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Teaching Maths in home education

(14 Posts)
CramptonHodnet Fri 09-Feb-18 10:55:40

Can I ask a quick question of home educators please? We're considering home education for DS because he's falling behind so much at school. He has dyslexia and struggles with maths also. The curriculum is speeding ahead and he can't keep up. And there's little capacity to recap for those struggling.

I feel the school is pushing children harder and harder with subjects that, at 8, they barely comprehend.

So, my question is, what would you be teaching your 8 year old? Or expecting them to understand?

As an example, DS is not proficient with his times tables but we are working on that with him. He doesn't understand fractions - yet. And the school has moved on to far more complex work, leaving him behind. They don't seem that bothered by this either, when questioned.

We're uncertain whether home education is right for him. He isn't self-motivated and needs someone guiding his learning at the moment.

Velvetbee Fri 09-Feb-18 19:16:28

We use ConquerMaths.com which has every academic year from reception to A level. You can work at whatever level you're at and skip back to revise skills as you need.
HE is great as you can work at your own pace, and only move on when you're ready.

tshirtsuntan Fri 09-Feb-18 19:18:19

Have a look at abacus and purple mash online, they should give you an idea of the level and topics covered in school. Good luck!

CramptonHodnet Fri 09-Feb-18 20:42:03

Thank you. I will have a look at those websites.

I just feel very sorry for DS being swept along with the curriculum and struggling at school.

Both DH and I have been discussing HE for a while now and DH feels very positive about it. It's me that is having a bit of a wobble, wondering whether we should HE up to secondary school or beyond. Or whether it will all be a disaster and we wreck his life sad

Saracen Fri 09-Feb-18 22:20:23

My view is perhaps radical even amongst home educators. I think that in the early years, the less explicit teaching of maths, the better. Leave it until the child has enough real-world experience to have developed the conceptual framework on which to hang these ideas. Throwing ideas at them which they aren't yet grasping for themselves, or making them memorise facts which to them are devoid of meaning, is worse than useless. It teaches them that maths makes no sense, that it's difficult, that it consists of rote learning. And when they fail at maths, because it makes no sense to them, they then learn to believe that they are stupid and that maths is impossible.

This doesn't mean that kids shouldn't be exposed to maths. Maths is all around us in our daily lives. You couldn't avoid it if you tried. We measure and calculate according to our needs. We play with shapes. We estimate how long the bath will take to fill, so we know whether it's safe to dash to the next room and grab a towel. We have a rough idea how much deeper the bathwater will become when we place into it our own body or our child's body or our rubber ducky. We know how long it takes to drive 30 miles on a motorway with little traffic. If we hand over a £10 note to cover a purchase of a few pounds and receive no banknotes back in our change, we count the change. If the thermostat reads 22 degrees and we're shivering, we suspect that it's faulty or that we're ill.

What would I teach an eight year old about maths? I would teach him what he wants to know. I believe that is the same as what he needs to know at this moment. Every eight year old is different. I had an eight year old who wanted to know how to convert currencies and read tables for postage rates, because she was thinking of starting a business importing toys. Later, I had another eight year old, and this one asked whether a pound was more than 59p so she could know which sweets she could choose with the pocket money she had been given.

"He isn't self-motivated and needs someone guiding his learning at the moment." All children are self-motivated. But they aren't all motivated to learn what their parents and teachers want them to learn, in the way and at the time that their parents and teachers would like them to do it.

"When Less Is More: The Case for Teaching Less Math in School", Peter Gray: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201003/when-less-is-more-the-case-teaching-less-math-in-school

"A Mathematician's Lament", Paul Lockhart: www.maa.org/external_archive/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

"How Children Fail", John Holt: www.schoolofeducators.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/HOW-CHILDREN-FAIL-JOHN-HOLT.pdf

CramptonHodnet Fri 09-Feb-18 22:55:03

Actually I think that's very interesting, Saracen. I need to have more confidence in DS's willingness to learn at his own pace.

I feel as if I just need to give him a long break from the stresses of schoolwork. That's what he would benefit from. But on the other hand I'm still worried he will slip further behind and never catch up with his peers. And then won't fit in at secondary school, if he goes. And yet pushing him to work at it upsets him and he gets stressed. And that's such an awful thing to be doing to him.

Thinking about the self-motivation thing a bit further, though, he has always had a fascination for learning about history. He loves it. So that's a really big plus point in his favour for HE.

I know we really need to make a decision once and for all but it seems a huge irreversible step and I fear making a big mistake.

QuiteQuietly Sun 11-Feb-18 14:45:39

It's never reversible. I took DS out of school for 9 months and then he wanted to go back and we eased him back in gradually. DD2 is currently out of school - she was very behind and we had a lovely relaxing time and then followed her lead in what she wanted to do. Nearly a year later she has "caught up" and even got a bit "ahead" in some areas. She may go back (possibly to a different school in Sept) or she may skip the rest of primary and we will make a decision about secondary nearer the time. But the main thing for us is that she has had space to progress in her own time and she feels more confident - it seemed very wearing for her to constantly be lagging behind and never catching up.

