Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Math Curriculum, 2013-2014

Highhill Education has started a new Lesson-Planning Linkup and this week's topic is Math Curriculum. It took me some time to find a math curriculum that I was comfortable with, and with the price of most of them, it was an expensive trial and error process. I have finally found a system that works for all of my children, and I am going to keep with it as long as it continues to work, so this year's math curriculum looks very much like last years. We are just moving up a level for each of them in their understanding and the topics that will be covered.

Quentin began third grade last year, and so he has graduated out of Math Their Way, (Pre-K-2nd) and he started Mathematics, A Way of Thinking, (3rd-6th) which is the same book James used, just at a different place in the book. Quentin was just starting the book, and James is finishing it up. Both books were written by a husband and wife team of math teachers, Bob and Mary Baratta-Lorton. Both books are very hands-on and sequential. 
James will begin the school year doing the last activities from Mathematics, A Way of Thinking on Negative Numbers, and then we will begin Teaching Textbook's Algebra I, taking it VERY slowly, adding in lots of hands-on applications from Pinterest. I will also use materials from Math on the Level.
Sam was involved in some of my trial and error process of finding the right math curriculum for us. He began Algebra with Videotext Algebra, which looked very good in the beginning (I might even use some of the beginning activities with James), but then somewhere along the way, it became very confusing. Even Steven and I became confused about where the curriculum was going. Sam's grades began to go down, understandably. So, with all the great reviews we have heard from my blog friends, we decided to try Teaching Textbooks. It has worked for us. We decided to have him start from the beginning, which put him a half to three-quarters of a year behind at the start of this past year. Between that and the various things that came up this year to interfere with our regular schooling, Sam is still working on Alegbra I and will be this next school year.
Alex has topped out on his understanding of math concepts. We have worked on addition, subtraction, and multiplication for about eleven years, and each time we sit down at the table, we are at the same place. He can add fine, he can subtract once I finally get him to understand what I want him to do. He cannot multiply. I have tried a variety of hands-on activities over the years, and some special needs curriculums, to no avail. When it comes to special needs children, sometimes it comes to the point that you have to accept them for who they are and their abilities for what they are. In terms of meeting diploma requirements, we will continue to practice these concepts, but I am not stressed or frustrated any more at how to unlock any more potential in this area. We will have fun instead. We will play games, make things together and in general enjoy the time together.
More discussion on the sequence and use of our math curriculum, What To Teach, and When.
We will also be adding in some Living Math, where appropriate. Here is an example of some of the living math books we will use in conjunction with our history and science studies
  • Joy of Mathematics, T. Pappas
  • Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians
  • Senefer, A Young Genuis in Old Egypt, B. Lumpkin
  • How to count like a Martian, Glory St. John
  • The Warlord series, Virginia Pilegard
  • The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, Kathryn Lasky
  • Science in Ancient Mesopotamia, Carol Moss
  • Science in Ancient Egypt, Geraldine Woods
  • Science in Ancient China, George Beshore
  • Science in Ancient Greece, Kathlyn Gay
Next post will be about our Science Curriculum.

Highhill's Lesson Planning Link-Up ScheduleJuly 11 - Writing
July 18 - Math
July 25 - Science
August 1 - History
August 8 - Music
August 15 - Art & Handicrafts
August 22 - Geography
August 29 - Foreign Language
September 5 - Reading
September 12 - Organization your Classroom/Schedule


  1. Math is a subject on my mind lately too. I'll have to check out the link up at High Hill. I was thinking the "Life of Fred" might be good for Jeremiah. Alex and Bethany have a lot in common in the Math department. You could have been describing her! Love that Pizza. You are so creative!

    1. I have heard great things about Life of Fred.
      I think that difficulty with math is common among autistic-type children.

    2. FULLY agreed on both points - from personal experience!

      Interestingly, Sarah really cannot multiply or divide, at least not "well." But she can grasp conceptually things that are considered well beyond that. Yet, in public school, she never got a chance to try any of it because they just kept hammering, "No, no, you have to stay in remedial math, working on these facts."

      I'm always glad to hear about the ways in which you value all your children for who they are and don't get upset at them for it!

  2. I love your choices. Your homeschool always looks like so much fun. A person could not help but learn in such a rich learning environment.
    Blessings, Dawn

  3. It's great when you find something that works. I have to add your math books recommendations to my list :) Math is one subject that I wouldn't hesitate to teach :) I enjoy it, and probably my enthusiasm is passed on to Anna. We are doing a lot of supplementary math with Math Detectives for 3-4 grade, Mind Benders and Challenge Math - Primary Grades.

  4. Anonymous17.7.13

    I'm loving these posts of yours! I'm learning things about you I didn't know before!
    'sometimes it comes to the point that you have to accept them for who they are and their abilities for what they are.' I love this. Could be said for every child. I have one without any learning difficulties but she definitely has a case of maths phobia. I'm working on it...

  5. I can see I'm going to be spending the rest of the day on your Pinterest Algebra page!

  6. I will have too look up some info on Teaching Textbooks now that I've seen two recommendations for them. I have two Aunts who are in their 60's and both different, but special needs. Although one doesn't have too many math skills, she can live alone and take care of herself. It must be very difficult for you.

  7. Thank you for sharing this! Over the past week I have been looking at Mathematics, A Way of Thinking, and now that I read this from you I am sold. We are going to definitely try this out as soon as it arrives. I wouldn't know what I would do without your blog! Take care and hugs from Michigan.

  8. I am tutoring a special needs child and have been wondering the same thing. There's a degree of trying different things, coming to a state of acceptance and then continuing to press on because at some people they will grasp it. Sometimes it takes more repetition, patience, and meeting the child where he or she is and celebrating the accomplishments.

    DD has gotten tired of Singapore Math so we're thinking of doing Beast Academy, Life of Fred and Miquon. But I'm tempted to try the ones you listed as I love how you teach the concepts with hands on materials.

  9. We just switched math curriculum because our old one has changed up how they were doing things. We'll see if I like our new one.

    I've heard a lot of great things about Teaching Textbooks.


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