The Maths Approach

I’ve been experimenting with how to approach maths with my boys and to be honest none of them have stuck.  Often they would get on with what I had challenged with them, but there was something really niggling at me that it just didn’t feel right.  I’ve tried books. I’ve tried a couple of online sites.

The latest one I tried was IXL.  I chose it partly as a comfort factor that the boys would be practicing the curriculum topics.  It keeps track of their progress and achievements which gives me the ability to prove to the ‘education authority’ that they are doing ‘work’.  But the more we used it (over the past month), the more I disliked it.

It reminded me of school. (It was boring). It was incredibly repetitive. Their scoring system was incredibly frustrating too – one wrong answer would take away a bunch of points, meaning they would have to do even more questions to reach the ’100′ goal.  I found the frustrating the small amount of times I helped them through some questions.

It just didn’t feel right. So I asked them if we should ditch IXL.  And they said yes. So we have!

In it’s replacement we are going to be using Khan Academy.  The great thing here is that the technology and videos are so far ahead of anything that IXL or similar could achieve.  It also covers much more than maths.  We started using it with much fun last week – exploring the games and programming.  My boys successfully managed to manipulate numbers to get the characters in already created games (in this case DarkJumper) to do different things – like jumping faster, higher, lower, etc.  Along the way they figured ways of hacking/cheating to get the highest score and managed to crash the application (by using numbers in the program that were too big).

There are awards/points/badges in Khan Academy too though I think they are implemented in a much nicer way.  It’s also great that Khan Academy is free. Yay.

Our first experiences are good and the plan in the new year is to make this a daily habit.  Ideally spending 1 – 2 hours on Khan Academy.  The rest of the day is then free to do *whatever*.

I also plan to get stuck into it.  Doing activities they are doing and also learning more about programming.

After making my decision to go with Khan Academy I also happened to come across this video where the founder of Khan Academy talks about his story.  It makes my decision to use it feel even more right.

2 thoughts on “The Maths Approach

  1. Hi! I am reading this at 5am Uk time, racking my brains as to how can I become a better facilitator of my sons education. I have been home educating for 5 months now, my son is 4. I have been pulling my hair out and trying different methods, especially with maths. I tried Ixl and my son became really stressed out doing it. Even I found it a little boring and frustrating. One of the main factor was the removal of points each time they get something wrong. It created this sense of failure as they can see the points going down. I use abc mouse, I have tried reading eggs, and I also tried tabtor which is even worse than Ixl.

    Right now I am very happy with abc mouse and another site called education city. My son loves them both so we do abc mouse on buses, on trains and in cares on the ipad. We do education city when we are at home. I have just now signed up t Kahn academy and I love it. Thank you for sharing, I really think we will incorporate this into our daily learning whenever we get the chance to. Sometimes I feel like there is just too much to do. However, my son always needs some form of stimulation, and he gets bored quickly. So i try to use different programs as well as hands on learning and lots of outdoor play to keep him happy, and interested.

    Love your blog, I will come back often. I always like to connect with mother home educating mums.

    Blessings x

    1. Thanks for commenting.

      We’re doing alot of Minecraft these days and I’m working on some ideas on how to teach maths through that :)

      For my younger one (3) I try to teach through Cuisennaire Rods and Lego.

      To be honest, I’ve let go alot on the maths side of things and am learning not to worry whether they do specific maths stuff. I focus more on their interests and talk about maths within that when the opportunity arises.

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