When you first begin homeschooling it can be difficult to figure out what you need to teach your kids to keep them “on track” as they approach first grade.
We are here to come alongside you with our brand-new Kindergarten program, which meets three times a week for just twenty minutes. This program is built around small, bite-sized chunks of learning that keep your children engaged and eager for more!
Below you will find a checklist of “essentials” that a child should know in order to successfully begin most first-grade curriculum. In this post, I focused specifically on arguably the most mysterious subject, Math, and then added a little more.
Mathematical Thinking Happens Naturally
Math is a natural process that children begin to explore at a young age.
As they sort toys into different arrangements, count things, recognize patterns, and otherwise make sense of the mathematical world around them, they are validating Galileo Galilei’s famous observation that “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.”
The inherent order, intricate detail, and mathematically precise structure of our world all point to the nature of our Creator, and even the youngest children can see how wonderfully God has made all things.
Sometimes, however, our kids struggle to see the relationship between this beautiful world of natural math and the numbers and symbols that represent them. Math can seem abstract when represented by numbers and symbols. By making it visual and hands-on, we can bring their natural ability to understand math back into play.
Our Developing Number Sense I and II and Math Art classes focus on making abstract math concepts more concrete for our younger learners.
Preschool Math Skills
There are many math skills that can be accomplished without paper and pencils that will prepare your child for a more formal math curriculum. Use this list of preschool Math skills to introduce fundamental math skills into your child’s play:
- Identifying colors (if your child struggles with identifying colors after age 5, and especially if colorblindness runs in your family, you may want to consult your doctor about the possibility of colorblindness)
- Identifying numbers (0-9 initially)
- Counting by rote (saying numbers, not counting objects) – start with counting to 10, then 20, then up to 100
- Counting objects (up to 10)
- Understanding one-to-one correspondence – that the last item counted is the quantity represented (if child counts ducks, 1, 2, 3 – he understands that there are three ducks)
- Subitizing — being able to identify the number of objects without counting (up to 5)
- Sorting by color, size, texture, or other feature
- Making simple patterns (block, car, block, car…)
- Doing simple addition and subtraction problems using objects (2 bears sat in the car, 1 more bear got in, how many are in the car now?)
- Saying/singing days of the week and months of the year
- Identifying seasons
- Using counting books, shape books, and other math concept books to gently introduce math concepts
Laying a Solid Foundation in Number Sense
Once kids are able to count to 20 by 1’s, to 100 by 10’s, and understand the idea of one-to-one correspondence, they are ready to move up into the next level of developing number sense.
If you can help your kids develop number sense from the very beginning of their educational journey, you will set them up for success as they develop Mathematical reasoning skills throughout their life.
What is Number Sense?
Number sense refers to the ability to work flexibly and confidently with numbers based on a deep understanding of how numbers work, which largely depends on seeing numbers in groups of 1, 10’s, 100’s, etc.
Since our mathematical system is built on a base-ten framework, it is imperative that children see numbers grouped in 10’s from their first encounter with Math.
There are three key concepts that all children need to know in order to truly understand HOW Math works, rather than skating on the surface of fact memorization and a few highly recommended Math tools (manipulatives) that help reinforce these concepts.
Three Key Concepts:
Subitizing refers to the ability to see groups of numbers at a glance without counting. When kids first begin counting, it will serve them well for years to come if they can learn to arrange the objects they are counting in groups of 10’s which are further broken up into sub-groups of 5’s.
For example, instead of counting a random pile of eight raisins, they should practice laying out the raisins in a line of five with a line of three more underneath.
The sub-groups of five are key because that is what allows our brains to instantly see amounts without counting individual objects. For example, a random pile of nine toys is not instantly countable, but an ordered group of five and four can be instantly recognized – with a little bit of training.
This ties in directly with the skill of composing and decomposing numbers – that is, grouping objects in their base ten values and breaking them back apart in meaningful ways.
If you can make this type of exercise a regular part of their play, it will help them intuitively begin to “see numbers” in instantly recognizable amounts – so that ultimately when they think of the number eight, they see groupings of five and three more, or visualizing the number twenty-six as two groups of tens, a group of five, and one more.
