Every parent wants their child to succeed academically. For homeschool parents, however, the task of creating an interesting and effective curriculum can be daunting. Whether you are preparing lessons for a first grader or a middle school child, teaching math doesn’t have to be a drag!
The key to a successful math program is a well-rounded and diverse approach to teaching. While concept repetition is important, varying your teaching lessons will keep your child or children interested and engaged in learning math. Most parents learned math skills the old-fashioned way – through reading formal textbooks and completing problem solving worksheets. This method isn’t necessarily ineffective, but introducing supplemental materials greatly enhances the learning process and the overall educational experience. Adding videos, projects, games, songs and math manipulatives to your lesson plans is a great way to help your homeschool curriculum come to life.
So how do supplemental materials actually help your child learn math? Math is an inherently abstract subject that can sometimes be overwhelming to learn. Difficult math concepts are much easier to understand and master when they are presented through multiple perspectives or approaches. Visual models and math manipulatives help students to see the math and how it relates to real life. In this way, these supplements help build a bridge between abstract concepts and concrete understanding.
In case you are unclear of what math manipulatives are, they can be any object used in teaching that helps students learn in a hands-on way. Math manipulatives can be purchased or created by the teacher. Popular math manipulatives include tangrams, color tiles, interlocking cubes and geoboards which can be purchased online. You can also make your own math manipulatives using common household items such as beans or noodles, toothpicks, popsicle sticks and even your children’s toys.
If you are homeschooling a younger child, adding supplemental materials to your math lessons is a particularly great idea. Starting young with fun activities and lessons will foster a love for learning that will last a lifetime. A child’s comprehension, whether mathematical or otherwise, is rooted in exploration. Having manipluatives allows a child to explore and make decisions with tools that aid learning in a safe and fun way. Playing educational games will also foster good learning habits as children will enjoy the activity they are involved in while simultaneously learning important concepts in math.
As many parents know, not every child learns the same way, or at the same pace. Preparing a diversified teaching program addresses this common issue. Presenting information through textbooks alone can leave many students unclear of the material. Many times this lack of understanding translates into boredom or disinterest in the subject matter. The best way to avoid this is by introducing supplementals to reengage students. It has been proven that using math manipulatives as a supplement to textbook assignments will improve knowledge and test scores. More great ideas include preparing a lesson around a field-trip or adding videos that illuminate the concept.
By incorporating some of these supplements and ideas you will see that math can actually be a fun subject to teach and learn in a homeschool environment. Adding supplemental materials, especially at an early age, will help your child or children thrive academically.