Homeschool Math that's fun,
rigorous, and engaging.
Don't let math ruin your school year.
You don’t need another variation of the same math . . . you need to think about math differently.
Let’s face it, teaching math isn’t easy. If it were, homeschoolers would be outperforming public school students in math the same way we generally outperform them in other areas.
But we don’t. Our kids barely score better than their friends at public school.
That’s not good, because the public schools are doing a terrible job of teaching math.
We’ve been doing a poor job for the last 100 years. You know what that means? It’s likely your math education stinks.
If you don’t have a good math background, it’s going to be hard to teach math. That’s just the facts.
So you do what you can, and you buy that curriculum for $100 and hope it works. You go for scripted lessons because you aren’t sure how to teach. And when that curriculum doesn’t work, you drop $150 on another one that uses a different approach and has the DVD's to go with it and cross your fingers.
Why Getting Another Curriculum Won't Save You...
The problem is: most curricula have failure built in!
There's a lot of reasons for this failure. But, the biggest reason is that no matter which program you're using --whether the focus is spiral vs mastery or concepts vs procedures or some combination of all of them -- the bulk of the material relies heavily on memorization.
You can't get away from memorizing in math. But very few of us can memorize all the facts, all the symbols, and all their relationships and all the possible strategies and when to use them.
For some, memory gives out about 3rd grade. For others - it is in middle school or high school.
When memory fails, we assume it's because we or our children aren't mathy.
Memory failure has nothing to do with math. It has to do with memory. The two are only casually related.
In any case, what you need is the exact opposite of what nearly every program available is doing in mathematics.
Let's Pretend Your Kids Have Super Memories
That Won't Help Them Overcome Their 2nd Largest Hurdle . . .You.
But is the Situation Really That Bad?
Don't take it from me, let's look at a few random facts that show just how badly we are missing the boat in math education.
Math Anxiety Begets Math Anxiety
Teachers who are math anxious pass that anxiety on to their students. Children learn less from math anxious teachers.
Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez (2010)
Lagging Test Scores
60% of 4th graders and 67% of 8th graders scored below proficient in standardized math tests. We scored about the same as Croatia and Slovakia, with 35 counties scoring much better.
Baturo and Nason (1996)
Lack Of Mathematical Reasoning Among Teachers
Only 7 out of 71 prospective elementary teachers could explain why a non-standard algorithm works.
Harkness and Thomas (2008)
Think about it. You can only pass on what you know. You likely learned from someone who didn't like math, wasn't competent in math, and was anxious about it.
That means that most homeschool parents were taught poorly and are attempting to now teach their own children. It is no wonder we aren't doing a very good job.
We haven't even addressed what or how we teach yet!
It's no wonder we've got a Math Problem.
Only a third of our 8th graders are proficient or above in mathematics.
Percentage of Students Choosing Math/Science Majors at Grove City College in 2010:
We're failing our kids. It doesn't matter whether the curriculum is DVD or workbook based. It doesn't matter if the curriculum comes with lots of bells and whistles.
What is clear is that whatever we're doing - it's not working.
The Simple Truth Is: if we don't fix the memory problem AND the teacher problem, nothing else matters.
This goes for the school setting and the homeschool setting.
There is only one program available that solves both of these issues. Just one. It's nothing like the math education you received.
And it's not even new.
Enter Caleb Gattegno
Who Is Caleb Gattegno?
He was the most prolific math educator of the last century - that you've probably never heard of. His legacy spans the entire globe.
- He founded the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) in the UK.
- Helped establish the International Commission for the Study and Improvement of Mathematics Teaching.
- Authored more than 120 books and numerous articles.
- Professor at the University of Liverpool and the University of London.
- Developed Visible and Tangible Math or what is now called Gattegno Mathematics.
Gattegno's ideas about teaching mathematics were a sea change on the educational front. He knew successful math education is mostly about how the teacher teaches. For those who took up the teaching challenge, this is some of what they have to say:
Gattegno mathematics uses Cuisenaire Rods.
Cuisenaire Rods happen to be the most mathematically accurate manipulative available. Gattegno combines it with a method of instruction that allows students to make connections between the different areas of mathematics.
Students learn to shoulder the responsibility for their own educations AND parents learn to stop teaching and allow their students to learn. Parents become their child's cheerleader and advocate in the learning process.
The most tedious parts of learning math - gone.
Drill. Endless problems on endless worksheets. Memorizing isolated math facts.
It's all gone.
Three Main Things That Make Gattegno Different -
Notice, Wonder, Discover
Notice, Wonder, Discover is the process he used to assist students in becoming aware of the rules for manipulating math symbols and the properties of numbers.
Subordination of Teaching to Learning
This is simply a fancy term for how parents and teachers conduct lessons. The focus isn't on what is being taught, but rather what the student is learning.
Algebra Before Arithmetic
Yes. It's true. We moved algebra from 8th and 9th grade to pre-k and kindergarten. And we teach with a focus on algebra all the way through. It saves a ton of time and tears.
Introduction to Cuisenaire Rod Structures -
The Program that Teaches You to Think
If you want to try your hand at Gattegno, his textbooks Gattegno Mathematics are available free online or easily purchased. However, the best bits of Gattegno aren't in his textbooks - you could use his textbooks and end up in the same position you are in now.
Remember when I said that there are two main problems with math education. The first is the curriculum that focuses on memory. The second is the teacher and how the teacher teaches.
The biggest problem we have is US.
Gattegno activities and exercises will help with the memory issues, but only if you learn how to "Subordinate Teaching to Learning."
If you haven't experienced being taught the way Gattegno teaches, you'll never really get an idea of how different and effective it is. You'll just go back to what you know.