This basis of intuitive number sense leads spontaneously into a solid understanding of addition, subtraction, fact families, place value, estimation, and much more!
As they practice this “instant recognition” skill of seeing numbers in groups of tens with sub-groups of fives, they will find themselves adding and subtracting before they even realize what’s going on.
With a bit of intentional practice, you can help them master all the combinations of “ten” which is key to everything else in the Math Facts world, as well as develop fluency in their single-digit addition facts.
Then you can overlay “Math Talk” equations onto the familiar hands-on play-based experience and show them how subtraction is a simple extension of addition. For instance, asking how many more you need to add to six to make nine should prompt a visual image where three missing spaces “light up.” This also opens the door to early algebraic reasoning!
The Best Math Manipulatives
Anything that helps kids see numbers grouped in “10’s” is useful. The best tools, however, take this a step further and focus intentionally on the sub-groups of 5’s within every 10. This simple aspect turns every number into an instantly recognizable amount.
For young kids, ten frames serve as the perfect tool for this. You can purchase plastic or magnetic ten frames and use them to develop number sense as described above, or you can simply draw a 5×2 grid and use it repeatedly to group objects that you count.
As kids get older and are ready to work with larger numbers, you can extend all these ideas by using an abacus (if the rows of ten are differentiated into different colors in groups of five) or a rekenrek. A rekenrek is essentially a rod or string of ten beads with five in one color and five in another color. There are usually at least two of these rows to help with subitizing and adding/subtracting within twenty, but you can also get a 10-row rekenrek (which is similar to an abacus with ten rows of ten beads on each.)
You can easily DIY these Math tools, and the hands-on experience of making these may be just what kids need in order to solidify these Math concepts!
In Developing Number Sense and Mastering Math Facts Level 1, we cover all these ideas and use these tools very strategically to help walk kids step-by-step through a fundamental, lifelong understanding of HOW Math works.
This class focuses on helping kids enjoy learning as they lay a solid foundation for all future Math skills through:
- hands-on activities,
- Math games,
- creative practice (making mini-books, completing color-by-number worksheets, solving picture puzzles, using note-taking guides, etc.),
- digital activities,
- quizzes focused on ensuring skill mastery at each level, and
- ongoing conversations about the HOW and WHY of Mathematical problem-solving skills.
If you’re interested in learning more about this course, you can see the full course description here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Parents of Older Kids
If you have older kids who have some gaps in their understanding (or fluency and self-confidence!) of how multi-digit addition and subtraction with re-grouping works and are ready to begin their journey into multiplication and division in a way that builds on deep understanding, not memorization or “tricks,” then you may be interested in Level 2 of this same class.
To round out the discussion of subjects and topics kids can learn before first grade, refer to this list of ideas and this blog post on What My Child Needs to Learn Before First Grade.
Before First Grade, Science, Social Studies, and even foreign languages can be explored through educational shows, books, and by exploring the world through nature, museums, zoos, and other field trips. Have fun! Learn about the world around you with your preschoolers!
What My Child Needs to Learn Before First Grade:d
- Community Helpers – fire, police, construction workers, store clerks, servers, food service, doctors, dentists
- Lakes and ponds
- Flowers and grass
- Animals (zoo, pet shop, etc)
- Reading/exploring signs in multiple languages (around here a lot of things are in Spanish and English, or have Braille on them)
- Visiting hands-on museums and exhibits
- Finding family-friendly festivals and cultural events in your area
You will prepare your young children for future learning by providing them with active educational adventures. Those will give them an understanding of the world around them and joy in exploring it that will lead to a lifelong love of learning.
About the Author: Sandra, formerly a Math teacher (M.A.), now homeschools her three kids and funnels her passion for teaching into creating engaging, hands-on Math curriculum, courses, and activities that help kids develop a deep understanding of how Math works and enjoy the learning process. Her dream is to help raise a generation of Math Superstars who have never heard of Math anxiety and are confident in their own ability to make sense of Math. She teaches K-6th grade math including Math Art, Number Sense Addition & Subtraction, and Number Sense Multiplication & Division through True North Homeschool Academy.
