Math in the Homeschool with Kate Snow

Math in the Homeschool with Kate Snow

by | Oct 1, 2020 | Math

Math can cause a great deal of anxiety in homeschooling parents. And we want to avoid passing that onto our children. Today, we’re talking with Kate Snow – author of Math Facts That Stick and Math with Confidence, all about how to effectively teach math, what we should be focusing on and some really incredible thoughts and tips on homeschooling and teaching math when math has not your favorite thing to teach.

Math in the Homeschool with Kate Snow

Meg: [00:00:00] Math can cause a great deal of anxiety in homeschooling parents. And we want to avoid passing that onto our children. Today, we’re talking with Kate Snow – author of Math Facts That Stick and Math with Confidence, all about how to effectively teach math, what we should be focusing on and some really incredible thoughts and tips on homeschooling and teaching math when math has not your favorite thing to teach.

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Welcome back everyone. Today we have with us, Kate snow, the author of math facts that stick and math with confidence as well as the writer at here with us today to talk about educating our kids classically in mathematics.

Welcome Kate.

Kate: [00:01:42] Thanks so much for having me, Meg. I really appreciate you having me on today.

Meg: [00:01:45] Yes, this is so great. So, Kate, before we get started, I love to have our guests introduce themselves, tell us a little bit about your family and how you came to do what you do.

Kate: [00:01:59] Sure. So, I live in grand Rapids, Michigan with my husband, Greg and my kids, Henry and Elizabeth. Henry is 13 and a half and six feet tall. and so, we’re trying to keep him in pants these days. And it’s challenging and Elizabeth is 10 and in fifth grade, and so I’ve always been interested in math education.

I majored in math, in college, I got my elementary education certificate, and then, once I had my own kids, I decided to homeschool. And I discovered that so many of my friends were really struggling with teaching math.  I was always like that parent at the co-op lunch table who was answering everybody’s questions about math.

And I realized just how challenging and overwhelming teaching math can be for a lot of homeschool parents. And so, I decided to start a website totally on a whim as a new year’s resolution, in fact, and just kind of started going from there and finding ways to help parents teach math with confidence.

Meg: [00:02:52] Wow. That’s really great. I love how so many people start with just the heart of helping others. And it’s very cool to see what you’ve grown into.

Kate: [00:03:04] Well, thank you. I love what I do. I love being able to help parents teach math and enjoy it.

Meg: [00:03:09] Awesome. Okay, well, let’s dive right in and I would love to talk about math facts first, before we dive into more content or age specific. Why are math facts so important?

Kate: [00:03:25] well, the math facts serve kind of two different purposes that really overlap and complement each other. One thing that, and when we talk about the math decks, I’m just talking about, you know, the single digit computations for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. So, six times eight, nine plus five, that kind of thing.

And so, one really important thing that they do is that they free up kids working memory for harder stuff. You know, we can all only keep so many things in our minds. Homeschool moms know this very well as they try to do 17 things at once sometimes. But you know, when the kids get to long division, they have so many different things to be thinking about, about where to put their digits what’s going on here.

What does this problem even mean? And so, if they get to subtraction step and they have to stop and figure out 14 minus nine, it just slows them down. It keeps them from moving forward from really understanding what they’re doing. So, having all of those math facts totally mastered, it just helps them free up their working memory for harder stuff to do more interesting things to advance in their math learning.

So that’s one thing that the math facts are very, very helpful for us. The thing that I think most parents think of first, when they think of the importance of the math facts. But beyond that, there’s actually a deeper level to the math facts, which I think is really cool. And I think it can help parents stay motivated when they’re having trouble with math facts.

Which is that, when you teach your kids math facts, especially using strategies, rather than just rote memorization, you’re also developing their number sense simultaneously you’re helping them develop a better understanding of place value of what addition, subtraction, multiplication division mean so, for example, for nine plus five, like a common strategy that kids learn is that you can take one from the phone five to make a 10.

So, nine plus five is like 10 plus four. and that’s a great way to learn nine plus five, but that also then works for doing 99 plus five or 179 plus five. You know, it’s emphasizing that place value and that regrouping that they’ll then need to undertake stand to be able to do more complicated things.

So, I think there’s two sides to that. The math fact coin, you know, that it does the, the written calculations that helps you get ready for those, but also helps you deepen your overall understanding of math.

