I am planning for our 2015-2016 school year and am facing a new challenge. I have loved using Singapore Math (CA Standards edition) with my kids. Ashby has used the 1A-6B editions.
Singapore Math 6
Ryan has used K-3B so far. I appreciate the alignment with the (now defunct) CA state standards, which were among the most rigorous in the nation. Now that Common Core has replaced the state standards, however, I am less concerned about keeping our math curriculum aligned. In fact, I have already purchased the 4A-5B Singapore Math Standards Edition materials I’ll need for Ryan (before they disappear). I skipped 6A and 6B, because I have found a new resource that I plan to use when he reaches 6th grade. (As for Sadie, she’s several years away from any math curriculum. I imagine our homeschooling will look different by then…significantly more heavy on technology. In any event, the gap in ages means that little miss Sadie will probably have all new curricula.
So, what resource will we be using? Ashby will start Art of Problem Solving- Prealgebra
in 6th grade. I know that it covers much of the same material as Singapore Math 6. But, the teaching style is different and requires more writing on Ashby’s part than she is used to with Singapore. So, my plan is to start it as usual and let Ashby set the pace. If she knows something already, we can skip it and, possibly, get started on Algebra 1 before the year is done. But, I didn’t want to jump right into Algebra 1 with a new math program. I figure it’s better to move fast through repeat material than to jump too far ahead and overwhelm her to the point of hating math.
Art of Problem Solving- Prealgebra
Ashby has done a few lessons already, as we (meaning I) decided it would be best to do some math over our summer break to prevent the dreaded “summer brain drain.” So far, she likes it. The AoPs website offers short videos on many of the topics, and Ashby enjoys watching them in between reading the lesson and doing the exercises. I’ll report back after the year is under way to compare Singapore 6 and AoPS Prealgebra. For now, on to scheduling 6th grade grammar!
I’ve spent the past few days reviewing the CA state standards for education (slowly becoming the national Common Core Standards). This is always my first step in preparing for the new school year. I realize that many homeschoolers want nothing to do with state standards; that’s partly why we homeschool, right? But, for me, the standards are a natural starting point. Maybe this is a byproduct of my time as a public school teacher. My credentialing program taught me to design lesson plans based on the state standards. Additionally, I was encouraged to write those standards specific to the day’s lesson on the whiteboard so that the students would know why we were studying whatever we were that day. I’d be shocked to learn, though, that even one student paid any attention to what I wrote. Kids don’t care about state standards. Why would they? The wording is so convoluted that, often, even adults have to reread them several times to understand the meaning. From the students’ point of view, standards are just another set of rules they are asked to follow without question. Writing the standards on the whiteboard might have made my classroom appear more focused and exemplary to visitors and administrators. But, did it actually serve a useful purpose and benefit the kids? No. In fact, I think it might have overwhelmed some of them. I stopped writing the standards on the whiteboard.
So, why do I still read the standards? I believe they are worthy goals for teachers. Granted, it’s very difficult to achieve these standards in a classroom setting with 20-30 students. With just two students, though, I can do it. Also, as a teacher and mom who likes to plan, I feel most confident organizing my curriculum around concrete goals. The standards give me a framework. In reality, as I read the state standards for each kid’s grade level (which can take a while and be somewhat tedious), I find that Ashby and Ryan are already secure in many of them. So, I just highlight the ones I want to address in the coming year and build from there. As the school year progresses, I occasionally review the highlighted standards to make sure we on track and adjust future lessons accordingly. This review process takes only a few minutes at a time and gives me a sense of reassurance that we are headed in the right direction. Of course, I never ask Ashby and Ryan to read the standards; they’re just for me.