The Secrets of Mental Math

Ruben Math

Answer in red.

No, I don’t have the answers. I did find a DVD at the library though that wants to give me the secrets—I’d love to know. I’ve been homeschooling for two weeks now, not really following anything in particular, trying to find my way and my style— but also wanting to follow my daughter’s lead. I like the idea in theory of unschooling, but I feel compelled to give my daughter a foundation in learning. There are many different styles and unschooling families will tell me that children find their way through the foundations in their own way, when they are compelled.

My daughter loves math, she said it was her favorite thing we have done so far. She might not realize how much we have done though— I guess she doesn’t count reading, drawing, and writing.  The task of teaching my first grader math is intimidating. I am certainly comfortable showing her how to do math with manipulatives and on paper, but what if I’m missing out on the foundations? What if the foundations aren’t the best way of teaching math in the first place?

There are many curricula and who knows what to choose upon first looking. I have heard over the years that Singapore Math is a great way to learn math. I printed out an assessment test that I think my daughter will be comfortable with, and I also found a test from Mammoth Math. Either way, it looks like I’m going to have to shell out some money to teach her math.

Sometimes, as dinner winds down, I do math problems with my daughter. I thought I would be pretty clever and show her how to add big numbers together. I stacked my addition problem (or is it a sentence these days?) and showed her how I add the ones, tens, and hundreds and how to carry. I figure the carrying is beyond her comprehension right now, but seeing me do it gets her used to the idea.

This DVD I’m watching though, told me to do math in my head, and from left to right. It’s pretty genius, I tell you, and I think by the end of it I’m going to be a math magician, just like the guy said. It is too advanced for my six year old, but it will definitely change my outlook for teaching her her numbers.

As for the DVD, I will have to renew it— there is no way I’ll get through the whole course in a couple of days. I can’t even believe that I put my daughter to bed and put on a math movie. I must be…er… dedicated.

For the more experienced homeschoolers out there, what do you find works for math?

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