Right Start Math Games – Review
Right Start Math Games are so fantastic; I cannot recommend the Right Start Math Games highly enough! This is an easy to read guide of games that use cards. While some of the directions were hard for me to follow at first, once we got into gameplay it was very simple, probably because I am a visual and kinesthetic learner.
My daughters, who I have been homeschooling for four years do not like math. They absolutely, totally, thoroughly, and completely detest math. That is my fault. My homeschooling aspirations and goals were ridiculously high in our first few years. I could say that between my youngest two children, math has been what may have broken me on any bad day we have had.
Here is what we reviewed:
I recommend this for starting if you have none of the materials. It is a great deal and includes all of the pieces you need to get playing right away. BONUS: Pre-recorded webinars and Math Card games videos on the website!
Time, Money & Math
When I talked to a Right Start representative at a conference, I felt encouraged that I could do this, and then I realized the investment. Not just financial, but time. This is what I had none of. But our family was in desperate need of some math healing so that my kids could navigate and master the math that is all around them! Also, my sweet 10 year old, the one diagnosed with some learning challenges needed some math success! My 12-year-old is pretty much on track academically but was often frustrated by her own ability (or lack thereof).
I received the Right Start box full of manipulatives, and let my kids dive in! They immediately pulled out the different pieces and parts. They found some more interesting than others. One child pulls out a bag of brightly colored squares, “What do we use this for mom?” Another child picks up the abacus “What is this thing. An instrument? How does this work?” Then they pull out a back full of stacks of cards, “Is this a game? Mom, will you play a game with me?”
The Right Start Math Game Book is a great start for any family. In fact, even if you don’t use the full curriculum, you should get this book! The games are fun! We recently packed a few games to take camping and I told my daughter to grab the cards. She packed all of the Right Start cards we had; she thinks they are fun enough to take on vacation! I read in the introduction that 10-15 minutes of a game is the same as a worksheet! My daughters love these card games, especially the games with the corner cards.
Level D Starter Kit
Level D Book Bundle
If you are not a current user of Right Start you will need to add the math set which is a complete set of manipulatives and a one-time purchase. Enter Level D. I love that the levels are given letters, not numbers. Right there, we have confidence. Her book doesn’t say third grade it says level D. It may seem like a small thing, but as any mom knows, those little things can really mean A LOT!
Also, it is not an overwhelming page of math problems. There are activities for teaching and an explanation of why you are doing that activity. It doesn’t matter if your child is new to the curriculum. It goes through a review in the first 11 lessons. These may take a long time and you may need to step back a level, at least to really hit the concepts your child is struggling with. Conversely, your student may fly right through the lessons! No matter the outcome you are being set up to move your child forward successfully.
You want the lessons to be challenging, but not hard. Both you and your child should walk away with an understanding of the lesson. If not, play more games before you move on. The joy of homeschooling your child is meeting them where they are at. If you are completely new to Right Start Math, the reviews are as much for you as for your child. You will learn a little about how to use the manipulatives, some tricky vocabulary, and you may realize you are more than a little rusty on your mental math. This program sets you up for successful teaching.
There are activities online that you can view to help you get a grasp of this as well. With any new curriculum, you will need to invest a little of your time in getting comfortable with it. I can certainly say that I felt this one was worth the time especially with the growth and confidence I saw in my daughter.
We are still working on this level, but the foundation is definitely being built. Her number sense has improved beyond what I ever expected. My daughter loves challenging me on the games, and when I mess up and she corrects me! It is empowering. I am not messing up intentionally at all, she is becoming a much quicker thinker than I am.
I went into this level with my 6th grader. If you aren’t sure which level to start with, have your student take the free placement test available with Right Start. I was initially thinking it would really just be a stress-free time together and her chance to show me what she knew and understood. I found that while she knows formulas very well, she doesn’t understand “the why” to many formulas.
