Let me begin by saying that I LOVE math. I truly love it. But this week, as a homeschool mom, I want to bang my head against a wall.
Studies have shown again and again (and everything I've experienced and observed has reinforced the fact) that there is no benefit to pushing students mathematically before age 7. In fact, when you compare students that were pushed with students who did barely any math before age seven, both groups end up at around the same skill level by third grade. With little effort, the 7 year old quickly catches up to students that have been studying formally for two years because they are actually matured enough to fully grasp the material. This doesn't mean that students younger than 7 cannot grasp it, it simply means there is no reason to bang your head against a wall if your younger student seems "behind".
This also doesn't mean that math shouldn't be a part of your daily life. From a very early age, we should incorporate math in fun and practical ways. Setting the table is a great way to do this.
"Honor, how many plates should we put on the table?"
"Gracie, if Grandma and Grandpa stop in, how many plates should we add? And then how many would we have?"
Somehow, the girls are both in about the same grade. Honor is 8 and Gracie is 6. Honor decorated her math pages with pretty pictures. Sarah sat in on Honor's math lessons for fun. They are both doing math "for real" now and Honor is only slightly ahead of Sarah. Both of them completed the workbook series from Rod and Staff for Grade One Math. I used these with the boys when they were little and I really liked them. The girls did pretty well and also worked through Singapore Primary Math Book 1A at the same time as R&S, very slowly. After Christmas break, I thought it would be a good idea to pause and study time and money with another workbook that I found. It was not a good idea. I could have added time and money to our Singapore lessons, but I shouldn't have taken such a long break.
Yesterday, after spending two weeks on counting money and doing really well, the girls suddenly forgot how to count money.
They forgot how to count. period.
They completely forgot how to count by 2's and 5's. Doubles facts? What are those?
Commence head banging.
Today, we reviewed and it miraculously did NOT drain out their ears while they slept. I added doubles facts to the mix and they can't remember anything past 6+6. We'll be reviewing more tomorrow. And we're starting back up with Singapore 1B as soon as I refresh their memories on everything they learned in 1A.
It occurred to me that I left something out with the girls' math education that I found helpful with the boys when they were this age: Skip Counting. We had a highly annoying set of cassette tapes that worked through many skip counting songs. Also, we used Saxon for 2nd grade and it was pretty heavy in skip counting activities. Sadly, I've lost those awful cassettes. I need to order a skip-counting CD, but I am verrrrrry picky. I don't want to snap while we're listening in the van and drive us over a bridge. Any suggestions?