Introduction to Mathematics

We have a little girl with a love of numbers in this house, so it seems perfectly natural that we should add mathematics in to our schooling fairly early on.
By “add-in”, what I really mean is work on numbers in a more formal way.  And by “formal” I really mean in a more thoughtful and structured way.

I have learned, having now reached Lesson 5 in the Classical Education curriculum, that flexibility is what home education is all about.  I knew that, but I had not quite internalised it.  What I have learned in the past couple of weeks is that having a requirement to complete certain aspects of work, when they hold no interest, sucks the enjoyment and learning out of a child.
knew that too.  I just needed to see it in action for it to stick in my mind a bit better.  So, now I have a more relaxed and cunning approach to learning more formally.  Is that an oxymoron?  Relaxed – Formal?

Anyway, we are moving in to the world of mathematics.  Recently I decided that I liked the idea of using the Singaporean style of teaching mathematics.  They have consistently ranked #1 or close enough, in the world in this area.  That makes me suspect that they might have a good approach.  And they are fairly aspirational for the skills their schoolkids can master after each year.    To that end I used a placement test to see how well Miss Oh Waily was doing, and just where in the grand scheme of things we should be starting.  Turns out that she is doing pretty well in this department.

For those who may be interested in looking at this option, here are some links to click through on.

Chariot Press – Singapore Maths introduction page.  This should give you some idea of what this style of maths teaching is about and, helpfully, the placement tests.  Or, you could go directly to the horse’s mouth and visit the Singaporean Ministry of Education and read their documents.   The primary curriculum, including outcomes can be found here.  And if you want a cut down version, then the American supplier have a great scope and sequence document here.

For the last couple of weeks or so we have been working on number bonds, both addition and subtraction.  Haven’t heard about number bonds? (Like me when I started reading.)  This site has a clear description.  And this site has an excellent printable that can save you the time and effort of making your own.  I’ve been using it to good effect so far.
What I have discovered though, is that the novelty wears off and the plain number bond sheets turn in to uninteresting work.  I am now using everyone’s favourite children’s entertainer, Disney, to give maths work a bit of pizazz.

The Pixie Hollow Fairies featuring Tinkerbell, of Peter Pan origins, are now being used to stimulate interest in doing maths again.  I use fairy images to create simple equation sheets, and lately ordinal number practice sheets.  This seems, so far, to be a good way to make the more difficult and less visually attractive number bond sheet palatable.

Oh, and I let Miss Oh draw and colour in parts of the sheets too.  And use her mother’s favourite and special pen.*
So now I ask her, “Do you want to do some Fairy Maths?” and the answer is invariably, “Yes”.

Here is our latest version (I make them up each time using the same document), photographed for your viewing pleasure.  Don’t sue me Mr Disney, I can’t help it if your pretty fairies entice my daughter to do maths equations most days.

Fairy Maths

We have been doing other maths things too.  I have started to work on the place values idea with Miss Oh.  She recognises the numbers up and into the hundreds and often identifies the number correctly, but the concept of the place values hasn’t really sunk in.  But I will keep that for next time, along with any progress I might make on actually sourcing textbooks and workbooks that are used in Singapore for their maths curriculum.  We may not “follow the textbook” at home, should I manage to get a hold of one, but we will certainly be looking at it for inspiration.

What do you do at home to teach mathematics or encourage a love of numbers ?

*Please note that this is not my most favourite and most special pen, but the second place getter.  My first place being a Lamy Safari fountain pen which my beloved daughter will not be getting her hands on any time soon.


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