Meg: [00:05:34] I love that you talk about strategy versus rote memorization. One of the things I think classical education gets a bad rap about is that people think it’s drilling kill. So, I think that’s so wonderful. And, having used your math facts, that stick curriculum myself.  I can attest to it being fun and engaging because the entire series is built on games and engagement.

Kate: [00:06:05] Oh, I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed it. And that’s really my goal with that series is to make learning the math facts, not this tedious, horrible stack of flashcards kind of process, but to make it actually something that you can enjoy doing with your child. and I completely agree with you about how in classical education because you know, the early stage is called the grammar stage; it’s all about memory, these important facts that well prepare kids, give the kids a foundation for the future.

Sometimes people maybe interpret that a little too literally in terms of, well, that means you can only memorize the math facts, and if there’s any understanding there, then we’re getting into the logic stage and the child’s not ready for that. So, we have to, you know, just not do that. And that’s not the case. You know, Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind, she talks about how the grammar stage is all about getting both the, like the skills and the knowledge of these operations and learning the math facts with strategies, gets you both kind of that how on the, why you memorize the fact, but you do it by learning some basic nuts and bolts about math at the same time through the strategies you use.

Meg: [00:07:08] Yes. Okay. So, when we talk about math facts, you mentioned it’s the single digit. So, when we’re working with our children, that’s what we want them to memorize. They don’t need to memorize two digit or three digit or anything like that.

Kate: [00:07:23] Absolutely not. And, you know, traditionally for multiplication and division, American schools have typically gone through the twelves. And a lot of that comes from the fact that our, you know, our, our society used to use a lot more measurements like inches and feet and things like that, pecs. And, I can’t even think, of bushels.

You know, there were a lot of things that were based in groups of 12 that we don’t use quite so much anymore. So. It’s perfectly fine for families to memorize them through 12. But I think if you get them through nine times nine or 10 times 10, you’re in good shape for moving forward.

And then beyond that, you know, kids should then in say third or fourth grade, learn how to do something like 20 times, three mentally, but that’s not something you memorize. That’s something that you then develop the place value, understanding Chanel that, Oh, twenties two tens. So, times three, I have six tens at 60.

Meg: [00:08:13] Yes, that makes complete sense. And in a way they’d still be pulling on their single digit, knowing that two and three makes six,

Kate: [00:08:22] Exactly.

Meg: [00:08:23] Two times three makes

Kate: [00:08:24] six.

Yeah. So that’s that working memory piece, right? That, Oh, I already know that part that I don’t even have to think about. cause I’ve mastered my math facts.

Meg: [00:08:34] Oh, that’s awesome. So, for anyone that’s interested, the, series that we’re speaking about is Math Facts. That Stick and there are four different volumes. There’s addition, facts, subtraction, facts, multiplication, and division. And there will be links to all of these to, purchase directly and as well, Kate has wonderful videos explaining each one that I will link in the show notes as well.

Kate: [00:09:01] Great. Thank you.

Meg: [00:09:02] Okay. So, I have followed you for a while, Kate and I follow your blog.

Kate: [00:09:10] Well, thank you.

Meg: [00:09:09] Yes

Kate: [00:09:10] I’m flattered.

Meg: [00:09:11] Well, I am one of those people who would be yakking your ear off at the co-op table. Like how do I do this? You know, ask me to diagram a sentence. I could do that all day long but ask me about math and I’m barely passed everything.

Kate: [00:09:26] You are not alone in that at all.

Meg: [00:09:29] So, so I came across an article that you wrote called Six Steps to Math Lessons to, to, what did you call it?

Kate: [00:09:38] I think an excellent math lesson or something like that.

Meg: [00:09:41] Yes. And, and I use this process because, kids like predictability. They like to know what’s coming. And so, this foundation, or this framework of doing these six steps each time has been awesome.

So, I would love if you would take a minute to talk about the six steps in how we can be successful with them.

Kate: [00:10:01] Certainly, and I’m so glad it’s been helpful for you. I completely agree that having just sort of a general framework in mind that you can adapt or be flexible with it just helps things be more predictable for your child. And it also eliminates decision fatigue for you as the mom, right. To not have to decide how am I going to start every single lesson?

So, it goes through the six steps in order and they kind of lead from just the very beginning of a lesson to the end of finishing up a worksheet. And I think parents can adapt these with any curriculum they’re not hard and fast. I’ll say just from the outset.  You use Singapore math, is that right?

Meg: [00:10:33] Yes.

Kate: [00:10:33] They’re very, they fit. So, your formats perfectly for other programs, they might be more or less like appropriate, but the general idea I think is helpful for any program.

