Enough Math?

A mom worriedly told me that her young daughter didn’t do a lot of math lessons this past year. She had worked on her basic math facts and learned to use math in real life situations as they came up, but she worried that this wouldn’t be enough. Could she pass her homeschool evaluation without a lot of other written math assignments to show?

As a young girl, when I was homeschooled as my family sailed the world, I did book work one day a week. Mondays. Only on Mondays did I pull out the correspondence lessons and get to work on the week’s assignments. Yet those assignments didn’t include math. My dad hadn’t bought the math curriculum as he didn’t like the new math. Instead, he gave me handwritten lists of basic math facts–multiplication tables–to copy out one hundred times each. Then he’d give an oral quiz and I’d have to write out one hundred times each any that I couldn’t answer correctly fast enough. As far as he was concerned, those were my only math lessons and they didn’t even happen every week. As a child, I saw other math lessons, though, as I watched him calculate our position weekly with an old-fashioned sextant and a huge book of trigonometric tables, when he changed money at some new country we visited, or when he used blueprints to build something or fix it, and so on. I ended up at a top university where I earned a degree in mathematics. Once a professor of a graduate level math class that I was taking even offered me a job as an instructor at his university because he’d seen me instructing some of my fellow students who hadn’t understood a problem he’d explained. So I think my math education served me well.

I’m a big believer in getting a firm foundation in math with a solid grasp of the basic facts. I’ve seen too many students struggle in middle and high school math because they didn’t really know their basic facts. I’m also a firm believer that experiencing math regularly in daily life, learning how to calculate in a variety of real world situations and watching others use math in their lives, can go a long way to making a good mathematician. So, certainly she can pass her evaluation. Especially if she’s having me do the evaluation. 😉

Cheryl (homeschool mom who was homeschooled some as a child and who has done homeschool evaluations for Florida home educated students since at least 2003)

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