We started with the review, and that went pretty well, but then we got really excited by the other lessons looking ahead. We are still working through it, but I anticipate continuing into level F when we are finished. We haven’t done all of the worksheets, because once she has mastery of a concept, we just move on.
This level while “easy” for my daughter, is so much more concrete. There was a lot of guessing going on before she was able to see how the pieces fit. The manipulatives lead to a deeper, bigger understanding. A fun lesson -14: One to the millions. Even my 14-year-old had never really visualized what that would look like in the context of cubes…who am I kidding? I hadn’t truly visualized it!
This program sets your child up very well with a great foundation. It leads to fewer mistakes and much more enjoyment and success; it is truly a fun program. So many things are even clicking better for me than they ever did. While there are worksheets for many of the lessons, I love the math journal that is included. This helps your child own the material better than they could with textbook. It also prompts you to ask a question at the end to see what the child has learned. In my home, we have begun asking, “when,” and, “how will you use this?” It is actually amazing what the kids will come up with.
- Online Support: No matter what kind of learner you are, you can learn how to teach this program to your child. You can use the guide they give you or you can go online to watch the webinars available. In fact, the webinars are available for anyone to watch. Take a peek!
- Teacher Intensive: I was worried about the amount of time I had available to do this with my children. Then I realized very quickly that I didn’t have the time not to take the time. With any task, skill, or new information you are going to teach your children, it is so important to teach it well. If you don’t what happens? You get frustrated. They get frustrated. You halfway re-teach…because you already did it once. You send them off, they get frustrated, you get frustrated. The cycle begins. Instead, teach your child well, which means having the right tools yourself. I decided I didn’t have the time not to give this the time.
- FUN: Right Start Math made math fun!
- Preparation Time: can be tricky and time-consuming. I felt like I didn’t know how to teach my child math at all. Some of these exercises and activities seemed pointless, and then some seemed so hard. Guess what, struggling a bit through it with my child was humbling. I didn’t like that little bit of frustration, however, the reward when we got it was so empowering!
- Teacher Intensive: I can understand how this could be a tricky curriculum for a family with lots of children on different levels. There are definitely ways to work around but it will take some thought.
- Cost: It felt pricey to me. The manipulatives did anyway. After I really evaluated though, I decided it is very cost-effective. It almost seemed overly simple to me.
- Not enough Work: This program felt like play and not work so I was planning on “filling in” with worksheets. NO NEED! What I needed was a shift in thinking!
And if you are looking for guidance for your student from a teacher who is not you, take a look at the True North Homeschool Academy Math Games I, Math Games II, and Math Games III. These programs utilize the Right Start Math Curriculum and the games that are mentioned here to build a strong foundation for those who are struggling or who just need more practice. For a limited time, take 10% off all math classes (K-12) on our website – use code TNMA10 at checkout until August 3, 2020.
Right Start Math gave me the paradigm shift I needed for my child’s Math Success!
Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals. While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.
Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University. Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program. Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online. She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.
Rebecca will be teaching Jr High Science, World Geography, and Logic with True North Homeschool Academy.
Right Start Math is Fun
We found RightStart Math 14 years ago when our two youngest were starting out on their math journey. They loved RightStart Math- the games, the abacus. Math was fun. My daughter, now in Algebra II, has kept her abacus through all these years!
Fast forward and we are still using RightStart Math. The True North Homeschool Academy Special Needs program uses RightStart Math and our students are thriving using Math games and manipulatives under the excellent tutelage of Amy Vickrey.
Right Start Math Works
We are doing yet another review of RightStart Math, this year with a couple of giveaways to boot. Why? Because we love this program and it works!
Let’s start by talking about Level A. Level A helps students understand quantities based on 5’s and 10’s, addition and subtraction to 10, place values to the hundreds, money, clocks, basic geometry and measurement. Card games are introduced. And seriously, folks, the card games are fun, interactive and will take your kids to math success!
Included in Level A you get the Right Start Math Lessons, Worksheets, Level “A” Appendix, and Yellow is the Sun book.
