Teaching homeschool math is not for the faint of heart. If there was a subject that leaves 90% of homeschooling parents feeling stressed, mathematics would likely be the one. While there are plenty of people who excel at math (much to the awe of individuals who struggle with it), math is an intimidating topic for many. You may be wondering, if you’re not strong at math, how could you possibly teach your child?
Thankfully, you don’t have to be great at math to successfully teach your child. What you need, is a solid homeschool math program to guide you and your student through the lessons. This doesn’t mean you need an online math program, but that can certainly be a helpful tool as well! Truth be told, there are innumerable math resources available to homeschoolers for the specific purpose of helping parents who aren’t assured of their own skills.
Still, we understand the nerves associated with approaching a personally difficult subject. If you are a new homeschooler, we’d recommend you start by having your child take a homeschool math placement test. This test will simply show which level of math is suitable for your homeschooler, but also, give you a good idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge can help you move forward with selecting an ideal curriculum.
Let’s discuss strategies for a successful experience as you begin to homeschool math.
Homeschool Math with Hands-On Activities
When beginning to homeschool, regardless of subject, it is helpful to have your student take a learning styles quiz. This quiz will reveal their best learning style, which you can translate into the most effective teaching style for their success. There are several different learning styles from auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and so on. Each of these styles means that students perceive and process information differently, and therefore, various learning tools such as graphs or audiobooks may be more effective at helping them comprehend new information.
However, math is one of those subjects that has been tested by time for best practices. Experts have shown success with hands-on learning for math, especially for younger students. When teaching a homeschool math concept, children will learn far more when their senses are engaged. The more senses interacting with the lesson, the more a child will comprehend as it will hit on various learning strengths. Hands-on math, such as with manipulatives, can help your child grasp concepts with foundational math basics until they are capable of thinking abstractly.
Here are a few ideas for implementing hands-on homeschool math techniques:
Homeschool Math with Real-World Lessons
Math can be much easier to grasp for students when it applies to real-world issues. For example, if high school students struggle with traditional algebra lessons, they may still succeed at and enjoy a course on consumer math. Why? Consumer math covers practical topics that people are likely to encounter in daily life. As a result, the concrete reason behind the math may lead students to understand it better and even appreciate the course. There is a lesson in this: real-world math is not only important for all homeschoolers but also helpful for teaching struggling students.
Everyone has opinions about which homeschool math program is best. However, even the best homeschool math curriculum is going to miss this mark if your student doesn’t understand the practical application of the math they are studying. Additionally, it may be easier for parents intimidated by math to teach through real-world applications.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options for teaching with real-world lessons! Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your homeschool math schedule.
- Unit Price. A very helpful practice for shopping, regardless of the product type and whether online or in-store, is determining the individual unit price. By calculating the price per item, we can decide which purchase is the best value for the quantity.
- Money Math. Every student needs to learn how to manage their money. However, money math goes beyond budgeting. Students learn inverse operations and quick mental addition, subtraction, and multiplication by balancing a checkbook or making change. Finally, it’s helpful to discuss how interest and credit works, both of which involve math.
- Cooking Math. The ability to prepare a meal is a necessary life skill for all. Beyond knowing how to read a recipe and understand cooking techniques, though, is the reality that cooking or baking involves math. With kitchen science, students can learn fractions, time versus temperature, unit conversions, serving sizes, and more.
- Cost Per Use. Is it a better value to purchase a $1,000 laptop or a $300 laptop? Is a deal always worthwhile? Aren’t cheaper prices better? These are topics to discuss when learning about the cost per use. For example, if a $50 tablet lasts only 6 months, but a $250 tablet lasts four years, the more expensive tablet is a better purchase in the long run. This discussion emphasizes the fact that even though a product is more expensive, it may be a better deal overall, dependent on quality. However, it’s important to note that expensive is not always better, either. For example, off-brand cleaning products can be just as efficient as on-brand products, for far cheaper. The bottom line is smart shopping, which requires factoring in cost per use.
- Grocery Math. If there is one type of math every person will depend on at some point in their life, it’s for groceries. We all need to eat, which means shopping for food. Thankfully, math for groceries can work in several types of math thanks to factors like sales, coupons, servings, budgets, and bulk purchases. Grocery shopping can help students learn unit prices, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, and best values.
Homeschool Math Solutions: “When Will We Ever Use This Math?”
We all know the most common complaint in response to math lessons: “I’m never going to use this in real life!” To some extent, it’s easy to see that line of thinking. Further, to be fair, it is an issue when students are taught excessively to graph an equation but they aren’t taught to manage money or how to file taxes. So, it’s understandable. However, these classic math topics (algebra, geometry, fractions, percentages, etc.) are taught with a purpose. That purpose is often unknown or unseen by students, resulting in a complaint about unnecessary math.
To that extent, let’s teach our children the WHY behind homeschool math lessons! Whether you are using a homeschool math program or free homeschool math worksheets, you can discuss the practical reasoning behind every new concept. There is always a reason for each lesson!
To get started, consider these applications for various common math topics.
- Multiplication. Though the everyday use of multiplication is fairly obvious, struggling students may still wonder why it’s necessary. We use multiplication to calculate ingredients, servings, groceries, money, treats, daily schedules, and more. Further, when in line at the grocery store, paying at the doctor, or dealing with a crowd, we do not always have the option to use a calculator.
- Division. As with multiplication, division is a math skill we use constantly — sometimes without realizing it. Division is useful for proper recipe sizes, finances, taxes, sales, gas mileage, etc.
- Fractions. Fractions are used constantly in cooking, unit prices, calculating cost versus value, sale prices, budgeting, and more.
- Percentages. Percentages are just another form of fractions, so they come in just as handy! More often than not, percentages are used in real-world examples over fraction values. For example, a sweater at 10% off may still be more expensive than a different sweater at full price, but companies anticipate the presence of a sale sign will sway buyers regardless.
- Algebra. There are more uses for algebra in the “real world” than most students realize. To start, if homeschoolers expect to attend college, they will need to study more advanced algebra to succeed. Further, other subjects like computer science or medicine will draw on algebraic equations for algorithms, medication, treatments, etc. Additionally, people utilize algebra for business and finance management (profit versus loss) and road trips (gas mileage vs. gas tank volume vs. miles covered vs. available gas stations vs. budgeted money) as quick examples!
- Geometry. Geometry is an easier subject to explain purpose and application. Oftentimes, geometry skills will come in handy when landscaping, painting, building DIY projects, and playing games like pool or bowling!
- Calculus. As with algebra, it is difficult for students to understand why they need to study calculus. While it may be rare for the general population to utilize calculus skills directly in daily life, it is an important subject to study for several fields. For example, calculus is used for physics, economics, engineering, biology, medicine, teaching, vehicle production, mechanics, technology, astronomy, and far more!