So, I always love to start lessons with a mental math warmup of something that’s easy and helps, could start getting to activate that number sense right from the beginning.

So, it might be as something that depends on the grade level, right. For fourth grader might be working on 25, say, Oh, let’s do 25 times four. Oh. 25 times, 100 what’s 25 times five doing some of that kind of thing for first graders. It might just be, you know, one plus one, two plus six, some real simple little addition facts.

once the child has built their confidence a little bit, you’ve gotten a positive start to the lesson. Then it’s step two is to tell kids the goal of the lesson. And this is something that’s really easy to skip over because as parents, we usually get it, we’re like we’re doing it right. Digit edition, but it helps kids feel sense of progress and accomplishment.

When they kind of know what they’re trying to do in this lesson. They feel like they’ve got, they get the big picture and they’re kind of part of that team making this happen. It’s not just something that’s being done to them. and so that could be as simple as we’re working on two-digit addition today.

Or it could be something like yesterday, you worked on bar graphs today. We’re working on line graphs. They’re like bar graphs, but they’re with lines instead of bars, it just gives a little bit of orientation to the lesson.

And then step three is to connect what you’re learning to, what you’ve already learned or to connect what you’re learning to everyday life. So, in that graph example, I just gave a very done that yesterday. You did this. Today, we’re doing this. And to talk quickly about just in a sentence or two, but what the connection is yesterday, we worked on the class nine edition facts today working on plus eight or whatever that might be.

Or it could also be like, in that graph example, you might connect to your child’s everyday life today. We’re working on line graphs. Have you ever seen a line graph in everyday life? Oh yeah. When we went to the doctor, they had that line graph showing your, your height, you know, so to talk about some just simple examples of where this comes from in everyday life or what your child already knows about it, it helps your child feel smart.

It’s a great way to start saying, Hey, I already know something about this. And that only needs to take like 30 seconds. Yeah. I probably spent more time talking about it now than it needs to take an actual lesson, but it really gets you off to a great start.

Then once you get into the lesson, I suggest for step four is to think about how you can use pictures or manipulatives to show what you’re teaching.

As parents, we, we talk all the time to our children. You know, we just is to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk about itself things over the course of the day. And that’s great for their language development, but sometimes things get lost in translation. Especially if we’re trying to explain math, Justin words, they need something to look at to picture, to visualize. and manipulatives just hands on stuff is such a great way to help children understand math. And you probably see this on my website, but that things do not need to be complicated. You don’t need to spend a ton of money.

Meg: [00:13:38] Yes. I love that about you. You always find ways to simplify things. You know, I have a second and a third grader, so I never got to use your preschool stuff, but I did look at it and I love that it’s literally like grab things around your house, you know, in the addition, facts that stick, you have a list of like five things that you need, and they’re all things that you can just quick grab around your house with the exception of maybe a deck of cards, if you don’t have those of cards. so that, that is so huge. So yeah, when we talk about the manipulatives in the pictures, how do you, so Singapore, math, since we mentioned that, that’s what we use and it goes from the, the concrete to the pictorial, to the abstract.

Do you feel that that, that, that is a good way to go?

Kate: [00:14:33] Absolutely. I guess just kind of moving from real stuff to pictures of real stuff that kids can visualize and then moving to the abstract symbols on the page is just a general grade framework, for introducing really any math concept and Singapore math is a very, excellent program. And that it does that well.

And a good program should include a lot of this for you. You know, you shouldn’t have to make this up yourself no matter what program you’re using. you know, but I think, it could also be tempting to skip over that because so many things are easy to us because we’re adults and have adult brains. And to remember that, you know, what that minus sign exactly means is a new idea for a first grader.

Meg: [00:15:12] Yes. That I think is such a huge thing. So my background is education and I was a kindergarten teacher and really like, breaking it down so simple that you feel like you’re over breaking it down is how I describe it to people. Would you say that’s accurate?

Kate: [00:15:29] Absolutely. Yes. That every little huge, the things that will trip kids up are never the things you expect or they’re often not the things that you expect. So for example, I was working on writing a lesson on bar graphs, which is why they’re on my mind this morning. And just thinking about how, even for second graders, you know, if the bar is, like to figure out the height of a bar on a bar graph, to realize that they have to like slide their finger over to the axis that has the numbers labeled on it, to figure out how tall that bar is.