The book begins with objectives for the level by math subject and includes:
- Place Value
- Problem Solving
The book also tells you which quarter of the book these areas will be covered in. Next is a list of “living book” suggestions, along with the materials needed for particular lessons that are not included, all of which are easily found at home- such as sticky notes, tape, etc. Then a note from Joan Cotter (the developer of Right Start Math) about how the program was developed along with thoughts on how to teach math, and how this program differs from others.
Daily lessons are straightforward and simple to implement with specific learning objectives, along with materials needed clearly stated at the top of each lesson. Daily lessons also consist of warm-ups, activities, worksheets, and games. The lesson pages are then divided in half visually with “Activities for Teaching” listed on the left-hand side of the page, and “Explanations” listed on the right-hand side of the page. The Appendix includes songs, activity cards, and Assessment Checklists. It is so simple to go through the book sequentially or to pick out lessons that need to be reinforced. The structure of the book is simple and straightforward.
The First Lesson – Level A
In the first lesson, children hold up their hands and sing a simple song, then tiles and tally sticks are incorporated. Lessons include tactile, auditory and visual modes of teaching, utilizing and integrating various neurological pathways for optimal learning. Games are integral to the program and are an excellent way for kids with executive functioning issues to build not only their math acumen but overall neural integration. The Activity Pack includes several game decks: a money card deck, multiplication deck, fraction cards, and the basic number deck.
Level A helps the child understand quantities based on 5’s and 10’s, addition and subtraction through 10, place value to 100 and basic geometry and measurement. Money and clocks are introduced and problem-solving is emphasized.
This math program is well-organized for the teacher and is a fun, dynamic and interactive way to introduce basic math facts with your littles. The program acknowledges the strengths and challenges of young learners, capitalizing on both to create an exceptional math learning environment!
Level G and H
Level G and H are geared towards Middle School Mathematics and early geometry. Like the other levels in the RightStart Math series, each program includes a lesson manual, complete with lesson objectives, materials lists, activities, and extras. The program emphasis is on students taking charge of their learning, and it is assumed that they will be teaching themselves, as they go through the book. The materials for this class are worth gathering ahead of time and include a T-square, 30-60 and 45 Triangle, 4-in-1 ruler, Goniometer, mm Arc Compass, a Scientific Calculator and the math card games book.
Each lesson follows the same format where students read the lesson, look at figures and patterns, read the extras, and then summarize. But that is not all – children are encouraged to read the lesson again (gaining not only math acumen but study skills!) to look for vocabulary and define terms, and then read the lesson again to look for details. This builds critical thinking skills as they read for detailed information. Also, included are review lessons and assessments for understanding. This is a sequential, skill-based program, so understanding previous skills will ensure later success with the program.
Both levels include:
- Spiral-bound Lesson Plan Book
- Spiral-bound Solution Manual
- 3 Ring Binder and Worksheet Results Rubrics
- Game Logs
- Math Dictionary: the student co-creates this
- Records: a place for students to record need-to-know information
- Certificate of Achievement
The program is laid out in an easy to use, easy to succeed format, that makes math comprehension and learning do-able, accessible, and honestly, fun. Math games are an integral part of the program. I love how kids can record the number of times they played games. Games build math literacy, competence, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity as students search for information and solutions.
Level H is a continuation of Level G, with the added bonus of the History of Math woven through this level. Daily Card Games are included and students are expected to work independently. This is an excellent and comprehensive introduction to Geometry and will set your student up for Geometry success through High School and beyond!
Right Start Fractions
We were also given the Fractions Kit to review. This kit comes with a lesson book, workbooks, 3 Card decks, and 2 fractions charts. Are you intimidated by the thought of teaching this complex subject to your kids or your “non-mathy” kid isn’t succeeding with the program that you are currently using? Is one of your children struggling in your homeschool? You are going to want to stop what you are doing and purchase the RightStart Fractions Kit.
