23 Aug 2011

Slow down, you move too fast

I guess you all know by now that I'm not a curriculum switcher. I make my decisions based on thorough research, and that's pretty much that. I then I spend my valuable time thinking about other things. Like where to go on holidays, or what books I absolutely need this week. Important stuff.

The other thing I do rarely is change my mind mid term. Actually, I don't think I've ever done that.

Until now. Let me elucidate.

I've been becoming increasingly concerned about Jemimah's maths. Now before you leap to your feet in alarm - or worse, in glee - let me reassure you that I still love MEP maths. I think it is a great fit for our daughter, and I have been incredibly impressed by her progress in this subject.

And that is precisely the issue I've been grappling with: My nine-year-old Grade 3 daughter is halfway through MEP Year 5 maths.

She is going too fast.

I am beginning to see her enthusiasm wane as she gets into more and more complicated concepts, and I really, really don't want her to start disliking a subject that she is so very good at.

Which led me to Simple Charlotte Mason's Business Maths Series - something that I've been looking at for a while. In this programme, kids use their maths knowledge to run a virtual sports store, pet shop or book store. Of course in Jemimah's case it just had to be a pet store!! They practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They learn about budgeting, making sound financial decisions, paying accounts, balancing a ledger, and about managing a profitable business. And hopefully at the very same time, they have fun!

And so yesterday, I bought a virtual pet store. It's called 'Jemimah's pet paradise', and it is owned by...well...Jemimah. Obviously.

Today, she developed a logo, printed promotional stickers and posters and decided on her inventory. Keeping within budget, of course. Tomorrow she'll decide on a mark-up and make price stickers. Pretty soon she'll be open for business.

Today she spend her whole afternoon doing maths. I wonder how long that amazing state of affairs will last! So far, so good. Actually, I don't think she really believes that it is real, that this is what she's doing for mathematics.

I'm really excited. Having looked through the teacher's book I can see practice in a significant number of the maths skills she's mastered in MEP up to now. I can see application. I can see that Jemimah will begin to see the relevance of maths to every day life.

I haven't decided yet how we'll incorporate the programme into our term. You've heard of the term de-schooling, I guess? Where you do no school to sort of recover from being at school? Well, for a short time we're demathsing. During this period our Pet Store is all we'll be doing. Later, MEP will return. Maybe once we've finished the whole kit and caboodle; maybe before. I don't know yet.

I like this programme because it's giving maths practice in a relaxed but realistic way. It's rigourous but in a very different way from MEP. It's exciting and challenging.

I think it will slow my girl down in just the right way.


  1. You might have noticed that Crayons is going to be using Pet Store this September too! We can compare notes.

    Just curious: are you anticipating any issues with it being an American book? For us Canadians there shouldn't be any problem, but how does it translate to Australian?

  2. This sounds fabulous, Jeanne! In a few years this might be something that Isabella and the lads might love too. Anyhow, thanks for sharing and ... when can we come to the pet store to pick a pet??? :O))

  3. Mama Squirrel, I don't anticipate any issues. Our dollar is at pariety with the greenback, so the prices work, and we use dollars and cents like the US.

    We too have a sales tax, and although ours is 10% value added tax, the concept is the same.

    I'll let you know if we encounter any problems.

    Yes, I did know Crayons was using the course. I had just read your post when I realised that I needed to slow Jemimah down this term. I think it will work really well. I was interested that you commented that Year 5 was a difficult one with maths. I am curious to know what makes you think that?

  4. Pauline, we would love it it you would choose a pet! Send through your order in a few weeks and we'll send you an invoice. (It would be fun if people did that, actually!)

    It will need to be a virtual pet though...

  5. My children would think that was fabulous! Will there be a picture of the kinds of animals she will have in her store? Like GUINEA PIGS or RATS or HORSES or maybe a DINOSAUR??? Shall key my children up to order soon and of course it will have to be virtual money too "O))))

  6. Good for you and Jemimmah, she'd love it!

  7. Wonderful!! My kids did a project similar to this and also enjoyed it. They did a "town" at school and each had a role with mine each getting some type store (too far back now to remember what type). Real World math is a great thing to know!!

    Now to purge "feeling groovy" from my brain (I listened to that whole S/G album about 19gillion times in 6th grade!)

    Oh and, it's What's On Your Nightstand day at various places (including mine) if you need ideas on what to read this week!

  8. That sounds like a very exciting way to practice math! I look forward to learning more. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Sounds great! Change is good and refreshing! Look forward to hearing more about it! xxx

  10. Hi Jeanne, we bought this a while back but haven't used it yet. I considered using it this year but we still needed more practise with basics. I'll be very interested to see how Jemimah likes it and what you think of it. Nothing wrong with changing your course. I like a lot of the SCM resources and am sure that PET Shop Math won't let J down. Blessings, Renelle

  11. Madison would love this! Thanks for sharing. We would so love to buy a pet from Jemimah!

  12. One standard poodle puppy, please.

  13. Looks like good fun. I have fond memories of the maths projects from my school days. And what a perfect match for a 9yo girl - pets!

  14. Okay, the store will be up and running very soon. If you would like to enquire about an animal or pet supply purchase, do let us know and Miss Jemimah will get back to you with availability. Richele, we will get back to you with price and availability ASAP. Hee Hee. Wonder what postage for a virtual poodle to USA would be. Do you think customs has a problem with virtual pets?

  15. love the word "demathsing" :)
    virtual pet store? now that sounds fun:)

  16. Jeanne, to answer your question...I am convinced, by anecdotal evidence only (and I'm sure there are many who would argue with me, including women who loved math all the way through school) that the age of ten or so is a tough one to be doing math with girls, particularly those who may have done well with it up to now (because everything about school is pretty easy) but who suddenly hit the "math wall" with concepts like long division. There's also something about the way my own girls have acted and thought at this age that seems to fight with serious, or at least tedious, school work. Almost a last shout for little-girldom before the big jump into teenagerhood--a predilection for cute animals and books with pink covers.

    Without naming names, there was one of mine who hid behind the furniture in fifth grade rather than have to face the math book. We plowed through, but there were many tears and teeth-gnashings (on both sides). Was it the new curriculum we used that year?--maybe, I admit it wasn't what I had expected it to be either, but not to the point of such pain and loathing. Happily, later on this child discovered that she really did like math and science, and she's off this year to study science at university.

    We went through a somewhat similar stage with another child, partly because I tried to use that same curriculum again (I'm a slow learner) and partly, I'm convinced, because of that same unfortunate combination of tough-to-learn arithmetic concepts at a time when the developmental ability to handle it just doesn't seem to be there yet (or is temporarily on hiatus). Like painfully trying to teach a child to read who's just not ready, vs. waiting a bit and having him/her learn quickly and easily. In the same sense, there are times when you'd almost be better off not doing any math, or at least arithmetic, at all with girls (especially oldest ones?) who seem to be hitting a math wall--just let them take some time off from having to "do math," and come back to it in a bit.

    I realize that Math Pet Store does make use of some fairly advanced arithmetic, such as percentages, and my own daughter is just starting fifth grade so she's on the low end of the recommended age for the program. But I'm hoping that the "pet store" idea will be enough of a motivation to get us through the numbers side of it.

    There, is that enough stereotyping and generalizing for you?


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