The prospect of family math lessons isn’t one I’ve entertained in the past given the five year age difference between my two kids. But since I’m all for simplifying our homeschool time, I’m happy to have Danielle from Blessedly Busy sharing her tips for successful family math lessons with us:
Have you dreamed of simplifying your homeschool day and teaching math to all of your students at once? It can be daunting to try something new. I have been teaching family math and have found these six things to be essential for a successful lesson.
Tips for Successful
Family Math Lessons
1. Take Your Time in the Concrete
It’s really tempting to push students to give up on the manipulatives, to just solve the problem, and move on. I would encourage you to hang out in the concrete for a long time. Focus on the concrete until your student voluntarily leaves it.
- Use counters.
- Use fingers.
- Move objects.
Don’t worry if your 9 year-old still adds 7 + 9 on his fingers. This is the foundation and you want it to be really solid.
The other benefit is that many ages can approach a concrete problem. A kindergartner can add 7 oranges + 8 apples by literally putting them together and counting. In that way, the kindergartner can be a part of the older student’s lesson.
2. Choose Activities Over Instruction
While it’s nice to be able to check off skills your child can complete (double-digit addition–done!), it’s very challenging to teach a kindergartner and a 3rd grader together if the lesson is skills-based.
Instead, create or find activities they can do together.
If you’re not sure where to start, visit The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics for lesson plan ideas.
You can also download my free Area and Perimeter Multi-age Unit and let me do all of the planning for you!
3. Keep it Short
Public Schools teach one hour of math a day. Your homeschool is not a school. It doesn’t have 30 kids and it doesn’t have to take an hour to teach math. Introduce the activity and let their interest guide the time.
When you are experiencing a lot of resistance, set a timer for ten minutes. I say when and not if because everyone is going to experience some resistance, no matter how awesome the lesson plans are.
You can always try again later, or tomorrow.
Some days, we struggle and only do the minimum ten minutes of math. Other days, my students will spend an hour on one problem.
4. Have Realistic Expectations
for Each Child
I have one child that loves math and will spend an hour on one problem. I have another one who loves math and dives in, finishing very quickly, but not always correctly. And then there’s my kindergartner who struggles counting to 5.
I give them all the same problem or activity but I expect different things from each of them. For my kindergartner, she can choose to do the problem or a different math activity. Most of the time she will be a partner to one of the other students.
I expect my two older students to at least try and to ask for help from each other and then me.
However, I know that they will not work the same amount of time or produce the same quality of work.
5. Have an Alternative Activity Ready
Attitude is sometimes an issue in my house. Hopefully I am not the only one with this issue. The rule in my house is that when it’s math time, everyone is working on math, but it’s impossible to have a pleasant family math lesson when you are dealing with grumpy children.
So, I always have an alternative assignment for them if they choose to be cranky. It’s a workbook. I don’t have to prepare anything in advance, just pull it out. Sometimes I even move one of them to a different room to work.
The Most Important Tip for
Successful Family Math Lessons
Have a discussion.
It doesn’t have to be right away. You can wait until the next day or discuss at the dinner table, but the most important thing that needs to happen with every family math lesson is a discussion.
Ask “How did you solve the problem?” to get the kids talking to each other. Ask, “Do you agree with her answer?”
Discussions will grow your child’s understanding of math and the different ways to solve problems. And you may even find you grow closer as a family, which is certainly a nice bonus.
How About You? Are you ready to try family math? If you’re nervous, try doing one lesson a week and see how it goes.