Like, that’s not something you can take for granted in the second grader. And the visual tracking is still coming along for second graders. So, they need to really see how to slide their finger over. Breaking those things down, is always a good idea. And I think pictures and real-life stuff, remind us to do that.

They help us slow down. And that they’re a great way for children to show like what the show, what they know, not in words. So, for example, a child can use counters to show that she gets what three plus two equals because sometimes, you know, as kids, language develops, sometimes their brains are a little bit ahead of what they’re able to say.

Meg: [00:16:34] Yes,

Kate: [00:16:35] the manipulatives help us to know what they’re understanding. They can demonstrate that.

Meg: [00:16:39] Yes. And I think that’s a great point. If you are teaching a lesson, they don’t, especially when they’re really young, they don’t necessarily need to verbalize it, if they can show it to you.

Kate: [00:16:50] Absolutely. That’s something that, some especially public-school programs, I would say, do way too much of the, explain, explain, explain, explain. And it’s good. I want kids to understand what they’re doing, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be said in words, to show understanding, there’s lots of ways to understand.

Meg: [00:17:08] Yes. Awesome.

Kate: [00:17:10] Well, and that I think leads us to that step five of the lesson. Right. Which is that when you’re using those words, pictures and manipulatives, to make sure you’re talking about the, how and the why of math. So how being the procedures. So, for example, in long division, we. Divide, multiply, subtract, bring down.

That’s the steps of the procedures, but then there’s also the why of why does that work? Why do we do them in that order? What are we trying to accomplish here, in the first place?

Meg: [00:17:41] Yeah. So that thinking just for anyone who’s new to classical, and maybe they’re saying, well, wait, I thought you weren’t supposed to do the why of things until the logic stage. I think it’s different with numbers. How would you describe that?

Kate: [00:17:56] Well, I think what I’d say is that those fundamentals of the grammar stage often involve the why often it involves understanding that addition is the opposite of subtraction. It involves taking a word problem and be able to figure out whether addition or subtraction applies to it. So, it’s still fundamentals, but it’s just not, And it’s, and it’s being reasonable about where child developmental level is.

Like, we were just saying there’s some things that kids might be able to show with the middle, explain or get into the why of with concrete stuff, but might not be able to put into words. and so being okay with the child’s developmental level, but really focusing on those basics that they need to master.

Meg: [00:18:40] Okay. Perfect.

Kate: [00:18:41] Great. And then let’s see, I think, where were we? Oh, we gotten through the first five steps of an excellent lesson. The step six, I include just because I think it’s so easy to skip, which is to check your child’s work as soon as they finish it. So usually a lesson, you will demonstrate something, teach something.

The child will work independently on something, depending on the age. But then to check your child’s work, as soon as they finish it, it just shows so much respect for what your child has done and so much value for what you’re doing and keeps us from just assigning stuff and not following up. It shows mutual respect.

I would say to check your child’s work as soon as possible, give feedback, see what you need to tweak for tomorrow. And then also of course, keeps you from having just a pile of stuff you haven’t graded.

Meg: [00:19:25] yes. And then I think if it gets to that point, it becomes like non meaningful and everyone forgets what they were doing. And then you try to go back and fix it and nobody’s in the same frame of mind.

Kate: [00:19:37] Exactly. And you don’t even know if you need to, at that point. I know I once had a very dear friend who I was helping her with something, and she showed me her kids’ math book and she hadn’t graded it in like a month and a half or something. And she was going back. She really felt like she should go back and grade every single page and they have them redo the miss problems.

I was like, no. That’s the point. It’s time to just let it go. Move on. See what, where do you go from here? you know, if you have reporting requirements that require some graded work, sure, go ahead and do it. But if you get way behind, give yourself a free pass and move on.

Meg: [00:20:08] Yes. Yes. And just check it yourself. Maybe notice like the, where you see things commonly happening and just refocus your future lessons on reteaching that

Kate: [00:20:21] Exactly. And it also said that I think homeschool moms have a tendency to be too hard on themselves and their kids for what I’d call the silly mistakes, you know, to look at like an 85%, that’s mostly silly mistakes and just feel like everybody has failed. and that’s not the case. kids are going to make small mistakes it’s going to happen.

So, I encourage you when you check your kid’s work to focus on the big picture. Not the little details. If there’s one, you know, addition fact wrong in a page of 10, three digit addition problems, that is okay.

Meg: [00:20:54] Okay, well, this is so exciting. So, like I said, have used these six steps and it’s been wonderful. It’s changed the dynamic. And I think one thing that I would add is if you’re like me and you don’t like math, pretend like you do.