If your math background stinks - you can do all the Noticing, Wondering, and Discovering you want, but you won't know what it is you are looking at.
How We Solved the Teaching Problem
- Lack of Clarity of About What Students Must Understand to Grasp a Concept
- Unaware How to Gradually Increase Degree of Difficulty
- "Subordination of Teaching to Learning" - who knows what that means or what it looks like.
- Math - your own math education stinks and you aren't sure what to do.
- I teach each lesson for you in a 1 - 3 minute video. For each lesson, assignments are provided for the student to work through. You just have to print and do the lesson alongside your student.
- We gradually increase the degree of difficulty and we provide you with a framework that will allow you to do exactly what we do while following your child's leading.
- Weekly live workshops. We are going to hold your hand all the way - even if it takes you three years to get through all the material (there are worse ways to spend 3 years). We go over each lesson in the same way you will go through each lesson. When you'redone with with this course, you'll be a pro!
- Each lesson also has a place for comments. There you can ask questions specific to that lesson and Lacy or I will get back to you. You can also share your variation of the lesson with others.
- We develop understanding through the manipulation of Cuisenaire Rods. You don't have to be good at math, but you do need to do the activities with your kids. This is how you will fix your own math issues.
- In addition, during our weekly meetings, we'll be covering a lot of math ideas which will help you understand where all of this is going.
Wondering Why You Should Take A Course From Us?
Hi, I'm Sonya.
I'm not anything special. I don't have magic powers. I don't even have a long list of credentials that scream, "Hey - take a course from me." I'm just a homeschooling mom who has spent the better part of the last decade trying to figure out exactly why we have a math problem and what we can do to fix it.
I'd almost given up when I found base ten blocks and Caleb Gattegno's work which led me to other brilliant math educators. Then, I spent 5 years figuring out how to take what I've learned and help other parents who find themselves in the same boat I was in.
This is My Sidekick Lacy.
Lacy is a jack of all trades. She's a single mom with a real job, homeschools 4 kiddos, has dipped her feet into homesteading, and she's got skills when it comes to PowerPoint.
Lacy is the only person I know that could take Gattegno's ideas and turn them into a worksheet while remaining true to Gattegno. Not even Gattegno could do that - he didn't even want to create a curriculum. If you only use his textbooks, you're going to miss the best parts of Gattegno's vision. Lacy has captured the very best and managed to put it on paper. I probably email her every other month and exclaim anew, "These things are brilliant!"
She used to blog over at Play, Discover, Learn 24/7 and you can find her work (and download samples) on her Teacher's Pay Teacher's site.
Our Commitment to You, the Homeschooling Mom
We've been there. We know what it's like to have little eyeballs staring at you expecting something, while you have no clue what you are doing.
Your success in teaching math depends on your ability to execute the curriculum.
You can't get away from that. Even though we teach each lesson, it doesn't solve the problem. If your child doesn't understand, the only option you have is to replay the video.
Math seems like the biggest hurdle to climb over, but it's not.
It's us. That's why we are going to take you by the hand and teach you to teach - not just math.
We meet weekly for workshops.
Once a month, we'll discuss big picture math, teaching, and learning-related issues. The rest of the workshops we will carefully go over every lesson, starting from the very beginning. When we're done, you're going to feel like a pro!
You're going to learn how to teach your kids to think.
"People often say: 'I teach them but they don't learn'. Well, if you know that, stop teaching. Not resign from your job: stop teaching in the way that doesn't reach people, and try to understand what there is to do for you to become daily more skilled in helping these youngsters furnish their minds with things which are so elementary that, where they take five years today, I can do them in 18 months, sometimes less." (Gattegno, 1988, p 12)
Learning Well At Home is the new name of Sonya Post's groove. She is a Cuisenaire Rod goddess and runs the Homeschool Math with Base Ten Blocks group. I have dropped in on a couple of her classes and they are A-FRAKING-MAZING! The kids were LOVING doing math and at such a high level.
“Sonya has put together this wonderful course on c-rods that makes math fun, understandable and open and go for parents. Her course walks you through the proper way to use the rods and teaches parents the importance of notice and wonder. I sincerely feel my children are getting a superior understanding of math. We have all learned so much and my son enjoys his math lessons!”
Homeschool Mom, Texas
What you get when You Enroll In
Introduction to Cuisenaire Rods
Full Curriculum for Ages 4 -7
We have over 70 teaching videos and enough assignments and activities to last anywhere from 1- 3 years depending on your child and how long you want to spend on basic algebra.
Every lesson contains a short 1 - 3 minute video that presents the lesson. Following the lesson, there are both oral assignments and a collection of PDF's for that lesson. All you have to do is the assignment part. Sometimes you'll complete the assignments that day and sometimes you can take a week or longer to complete them all.
Training - Lots of It
Remember one of the problems in math education is the teacher. We hold workshops once a month to cover "big picture" math and teaching concepts.
The rest of the month, you can join our team and other moms as we go over assignments in detail and walk you through how to present and coach your child through the assignments.
Group Support - Lots of It
In addition to weekly meetings, you can join our Facebook group where you'll get the support of other moms, tutors, and teachers who are using not just our course but Gattegno's textbooks and other base ten block curriculum. I don't want to brag, but we've got one of the most helpful online educational communities on the internet. Just sayin'. Some of these folks are like family.
Individual Support - Lot's of That Too
You'll get my email address. We're not some large company with tons of staff. It's just Lacy and I trying to help a bunch of moms use the most outstanding math curriculum in the universe.
Under each lesson, you can post any questions you have related to that lesson and we'll answer, usually the same day. If we don't - you can drop us a line. We'll get back to you. Promise.
Introduction to Cuisenaire Rod Structures
The Math Program that Teaches You to Think!