Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adventures in Home Education: Maths

We've reached the conclusion that BB is better off at home for now.  The decision isn't final and we'll continue looking for options to get him 'in the system' but for now we're working at home.

Maths: after much debate and research we've settled on

Miquon  - he's currently working on the red book.  This isn't new learning for him for the most part, but he's able to work it through independently and is enjoying the review.  He loves filling in the workbooks and every now and then he strikes something new.  The hands on aspect of the rods is excellent for when he meets new ideas because he can 'see' what is happening, although in reality they mostly sit on the shelf while he works through the pages independently.

In addition to the Miquon books we've been trying out a few different websites to add variety and challenge.  We've completed trials of WhizzMath, Dreambox and Aleks.

WhizzMath claims to give a full report of the child's "math age" in various areas and then to work the child at that level.  Unfortunately the trial was pretty limited and after putting lots of time into the initial assessment we discovered that we 1) couldn't access the report without subscribing and 2) could only try one lesson as part of the trial.  This meant we couldn't tell how accurate the assessment was, and couldn't tell how well the lessons are adjusted to meet the learner's needs so far as pace and repetition of the lessons.  What we did see looked good, and we might come back to it at some point.

Dreambox was fun, and BB often asked to play with this, but there was so much 'fluff' surrounding the actual learning - stories, games and animations that he got frustrated with it quickly and didn't stick with tasks long enough to make much progress without direct supervision.  The teaching style and sequence of activities was excellent and for a child who likes stories and 'playing' with maths I'd really recommend it.  The other disadvantage of this was that it only goes to grade 3 which is about where he's finishing now.  Oddly it started him at the beginning of grade 2 which meant he didn't try any new learning activities, but the review was good.

Aleks was our favourite, and the one we're continuing with for now.  It's the one with the least 'game like' learning (it's not game based at all).  BB is very motivated by seeing what's left in the pie chart for him to learn, and we both like that he can move on as soon as he demonstrates mastery so the pace is as fast or as slow as he needs it to be.  For some of the tasks he needs some paper and pencil practice to really master them, but it's great that it's broken down in to small chunks so we can see exactly what we need to address.  He's looking like completing 3rd grade in the next week or two, but the programme includes right through to college level courses so it should keep him happy for as long as he's interested.

Life of Fred is probably where we'll go once he's finished with miquon  - BB will likely enjoy the story and the concepts covered should provide challenge for some time to come.

Finally, we've also been adding a few bits and pieces of other maths from various sources, like some Christmas themed bits and pieces we did last month:

Equivalent decimals, fractions and words Christmas Trees
Two times table Angels

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