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Charlotte Mason wrote extensively on the teaching of math. You will find much ease in your labors from carefully reading and pondering her insights for teaching math in Volume 1, pages 253-264, and Volume 6, pages 110-112; 151-152; 230-231. There are also Parents' Review articles that address math (listed at the end of this page). We encourage you to initiate discussion of these passages with the friendly and experienced members of our forum, among whom there is an astonishing wealth of wisdom and experience in teaching with CM methods.
Suggested Math Programs
There are many good math programs available to homeschoolers. When selecting the best fit for your family, consider your own math proficiency, and how much time you can realistically devote to teaching math every day. Those who enjoy teaching math often prefer programs that require more teacher involvement, such as Right Start or Miquon Math. Those who prefer programs that are less teacher-dependent also have excellent options, such as Teaching Textbooks or Math-U-See.
The following math programs are preferred in many Charlotte Mason homeschools:
Right Start Mathematics -- Based on the abacus; teacher-intensive. Favored by many CM teachers. For grades 1-8.
Teaching Textbooks -- An interactive program using CD-roms and an optional text; virtually self-teaching. Also a favorite among CM teachers. Elementary levels through Pre-Calculus.
Math U See -- Teaching videos, manipulatives and consumable texts.
Miquon Math -- Based on Cuisenaire rods; very kinesthetic. Teacher-intensive (teacher materials can be confusing, but there's a yahoo support list). For primary grades.
Ray's Arithmetic -- Historical, no-frills set of books for grades 1-8; recommended by Ruth Beechick. These are the texts used in US schools in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the computational skills are advanced compared to modern math texts. Lots of word problems; develops strong mental calculation skills. Affordable; very teacher-intensive. There is a yahoo support group.
Singapore Math -- Uses methods that have helped Singapore obtain high international math scores. May need supplementing with another math program.
MEP (Mathematics Enhancement Programme) -- A free math curriculum from the University of Plymouth in Great Britain. Download the practice books, lesson plans, and answer keys (for upper years) through the University website. Password required for use of some portions of the site, but homeschoolers in the US have had no problem obtaining one when they ask. MEP has a Facebook support group.
Math Mammoth -- Affordable downloadable math books.
More detailed comparisons of math curricula:
For help teaching math:
An Easy Start in Arithmetic by Ruth Beechick -- An inexpensive pamphlet packed with teaching wisdom for grades 1-3. Highly recommended and widely available.
Seashell Math by Lynn Hocraffer -- A helpful model for teaching multiplication using CM methods, by the leader of the original Charlotte Mason listserv (now the cmason yahoo group).
Living Math by Julie Brennan-- math resources with a CM focus.
Roman numerals charts are available at YourDictionary, RomanNumerals.co and wisegorilla.
Customizable number lines, Math grid paper and Graph paper: choose your size, and print for free.
Monopoly money - Prints ten bills per sheet, which can be used to practice counting money.
Read Any Good Math Lately? by David J. Whitin and Sandra Wilde -- a great source for books that incorporate or illustrate math concepts, especially in the early years.
Games for Math by Peggy Kaye -- A book of fun and effective math games using household objects; for grades K-4, approximately.
Note: Math programs generally follow either a mastery formula or spiral formula. In spiral programs, skills are cycled through lessons for review over multiple years, which is fine as long as the skills are truly mastered when they cycle through the lessons. When selecting a math curriculum, and when planning how you will assess skill proficiency with that curriculum, it is helpful to know from the start whether it is a mastery program or a spiral program. Mastery vs Spiral and here.
Additional options for higher level math:
Harold Jacob's Elementary Algebra, Basic Geometry and Mathematics: A Human Endeavor published by WH Freeman -- Classic texts that are highly rated for being engaging, thorough and yet accessible; a review here.
VideoText -- DVD program for Algebra and Geometry; recommended by Dr. Jay Wile.
Teaching Textbooks -- CD-rom courses for Algebra, Geometry and Pre-Calculus. Preferred by many over VideoText; recommended by the Andreolas, Cathy Duffy, Sonlight and others.
Ray's Arithmetic -- An economical upper-level math course on CD-rom. Check for availability of answer keys. There is a yahoo support group. (Ray's Algebra page images online)
Purple Math -- Free online algebra.
The Math Page -- Free online courses in arithmetic, Euclid-based plane geometry, and algebra, as well as topics in trigonometry and calculus.
Khan Academy -- Free video lessons in math and science.
The Teaching Company courses -- They offer a wealth of courses that make math come alive.
How to Use an AL Abacus (instead of manipulatives) with Any Math Curriculum
A small selection of living books for high school math:
Euclid's Elements -- The historic, standard text of classical geometry.
String, Straightedge, and Shadow by Julia Diggins-- A living book supplement which geometry students enjoy. ($amzn)
Parents' Review Articles About Math
Children's Arithmetic by the Rev. R. H. Quick
Home Arithmetic by Mary Everest Boole
The First Stage in Arithmetic pt 1 by Rev Quick (part 2 is here)
Mental Arithmetic by Amy Pridham
Teaching Arithmetic pt 1 by C. H. Wilkinson (part 2 is here)
Notes of Lessons has a sample math lesson.
Nursery Examples of Fractions discusses math for very young children.
See Index of Articles for more math articles.
Thanks to Amy Raab for her help with this page!
How do you keep math lessons to 15 minutes and still finish the book in a year?
By Anne White
There is nothing sacred about having a 15 minute time period for math. Actually, even in the lower grades, the PUS school schedule allowed about half an hour for math, although that did include oral drill as well as problem solving. If you need twenty minutes or thirty minutes, then do it! You know your child's needs and attention span. If you prefer, you could break up the math period (do some math, do something else, do some more math), but I personally would find that distracting.
Finally, I'd suggest that you not worry too much about finishing the book in one year. We use an older version of Making Math Meaningful (in binders) and I find it's very packed. I try to work with each concept until I think my daughter has mastered it fairly well (or we take a break from one hard thing and work on something else for awhile). I don't have her do all the problem pages. I haven't had a good look at the revised versions so I don't know how well that would apply to them. I do have her do the evaluation exercises from the end of each section as a unit test. As well, we've been incorporating math games, math library books, some math history...and you can't do all that in 15 minutes a day and still finish the textbook!
One suggestion I read somewhere else (Catherine Levison?) was that you could use the regular scheduled math time for drill and problem solving-assign them five problems about apples or whatever; and introduce new concepts at a different time when you can work with them one on one. With a math program that's always adding a little more, you might find that difficult, but it's something to keep in mind. As an example, my dd found learning double-digit multiplication VERY difficult; it took a lot of time and a lot of work with me until she could do it, so you need to allow for that, even if there isn't time in the regular math practice session. (Phonics is another time-taker if you have a child who's right at the almost-reading stage.) I think that even if you're using a structured schedule in CM homeschooling (such as the 1908 schedules reprinted in C. Levison's books), you do need to allow for some unforeseen things that are just going to take time outside of the normal run of classes.