry Pallotta, such as Pizza Fractions and the Hershey’s Multiplication Book
65 Short Mysteries You Solve with Math by Eric and Natalie Yoder (all important critical thinking)
The Math Chef by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond
Math Cats fun math games online
Fun Brain math drill through games.
Math on the Level curriculum
Life with Fred curriculum
Making Math Meaningful curriculum
www.livingmath.net is a great resource of math literature
Most parents decide that their teens need to learn Algebra and Geometry, possibly Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. Those same teens will challenge their parents to tell them when they will ever use this stuff. They are hard-pressed to give a satisfactory answer. I encourage you to choose your curriculum carefully. My favorites are:
Borenson’s Hands-on Equations (appropriate for middle school)
Family Math for Middle School
Harold Jacobs’ math, particularly algebra
Life of Fred curriculum
Principles from Patterns Algebra by Cornerstone Curriculum Project
Zometools Geometry course (build the geometric models while you learn the concepts)
I hope I inspired you to think differently about math instruction with my list of favorite homeschool math resources. For many families, it is the least favorite subject. I know when I was in school, I hated math. But, now I appreciate it in a whole new way and I hope you do, too!