I’m going to start this post out by saying that Math on the Level (MOTL) is, hands-down, my favorite math curriculum for K-5. We still use it every week in our house. However, the price can be a challenge for some families, especially those beginning their home ed journey who aren’t exactly sure of their child’s learning style or their personal teaching style.
Build your own math scope-and-sequence using internet resources.
Scope and Sequence
A few years ago I was curious as to exactly what the US Common Core math standards were teaching. I dug through them and created a chart to illustrate the progression of topics from year to year. I don’t necessarily agree with their placement of certain standards, but I do find it a useful resource to see how a skill progresses over the years.
Common Core Math Standards Chart (K-5)
If this chart seems confusing, you can find the full text many places. One of my favorite resources is Mr. Nussbaum’s page. He has the Common Core text, plus links to online games and printable resources on this page. (Scroll to the bottom of the page).
This is just one example of a possible scope and sequence. Another good one is this visual chart of math topics. Math on the Level also has a wonderful list of concepts with charts and ideas on how to progress through the sequence.
Use your outline as a rough estimate. If other things pop up that you want to learn, write them in!
There are as many ways to teach as there are families; here I will outline how we do it.
First, I choose 2-3 concepts for each child. Over the course of a month, I introduce those concepts to each child via games, manipulatives, and discussion. Sometimes we find a good book to read on the subject. If the child seems to be grasping the concept quite easily, I will show them how that concept translates to paper work. If they absolutely 100% understand it, I will add a page of those problems to their Math Binder (more on that below) and add in a new concept to the rotation.
My children seem to learn in spurts. If they are primed and ready with a learning spurt, we may blow through several concepts in the month. If not, we may tread water and do the same games and manipulatives over and over. As long as they are enjoying it, we continue. If I start to meet resistance, we put that concept on the back burner and try something new. Don’t feel boxed in by grade levels … if you have a child that is loving addition, let them add 1, 2, 3, or 10 digit numbers! Let them start multiplication in kindergarten. Conversely, let them stay with the easier concepts longer if they need the time.
Among my children, I have all sorts of math learners. My oldest daughter resisted math for many years. However, around the age of 9/10, it suddenly began to click. When it clicked, she caught completely up to grade level in 6 months. I struggled with doubts, but looking back I realize that her brain development just had to catch up to the point where she was ready. We continued many games, books, and activities during that time, trying to keep those math brain cells firing! My second child learned math instantly. He is the child that would do great with a workbook program, but I have tried to pull in some of the more creative things to stretch that part of his brain. I want him to understand and play with math, not just do his pages and be done. My third child tolerates math. She usually understand the concepts, but doesn’t have the energy to do a lot of work. She enjoys a lot of our math art projects. My youngest enjoys math the most. He watches big brother, and is determined to work at the same pace. At 5 years old he wants to learn multiplication, so I make him worksheets with x0, x1, and a few x2 math facts.
Review – The Math Binder
As your child starts to become proficient in certain math concepts, it is important to continue review. Repeated review over a long period will move the math knowledge from short term to long term memory. Don’t move any concept to review until you are certain your child knows it. These are problems she should never get wrong!
From Math on the Level I learned a concept called the “5-A-Day” review. It’s very simple: start each day with 5 review problems. There are a few different ways to do this: some parents like to handwrite a sheet of paper with 5 unique problems on it. This method got to be a bit unwieldy for me with 4 kids, so I started what we call the “Math Binder.” Details for creating the Math Binder are on my Math Skills page.
Once you have started a binder, you need a way to schedule which problems to review, and how often. As your child grows the list of concepts can get quite long. MOTL has a wonderful spreadsheet that we often use. It allows you to input how often you want to review a concept (daily, every 2 days, weekly, etc), and spits out a schedule for you. In lieu of that, you could simply keep a checklist By Week or By Day to track it. For very new concepts, it is good to review daily or every other day. As time goes on, you can move to once a week, every other week, or once a month review.