Ah, Math. You should know at the very beginning of this post that I am kind of math-phobic. Not all math, of course. I can wrangle numbers well enough when I’m rewriting a knitting project to change a pattern from chunky to worsted weight yarn. Or working out a fair freelancing rate, or figuring out how much to tip the waitress. I guess what I really mean is that I feel kind of allergic to schooly math.
Which is totally ironic, of course. Because what did I do straight off the bat last year, when my eldest was a whopping 5 years old? I bought a packaged math curriculum and tried to convince her to work through it.
Early Elementary Math Resources
The very best math resources for kindergarteners and early elementary aged kids are those that arise out of real world situations. Counting, matching, finding patterns, skip counting, adding, subtracting and even multiplying and dividing all present plenty of opportunities for practice in daily life. Somehow, last year I allowed my fear of math, and my insecurities around teaching it effectively to push me into perpetuating uninspiring math lessons.
On the bright side, I realized about 3-4 months in that this approach to math just wasn’t working out. Then I stumbled across Family Math, a book with lots of ideas for math games and other hands on learning approaches for families to do together. We switched to hands-on, real world and game based math. This worked so much better.
Math Can be Fun
This year we’re trying out the Life of Fred Elementary series, a set of story-based math lessons that are silly, practical and fun. Each story is short, with 3-6 questions afterwards. Some of the questions are open-ended or subjective, some have more than one right answer and some are traditional math equations (3+4=7). In general, the Life of Fred books assume that kids are intelligent and have a good sense of humour. I like that.
Even though it’s not necessary to use a formal math curriculum for kids in the early elementary years, I decided to try out Life of Fred this year because I’d heard such great things about it and it seemed like a good fit for my daughter. Reading stories and working out questions together at the couch goes over so much better than dry workbooks at the dining room table. But if we start having any tears or tantrums over math again, I know that it’s still too early for formal lessons, no matter how short and fun.