Friday, 20 October 2017

Sources of Home Education Inspiration: Maths

This is the fifth part of my series on resources for inspiring home education. The first four parts are

This post is about maths. The links are either resources we have used or seriously considered using. 

Early Years
We used plenty of learning from life: counting stairs, number of people eating at a meal, recipes and so on.
Games have also played a major role. Favourites have been various Orchard Games including Pop to the Shops, Ten Green Bottles and the Spotty Dog Game.

Sum Swamp has been helpful towards the end of this time, and for the next few years, and has been played over and over again. This game helps with simple addition and subtraction as well as the concepts of plus/minus and odd/even.

There are a few books which have been useful for introducing mathematical concepts.
I would particularly recommend, Less than Zero which is a fun introduction to negative numbers. 

Infant (KS1 about age 5-7)
I'm not entirely sure that I would use this again but we used Mousematics which comes as part of a Mother's Companion. This is a Welsh printable curriculum. We modified it, for example, the parts about weighing and volume we used as hands on activities rather than using the printable workbooks. In retrospect, it isn't particularly challenging and could do with more hands on work. We ended up supplementing with games and maths from life. 
Other curricula that I would consider are

  • MEP (Maths Enhancement Programme from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. This is a free programme although it is easier, and probably cheaper, to buy the workbooks. I did use this for a while and really regret that it didn't work for us as it is a rigorous programme, scripted and easy to use except for one thing. The problem that we had with this is that it takes about 45 minutes per day of teaching. This probably works well with a class but my children aren't in the same year and at the time which we used this also needed one to one phonics teaching. I couldn't teach phonics and maths at the same time. Sadly, the topics for each year aren't in the same week so I couldn't teach the two together. Highly recommended if you have one child or children who don't need other one to one teaching at the same time.
  • Singapore maths probably using the UK version. The working from manipulatives to visual to paper (Concrete/Pictorial/Abstract) makes such sense and is a principle that we have tried to use with whichever programme we are using.

Junior (KS2 about age 7-11)
This is the reason why I have been so long in posting this.
We have used/use Galore Park maths successfully for two of our three home educated children. These books start at year 3 and are designed for private schools. We use the older edition where they have two sets: the Junior books which cover years 3-5 and the So you want to learn set which covers years 6-8 so going up to the Common Entrance exam. I note that the newer edition seems to be arranged by school year.
Points to know about these books

  • After we finished the year 8 book, I found some year 9 work for Middle Son before starting GCSE work but I wish that I hadn't done this. The end of the Galore Park books would have been a great place to start GSCE maths and he really coasted for that year.
  • The series has textbooks but no workbooks for anything other than tests. We have not used the test workbooks. We have found that writing out problems can be majorly time consuming and slow progress for younger children. I have often written out the questions when they are younger and gradually move to getting the children to write them out.
  • The books progress in a spiral manner. If a child has forgotten a topic or finds it difficult then it is worth going back to the previous year's book.
  • Buy the answers! I spent several years working out all the answers because of a mistaken belief that this was the only way to be sure that I understood and could explain clearly. What it actually meant was that I was working out maths at midnight so the marking could be done. It is worth checking that you can do the first and last questions but not really necessary to do everything between!
Galore Park has worked less well for one of the children. We spent some time working on one particular topic using the concrete/pictorial/abstract approach then using one of the Schofield and Sims Understanding Maths books. This worked well so we are currently using other books in the same series. This series has a clean lay out. It is not necessary to write out the whole problem although sometimes, supplemental squared paper is necessary. 
Please note that home educators are able to use the tutor discount which makes a substantial saving.

One cheap and cheerful item that we use every day is 10 questions. I write 10 questions in the children's maths exercise books each day which they answer at the start of maths time. The questions cover topics that need revision and are individualised for each child.

We quite often finish maths time with a game. Games that we use frequently are equivalence dominoes, fraction bingo, Brainbox fractions and tables and Trilemma.

I have written about learning tables before.

Senior (Key Stage 3 about 11-14)
We used the Galore Park maths books to the end of year 8 (age 13) then changed to Conquer Maths and a year 9 text. KS3 Conquer Maths was well organised but as I stated above, changing to GCSE work would have been better.
At this point, we also occasionally used Khan Academy as a backup for further explanation of some topics.
I am not going to comment above KS3 as we used a tutor of GCSE maths.

This is a post about sites which we have used for adding to the maths curriculum. 
Squeebles is an app occasionally used for tables practice. 

Please feel free to recommend maths resources which your family have enjoyed.

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