Lessons begin with the basics- simple enough for everyone to understand- and continue through more complicated lessons. Concepts are solidified while building on each other in a way that is fun and engaging. I love how Dr. Cotter (the author and developer of the Right Start Math Games program) has woven games in and throughout each part of the program. Math becomes associated with fun and success!
At True North Homeschool Academy we love RightStart Math; all the levels, all the games, all the fun, all the learning, all the math mastery. Kids learn math. They realize that it is doable, enjoyable and is figureoutable. Win-win for everyone!
A Special Offer
Thanks to RightStart Math for this special offer for our readers. You will get 15% off your order when you use the discount code NDHSA20ME at checkout online PLUS you get free standard shipping within the US.
About Our Giveaway
We are giving away the full RightStart Math Fractions Set. Enter from now until February 7, 2020.
RightStart Fractions Kit
This set includes everything you need to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions as well as a solid introduction to percents in just 42½ days!
The RightStart™ Fraction Kit includes:
- The new RightStart™ Fractions Lessons Book
- RightStart™ Fractions Worksheets Book or E-WorkBook
- Fraction Charts (set of two)
- Basic Number Card Deck
- Multiplication Card Deck
- Fraction Card Deck
You can enter multiple times for more than one chance to win over the next two weeks. Follow us on Facebook, visit RightStart, share our Pin to one of your boards on Pinterest, follow us on Twitter and leave us a comment here on the blog! Lots of chances to win this wonderful resource!
Enter to win here:
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The Anti-Logic of Post-Modernism
The prevalent philosophy of today’s culture is post-modern. I know this is supposed to be about Math, Logic and Patterns but indulge me for a minute, o.k.?
The definition of post-modern: Relating to, or being any of various movements reacting to Modernism, typically characterized by ironic self-reference and absurdity. This means that definitions are negotiable, often absurd, patterns meaningless, and there is no truth outside of what we define it to be (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
There you have it. A whole philosophy whose purpose is to undermine truth, logic and patterns. As someone who has bound themselves to Truth, I live in opposition to this. By Truth with a capitol “T” I mean the person of Truth, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). While I fail often, I am committed to living by Truth, as those who truly follow Jesus with integrity must be. I’ve thought about it a great deal and I really believe that one cannot truly endorse post-modernism and Christianity; they are in fundamental opposition to each other.
So, you wonder, why am I babbling on about philosophy in a post that is supposed to be about curriculum picks for math, logic and patterns?
It is because I believe that we need to teach our children concepts that directly correspond to realities that ARE regardless of an ever present social-political environment that calls in to question non-negotiable such as logic, patterns, consequences, causality, and truth. Why we do what we do is just as important as what we do. Theory defines practice and practice informs theory. So, the math program you pick should be a reflection of your belief system. Teaching logic, by definition, declares that your theory about life acknowledges a set of principles by which to understand things.
Teach and Memorize Math
Teach a good solid math program. One that demands logical thought, clear answers, detailed explanations. There are several really great ones on the market (go here for some great ones). Expect your kids to know and memorize math facts. Memory work allows your kids to own the material. 2 + 2 does equal 4, not 5 or 9 or whatever you feel it might; “creative math” exists but not really at the level most of us function mathematically, so expect clear explanations and correct answers. Teach your kids to line up the math facts to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, write neatly and write out the steps on paper. Orderly habits save time, frustration and incorrect answers in the end.
Teach Fallacies, Logic, Critical and Literary Analysis
Teach fallacies, forms of logic and critical and literary analysis. I don’t agree with the group that states that simply reading for enjoyment is good enough and teaching analysis spoils the fun. Really learning critical and literary analysis will take your kids on a learning curve like most other learning curves While your kids are learning lit analysis or critical analysis they will probably be hyper aware of plot, character, themes, the authors and various other questions and concerns. This might make them less aware of how much they enjoy the book or movie or program initially, but it will ultimately allow them a deeper, more complex and vibrant understanding of it all in the end. Don’t sacrifice the profound joy of complexity for the passing pleasure of fun.