Kate: [00:21:12] Yes. Oh, that’s so important.

Meg: [00:21:15] Yes, your children are going to feed on it. And we got in a rut where we actually, we year school, year round, and we got in a rut where we actually didn’t do school for like the last month or do math for the last month of summer because was just like, like I was down about it.

So, they got down about it and I was like, Whoa, wait a second. I had to check myself. Got my ducks in a row. And even though I dread math, I am excited and bubbly when it’s time for math.

Kate: [00:21:46] Fake it until you make it. Absolutely. We set the tone in our houses and with our kids. And that’s really important. Cause if mom looks like she’s heading to the dentist, every time a math book comes out, you know, everybody else will too.

Meg: [00:22:00] Oh, that’s funny. So, okay. Before we dive into the next, questions, I would love to talk a little bit about math with confidence. Can you tell us about it? What’s going on with it? Cause it is a new program that’s in development, right?

Kate: [00:22:15] That’s right. Yeah. So, math with confidence is a, unlike the math facts that stick book, it is a full series. It’s a full homeschool math curriculum. So far, the kindergarten level is out. And then I’ll be adding a new level each year through at least fourth grade. So, first grade will be out in May of 2021 and then moving onward each year.

Meg: [00:22:37] it almost makes me want to have another baby.

Kate: [00:22:40] Go for it. And the goal of the program is really to have a fun, playful, conversational program. That’s at the same time, very thorough, rigorous, and gives kids everything they need to have a solid foundation in math.

Meg: [00:22:57] That’s so

Kate: [00:22:57] exciting!

Lots of. I’m really having so much fun working on it. There’s lots of, lots of games, like in the facts that sticks series then, especially in the kindergarten and first grade level, lots of like pretend, play, like pretend store or scavenger hunts, lots of gross motor it’s so much fun. I’ve just had a blast writing it. And so I’ve currently in the kindergartens out. First grade is close. You know, people are there’s editors and illustrators working on it, and I’m working, writing second grade right now and have a

Meg: [00:23:28] my group Oh my goodness.


Kate: [00:23:29] It’s so much fun. I have a wonderful group of pilot testers who are testing it out as I write the lessons. So, I write, they try it out, they give me feedback and then I revise and just getting to see them put it into action right away is just so much fun. So, I’m very blessed by them.


so yeah.

Meg: [00:23:48] Well, that leads me kind of into my next topic that I’d love to talk about. And that is what skills should we teach or focus on in each of the stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

Kate: [00:24:02] That’s such a good question because there’s so many different topics that it feels like kids need to learn about in math. Right? I mean, we have the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication division, but then we’ve got fractions. We’ve got shapes. We’ve got graphs. We’ve got probability, you know, there’s just, there’s measurement, there’s all of these different things.

And so, it can feel kind of overwhelming. I think being sorting out kind of what’s most important at the different grade levels. And in general, I’d say that all those things are great. They’re all wonderful parts to enjoy about math. but there are certainly things that are most important at each stage.

And so, if you’re feeling pressed for time, or if you’re worried that your child, doesn’t something, understanding something, knowing what’s most important can kind of help you weed that out and focus your energy. So, for the grammar stage, which is the first grade to fourth grader, so we’re focusing on the fundamentals.

That’s really the stage in which to help kids just gain full proficiency with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and by full proficiency. I mean, knowing the facts really well, knowing how to do the written calculations. For all those operations as well. And, but then also knowing how to do mental math with all of them, because all three of those things work together.

So, with multiplication, right? Like we had that example of 20 times three being able to do that mentally is an important part of fully understanding multiplication, but a child should also be able to do. Yeah, 327 times nine on a piece of paper. And by the end of fourth grade, it’s wonderful for the child to be able to say, I know, nine times seven, I know three times seven.

You need to know those facts very well. so does that make sense for the grammar stage? Kind of really focusing on those things. And it’s, like I said, it’s great to do shapes, measurement, data – those are kind of think of them as like the frosting on top of elementary math. They’re important. They’re developing key skills, but if you know, when push comes to shove.

Let’s make sure those four operations are down. Cause the child who ends fourth grade with all four of those things, totally solid can do anything. Like they’ll be fine.

Meg: [00:26:14] So I have one child who excels in math. I don’t know where he got it because mom and dad both are not math people.

Kate: [00:26:24] It’s your wonderful teaching.

