I am having some difficulty deciding where to place my two guys and hope there might be someone here who can give me some advice :)
We tried MEP some years ago (I love that it's free and readily available, as well as the comprehensiveness of the program) but I quickly gave up for having more babies as well as the fact that we were living a very unsettled lifestyle at that time (not a negative necessarily!) and I could not handle the teacher prep/involvement time. We opted for MUS (which I don't dislike, though after a recent review of MEP, in comparison, MUS seems quite a glossing over math concepts). This has been fine for us for the last 2-3 years.
However, I live in S.America and found myself having finished our math (Delta) too soon (thanks to dh and his frequent assigning of extra math pages) and I don't have anything to finish the rest of the school year with. I have been adding in 'living math' activities and plan to continue with that, but feel like I need some curriculum spine to keep us regular and accountable.
Here's our scenario:
I have 2 boys (11.5 & 10.5) who have always been taught together in every subject. However, my second son is definitely the stronger/quicker in math. Until now, I have just worked hard with my first to keep him up with his younger brother (mainly because of rivalry/competition issues and I don't want him to feel badly that his brother passes him up... he already has expressed that he 'hates math' and 'isn't good at it' - mainly I think, because he senses that his brother is better/quicker at grasping the concepts).
A couple of weeks ago, I re-started MEP with the Y4 second book. #2 boy is really thriving and is truly challenged (though occasionally stumped, with help quickly grasps. However, our problem is, that #2 is constantly growing frustrated/distracted as he has to wait for #1 to comprehend the concept). #1 gets very frustrated when he can't 'get it' and slumps and enters into a state of mind where I truly believe that he cannot get it unless he wills himself out of that mood or we have to take a break. Now, if it were only him, I would say,
take a break! We'll come back to it after lunch or whatever. But teaching the two of them together I feel I have to spur him on. I give #2 a break until I'm done explaining to #1 (which seems to just emphasize the fact that #2 surpasses #1, adding to the problem?) The other option would be to teach them separately if not separate books, at separate times of the day. This I find hard to imagine with the time requirement; I also have a Y1 daughter and a son who will start Y1 next year.
I'm looking at this thinking... maybe this program is okay if all I teach all day long is math! But our curriculum (AmblesideOnline) also requires a lot of teacher involvement reading aloud, and masterly inactivity :) SO... my
1) Is this program doable for big families?
2) Do I risk separating my boys into different years for the first time in their lives and put the younger ahead of the elder?
3) If I do separate them, how on earth do I manage having kiddos in 3 different years (4 next year!)? Does anyone else do this?
4) Should I send my #1 further back? He has always, probably always will have trouble with mastering math concepts.
5) Maybe I should stick with MUS for #1 and MEP for #2 and then they wouldn't realize they are at different levels (yeah right... competition is prime with them since birth, they will compare!), or at least they wouldn't feel as bad about being at different levels?
Please help, any advice is welcome.
Amy in Peru
Javen 11.5yob, Cullen 10.5yob, Bria 6.8yog, Siah 5yob, Mya 2yog
I will attempt to answer your questions as I have taught 4 different years at the same time and use much of AO at the same time.
> 1) Is this program doable for big families?
The program is doable, but it requires order and some creative 'juggling'.
> 2) Do I risk separating my boys into different years for the first time in their lives and put the younger ahead of the elder?
I would strongly suggest you separate your boys. It sounds to me you are hindering the youngest and frustrating the oldest. Competition in this arena may only make the oldest feel stupid and inadequate and the youngest superior. Not necessarily traits you want to foster between bothers.
> 3) If I do separate them, how on earth do I manage having kiddos in 3 different years (4 next year!)? Does anyone else do this?
I have managed doing this by teaching 2 at a time. I sit at the head of our dining table and I have my highest yr child on one side and a younger yr child on the other. I spend about 10-15 min. with the higher yr...doing the teacher inclusive activities. Once they begin question #1 in their PB, I bring the other student. I do the teacher inclusive things and sort of 'volley' back and forth
between the two until they have completed the lessons.
Doing 2 at a time is still a lot of time in the day, but it cuts it in half. I have also utilized my yr6 dd to teach my yr1 ds. This has been a tremendous help as then I can focus on my yr2 ds who has a harder time with math. My yr5 dd gets the concepts quickly and usually just needs me for the LP activities.
Like I said, it can be done, you just have to manipulate things to see what works for your family. I also believe that reading and maths are the most important 'subjects' in the primary level. If my children are proficient in both of these areas when entering the secondary level they will be well ahead of the curve. There is plenty of time to read all those wonderful AO selections and then some!
> 4) Should I send my #1 further back? He has always, probably always will have trouble with mastering math concepts.
