The Math We Love
This was the very first curriculum we looked into as beginning homeschoolers. It was my husband's recommendation. My husband's picks should always be taken seriously. He will research something to death, logically compile the information, and then say "I like XYZ. What do you think?" I've learned over the years, what on the surface appears to be an off-handed remark, is actually the result of a lot of thought. And, again, he was spot on. (Yes, it's here in print for the whole world to see! I will never live it down!)
The first thing I had to learn was the word "Singapore" doesn't appear anywhere on the book, it is a nickname. The title is Primary Mathematics. The nickname came from it being based on Singapore's highly successful math system. True, there are many factors contributing to Singapore's great academic results including culture. Nevertheless, we have had great results from two years with this program too. I felt quite foolish at my first curriculum fair when I discovered this. Since then, I have encountered many homeschoolers in search of the elusive "Singapore Math." Once I found a distributer, I was happily surprised at how inexpensive the books are. Each book was about $9.00 and each semester a text and workbook was required. That meant a year's curriculum was only $36.00 a year per child! I still was not sure about the curriculum, but at the price, I thought it wouldn't break us to give it a try and change course if it didn't work out. After a semester, I was pleased to find it worked for both my children who have very different learning styles.
These books work with a spiraling concept that expands each year. The lessons are short. The examples and explanations are simple and always directed at understanding the core abstract concepts. I've watched my kids go from trying to understand a lesson so they can repeat the method enough to do their work to thumbing ahead to see where the next concept leads them. There are plenty of word problems too. My kids don't bat an eye at them. Because they understand the "whys" of mathematics, they have no problem relating it to real world problems.
One complaint often voiced about Primary Mathematics is that there is not enough drill included in the workbooks. I have only found this to be a problem once. When my fourth grader was struggling with memorizing her multiplication facts, I supplemented her book with free worksheets I found online. After I felt confident that she had mastered the concept, we moved right along. I actually like the fact that each lesson is short. The kids do not get overwhelmed at the sight of each lesson which, in our house, is half the struggle anyway.
I love math. I must say it isn't my strongest subject, but I've studied enough to realize that it is an elegant and beautiful subject if you stick with it long enough. I want my children to love it too. My son wants to be an engineer already. At seven, he already measures the worth of everything that comes to him by whether or not it will be useful to him when he is a builder or engineer. Math is his favorite subject. My daughter has also begun to love math once we stuffed her head with all of those atrocious multiplication facts. This is a huge success. During her last year of school, she repeatedly came in second or third in a game that resembled a math spelling bee. Her teacher had told her that it was okay for her to not be good at math because boys generally do better in that subject any way. She shouldn't expect to be good at everything. She came home telling me that she didn't have to try so hard at math anymore because of this. Homeschooling with this program has rebuilt her confidence. She is doing work ahead of her schooled peers, but I won't tell her that! It isn't about where she is ranked. It is about meeting her exactly where her understanding stops and her curiosity begins.