Monday, December 14, 2015

How I Fast Tracked Hannah in the Maths Department

Every now and then I get an email from a reader.  Here's one that I thought might be of interest to other readers out there who also have similar questions.

"I had a few questions (after stumbling on your great blog!) about your use of Saxon. I have a 5 and a 7 homeschooling at the moment. The seven is flying through Saxon 2 and the 5 is definitely ready for at least the first 50 lessons of Saxon 2. I have thought about speeding up/skipping a book etc. However, I don't want to overwhelm or make Math a massive challenge everyday, just a nice comfortable exciting challenge. Are you finding that your three girls easily understand the material. I couldn't believe you had your five year old doing Saxon 5/4! Does she understand the methods/concepts? How does she do on the lessons? I would like to be able to push my kids forward to something more challenging but I'm afraid of burn-out or tear filled math lessons. I would really appreciate hearing about your experience with introducing fourth/fifth grade math to such little people."

Yes, for the most part all three girls need to be able to understand the material to do the material.  These days some lessons may take a few days { 2-3 on average } to get done.  I don’t let them go to the next lesson unless they have at least 80% mastery.  Every single math lesson is graded and recorded.

In particular the now 6 year old does understand the material she is doing.  Here is the basic pathway in which we were able to fast track her:  Rod and Staff 1 – She would do a few lessons each day.  Her interest was high and the amount of sums required did not start to tire her until she had done at least 2 lessons.  Occasionally we would come back at different times to do even more.  I kept an abacus in reach, and I had also taught her how to touch math – this helped to give her computation a lot of speed.  Additionally, her ability to memorize facts enhanced her learning situation.  Then we moved into Rod and Staff 2 – She continued to do a couple of lessons each day without any problem.  After those we used Rod and Staff 3 – This is the book where she learnt her times tables and division.  I also kept a set of cards that helped her memorize multiplication and division.  { I have them on the blog for free.  Link at the bottom of email. }  I taught both concepts as closely as I could.  Once she had the swing of multiplication I introduced the division cards.   So we did the 2x and as soon as I saw she nearly had it down I threw in the division set.  Then we moved to the 3x, and so on.  I keep each set in a separate envelope.  The copious practice in Rod and Staff 3 merely leant itself to the memorizing of the facts in a timely, focused, and sequential manner.  Finally, we made the jump to Saxon 5/4.  By this time her reading had come up as well. 

During school time I give her the lesson text book and leave it with her, to do on her own.   I let her read the “new concept” for herself.  I do not require the drills or the warm ups.  She usually skips the practice too and jumps straight on in.  She has a little homemade workbook that I made in which to place her answers .  { Pages available for free on the blog. }  Afterwards I mark her work and grade it.  If it comes in under the 80% I then get out a pink slip, which is a replica of the worksheet but in pink and loose.  This is what she will re-do the lesson with.   I circle each question number that she got wrong, so it is clear which questions she’ll be working on.  We will usually wait until the next day to do the corrections -  that’s why it may take a couple of days to do a lesson.  There’s no rush.  There’s too much to do in a day to spend too many hours on math, ha ha.  Just to let you know, I purchased the Saxon Teacher CDs.  One of the best investments ever!  They are awesome and save me a lot of time when I don’t want to do the sitting.  Anyway, the following day either I or the CDs, usually the CD will walk her through each and every incorrect question from the previous days lesson.  They will be thoroughly worked through and explained so that she understands what is required and how to do the question.    Immediately after the walk through I re-give the lesson.  The entire lesson, and she does it all again.  Then I grade it and see if she got over that 80%.  As a general rule she usually does.   She may not ask me how to do a question during her white paper time.  She may only ask when the paper is pink.  Additionally, Saxon gives the lesson numbers for each question so that if she wants, she can go back and look up the lesson that the concept was taught in for a refresher.  And that is pretty much how it goes these days. 

We are currently on school holidays.   So all the girls have an online account for mathsonline.  I encourage them to log in and do a single math lesson each day.  Yep, even on the weekends.  I figure if they want to use the computer for fun, they first should do a 10 min of math as a gate way.  :o)  Anyway, that is turning out to be a little gem as well.  Additionally, I have had days where I also sneak in some reading and writing too.  Not enough for them to say, “oh, we’re still doing school.”  But enough that they maintain and continue to build in the math, reading, and writing departments.  All else is mere fun.   Occasionally, because I’m a little bored myself, like yesterday, I offered Miss 6 a Saxon lesson in return for 2 little chocolates.  I also sat with her while I did most of the reading and to remind her about putting those decimals in the right columns, ha ha.  She still writes quite scruffily and those columns are very important.  We did lesson 93 – so we’re almost in the home stretch run before she jumps to Saxon 6/5, only another 27 lessons to go.  Can’t wait.  We are thinking about having a little present or celebration for her at the end of the book.  Just haven’t decided exactly what, just yet.

These days the amount of time we spend on Saxon is about the 1 hour mark.  Anything more than that I consider overtime and tardiness by the child.  Nevertheless, they remain until the lesson is completed.  Each sitting is set by the lesson and not allocated time.  I have had several days where I run a timer to check and keep them focused.   I do expect though that this amount of time will increase to the two hour mark when they hit the high school levels.   This recommendation is via the Robinson Curriculum/Saxon groups that I frequent through facebook.

Burn out and tears in my mind simply mean that the child is not ready.  To slow down a lesson just divide the questions into more manageable sections.  Or as I did with one particular child, when she struggled with the amount of questions on a page, reward a correct line with the exemption of another line if they were all correct.  So basically, if she could get a whole stack right I would let her off from having to do a line.  I don’t really recommend that practice any more but it is an option.  I just recommend dividing up the lessons so their more manageable.  At any rate, I do believe that each parent and child wiggles and jiggles the core material until they find what works for them.  It’s when we self tailor materials with our own little style that they become successful and useful. 

Practice math drills.   The quicker a child has recall, the quicker they can work the math.  Additionally, spend more time explaining particular concepts in a lesson.   

Lastly, I think math vocabulary is another very important, but usually overlooked item.  I’m still in the process of getting that added in too.  I don’t know.  So much to do, so little time.  I currently have 183 math terms all done in an interactive notebook file.  { link below }   I thought I’d like the interactive style, but not so sure now.  So while it is available for Saxon 5/4 I’m actually making a worksheet version , that can also be used as a workbook for Saxon 6/5.

I hope that helps somewhat.  Feel free to write back. :o)


No comments:

Post a Comment

I really appreciate you taking the time to visit and leave me messages. Thanks so much.