If he is able to manage the yr you have him in and can relax a bit knowing his brother is no longer 'in the picture', then leave him there. You may find his attitude improve when he is not feeling like he is in his younger brothers shadow. He may even surprise you and begin to 'try' more. It amazes me how children will try when they don't feel like they are under a 'time crunch'.
I don't mean to imply you have done anything unkind or harsh. Sometimes a child's insecurities are not based in any real 'threat', but they feel hindered non the less.
> 5) Maybe I should stick with MUS for #1 and MEP for #2 and then they wouldn't realize they are at different levels (yeah right... competition is prime with them since birth, they will compare!), or at least they wouldn't feel as bad about being at different levels?
Personally I would just separate them and let the younger move ahead at his pace and keep the older at the pace that is comfortable for him. The cool thing about MEP is that because it is spiral, all the concepts are taught in all yrs. So if younger son is doing geometry, so is the older. They are just doing it at different degrees of difficulty. My yr1 student is doing algebra as is my yr6 dd.
I hope I have been able to give you something to think about.
Leslie and Helen,
Thank you for your responses! I have another quick question or two...
As far as management, I think I can see that doing the 2 at once may be a possibility and I'm willing to try it. I will probably have to re-work my schedule for two math sessions (yuck) but I'll try working with #1 first in the
day, and then later on with #2 (y4ds) and #3 (y1dd) at the same time. If #3 needs extra help I may bring in #1 (y4ds) to work with her, he ideally having already finished his lesson. (Previously my #3 didn't really need help additional to the MUS video so we did everyone's math at the same time.)
My question is:
I'm very uncertain that my #1 can manage where I've got him. I always teach with the front assuming that he is quite capable, but the lesson is taking at least twice as long as is recommended. Matter of fact, many times I've ended up having to do one lesson over two days because of the time factor. I'm not sure if he's just new to the different approach to math (MEP vs. MUS) or if it is his comprehension of the math itself. He has always had some difficulty with math, memorizing addition facts (used his fingers, still sometimes does), multiplication table (he's mainly just slow with recall, though still forgetful of some sets like the 6s for example, until we rework them again), etc. Should I not go by the recommended time, and just give him the time he needs? I am
reluctant to get too far into this second y4 book only to end up putting him back? Of course it would be easier for me to be teaching y4 second book to both boys but separately...
Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. Here are my thoughts... I would do MEP with your #1 son for 30 min. If you don't finish the lesson, that is fine. Pick up where you left off the following day. MEP is VERY different than MUS and it definitely has a learning curve for both student and teacher. If your son in not naturally 'mathy' you will want to give him ample time to
assimilate. Also, I would just like to add that he has an entire lifetime to 'get' math. He is young and now is the time for you to take your time and not rush just to get through a book. Slow and steady wins the race ;)
Thanks so much for responding - again. :) Your advice to go slowly/methodically through is just the conclusion I had come to myself after this week.
I'll just update you a little on our progress:
This week, I have separated the boys and it has gone MUCH better as far as attitude goes. #1 was much encouraged, as was I! I taught #2 the same lesson each day in the afternoon and he was able to zip right through. This seems so logical a solution, that I wish I would have just tried it before now (I was
reluctant to have two math sessions a day :).
However, the other part of the problem was that #1 was taking at least 2 hours (sometimes done in one lump, sometimes in shorter hunks) to get through one day's lesson! This continued despite having separated the boys. One contributing factor is that there are about 5 million interruptions a day and my children (very understandably for children though not excusably) take advantage every time I leave the table - to change a diaper or answer the phone or the door, or whatever - to run outside or do something way more fun than math! We are continually working on this... habit of attention!
But besides distraction, the other problem was that he really struggled (took a long time) with some of the newer concepts. (I very much acknowledge this 'learning curve' you mentioned for him as well as for me). In conversation with him last night we talked about the possibilities of keeping him where he is, or putting him back to the beginning of y4 and being able to move through those lessons possibly a little faster. He opted for moving back. We are not going to tell his brother or one of his friends, of whom he is worried that she will
think he isn't smart because he is 'behind' her in math! I told him that with this math, who knows but that when all's told, he may just 'understand' math better than she does in the end!
I think that going slower through as you mentioned would also be a possibility, as I think he would do just fine. But this way (moving back), he has the opportunity to work a tiny bit below his level for awhile in order to gain
confidence in MEP method while concreting skill in some of those areas that are newer to us in this curriculum. He also likes the idea that he can go as fast as he wants to, in order to put himself back in step with his brother. So, we shall see :)
Thanks so much for your help and thoughtful replies. I think we are really going to like this math, under the new arrangement. I am enjoying teaching it.
Amy in Peru