The View from the Classroom Window

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fascinating Math program! Please read!

Lisa C. here. I thought you all might enjoy this little conversation from one of my homeschool egroups:

So as we are ending the "school year," I am panicking a little, because my daughter Aliya is really behind on her math. She's in first grade and happy to memorize her math facts, but the conceptualization of what she's doing is only now arising. Only now is she able to figure out a problem she doesn't know by using numbers she does know and figuring out from there. It took her a long time. We'll work through the summer to help her get down the addition and subtraction facts to catch her up to first grade.

But I am really worried about second grade math for next year. For borrowing and carrying, she'll need to understand place value, and conceptually, she just doesn't get it. Most first graders have a pretty good understanding of place value, and I've tried so many different ways to teach her, but it's just not getting through. I just gave her a calendar so she can keep track of her busy social life :) and the columns for the days of the week are a stretch. The idea of numbers in columns (place value) is really difficult for her.

I like my kids to be --reasonably-- grade level. I'm not very strict about it, and I think we'll keep on homeschooling, but I know things happen, and for my own peace of mind, I want them to at least approximate their grade level.

So do I wait, perhaps a year if necessary, for that "aha!" moment before moving on, allowing her to get farther and farther behind? Testing the faith that I'm not sure I possess in copious quantities?

Or am I not teaching her in the right way? Do I forge ahead, teaching her the pieces in more clear ways, hoping she'll put it together eventually? Math is not my expertise, so maybe I just need to explore other curriculums and ways of teaching it?

I've heard of the "aha!" moments for late readers, who all of a sudden bloom into reading at 9 or 10, but never for math...

Please let me know your anything at all that comes to you!


Rena, both of my children are very bad at computation. I must have tried (and bought) six different curricula. Two things really helped:

1. Kumon tutoring. The Kumon worksheets only have about 6 problems to a page and the materials are really non-threatening. I see they have a center on Cedar street--they did help my daughter when she was in 2nd grade.

2. Jump Math, a Canadian program. It's really great, really different, and had I known about it earlier I may have done this with my daughter from the beginning. I'm a real fan of JUMP'S down to earth approach--kids are taught how to count with their fingers, for instance. People have counted on fingers for a million years, I started to realize. Anyway they have a lot of sample material online that you can download and try, at this website:

Here is the page with the files to download:

Here is the page where you can download second grade samples:

And here is an article about the developer of JUMP:



I followed the links, and the math approach sounds fantastic! In fact, before you look at the websites about JUMP, I highly recommend you start with the article about the founder, which is listed last.

And as a follow-up to that conversation, you might be interested in this article, which was referenced in that last article.

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