Teach Truth. Teach Truth. Teach Truth. As a Christian there is one path and it is found in following the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the Master of the Universe and His Son, Jesus Christ. Don’t agree? Let’s chat. If you are on board with what I’m saying, you are probably wondering what Truth has to do with logic and math and patterns. Well, it’s all there in the beginning. God is a God of order (Gen 1 -3). He has a plan and a purpose and rules, regulations and principals. To deny that, denies the Master of the Universe (see C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy). They go together. By learning Truth and His ways you are committing yourself to learning and observing the way of logic and patterns.
Be an Intentional Consumer
Assess fantasy as it comes through the door; be a gate-keeper. It’s not whether the genre is fantasy or not, but the principles that are being taught. Good writing teaches good thinking. Effective critical thinking skills are vital in sorting through social/relational problems. Good fantasy reflects this same discipline. One of the rules of good writing is believability – you’ll find this in the fantasy writing of Ray Bradbury, C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, Orson Scott Card, etc. Much of today’s fantasy breaks fundamental rules, undermining our kids natural inclination to make real sense out of things.
We are a culture committed to fun and fantasy. We spend billions of dollars a year on movies and games that we allow our children to sit passively in front of as their minds are filled with bizarre aliens, violent creatures and apocalyptic un-redemptive doom. Personally, I love good dystopian literature; but really, if it’s not redemptive, it’s not good. Seriously reconsider WHAT you bring in to your home, beginning with the benign looking Disney movies that ohsooften make any man look like a buffoon and any woman look like a conquering hero with little respect for roles and gender differences.
The Difference between Fiction and Fantasy
There is a clear distinction between fiction and fantasy; I’m clearly not an advocate of the no fiction rule. I am also strongly opposed to the idea of allowing your kids to read just anything because “at least they’re reading.” Good and great literature abounds, so choose that and don’t make excuses for being too lazy to have good and Godly standards.
Be careful of allowing your children to view horror. Horrific events do happen (subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs if you want to be aware of how to pray for the persecuted church), but allowing your kids to indulge in it taps into irrational thought patterns. Expecting the ax murderer to jump out at you in the basement does not teach logical thinking, triggers negative reactivity and violates scripture. Same with exposing your kids to network news. Much of it is geared towards sensationalism and very little of it is actual news reporting anymore. If you want your kids to get news, subscribe to God’s World News, Science News (if you can dismiss the evolutionist perspective), or other quality news outlets.
Immerse Yourself in God’s World
Nature studies teach patterns and logic. If you allow your kids to spend copious amounts of time outdoors they will discover math and it’s cousins, because nature speaks to kids. Spend time on the trampoline star gazing and grab some good, simple astronomy books to check out the patterns and designs and amazing math all around us. The NASA web-site is a great way to get up close and personal with science nerds form all over the world who are so invested in the patterns of the universe that they’ll go to any lengths (even Mars) to understand it. And don’t forget to go to the beach and learn about shells, because that’s a whole math class in and of itself. The Jason Project curriculum is, hands down, amazing, and check out Reasons (to Believe) Academy.
Got weather? Even the most violent of storms follow patterns and predictability. The NOAA web-site is a daily favorite around here and if you get your kids hooked on weather they will learn direction and causality and how to predict what’s coming, as well as season and a whole host of other things.
Be Ready to Give Answer for the Hope that Lies Within You
God’s world is based on principles that are always true to themselves. Apologetics should be part of how you teach patterns and logic because the world of faith is all about how to live. Life is not a live and let live proposition – you are either for God or against Him and aligning yourself with the Master of the Universe means following patterns of thought and behavior. Living a life of faith is not about living by a set of rules. It is aligning yourself with a pattern where grace and law intertwine; weaving a beautiful tapestry that bind us to the heart of our Creator God.
Live it Out
Live what you believe in front of your kids; don’t be a say as I say and not as I do parent. Patterns, by their very nature, are consistent. Create patterns in your family and interactions of constancy for your kids. Habits are ingrained patterns of behavior that let one function on auto-pilot, accomplish more and cost less.
To read more about teaching Math, Logic and Patterns in Homeschooling, check these related posts: