I never wanted to switch curriculum mid-year, let alone mid-semester, partly because I am frugal and partly because I think that being flexible in homeschooling does not mean being indulgent. But then, I found myself teaching preschool math from a kindergarten textbook to a kindergartner who in reality operated on a first grade level.
One of the many reasons I homeschool my children is that it allows for a customized educational experience. By doing so, I go against the flow even in the USA. More Americans customize their cup of coffee than their children’s education, which is sad to me.
If you find yourself in any of the following situations, you will want to switch curriculum mid-semester, too.
1. Your child’s mind operates on a different level than the textbook. Every time I said “Time for math,” my son groaned. I added more manipulatives before our very minimal pen and paper practice. After all, he is a boy. The manipulatives helped a bit, which bought me more time to decide if I was dealing with an attitude or a real situation.
One day, he told me that he liked math better than reading. This confused me even further, because he reads on a third grade level and he loves books. A few days later, out of the blue, he wrote addition facts – and we have not even covered addition – on several pieces of paper and stapled the pages into a booklet. My son was asking to be challenged.
2. The textbook level is different than the content it promises. After teaching Singapore Math Earlybird Kindergarten for seven weeks, I realized it contained preschool material.
I received confirmation of that fact one day when my daughter’s preschool Rod and Staff workbook coincided with my son’s Singapore Math Kindergarten lesson – matching quantities by drawing lines.
3. The curriculum has the wrong approach either in general or for your child’s learning style. In our case, Singapore Math had the wrong approach in general. As I wondered how to advance my son without skipping math concepts he might not have already grasped, a homeschooling friend sent me an email extolling the benefits of Right Start Mathematics (RSM). Providential? I think so.
Here’s what I found out. Of course one can add more manipulatives and make Singapore Math more hands on. But, ultimately, it is still a traditional approach to math – numbers are points along a line, each being “one more” than the previous.
RSM, on the other hand, de-emphasizes counting and provides strategies (visualization of quantities) for learning math facts. For instance, RSM groups quantities in fives and tens. This enables your child to recognize quantities without counting. RSM students visualize seven as five and two, eight as five and three etc.
Based on Montessori principles and abacus work, RSM practices math concepts through games and very few worksheets. In my situation, the best part is that, as an entry level, RSM Level B (which corresponds to First Grade) covers all the basic math facts from the beginning, but faster than Level A.
My son loves building with LEGO bricks and finds the abacus fascinating. He has already found ways to build designs with it, beyond his math assignments.
If you need support, check out the RSM How To Videos. I found the RSM Yahoo Group members and archived files extremely helpful while researching whether I should switch.
Homeschooling happens at the intersection of our expectations and our children’s behavior and performance in class. By switching to RSM Level B, I placed my son in first grade and – bonus – I found a better way to do math. Have you ever had to switch curriculum mid-semester? Please leave me a comment below.