Maybe math was your favorite subject in school and maybe it wasn’t. However you feel about math, it’s important to have some familiarity in order to teach it to your child. Here’s an article to help you think about how to get started with homeschool math.
First Steps for Planning Your Homeschool English Curriculum
To begin planning a curriculum for your homeschool math instruction, be sure to refer to any local requirements that you must meet, such as state-mandated curriculum. Locate the department of education for your home state using the list here: nces.ed.gov. The article “Getting Started with Homeschool Curriculum” provides more information.
Besides detailed homeschool guidelines, you’re likely to also find your state’s curriculum frameworks and content standards. Another location on which to find links to your state’s Math standards is: edstandards.org.
After locating your own state’s Math standards, you may wish to explore other material from your own and other states. Lists of free resources, weblinks, bibliographies, and curricula may all be available for you to adapt to your home state’s parameters. Your state may also have a math specialist who can offer guidance in instructional matters, in addition to a homeschool specialist. Check with your state department of education to find out.
Using the National Standards for Planning Homeschool Math Curriculum
The National Standards for Math are found at the website of the National Council of Teachers of Math: standards.nctm.org. There is not room in this article to treat all of the fifty states’ math guidelines, but I will review some important elements of the national curriculum, and you can apply the insights within your state’s parameters.
First, if you haven’t been in contact with math curriculum since you grew up, you may be familiar with a math program that treats counting, measurement, addition, and subtraction in pre-kindergarten to grade 3 or so; introduces multiplication and fractions around grade 4, decimals and division around grade 5, algebra in middle school, and geometry in high school.
Math has a different face now. The ten national standards:
- Numbers and Operations
- Data Analysis & Probability
- Problem Solving
- Reasoning & Proof
are applied to all classrooms, from pre-kindergarten to the final year of high school.
Second, notice that the standards fall into two categories: the first five are content standards; the last five are process standards. This is how the national math standards address the definitional truth that standards tell what students should know (content) and what they should be able to do (process).
Third, each of the standards has a set of goals that apply across all grades, but the expectations in reaching those goals are divided into four levels: Prekindergarten through Grade 2; Grade 3 through Grade 5; Grade 6 through Grade 8; and Grade 9 through Grade 12. In addition, the ten standards receive different relative emphasis at different grade levels.
Making Sense of Today’s Math Curriculum
Because content that many of us weren’t instructed in until later grades is now understood to be appropriate for children as young as three or four, reading the national standards can help homeschool instructors begin to understand what that means for their math curriculum. For example, the first goal of algebra is “understand patterns, relations, and function.” And, if we think about it, we can see that preschoolers recognize patterns such as the red, yellow, and green lights in a traffic signal, the regular alteration of day and night, the sequence of activities between dinner or supper and bed, which may include a bath, brushing teeth, a bedtime story, and being tucked in, etc.
Geometry’s first goal - “analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships” - may sound way out of a prekindergartners league - unless we take just the first part and think about jigsaw puzzles. Yes, it would be difficult for a child of that age to put his or her analysis into words, but preschoolers do choose shapes and place them into puzzles correctly, and that argues for analysis. And puzzles are certainly something you can add to your homeschool math curriculum.
If you continue through the standards, thinking about them in this way, you’ll begin to see how they work. Looking at the specific expectations and the overviews for each of the four levels of education will further assist you in how you can design your homeschool math curriculum
US Department of Education - nces.ed.gov
EdStandards.org Math - edstandards.org