Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Miquon Math Labs

We've already got a curriculum rave. Miquon Math Labs.

With a late fall birthday, kindergarten fine young gent would have started public school this fall. But he was asking to learn to read a year ago, so we started what we loosely called kindergarten. I chose a handwriting book because he wanted to learn to write letters, and math curriculum, and decided to wing it for the rest. Wouldn't you know, my normally relaxed about the whole thing self agonized over math curricula. First of all, was a math curriculum even necessary for a young kindergartener? Secondly, which one? Aaaughh, the dilemma posed by too many choices. And third, when am I going to learn to relax and not worry about it? It's kindergarten, for Heaven's sake. So I chose Horizons Math, a good solid workbook-based program with a lovely teacher's guide that I opened maybe twice.

(And, ugh, the whole workbook thing, that's a whole 'nother post. Wouldn't you know it, this workbooks-are-bad, "I believe in activity-based developmentally appropriate learning activities in early childhood" mom-- that would be me-- has kids who LOVE workbooks? God really wants to teach me to laugh at myself.)

Fast forward to this year. I've had a whole school year of taking myself way too seriously, so I decided to take this year off and behave like a normal rational being. Kindergarten is not the make-or-break year mathematically. It's not like he'll never master algebraic concepts, nor is it likely that he'll fail miserably at calculus if we choose the wrong kindergarten curriculum.

So what the hey? I'll give Miquon Math a whirl.

Great choice! I look forward to teaching the lessons. Kindergarten fine young gent asks to do more math. My strong-headed guy and I made a deal: We do one side of the worksheet my way and the back side is his, to do math his way. When I'm done teaching the lesson he'll sometimes spend 20-30 minutes just tootin' around with the cuisinaire rods and worksheet.

What we love:

  • The worksheets are open-ended. So far there are no written instructions on the sheets themselves. We aren't limited to what someone else thinks young ladies and gents should be learning in whatever has been determined to be the proper progression. Fine young gent can explore his own mathematical ideas. Yesterday we worked out multiplication.
  • The instructions in the teacher's manual, Lab Sheet Annotations, are open-ended, offering several ways to use each lab sheet.
  • Cuisenaire rods. The review linked above notes that Miquon works well for "Wiggly Willy." That's my kid! Wiggly, bouncy, never-still-for-a-moment Willy. Hands-on learning is his thing.
  • Bonus thing to love: The cuisenaire rods keep the Wiggly younger Willies occupied too.
  • The visual and kinesthetic experience offered by the rods and worksheets translates pretty well into more traditional math. We sometimes (for fun, mind you!) build number sentences with the rods then write them down. Or write them out and solve them some other way and check our answers with the rods.
  • Last year's worksheet-loving gent slowly soured on the whole Horizons thing, not because he didn't understand it, but because the spiral approach to math bored him-- he got it the first time. Skipping ahead several pages, we found mostly more of the same. (Not to say we didn't like Horizons. We did. It was fun, colorful, engaging. Just not a good match for the gent.) Using a completely different approach has put the spark back into math, and because it seems to be based in a very child-directed educational philosophy, I don't think we'll see the spark fizzling out.
  • Have I mentioned yet that we're having fun?

Don't love so much:

  • My sweet husband was concerned that the curriculum was first published in the 60's. I don't much care about that. It's not as though addition and subtraction have changed a whole lot since then.
  • It's pretty teacher-intensive. Actually, I don't mind at all. I look forward to teaching the math lesson for the day. Exploring the math lesson for the day.
  • Three teacher manuals? I got the Lab Sheet Annotations and skipped the other two, one a diary of a teacher's year using Miquon Math with a first-grade class and the other presenting the philosophy behind Miquon Math. Hope I'm not missing much.


Irie said...

That DOES sound like fun! Do they make Miquon Math for Adult Learners? ;)

>> My sweet husband was concerned that the curriculum was first published in the 60's.

Hee hee. Hippie math!

Cristy said...

AGH! This is why I try to avoid curriculum reviews! ::repeating to myself:: I love Math-U-See, I love Math-U-See, I love Math-U-See...