Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tweaking the math

Tweak:  To make small adjustments, to fine-tune.

Isn't tweaking one of the great things about homeschooling?  We can tweak our curriculum constantly as our children's needs change.  We can ditch something that doesn't work in favor of something that does.  

Sometimes that's a not-so-great thing about homeschooling too.   We can spend a lot of time tweaking and never actually get anything done.  We can spend too much time searching for the perfect fix when using what we have and just getting to work might be the better choice.

Still, we have a lot of trouble with math in our house, and it was time to do some tweaking.  We'd been using one math curriculum for a long time.  I liked it; I think it was effective.  But it was getting boring and the kids were not really moving on well.   Math was becoming way too much of a chore. So I started looking for a way to tweak it.

And I met Fred.  I'd heard about the Life of Fred math series, but hadn't really paid attention to it.  I don't remember what made me take a deeper look. 

I don't have a local  homeschool store where I can go to hold books in my hand before buying, but online samples are almost as good.  I spent a lot of time looking at Fred, then I took the leap and ordered the first book, Fractions.  But I worried that my kids wouldn't get enough repetition and practice from it, so I skipped over to the Key To... math series and picked up their fractions books.

The first child went through the Fractions series and almost loved it. He loved Fred; he didn't love the drill and repetition of Key to Fractions so much.  But he learned it all pretty well.  He is ready to move to the next books, decimals and percents.  So we'll follow the same plan as we did with fractions. 

We had more tweaking still to do.  These books are helpful and necessary.  But this child is more interested in math concepts than he is in math computation. And better at it, too.  We can let him play around with math concepts as he works on his computation skills. We're treating them like two different subjects, in a way.  So I handed him a copy of Mathemathics:  A Human Endeavor to read as a pleasure book and discuss with Dad, the math person in the family.

Between the fun of Fred, the reinforcement of Key to..., some interesting reading, and time with Dad to talk math, I think we'll do OK for a while.

Till it's time to tweak again!

By the way, I bought the Life of Fred and Key to... books from the linked source, Exodus Provisions in Oregon City, Oregon. They don't compensate me for promoting their business. It is my favorite homeschool store, and if I still lived nearby, I'd be in there buying in person. (So thankful for internet shopping!)  If you live nearby, you should too!


Homeschooling Peeps said...

I have heard of the Fred math series and I'm curious to learn more. Could you share what the suggested ages are for this series? Thanks!


Marbel said...

Life of Fred starts with fractions, so it would be appropriate for any child who is ready for fractions. There is a story element that is cute, but it is not condescending. My boy was 12 when he started, but he was a little late.