Hands-On Math For The Older Learner
When I first started homeschooling my boys seven years ago, math was a breeze.
In fact, it was the only subject that felt easy.
They were young.
The concepts were basic and it was easy to find activities that were engaging, hands-on and appropriate for my sons’ learning styles.
Over the course of the past couple of years however, it has been much more difficult to find hands-on math options that will actually work well for my older learners. It’s like late elementary and middle school courses suddenly become textbook and worksheet happy.
While some children may transition to this type of learning easily, for mine, it has been quite a challenge.
I received a Shiller Math kit in exchange for my time in reviewing this product. Please know, I only share products that work well for my family in the hopes that they might work well for yours too!
My oldest son moved from predominately hands-on math activities to an online math program last year. It works for him. I thought it would for his younger brother as well.
I was wrong.
My eleven year old is one of the most vibrant and engaged learners I have ever seen.
But he is only able to be this vibrant and engaged, if his hands and body are busy while learning.
History, phonics, language arts, geography and science are all subjects that easily allow for more hands-on learning, even as he matures.
Math however, has been a totally different story.
For months, I tried to find a solution that would meet his needs, but was discouraged by what I found.
More textbooks. More worksheets.
At one point, I even considered developing my own math curriculum just for the middle years (because you know I have so much time for that these days!).
Thankfully Shiller Math reached out to me instead. I did not have to re-invent the math wheel – they had already done it for me.
Hands-On Math For The Older Learner
Shiller Math is a Montessori based curriculum that champions math education across all learning modalities.
It recognizes that children have four primary learning styles, no matter what their age –
Each of these learning styles is a component of Shiller Math and it’s what makes this program such a natural fit for my son (and if I am honest, my teaching style).
This is a video of me opening our box of curriculum for the first time. It will give you a sense of all Shiller Math offers in its kits.
Why Shiller Math Works So Well For Us
Now that we have had a couple of months with the curriculum, I am happy to report that it is going well. Shiller Math has been the most successful, all in one math curriculum I have used, by far, for a few very important reasons.
The lessons are short and sweet.
I have to say, this might be my favorite part. The lessons are quick and designed to help my child learn, check his understanding of a concept and then move on. I love this about Shiller Math. It feels like there is less pressure to do all things.
Even the review tests are designed with this in mind. In fact, my son loved the introduction to his first Review Test.
“Now we will have a test to see what you’ve learned. This lesson will help us understand how to make your math work more fun and rewarding. You may take as much time as you wish and you may use whatever materials you wish.”
When I read him these instructions, he smiled and said, “That’s a really smart way to do it, Momma.”
There is no prep-time.
I repeat, there is no prep-time. If I like, I can literally pull out the workbook and immediately begin his math lesson. It even gives me a script to read if I need it. Sometimes, I do take some time to think through how I want to help him learn a concept, or complete a hands-on activity, but I don’t have to. It works perfectly well on its own.
The physical design is appropriate for learning differences.
I am not sure I realized until recently, how critical curriculum design is for my child and his learning differences. The size of the font, the use of color, the spacing between concepts and questions – the way Shiller Math appears on the page to my son works with my son’s learning needs, instead of against them.
Multi-sensory and hands-on activities are built into the curriculum.
It’s the reason I chose it in the first place and I have not been disappointed. This Montessori-based approach incorporates song and manipulatives seamlessly into the learning. Lessons cover all four learning styles and also allow my son to engage with the learning in a way that would not be possible, nor desirable, with a standard math textbook.
Our curriculum kit includes:
a geared clock
100 blue unit cubes
a 12 inch clear ruler
color-coded decimal fraction chips in wood box
4 geo-shape nets in wood box
14 see-through 3-D geometric shapes
and a CD with 25 different math songs
Overall, I am thrilled with our experience with Shiller Math. More than anything, I am grateful that my son is learning and that we found a solution that truly works for his learning style and needs (it doesn’t hurt that it is easy on me either!).
If you are interested in trying it with your own family, Shiller Math has graciously provided a special discount for Not The Former Things readers. MOMS5OFF is your code for 5% off your entire order.
For more on Hands-On Learning With Older Learners:
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.