Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rachel's Math

I have to find a better math program for Rachel for next year!

We have been using Singapore Math, which I like very much for the younger grades. It is put out by the government of Singapore (so there are some strange names--not only lots of Chinese names, but names they think are quintessentially American but that often seem dated) and is a text and a workbook for each year, split into exercises and topics quite well. Cartoon illustrations have kept the books from seeming too dry, and they are also colorful and illustrate the concepts with pictures, which I've found makes everything pretty clear.

However, we all know my grasp of math is not the best--Matt says I have a mathematical mind, and I can get along with math better than a lot of people, I guess, but things that I don't use every day are apt to be fuzzy. I need clear directions so I can remember what to do, and the last thing I want is to teach Rachel the wrong thing and have her get everything else wrong!

Consequently, when we got to geometry (my worst math subject, hands down!) I passed the math torch to Matt. The book just didn't contain enough instruction for me to make any sense of it. However, Matt is very busy--he works every day, comes home and has dinner, then he bathes the kids so I can work out (or do something else I need to do like errands), and then has the bedtime routine with Ben...often by the time that's done (he often falls asleep too), it's time for Rachel to go to bed, or she's so tired she can't focus on math, which is her most hated subject. So math was really getting short shrift for a long time.

Now that we're coming to the end of the year, though, Rachel wants to be finished, especially now that Julia is. So she and Matt have been working very hard--Matt not to fall asleep if it's a snuggling night with Ben, Rachel to pay attention and not get tired and cranky, Matt to be patient with her (remember this is like learning the ABCs to someone like him--it could be hard for him to see why a lot of people find it obtuse!) Last night they did many pages, and lo and behold! she was really understanding, and doing the problems herself. YAY! (Rachel sometimes goes along with math, seeming to understand, but then the next day remembers little, then gets mad...) They will have to keep up a good pace, but if she works hard she can be completely done in a week or so.

So for next year, I have to find a program that teaches the teacher as well as the student, so I can remember what to do and can show her anything she needs. Not that Matt isn't a great teacher--he is, and I would love to just pass the math torch on to him, but if I'm being realistic, they would never be able to do the entire year's worth of work before 2010!


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