Meg: [00:26:27] And then I have one who, is slightly dyslexic and I have a feeling, this is where we’re going to, we’re going to head with her, because I don’t want to create this anxiety that becomes associated with math, like I had, so. Okay. Very good.

Kate: [00:26:46] focusing on the majors can help with that when you’re like, hi, she really getting, you know, measuring with inches and feet. If she’s got those other things down, those other things will come, and it will work out.

Meg: [00:26:59] Okay. Okay. Very good. So how about for the logic stage and before you answer that, is there ever a time where you can delay the move into the logic stage? Or would you suggest that if, if these foundational things are not mastered, what would you suggest.

Kate: [00:27:21] Well, let’s see, I’m going to actually answer those in opposite order, if you don’t mind. So, first talk about what recovering the logic stage, but then how that kind of all fits together. So, the logic stage generally like fifth grade to eighth grade-ish, and the most important things that kids are working on in math in that stage is learning how to think proportionally.

So if you think about fractions, decimals, precents, all of those things are really about how one quantity relates to another it’s about the relationships. So, if you have, you know, 0.762, you’re thinking about, well 0.7, six, two of what they’re all like parts of things. and so that’s the main skill of that stage, and it’s leading towards of course high school where children will get way more abstract towards that rhetoric stage, where they’ll be really focusing on algebraic relationships.

And so, parents often feel like they are behind in elementary school. if their child just as a little bit just needs a little bit more time or isn’t quite developmentally ready for some of these topics. and. There is if your child is a year or two, even kind of behind the typical grade progression, I tell parents to keep on it, but don’t freak out. You know, focus on just helping build step-by-step work with where your child is at and each day focus on just taking that next step forward- not to give up entirely.

Sometimes parents just get frustrated and stop and that’s no good.

Meg: [00:28:58] No, no, no.

Kate: [00:29:00] No, but, but, and the reason, but the reason you don’t have to freak out is that middle school programs typically have a lot of mush. So, as kids are working on the proportional thinking, some kids will need longer. Some kids will need shorter, but your child can really start algebra anywhere from I’d say seventh till 10th grade 11 and still be fine for college admissions.

Meg: [00:29:26] that’s when I took algebra was

Kate: [00:29:27] 10th

Meg: [00:29:28] grade.

Kate: [00:29:29] Yeah. I mean, that’s totally fine. a lot of colleges require four years, but as long as they, you take pre-algebra in ninth grade, still meet that four years. I’ve tutored a student for several years through high school where that’s what he did. He did, he started algebra in 10th grade. He got through algebra two and seeing his senior year, and he had great college options, this year.

And so.


Meg: [00:29:52] that’s good.

Kate: [00:29:53] You know, and so I think people feel like no, they’re behind the grade level, but the thing is that yeah, like I said, there’s just mush, like what exactly needs to be covered at which grade level is not hard and fast, especially in sort of the transition from middle school, math to high school math.

And so, if you’re a little bit behind, it’s really like a year or two you’re really okay. and if you get to the point where there’s your child is way, way behind, there are still ways to catch up.

One of my tutoring students, I started with her in fourth grade and she could not add four plus three. She had such a bad public-school education. They’d kind of written her off. I actually wrote addition facts that stick for her, basically. Like she’s what inspired that books that like, okay, we can do this. We’re going to get, get it done. and she from fourth grade to eighth grade, was able to catch up and start algebra in ninth grade through just like focused work through letting go some of these topics that we’re talking about, right?

Like measurement, we didn’t do like third grade geometry. We didn’t go back and worry about that. We focus on getting her caught up in the operations of understanding what she’s doing and then moving into proportional thinking and she was ready to go.

Meg: [00:31:01] So, tutoring is an excellent option for those who get to the point where either they are meeting that wall of frustration, or they’re not. Comfortable or able to explain it. I know with Singapore math, there is an affiliate. I’m not sure if I know she’s officially affiliated with them. but it’s and she’s got great videos for every single lesson.

And I totally, he signed my son up for that because he’s, he’s moving way better without me on that.

Kate: [00:31:36] That’s an awesome resource. Yeah. And absolutely just because you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean that you have to teach every single subject yourself.

Meg: [00:31:43] Yes. Yes.

Kate: [00:31:45] And I think most parents are probably more capable of math than they think a lot of people had really bad math educations themselves and with something different. I think I’ve heard of so many moms who come to me and say, I never realized I couldn’t understand math so well, but because I’ve been teaching along with a different program than I used, now I see it. I love seeing this all come together. I’m so I think a lot of parents underestimate what they can do in math, but at the same time, like time is finite. We only have so many hours in a day and, you know, keeping up with your child’s math lessons to really do that well, can become very time consuming.

