Math is so important. As an engineer, I understand exactly how much can be accomplished with a solid understanding of math. However, I’m personally not a fan of the way math is taught in elementary school. All the repetition seems unnecessary and often kills a child’s love of math. I want my kids to have an open mind when it comes to solving math problems. I want them to see a difficult problem as fun challenge rather than drudgery. For that reason, I created my own math curriculum for my kids which covers all the same concepts as traditional curricula, but eliminates all the repetition.
First, I took notes on several different purchased curricula, such as Saxon Math, Singapore, Mammoth Math, and Kumon. I made sure to note the range in difficulty of the problems for each area covered. Then I used my notes and my own math knowledge to create a single 10 problem math worksheet for each of the 36 weeks of school. Each worksheet covers a problem from each of ten subject areas. For my third grade minimalist math curriculum, those areas are:
- Understanding Numbers
- Word Problems
- Patterns and Sequences
- Graphs, Charts, and Tables
- Telling Time
- Units and Measurement
For more details on how I created these worksheets, see my post on my “minimalist math” curriculum methodology. It is my belief that if a child has mastered these 360 problems during the school year, then they do not need the repetition of thousands of problems found in a traditional curricula. So far, all of my children are testing at or above grade level. (Though it should be noted, that I do not approve of tests for kids this age. Since we were allowed to opt out of testing due to the pandemic, I did not make them test this past spring.)
It should also be noted that since children are not given a lot of repetition of similar problems, it is to be expected that they will need help completing these sheets. My original plan was to make note of which problems my kids struggled with and revisit them later. So far I have not succeeded in doing this. Math repeats enough from year to year that even with this minimalist approach, kids will eventually fully grasp concepts.
I would also like to point out that a basic weakness of this approach is that it does not lead to memorization of math facts. If you want your kids to be fast with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, you will need to supplement. This could be with some basic worksheets, like my free printable multiplication practice sheets. You could also check out Kate Snow’s Math Facts that Stick series. I am also a fan of games, such as Clumsy Thief or Prime Climb, to get kids eagerly practicing math calculations.
Recommended Age Range: Third Grade
Time Required: about 20 minutes per week
Difficulty: starts off fairly easy and gets harder as weeks progress
Cost: Free printable
Print out the curriculum and help your child complete one worksheet each week for each of the 36 weeks of school.
Click here for all the Minimalist Math curricula available for different grade levels.