I think there are benefits to school and benefits to HE and alot depends on your particular child. But an awful lot of school time is just wasted and it hasn't taken us many hours a week of focus to catch up (I have many, many other drains on my time!).

EggNChipsTw1ce Sat 17-Feb-18 22:09:06

Hi, my DD is 8. I would prefer her to learn what she wants in her own time but we have to compromise somewhat, so she does Maths and English with IXL. It's very easy, no pressure at all, go at your own pace, plus you can skip around and do the best bits first. Even so she has caught up 3 school years in 1 year. She is starting times tables and counting money (so she can spend it). Time is still a mystery.
Give your son the break you think he needs, he'll catch up.

CramptonHodnet Sun 18-Feb-18 10:04:06

I know he does really need a long break from the school work. We tried to do a bit of writing practice with him yesterday and he burst into tears. He just couldn't do it. He has terrible anxiety about school, studying, everything in fact. We have CAMHS helping him and even they say it's going to be a long haul.

DH is very much in favour of getting him out of school and giving him a rest and then starting afresh at his own pace. But the truth of it is that I will be the one at home with him the majority of the time. Maybe it's just a matter of adapting ourselves to a new way of life. DD goes to school (secondary) and is very content there. She loves school but has got a couple of friends who are home educated and they are both intelligent girls, happily learning at home. I need to do what's best for DS, really, and let him learn at his own pace.

GingerIvy Mon 19-Feb-18 10:08:25

My ds2 is 8yo. He is dyslexic and really struggled with maths. When we deregistered him at 5yo (yr1), he was falling apart and so behind. He didn't understand even basic addition, the teacher was insisting he memorise number bonds to ten, but along with his dyslexia he has a short term memory problem and struggled to recognise numbers.When we tried to discuss it with the teacher, we were told "he doesn't need to understand it, he just needs to memorise it." hmm

Anyway, 3 yrs on, he is working on his adding/subtracting with regrouping, multiplication tables, fractions (basic still), and measurements (again, basic). I'm not pushing the fractions and measurements too much right now as we're keeping the focus on the regrouping and the multiplication. He's happy with it and I can see that he's retaining the info, rather than getting frustrated. The advice we got from a private assessment (for dyslexia) was to make sure he's solid on one thing before moving on to another, as when he gets a bit older his progress can move forward more rapidly.

There are a number of online maths programmes (like Khan Academy) and apps. We use DoodleMaths (for both my 8yo and 11yo - they just work on different levels), and we have a couple others that we've worked with here and there. We also use workbooks from CGP, and other sources depending on what it is we're looking for.

We have one big wall that is painted with chalkboard paint, and that has maths problems put on it every day. They are strictly review, nothing new, so the dcs can do them any time during the day on their own. For some reason, they enjoy doing the maths on the chalkboard - probably because they doodle little pictures on the board while they're doing their maths. grin

CramptonHodnet Mon 19-Feb-18 12:00:42

Your DS sounds just like mine, Ginger.

I got Hit The Button for DS and Doodle Maths, although he hasn't tried that yet. DD loves Times Tables Rockstars, which she gets quite competitive over smile, but DS finds the layout of that app a bit muddling.

We've also got some simple workbooks to help consolidate his learning and were looking at Galore Park for textbooks, but will leave that for a while until he feels more settled.

GingerIvy Mon 19-Feb-18 12:10:47

Best of luck. If it helps, I've found that he struggles for awhile,then suddenly it all clicks into place, then he struggles for awhile, then it clicks again. We do doodlemaths every day, as he loves it because it's short. grin

Tringley Mon 26-Feb-18 09:24:27

My son is 5 and was never in school so not all of this will apply. We unschool, which means no formal lessons, just doing what takes his interest. We play a lot of board games and we always use at least two dice, maybe more. Just using a die means lots of addition with every move but we often shake it up by adding a third dice in a different colour and then subtracting that amount. We also work out things like how many steps to win, pass someone out etc. Or we play games where you accumulate and lose points, it's basic maths without thinking it's maths.

We've always counted money as DS saves up for things so we make up charts with what he has saved and how far he has to go and regularly count his savings and update his chart. We do treasure hunts with mathematical components like 'find a door 55cm wide' or 'turn 90˚ from the window' or 'walk up half the steps.' We play lots of games about angles, a favourite is using a protractor and one of those JML "hover" balls. DS kicks it at the skirtingboard then measures the angle of the rebound. As it's spring we've been doing lots of planting which means multiplication, divisions and fractions as we apportion seeds. We bring it into other subjects, like when last week he wanted to know how long it had been since the liberation of Paris we got out the bamboo sticks maths set and subtracted 1944 from 2018.

Maths is everywhere and as his interests expand, opportunities to further maths learning will appear.

Waddlelikeapenguin Fri 02-Mar-18 19:27:21

Similar to Tringley here with the addition of Sir Cumference & life of fred books (child led)

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