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Monday, January 16, 2017

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables!

In honor of week 3 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair, I’m going to share how we’ve finally found our math equilibrium, what we are doing for math this year, and some great free math resources our family has used in our homeschool.

This week’s theme for the VCF is---Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences

Our Math Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd grades at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

We have 20 homeschooler bloggers participating this week. You can find links to their articles at the end of this post.

Our homeschool has had a long (and sometimes torturous) journey through the land of mathematics.

Every year it has seemed to be a thorn in my side. That is, until this year.

Did my kids finally become math whizzes? Did I discover *the* perfect math program?

Hardly. What changed was my attitude. No, I didn’t have a bad attitude about teaching math. I’ve never complained about it or anything like that.

The problem was that I so desperately wanted my kids to like math, enjoy math, excel at math. I have never been a math genius myself, but I do think it can be fun and I don’t have an active dislike for it the way some of these little folks do.

So, I spent a lot of time trying to make it fun, relevant, something they could excel at…

You know what? With the exception of one child (the youngest), they still don’t like it and they still don’t excel at it. They can do it, they can understand it, sure. It will not be a roadblock in their lives (that’s a win!).

But they would still rather be doing other things.

Perhaps the youngest will grow to be a great mathematician, I don’t know.  But it’s ok if she doesn’t. And it’s ok if my other children don’t like math and would rather be doing something else. We all have our strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. It’s 100% ok if none of my kids ever like math (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

This year I decided that I wasn’t going to fight the math fight anymore.

We would simply choose math programs that would get done, do them, and leave it at that.  We needed something that would get the job done and would get done every day without having daily battles, but it didn’t need to be perfect.

I won’t say that nobody has had a math meltdown this year, but at least I haven’t.  And everyone is making steady progress. They may never be math whizzes, but they are math literate and that’s what is important.

I call this a big win.

So, I’ll share with you what we are doing for math this year, not because I think I’ve got the perfect math program going on, but because we have something that is working for us.

David (age 16) is doing Algebra 2  and Mary (age 13) is doing Math 7, both with Teaching Textbooks.

I never thought I would use this program and have resisted trying it due to the cost and the format. Know what? My two oldest kids are using TT this year and it’s working pretty well. There are occasional grumbles (neither kid is crazy about the interactive format), but they are learning the material and they don’t need to rely upon me to deliver it. I do reteach where necessary, but it is mostly not necessary.

As far as cost, a friend of mine was not using these two levels this year and offered to loan them to us. Teaching Textbooks has awesome customer service. When I asked them about borrowing my friend’s levels and getting a new serial number for installation on my computer, they said, “No problem!”  Having a company actually encourage homeschoolers to share resources and even resell their product is a breath of fresh air. There are a lot of expensive programs out there and this is the only company I know of that doesn’t try to keep their program locked up so it can’t be shared. 

Peter (age 11) is doing Math U See Epsilon.

Peter has been using Math U See for years now and it is the perfect fit for him. It used to be that I taught him each lesson and then he would work through the worksheets, but last year we switched to having him watch Mr. Demme teach the lesson. If he has issues, I reteach and I am always right there when he is doing his math, but he likes the independence of being able to move on without waiting for Mom.  The pacing of Math U See helps him to build confidence in each new skill before moving on, which is just what he needs, and when we need to slow down on a concept, it’s really easy to do that. He is not moving through the level quickly, but he is mastering the material. For Peter, Math U See gets two thumbs up.

Emma (age 7) is doing Mathematical Reasoning Level C from Critical Thinking Company.

Building with Jenga blocksShe loves the colorful pictures and the variety of topics. She gets bored doing page after page of the same thing. The only thing she doesn’t like about it is that every handful of pages they throw in a page with 25 or so multiple digit addition or subtraction problems with regrouping, which instantly bogs her down. 

I’ve found that spreading arithmetic practice out works better for retention of facts, so instead I have her do a handful of these problems on the whiteboard each day. For some reason it is less painful to do arithmetic on the whiteboard and it’s definitely less intimidating to see 5 at a time instead of a whole page.

Occasionally we change things up by adding in something else (we’ve used some of MEP this year, also) and playing some games.

I also have the three younger children signed up for Prodigy, which is a fun extra.

That’s it. It may not be fancy, but math gets done every day and there are (mostly) no tears. For me, that’s a big win.

More Great Math Content and Freebies on Homeschooling Hearts & Minds:

1st, 2nd, 6th Grade Math in Our Homeschool: How We Got HERE
Our {almost} FREE 2nd and 4th Grade Math Program
Outsourcing High School Math on a Shoe String

Free Math Printables:

Virtual Curriculum Fair week 3 at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn't) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don't Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A Few Thoughts on Teacher Math by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Would you like to join us? Link up your homeschool math posts!


  1. It's interesting to see you use Mathematical Reasoning with the child who likes math. I have been looking at it for my child who does well with math but dislikes curriculum. Perhaps the variety would keep him more interested.

    1. My daughter isn't crazy about curriculum, either. I was hesitant to use MR as a lot of homeschoolers seem to view it as "incomplete," but after having her use the previous level for 1st grade, it seems to be a good fit for her. I simply add in instruction or other activities where needed. She likes that it doesn't focus on pages and pages of arithmetic day after day (there's more to math than arithmetic). Eventually we may need to add more or use something different, but this gets done and she is learning what she needs to learn.

  2. My struggle with math is that the lad and I approach it differently and he defines things in his own way...and I was tired of the battle. So this semester.. DAD is in charge. :) Working through Math Mammoth.

    1. Yes, sometimes a kid needs a different teacher. :)

  3. Every child is different and you seem to point to that so clearly here. I love reading about how TT has worked for you all. I have been wondering what we will do once we get past pre-algebra, which is next up. - Lori

    1. Yes, I used to get frustrated by that fact that while so many of my homeschool friends purchase one math curriculum and use it with every child, that approach doesn't seem to work for my family. TT is working for two of my kids. I do recommend trying out the samples with your kids to see how it works for them before purchasing.

  4. Funny, we have used ALL those as well with good success! Using TT currently and happy with it. I love the auto grading!


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