So even me as my high school student, I was telling you about, by the time we got to the second half of algebra two, I was finding that I needed to do a bit of refresher since I hadn’t done a whole lot of algebra two in the last 15 years, and that’s with the math degree.

Meg: [00:32:36] And from a mathematician.

Kate: [00:32:38] Exactly. You know, it’s just, it takes work to keep up with that, to remember that, and to be able to teach it well. It’s a significant endeavor. And so it’s not ever failure to feel like you need other resources, whether it’s a tutor or videos or an online program or an online course.

I just always question parents that no matter what you’re doing, you should be paying attention to where your child’s at. And just checking in regularly.

Meg: [00:33:06] Okay.

Kate: [00:33:07] you know, a program that’s fully online. Sometimes kids just start getting really good at guessing or matching the patterns in the computer program. And so, you know, having a conversation once a week about, Hey, what’s your learning? Let’s try some of these problems on paper. it’s never a bad idea.

Meg: [00:33:23] Yes. That’s true. Good point. So, okay. Let’s talk about the rhetoric stage then the scary, the big scary one.

Kate: [00:33:55] About what they observe and notice, or, they’re able to in history, look at, like source documents and make an argument based on what they’ve read. In math it’s a little different because we still don’t really expect anybody to be creating, you know, Their own math theorems or anything like that in high school.

But instead, what they’re really learning to do is to think very abstractly through the language of algebra of understanding variables, using variables to represent things, solving problems around them. And so, you know, obviously algebra, geometry, algebra two, and increasingly probability and statistics are just important.

Yeah. Part of those, those high school years.

Meg: [00:34:39] would you say that that order you just listed them in is typically the progression.

Kate: [00:34:44] That’s typically the progression, but, you know, whatever, whatever program you’re using, it’s fine to go with what they do. Some programs now integrate more geometry into their algebra courses than when we were kids. And that can be a really great way for kids to not just do one thing for a year, like, you know, do algebra and geometry and forget all their algebra, but to have a more integrated and see how they connect to each other.

Meg: [00:35:08] Okay. So, thinking about, Singapore math, they only go through grade eight. So, what would be a suggestion from you for high school curriculum?

Kate: [00:35:20] My favorite for kind of, I’d say like medium to medium high kids, is to use the Jacobs algebra. For Jacob’s algebra and geometry. And it’s available from, let’s say from Master Books. And they have a really nice set there. I also like forced her, Oh, I think it’s Veritas Press has a Forester, algebra and algebra two.

And those are also really good solid programs for kids who are maybe more of an average to lower average for kids who struggle in math. I think, Matthew sees, high school programs are excellent for just step-by-step getting the basics down, in a really concrete way.

Meg: [00:36:01] okay. I did not realize they had a high school program.

Kate: [00:36:05] Yeah, they go, I think they go through calculus. And to be honest, it is not the most rigorous version of any of those courses. For a child who you’re, you know, you who seems mathy, who seems like they’re going to want to pursue high level math and science in college, I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you just have to get a kid through algebra, I think it’s a great way to go.


Meg: [00:36:26] Yes. And that actually leads me to my next question. If there’s a child out there, a mom listening, and their child is just completely excelling beyond even her capabilities. How can she nurture it? What suggestions do you have to help feed that hunger and excitement for it?

Kate: [00:36:48] Oh, that’s a great question. It’s such a fun one too. There’s a lot of great challenge, math resources out there. one of the best for elementary kids is a program called Beast Academy. and have you seen those. Oh, they are great. My son adores math and we used, the third grade through the fifth-grade program.

Second grade wasn’t out when he was in second grade. So, beast Academy is a series of graphic novels, which sounds like it’d be easy, but it’s actually the hardest homeschool math program out there for the elementary level.

it is all like really difficult problem solving starts with easy problems then works up so that by the end of each unit, children are solving very challenging problems. and so it’s not, it’s, I’d say it’s too hard for a lot of kids it, or it could be frustrating for a lot of kids, but for kids who are real top math students, they can just eat it up and have a blast with it.

Meg: [00:37:44] That’s so interesting. So, I have a friend who, when I first started, homeschooling suggested Singapore math to me. So that’s how I came to that. And she said she supplements with Beast Academy. And I mean, her, her son is like, Oh, well, like he’s doing high school math at this point and he’s an elementary school, I think still. but Beast Academy has popped up on my, you know, how you see those ads all I was like, ah, I don’t know. That looks really hard.

