I struggled for quite some time to figure out the best strategy to teach math to WJ.
When WJ was an infant I spent hours making math dot cards as recommended by Glenn Doman in How To Teach Your Baby Math. Starting at about 6 months old, for 4-5 days a week for several months I would show WJ these red dot cards. I didn’t follow Doman’s method exactly as outlined in his book but pretty close to it. One side of the card had red dots to illustrate real quantities and the other side of the card had the corresponding numeral. Doman recommends starting out just showing the quantity and then adding in the numerals later on.
Then I discovered Brillkids’ Little Math when WJ was about a year old and it simplified and automated the whole process for us. I’ll write a review post on Little Math later on but for now all you need to now is we used it for well over a year, closer to two years, but my son was never really into the program. Even though he loved Little Reader and I attribute much of his early reading success to Little Reader, I can’t say that he learned math from Little Math.
Since then we’ve practiced math without much consistency using an assortment of learning tools, including iPad apps, LeapFrog math videos, math workbooks, shape sorters and so on. WJ did learn some math from these various activities. But for several months, WJ wasn’t making any real progress in math. He could count to 50, knew all of his shapes and could recognize numerals at least up to 30. But once he got to forty he started reciting individual numbers and would say “four seven” instead of “forty seven.”
Well, I’m happy to report that he’s made a tremendous amount of progress in the last 4-months. This progress is mostly due to a Montessori-based math program called Shiller Math. I first heard about this program on the Brillkids forum. After researching various math programs, I decided that this was the program I wanted, mainly because it’s multi-sensory, Montessori-based (hey, that’s how I learned math!) and complete (lesson plans included). However, it took me several months before finally breaking down and making the purchase.
We ended up purchasing the complete Kit 1 (shown above) for $299.95. I know what you’re thinking, wow, that’s expensive! That was my first thought, too. But, we did get free shipping for attending one of their Webinars. Okay, I know that still sounds expensive. But let’s do the math. No pun intended!
I calculated that if it really is a 3-4 year program, the actual cost of the program is really just $75-$100 a year. That’s really not that expensive considering it provides you with everything you need to implement the program right away, including manipulatives, 3 lesson books and answer guides, and a CD of math songs.
Here’s a picture of the manipulatives. They really do include everything you need, including a ruler and crayons. But here’s the real kicker, they also allow free downloads of consumables for 5-years! That means I can use this program again when my 1-year old is old enough, so that’s really just $37.50-$50 a year per child. That’s not bad at all!
Here’s a close up of the number cards. I love having these cards and the cubes. The cubes and cards have taught WJ to easily recognize units, tens, hundreds and thousands.
WJ loves Shiller Math. We bring out our baskets of materials 3 times per week but I’m pretty sure he’d be happy to practice every single day. Right now, we spend about 10-20 minutes at a time on the program.
My husband was impressed when WJ told him “dad, did you know that circles don’t have any sides because they’re round?” I was impressed when I got the lesson books and realized that I really didn’t have to do any preparation, at all. Yay, my favorite kind of curriculum!
Thank you Shiller Math for creating a product that makes learning math fun and easy!