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**A major concern for many home educating parents is how to teach math.** Some parents worry they’ve forgotten so much math, they won’t know how to teach it. Others worry about the significance of math, not just as an academic subject, but because of its impact on the bigger picture (i.e., higher level courses like Chemistry; getting accepted to college; success in a career; adult life). The thought of failing the child, or not knowing how to help a child who struggles with math, can be overwhelming.

Personally, I find many parents worry about math unnecessarily. First, there are thousands (literally) of products on the market to help teach math at home…no experience required. Next, **I believe most children have a greater ability and a higher aptitude for mathematics than given credit for.** I believe math-phobia is wholly fabricated, created over the last 50 years or so. A culture filled with math jokes, stories and other horrors only fuels the belief that math is harder than other subjects. Perception, in my opinion, has contributed unfairly to producing a generation of math-phobics. Certainly some students are better in math than others, just as some are better writers, better athletes, and better musicians. But, nobody is incapable of learning math to some respectable or practical degree.

But, I digress.

**I’m going to explain 3 different ways to attack math instruction in your homeschool.** These are 3 common ways, ways you can adopt into your home education program right now. They’re not unusual, they’re not very hard to figure out, and thousands of people are using them as I write this, so you’ll find lots of support for your chosen method if you begin looking for it.

I recommend reading through the methods, below, then selecting the one that makes the most sense for your child at this time. Then, as you get to know your child a little more, switch things around if you notice the approach isn’t going to work for the long term. You can also change things around anyway, to add variety and fun to the curriculum. And, by all means, feel free to use different approaches for different children in the family, too. Convenience and saving money notwithstanding, **choosing different approaches for different children is really the best way to reach their uniqueness.**

**Approach #1**

**Use a Math Curriculum**

Perhaps the easiest overall, following a pre-packaged math curriculum is a convenient way to cover an entire year of math using a single product. Following the daily lessons and using the instructions in the guide book tends to insure a variety of topics will be covered in a given year, and that topics will be reinforced until the student gains full mastery. Many people like this approach because they’re not always sure what to teach in every grade, so they feel better knowing someone else has already figured it out. In a 3rd grade math curriculum, for example, parents gain peace of mind, knowing the book will cover all of the usual 3rd grade math concepts, like place value, Roman numerals, carrying, borrowing, money, averaging, and so on. Products like these are organized, convenient, and generally easy to follow, no matter the math level of the parent himself/herself. Packaged curriculum products aren’t perfect, though, and can hold students in a cycle of repeating the same (or similar) material over and over again, even though they’re ready to move on. Knowing when the student is ready to progress to the next level is crucial to successful boxed curriculum use, and using the provided tips and assessments is essential to figuring that out. Examples of boxed math curriculum products include *Saxon Math, Horizons Math, Singapore Math, *and* Math U See, *but there* *are many more to choose from, too (here’s a big list).

**Approach #2**

**Use Topic Specific Resources**

Another way to teach math at home is to cover specific topics, each one at a time. This method requires zeroing in on a specific concept to teach, then finding a resource(s) for the student to learn it. Concepts might include counting money, learning times tables, adding decimals, performing long division with remainders, or anything else parents decide to teach. To teach fractions, for example, parents could use a book specifically about fractions, some video lessons about fractions, some exercises printed from a web site, or a live class where someone is teaching the students about fractions. They might create lessons on their own, using materials they already have around the house, or even small toys or objects to illustrate the ideas. Targeted lessons like these will continue until the topic has been thoroughly explored and the student is showing true mastery, so it is not unusual for different students to take a different amount of time to learn each new concept. Disadvantages to teaching this way is when parents don’t know what concepts to teach, and in what order, or may introduce concepts before the student is actually ready. Some parents lack the confidence to teach in this way, or to properly identify when the student shows enough progress to move on. Examples of targeted math resources, in book form, include *The Key To, Kumon, *and* Spectrum, *but there are many other education products available in book stores, retail stores, and online which support this method of instruction. One tool I particularly love is *Math Wrap-Ups* (find them here).

**Approach #3**

**Explore Math Through Everyday Life**

A final way to approach mathematics is to allow the learning to occur naturally through everyday living. There are many opportunities every day to explore mathematical concepts if one is looking for them. Though the example of grocery shopping is over utilized, it certainly illustrates how practically and easily mathematics can be learned and reinforced while doing everyday things. Other examples of seeing math in everyday life might come from cooking, redecorating a bedroom, or in the feeding and nurturing of pets. The impetus to explore more advanced skills could come from opening a bank account, taking a part time job, or starting a small business. The job of a parent utilizing this teaching method is to notice these opportunities and (if they so choose) helping to facilitate the learning that might occur during these moments. Parents might begin by asking the student engaging questions, helping the student make observations, providing support or external resources, or discussing/recording what is being seen or heard. Because this approach is unpredictable and relatively unstructured, a disadvantage is that students may not be learning at a pace similar to other children the same age, which some families may find inconvenient or worrisome. On the other hand, since everyday learning is relevant and concrete, better retention may occur when learning happens at an appropriate place and time. The list of books and other products that could be used in conjunction with this method is limitless and never-ending, but I am including the titles of 2 interesting books/series for students who enjoy reading about the meaning of mathematics, while learning math as a part of everyday life:

Younger students: *The Life of Fred* (example of where to buy)

Teens and up: *Calculus Made Easy* (example of where to buy)

To your success,

**Another article you might like**: How to Easily Choose Your Curriculum {with an infographic}

Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, *Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks,* is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on *Holistic Parenting*, *CONNECT*,*Homefires*, *Homemaking Cottage*, *Kiwi*, *Circle of Moms*, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at contactmarieclaire@gmail.com.

Abacus photo credit: Pixabay

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