Even if you’re well prepared to teach math from your own education, you may find that the standards and approaches have undergone a radical shift since your own K – 12 education. This article helps you get a quick overview of the standards and some other important areas, which you can then extend as necessary. If you haven’t yet acquired your state’s homeschool curriculum, you can find your state’s education website at the United States Department of Education site here: nces.ed.gov
The National Standards and Homeschool Math
Time was when students began math with counting, followed by addition and subtraction. They then progressed to multiplication and division, added in fractions, division, and decimals and that covered elementary school math. It was not until high school that geometry or algebra was begun. This is no longer the standard approach. As indicated in the standards from the National Council of Teachers of Math, available here: standards.nctm.org there are ten standards, all of which are taught at every level. They are:
- Data Analysis & Probability
- Numbers and Operations
- Problem Solving
- Reasoning & Proof
If you had been relying on worksheets or similar for your math program, you may wish to rethink, because those materials or any materials of any age are unlikely to convey math in the ways in which it is now understood to be best presented.
References for Homeschool Math
The kind of references that are usually used for elementary math are things that one can find on the Internet, such as converting Celsius to Fahrenheight and miles to kilometers and other measurements; the value of pi; or the formula for the area of a circle or trapezoid. You might consider a reference on the lives of mathematicians, books of math puzzles and brain teasers, and free math games, such as solitaire, other card games, chess, checkers, sudoku.
Supplies for Homeschool Math
Types of supplies for homeschool math include:
- plain paper, graph paper
- manipulatives including Cuisenaire™ Rods, pattern blocks, geometry boards
- protractor, compass, ruler, French curve
- slide rule, calculator, abacus
- scale, measuring cups, thermometer
Projects for Homeschool Math
Math is such a broad field, that I am going to provide a few specific ideas and then suggest some websites for project ideas.
- Make up a new brain teaser.
- Prove that an insoluble puzzle is insoluble.
- Replace some of the examples from Lewis Carroll’s book Symbolic Logicwith examples of your own that function in the same way. Provide the answers to go with.
- Do as complete an analysis as you can of an opening move in a game of chess, checkers, tic-tac-toe, hangman, or Chinese checkers.
- Create a strategy for playing Mastermind™.
- Make up a series of tangram puzzles that have some logical connection.
- Explain how to solve a Rubik’s cube puzzle.
- Enumerate the types of calculations that are needed to fill out a 1040 tax form.
- Create a scale model of a room in your house and create a new configuration of furniture in it.
- Plan a garden down to how many seeds should be planted per row.
- Mathematics Science Fair Projects – juliantrubin.com
- Math Projects – mathguide.com
- Math Ideas for Science Fair Projects – mathforum.org
Web Resources for Homeschool Math
There are numerous web resources for math. Here are three good ones:
- National Library of Virtual Manipulatives – nlvm.usu.edu
- Marilyn Burns’ articles about using math manipulatives – teacher.scholastic.com
- Wolfram MathWorld – mathworld.wolfram.com
Field Trips for Homeschool Math
- Give your student a map and calculator or have them look up several possible routes on Google maps or MapQuest and turn any trip into a mathfield trip.
- Visit a weighing station during hunting season. Instead of driving past the weigh station on the highway (because it’s not for cars), stop in and see what they do there.
- Visit a farmer’s market and find out how prices are calculated.
- Visit any grocery and find items of the same type that are difficult to compare because the terms in the unit pricing are different and figure out a conversion.
- Visit a science museum and find the math-related displays.
- Visit a cultural museum and look for ways in which math was/is a part of daily life in the culture.