Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How We do Charlotte Mason: Math

Sometimes I think math is the bane of my homeschool mom existence.

Honestly.

It just seems to take sooo long. With three kids, math takes up much of our morning. I am doing math or supervising math for an hour and a half  most days.

When I write that, it doesn't seem too bad. But some mornings, it seems like math lasts forever. It's important to me though. I was never comfortable with math in school and I got the grades to prove it. I never really understood it the right way. With my kids, I've been relearning math, and while I don't think I will ever have  a "math mind", I am getting more comfortable with math.

We have used RightStart all along. It's one of the more teacher intensive programs out there, until you reach Level D, which Grace is using right now. Then the child does much more independent work, which frees me up to work with another child. Christopher is currently in Level C, and James is in Level B. The first time around that we did Charlotte Mason I took her short lesson philosophy to heart and kept the math lesson to around 10 minutes for age five, gradually progressing to 20-25 minutes for older kids. This way, math took up much less of our day.

This didn't work perfectly though.  We got very behind in the levels since we were rarely able to finish a lesson in a day. The Righstart lessons are designed to be finished in a day, except for the lessons that are specified as two or three day lessons. On the RightStart website, it does state that some levels may take more than a year to finish, and I'm okay with that. But in order to keep my oldest on track to start algebra in a couple of years, I started doing one lesson per day, even though it takes much longer.

One of my Charlotte Mason books does say that short lessons don't necessarily apply to math, and in her schools "number" often lasted an hour per day. So I'm trying to be okay with the longer math sessions, even though they sometimes wear me out. I do stop after 25-30 minutes with the younger two,  allowing time for at least one of them to play a math game with me. One of the things I love about RightStart is all the games that are included in the lesson book and the accompanying math games book. That's the fun part for my kids!

So right now, how we do math is this...

After I read our literature chapter for the day, I start Grace on her warmup worksheet, which typically includes division problems and an equation puzzle. Then I start one of the boys on their lesson, since they usually both need help/explanations. The other boy starts on his independent work list and I fold him in as I have time. As much as possible, I try to have all three doing math at once, to condense the amount of time I'm teaching it.

On a good day we are finished with math by 10. On a dawdling day, which I'm sorry to say is most days, we are still at it at 10:30. I know that Charlotte Mason would say if the child "is growing stupid over the math lesson, put it away and have them do something different, then come back to it", but this doesn't feel terribly practical to me with four kids. I just want to do the math and move on! So I do the juggling and exhorting thing. If I had a dollar for every time I said "Stop doing xxx and finish that sheet!!", I'd be able to hire a math tutor.

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