We frequently meet parents who are homeschooling their children. Homeschooling parents will come to us at our education centre because, like most homeschoolers, they realise their limitations, and that to provide a balanced and enriched experience for their child they need input from more than just themselves.
Maths is certainly the subject that homeschooling parents worry about most. We are often out of our comfort zone with maths: it’s changed a lot since we were at school – terms like partitioning, chunking and grid method have only emerged in the last 15 years. This, coupled with the fact that it is a genuine skill to be able to explain a maths concept clearly, in bite-sized chunks, whilst recognising whether the necessary pre-requisites are in place, mean we as professionals are often called upon.
At our education centre, we always follow a clear program of study. To me, this is a no-brainer: the resources at our centre were years in development and have a proven history of success – why reinvent the wheel? Our resources are expensive and exclusive, but as a homeschooler looking for things to use, my recommendation would be: ALWAYS use resources that follow a clear pathway, and NEVER rely on just one resource. Here are my top three resources to form a maths curriculum around:
Paper-based: 10 Ticks Worksheets – maths is best learned through practice and repetition, and these fun worksheets are packed full of opportunities for this. They are carefully graded, progress nicely, offer clear examples, and are pretty comprehensive in their coverage. Free trial, from £12.24 per month then on. http://www.10ticks.co.uk
IT-based: DoodleMaths (Primary Maths) – of course we would recommend ourselves, although we are aware that not everyone has an iPod or iPad. The app’s assessment and ongoing analysis means that the work program here is being constantly adjusted to the child’s level. No planning or preparation then! It also doesn’t rely on an internet connection, so it’s easy to fit around busy schedules and can be done in the car, on the tube, etc. It covers the whole of KS2, has its own motivational element to it, and we would recommend spending 10-15 minutes per day on it. £6.99 from the Apple App Store (additional users, £4.99), http://www.doodlemaths.co.uk
Kinaesthetic-based: Stile Books and Trays – we use these in our education centres, and children usually exclaim “yes!!!” when it comes to this activity. Children match the correct tile to the correct answer, and if they get it all correct, they will have produced a unique pattern on the reverse associated with that particular activity. Very clever, and highly original. Key Stage 2 maths is covered by 36 books, 12 each for the strands of Number, Calculating, and Shape. The first three books in each series cover year 3, the next three year 4, etc. Once you find a suitable starting point for your child, it is really just a case of working through progressively, but remember to start your child at their point of understanding, which may be above or below the school year they are in. These books are expensive (each series of 12 costs £59.99) and the Stile tray costs £8.75, so club together with other homeschoolers – you won’t regret it! http://www.ldalearning.com
There are plenty more resources out there, and variety is key, but if I were homeschooling my own children, I would undoubtedly start with these three.