Kate: [00:38:13] It is hard.

Meg: [00:38:15] Yeah, I’ve never gone into it. So, it’s definitely not something that you want to sign your kid up that is, below average or average. And I hate using the word average.

Kate: [00:38:25] I know, it always feels like such like writing kids off and honestly, a child who has a lot of persistence and who really enjoys math might still enjoy reading. They haven’t, they built an online program. And printed books. I’ve only used the printed books. So, I can really only speak to that. The graphic novel guides are really fun for kids of any sort of math ability to read and enjoy.

And then the workbooks or the online program with the problems is what really gives like the depth and the meat to the program that makes it really challenging. So, you can, the graphic novels are great just to read as a supplement. and then the problems can be great as an add on for harder problems or as a full curriculum.

It’s a full standalone curriculum for a child who wants that.

Meg: [00:39:06] I did not know that. Oh, my goodness.

Kate: [00:39:09] They also, they they’re owned by the company, art of problem solving and art of problem solving has, very advanced courses are very challenging courses for pre-algebra on through calculus. So again, I very much recommend those textbooks for a child in middle school or high school who wants a very challenging version of the typical classes.

I really love how they encouraged kids to go deep rather than fast. With kids who are math whizzes, it can be tempting to just like zoom yeah. Through. but that often leads to not very deep understanding, or it can lead to you getting to sophomore year of high school and suddenly needing like two full years of college math to fulfill your high school math requirement. which often is just beyond what anybody wants to do take on at that point. So pacing yourself with depth rather than speed is something I always encourage for kids like your son or my son as well as also just, just loves math and is quite gifted at it and so we’ve tried to encourage, you know, deep rather than fast in

Meg: [00:40:15] Yes. Go slow to go fast.

Kate: [00:40:18] Exactly and to enjoy it thoroughly along the way. There’s no rush.

Meg: [00:40:21] Right. Exactly. Oh, this has been so great. So, Kate, is there anything else you would want people to know when it comes to math and classically educating their kids?

Kate: [00:40:34] Oh, I think, I would encourage parents to learn along with their kids, to have an open mind about what they can do and what their kids can do. to, like you said, fake it till you make it, don’t be afraid to try something different. If you have a program that’s really not working or causing a lot of math tears, that probably means that you need something else or there’s something that might be a better fit for you and your family.

I’d also say to just have as much fun as possible in math, especially if you’re not a big math. Fan, to look for math games, math, picture books, ways to apply math to real life, to use it in everyday life, to add some joy to your math time, because that will affect your attitude, your child’s attitude, and will help make math. It can really be a pleasure, not just a chore. And so, I encourage parents to look for ways to make that happen.

Meg: [00:41:26] Yes. And one of my favorite things to do is to switch it up and when I say switch it up, I mean, your environment, we’ll go do math outside. Sometimes we’ll go do it upstairs on the bed. We’ll go in the back-family room. Sometimes we’ll sit at the table. And I think changing that, that scenery also helps, at least in our house.

Kate: [00:41:48] And chocolate chips as counters also never a bad approach on the days when you really need something.

Meg: [00:41:56] Yes. One for you. Five for mom.

Kate: [00:42:01] That’s the ratio we’re looking for.

Meg: [00:42:05] Well, Kate It has been such a pleasure talking with you and learning from you. I just appreciate your time so much, and I am really hoping that at some point in the future, I can use your math with confidence because it just sounds wonderful.

Kate: [00:42:21] Well, thank you so much for having me, Meg. I really appreciate it and wish you all the best.

Meg: [00:42:26] Thanks. Bye.

I hope that today’s show is brought you some comfort in knowing that you too can teach math. And if you struggle with it offered you some really awesome tips and thoughts for, improving your experience in your homeschool math time.

I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to leave feedback and a review on iTunes and on the podcast. It really, really does help us reach more people. And it’s so great to get the feedback on the work that we put into bringing you this free content. So, if you haven’t had a chance to leave a review, please take a moment to do so.

Every time a review is left. Not only does it allow others to see what our content is about and what kind of value we bring to you, the listener, but your positive feedback and review helps us move up in the algorithm and allows us to become visible to more people out there looking for homeschool advice and help. So, thank you for taking the time to do the review. And I look forward to sharing our next guest with you soon. Until then, happy teaching.



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