Monday, September 08, 2008

Math is on again

Erin is doing a math course at school with enthusiasm and dedication, and it's contagious. The other three are back in a big math zone. To be fair, they had already moved in that direction late in the summer, even before Erin hit the books, but there's a synergy taking place now too.

The other day we actually had a family Math Party at Fat Kat's bakery/café. Four kids, four math programs spread out across two pushed-together tables, two pots of tea, five chocolate chip cookies and one mom circulating, circulating. I think we got too many comments from other customers and passersby to do that again on a weekend. The comments were all positive, but it was too much attention for all of us. Next time we'll go on a weekday morning.

Normally math is done at home, on the kitchen table, late at night, with tea, as the photo of Sophie shows. Note the rabbit peeking from her cage beneath the table. Often there are two or three children busy at the same time. It's that contagion thing again. I'm not particularly invested in the idea of my kids doing formal math in any systematic way, but during increasingly rare bouts of PUPD it does give me some comfort that they seem to feel it's worth doing and enjoy it. At least every now and then, in spurts.

Noah is still enjoying Life of Fred Beginning Algebra. We're only about a quarter of the way through, so it's still all review, but he loves the rabbit-trails and humour and is enjoying the journey. The main drawback I see with LoF is that it uses the American scope & sequence (see comments below). But for now it's a good fit.

Sophie is doing all the leftover review exercises from Singapore 6B in order to make sure her pre-algebra skills are well in hand before embarking on the next phase of her math learning. We're still not sure what path she'll choose. I'd love to have her travel a different path from the one Noah's on, but I want something at least as appealing and mathematically robust.

Erin is using the school's textbook and working right now on applications of rational exponents. The problems and "investigations" are pretty complex and lengthy for this level -- far, far beyond where Teaching Textbooks, her last regular curriculum, assumed a 14-year-old would be. I continue to be much more impressed by the standard Canadian math curriculum than I am by the U.S. standard scope and sequence. I think that the Canadian academic stream math expectations are pretty much in line with the Singaporean ones in terms of depth and breadth, if not quite their equal in pacel. By contrast, the US math curricula, even the fairly robust ones, seem stodgy and more concerned with the execution of formulaic problem-solving than with developing creative logically complex mathematical thinking processes.

Fiona is plugging away through the end of Miquon Blue and the beginning of Singapore Primary Math level 2B. She enjoys math so much and works at challenging parts eagerly and with determined focus. She will have so much fun with Hands-On Equations, which I'll order in October when our SelfDesign funding comes through.

I am thankful that Erin is now providing the younger kids with a model of self-motivated learning. I'm sure she's been learning lots for the past three years, but it's been the sort of learning that's often hard to see. These days she's actually adding positive energy to our family's learning lives. What a lovely change.


  1. I sure wish we could get excited about math. Maybe I'll have to try going to the local coffee shop to work. :)

  2. Anonymous9:36 pm


    Thank you very much for your great blog. God bless you richly and your family.

    Did you ever consider adding a little map to your blog, just for your own fun, to see where your "audience" is located:

    Tschüß - from Germany :)

  3. Some day, I'm going to get over the math fear. That PUPD you talk about is always rearing it's ugly head when it comes to math. Well at least I let them choose the math curriculum they wish to work through. That's a start right? LOL.

  4. Like Jacqueline above said, I wish we could get excited about math! :-P

    Okay actually...I wish *I* could get excited about math - my dd11 is actually enjoying it so far this just isn't my favourite thing in the world. ;-)


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