For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Days of Curriculum Evaluation: Math on the Level

Welcome to the 5 Days of . . . week of cool blogging, sponsored by the TOS Homeschool Crew. Want to know more about it, see my introductory post here.

Math, oh Math! Math is one of those subjects that either raises joy, fear, or mixed feelings in a lot of people. As homeschoolers, it has been a dreaded school subjects for many, moms and students alike.

I will have to place myself in the mixed feeling category when it comes to math. I do not mind Math, but sometimes it can be hard to teach it to my kids, mainly because one of them absolutely hates doing exercises. And, of course Math is best learned by practice, right?

So how does a mom evaluates how she is doing in teaching Math to her kids, especially when Math is one of those subjects that is foundational to any scientific career or pursuit? My oldest wants to be an engineer, yet he is the one who does not like practicing his skills (he hates any practice of any kind!).

I have found that Math is really a set of skills and concepts that one needs to know. Regular textbooks decide the how and the sequence of how these concepts need to be taught, and you have to follow along, whether or not the child can get it or not. As homeschoolers we certainly have the luxury of going at our children's pace, but if we follow a particular textbook, you often end up staling while the child gets his head wrapped up around a certain concept hurdle. This is definitely better than if he were in school, as there, he would be left behind, as "not getting it" is not much of an option; there is no time to wait in the classroom.

Despite this, between my son hating doing pages of exercises and the feeling of being constrained to a particular sequence, I was thrilled to find out about Math on the Level. Why, you might ask?

Math on the Level addressed both these issues: I chose my sequence, and I am only required to give the boys 5 exercises a day.

The philosophy behind this is that in order to understand something, a child needs to be mentally ready. If he is not, he will have a hard time. However, if you can't teach him something, teach him something else. Certainly addition, subtraction, multiplications are the basics, so no going around that, but besides that, the concepts to be learned in Math are very flexible when it comes to sequence.

Math on The Level divides these concepts between 4 books which covers all math concepts needed up to grade 8:
Operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operation, exponents etc...
Geometry and measurement which includes telling time, graphs.
Decimal and Money which of course includes place value.

On top of these 4 books, which tell you how to teach the math concepts in questions, you also are provided with 2 other books containing ideas on how to make Math more fun and real, as well as general tips and helps on teaching math: Math Adventure and Math Resources.

I have to say I am more comfortable with a workbook to follow, as there is not as much work for me to do, but this approach was frustrating my oldest and making him hate Math. Since we started with MOTL (1 year ago), Math has not been as much of a struggle, even though I usually give them more to do than only 5 practice problems.

This is an example of a set of exercise for one day (back and front):


Now, are they learning?  That's the goals after all, right? I have to say they are! The boys have progressed in their Math understanding and mastery. My boys are 1st and 3rd grade and they both can:

  •  Do their additions and subtractions with regrouping and renaming without any problems. 
  •  Do 3 digits multiplications 
  • Adding, subtracting and multiply fractions same and different denominators
  • Have a good understanding of word problems
  • Tell time on a regular clock to the minute
  • Have a basic understanding of measurement
  • Calculate area and perimeter (still needing mastery)
  • Have an understanding of family bonds and relationship between addition and subtraction, multiplication and division
Just this past week my oldest was able to create and solve some problems such as:
a+a = 4
b+b+b = 12
c+c+c+c = b
d+d+c+c = 8
a+b+c+d = ? 


So, yes Math on the Level fits the bill. The only drawback of this curriculum is that if you want your child to practice more (some kids do need more practice, or just love doing worksheets) you have to supplement. You would need also to supplement with word problem practices, as these are not provided. However, these problems are easily remedied with the internet with sites such as:

For worksheets:
For online games:
Other sites where you can find great Math resources are:
MOTL also has a great, active yahoo group were you will find lots of support and encouragement, and ideas on how to use this curriculum.

The blessing of MOTL is the freedom and flexibility it gives the teacher. We get to talk Math, play games and spend minimal time on worksheets.



Mary said...

Thanks for all the great links :)

Unknown said...

what a fun topic! and timely, too. looking forward to reading all of your ideas this week!

Lisa @ Our Country Road said...

I've never heard of Math on the Level. Thank you for the introduction.

At the Fence said...

This sounds very interesting. I will have to look into Math on the Level more. Thank you.

willson said...

Its really a fun topic full of some great links and information.I think some kids love to do math and some don't.The reason behind it is the kids find math sums as very difficult and don't try it more.This makes a impression on their mind that math is difficult subject but if someone teaches them in a good manner,it could become their favorite subject.
maharashtra board text books

Jennifer said...

That is a huge list of math resources! Thanks for sharing these.

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