Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Choosing Elementary Math Curriculum 1

About a year ago, I attended a meeting of our local Charlotte Mason group, and we fell to talking about Math. As it turned out, no one at the meeting had a really clear idea what Charlotte Mason says about math, and so we fell to speculating based on our limited knowledge of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and method. “I think the math curriculum I use is very Charlotte Mason,” said one. “It weaves the mathematical concepts into stories. My children can’t get enough of them. To me they seem like living books.” “I think perhaps Charlotte Mason was not a ‘mathie’,” said another. “To me it seems like she has a very liberal arts focus, and math was probably not her strong point.”

I was very interested in learning how to teach math at the time. My eldest son, who was just about to start Kindergarten at the time, was showing signs of a particular interest in math –an interest I did not feel qualified to feed long-term. I bought a math program at the recommendation of our local homeschooling math expert. (Read "A Generous Education in Mathematics" by Alice Horrocks here.) Her advice was sound, and I was and am very happy with my choices. However, I have since learned that Charlotte Mason actually does have something to teach us about teaching math, and I want to share what I have learned. I am not an expert on math, or on Charlotte Mason. I am a mother beginning to homeschool, learning things as I go along. I hope this series will be helpful to mothers who are in the same shoes I was a year ago…wanting to homeschool the Charlotte Mason way, and intimidated at the thought of teaching math.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to address the following topics:
A Good Teacher
A Method, Not a System
Atmosphere, Discipline, and Life in Early Math Education
Spiral or Mastery?
Problem Solving
Putting it all Together: Choosing Curriculum and Resources

I have entitled the series "Choosing Elementary Math Curriculum". As often happens with Charlotte Mason's methods, though, we are going to have to think through some philosophy first. But hang in there...we will get to the practical applications soon enough.