Math drives me batty. I don’t remember it as being a subject incredibly hard to teach when I taught second grade and fourth grade at a Christian school in North Carolina for five years before coming to Brazil. Then I taught a seventh and eighth grade math at the MK school in Fortaleza for a year. I tutored a missionary girl last year for six months in eighth grade math. I was an A+ math student all through my grade school and high school years. So why does teaching math to three wild little boys in my own home cause me so much grief and heartache? Is it because I’m also their mother and when your own cubs whine, your ears hurt more?
I don’t know, but I decided at the beginning of this school year to try a new tactic. I decided that I would not let math get the best of me this year. Every two years I take the boys to the MK school in Fortaleza (a 10 – 12 hour drive by car) to take the SAT achievement tests. This past year math was the two oldest boys lowest area although still on each one’s grade level. I made a commitment this year to do a better job of teaching and to bring them all up another notch. My second grader on the other hand is a whiz in math. He was doing long division last year just having heard me explain it so many times to the others. I thought and thought about how to improve learning in this subject.
Here’s the new game plan I decided upon for this school year. I’m using the sixth grade Houghton Mifflin Math text from the MK school (I can borrow hard back books from there for nothing) for all the boys. I have some sixth grade Scholastic math workbooks, too. I’m teaching every one at the same time. One lesson for all and all for one! Then when it comes time for individual work, I scale it down a little for the fifth grader and just a little more for the second grader. I use the workbooks when I can since they are attractive and have lots of great examples and explanations. When I have to use the Houghton Mifflin hard texts, I write the problems for the second grader in his spiral notebook to help out and I write some of the problems for my fifth grader who has a weird writing phobia (L.H.D. = Lazy Hand Defiency). I decided that I would rather do a little to help in the writing and see him move forward in the math then sit around all day waiting for him to finish writing all the problems, hence we do as much as possible out of the workbooks which require less writing. We use calculators for some activities and I have lots of math charts up in the room. Almost every day the older boys do a mini math worksheet with a time limit from an old Abeka math drills book. From time to time the youngest still does something from his second grade book when his interest in the topic at hand is low and to keep him current in the basics.
It requires a little more planning on my part to coordinate the workbook with the hard text, but so far I’m happier and I think we are on schedule.