In parts II and III, I discussed why mathematics needs a good teacher, and what that good teaching entails.

Now, let's look at the

**how.**And let me point out that, at this point, we are mostly concerned about how to teach the subject from the beginning, in the early years. This is when good teaching is so critical and can make or break a child's attitude toward and understanding of math. A young math student needs to have a solid foundation upon which to build if he or she is going to be successful in the later years.

Children should not be rushed through mathematics, but should be allowed to take it slowly - slowly enough for each individual child to fully grasp the topics.

"...In arithmetic, above all other studies of the common school course, it is of the utmost importance that one step shall be thoroughly understood before the next is attempted.Charlotte Mason also understood the importance of laying a solid foundation in the early years.The first two years' training is of more importance than all the rest the child receives." (The Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.107) - emphasis mine

"Carefully graduated teaching anddailymental effort on the child's part at this early stage may be the means of developing real mathematical power, and will certainly promote the habits of concentration and effort of mind." (Home Education, p.257)

"If the child does not get the ground under his feet at this stage, he works arithmetic ever after by rule of thumb." (So where do we start? How do we lay this so-important solid foundation? What steps do we take to begin our children in the study of mathematics?Home Education, p.259)

It all begins with numbers - learning numbers as whole quantities and learning all the different combinations that make up that quantity. This is how the child's mental math ability is built up. He is taught good number sense,

*mentally*, which at the same time teaches him to think more deeply about mathematics. A child who does not come away in the first year (or two, if needed) with good number sense has not really been trained to think on a deeper level and understand how math is unfolding. And that will be detrimental to the rest of his math instruction. If he doesn't learn to think early on, he'll struggle. Period.

So, let's go through the method of teaching the first year and we'll see how Ray's Arithmetic mirrors Charlotte Mason's writings on teaching math.

Here we go!

#### 1. Teach through oral instruction, focusing on the concrete.

"CM also advocates oral instruction and, as we've already discussed, beginning with the concrete.Do not teach the figures in the first lessons, and do not allow the children to do any written work; but teach orally, illustrating every operation, at first, by means of various objects.-- The instruction should be entirely oral, and should deal altogether at first with concrete numbers." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.107-108)

"Give him short sums, in words rather than in figures..." (If we begin with written instruction, then we're really beginning with abstract ideas. Having a child complete a math problem like 2 + 4, on a worksheet or on the board, is an abstract idea, which, as I discussed in an earlier post, is much more difficult for a child to grasp than asking the child how many are 2 beans and 4 beans. The latter is a concrete idea and is much easier to understand.Home Education, p.261)

#### 2. Teach through the use of objects to manipulate.

"Begin the teaching of arithmetic, then, withCM also recommended using objects in the beginning.objects, -- blocks, balls, marbles,...etc." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.108)

"A bag of beans, counters, or buttons should be used in all the early arithmetic lessons, and the child should be able to work with these freely, and even to add, subtract, multiply, and divide mentally, without the aid of buttons or beans, before he is set to 'do sums' on his slate." (This not only allows the child to understand the concrete ideas first, which will eventually pave the way to understanding the abstract, but will get the student involved and, in turn, get him to grasp the rationale of numbers and how they work himself, (rather than just being spoon-fed by the teacher).Home Education, p.256)

#### 3. Teach numbering, first with objects, then without.

"The first step is to teach numbering; that is, so to train the child that he can instantly give the number of any group of objects not exceeding ten, at sight, andThis teaching of numbering is so important - it is the first step toward training a child towithout counting...Do not allow a child to count by ones to find how many objects there are in a group, but teach him to recognize the group as a whole. -- Teach whatthreemeans by repeatedly combining two and one, and one and two, into groups of three apples, three blocks,...etc,...teachfourin the same manner...As soon as the class is sufficiently advanced, have the children do the combining and separating of objects for themselves." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.108-109)

*think*rapidly and accurately. It is strengthening a child's mental math ability from the get-go. The child sees all the different combinations that make up a particular number, which prepares him for addition and subtraction. He also learns to recognize each quantity as a whole rather than teaching him to rely on counting. A child who learns to rely on counting is not learning to think mentally. There is also a good chance that the child will carry this habit of counting over to adding numbers - he'll rely on counting to add instead of his mental ability.

This is very similar to CM's method.

"He may arrange an addition table with his beans, thus --

OO O = 3 beans

OO OO = 4 "

OO OOO = 5 "

and be exercised upon it until he can tell,The place where the two methods differ is when to have the students learn to recognize the combinations of imaginary objects and eventually abstract numbers.first without counting, and then without looking at the beans, that 2+7=9, etc." (Home Education, p.256) - emphasis mine

"From combining and separating objects they can see, lead them to combine and separate groups of objects that they cannot see, but can readily imagine, such as animals, houses, trees, tools, toys, or any objects with which they are familiar." (So the Manual of Methods recommends introducing imaginary objectsEclectic Manual of Methods, p.110-111)

*after*mastering the combinations of objects before their eyes; then abstract numbers

*after*mastering imaginary objects.

"When you are satisfied with the results of the work thus far, take the next step by simply dropping the names of the objects, and teach theIt seems that CM, however, recommends teaching with imaginary and abstractabstractdigital numbers orally in the same order that you taught the concrete." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.111)

*along with*using objects that the children can see. Continuing with the above CM quote from p.256 in

*Home Education*:

"Thus with 3, 4, 5, - each of the digits: as he learns each line of his addition table he is exercised upon imaginary objects, '4 apples and 9 apples,' '4 nuts and 6 nuts' etc.; and lastly, with abstract numbers - 6+5, 6+8."

#### 4. Teach addition and subtraction together.

"The one is the reverse of the other, and when taught together they help the child to understand each process more readily than if they were taught separately." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.110)

"A subtraction table is worked out simultaneously with the addition table. As he works out each line of additions, he goes over the same ground, only taking away one bean, or two beans, instead of adding, until he is able to answer quite readily, 2 from 7? 2 from 5? After working out each line of addition or subtraction, he may put it on his slate with the proper signs, that is, if he has learned to make figures." (Charlotte Mason,Home Education, p.256-257)

#### 5. Teach the written characters last.

"...when the children are thoroughly proficient in the preceding steps, teach them the written characters that stand for the numbers which they have learned to use orally." (It seems that CM would agree with this as well - mastering the material mentally through oral teaching before any written work.Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.111)

"...the child should be able to work with these freely {objects}, and even to add, subtract, multiply, and divide mentally, without the aid of buttons or beans,Note, however, that this does not mean to teach the children to write the numbers themselves. It's just teaching them to recognize the written numbers.before he is set to 'do sums' on his slate." (Home Education, p.256)

"It is granted that much greaterAll that is required in the first year of mathematics is mastering groups of numbers, and addition and subtraction of numbers, through 10.apparentadvance can be made at this time, and that children can be taught the names of numbers as high as a hundred or more, and to write the figures representing them;but the learning of names and the making of figures do not of themselves imply the gaining or developing of ideas, and classes forced too rapidly over the preliminary ground without thoroughly understanding each step as they advance, will sooner or later show the bad effect of this method of teaching." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.113-114)

**What this does is present the concrete ideas of mathematics which the child can understand, as opposed to presenting mathematics abstractly, which he cannot. Instead of beginning with the abstract idea of 2 + 1 = 3, for example, we begin with the child combining and separating 2 beans and 1 bean. And in allowing the child time to manipulate and work freely with these concrete ideas, he develops an understanding of how mathematics works - its logical nature and the truth and beauty and exactness of it. Using this method to teach subsequent topics - addition and subtraction with larger numbers, place value, multiplication, division, fractions, weights and measures, etc. - will hopefully develop in the child an appreciation and respect for the subject as an immutable law of the universe, worthy to be studied deeper.**

~~~

So, we can see how Ray's Arithmetic so far seems to be very conducive to the way CM taught mathematics. I think that as long as these general steps are taken early on, allowing the child enough time to fully understand each step, we'll see our children begin to flourish in the subject.

One last question! How will we know that our children are progressing the way they should be?

"Accuracy and rapidity are the important aims, and the children should be drilled until they can give the answers to all the possible combinations and separations instantly, and apparently without stopping to think." (Eclectic Manual of Methods, p.111)

"...excite him in the enthusiasm which produces concentrated attention and rapid work. Let his arithmetic lesson be to the child a daily exercise in clear thinking and rapid, careful execution, and his mental growth will be as obvious as the sprouting of seedlings in the spring." (Charlotte Mason,Accuracy and clear, rapid thinking from the child is how we'll know that they're on the right track, and that they're building that solid foundation so important to future success in mathematics.Home Education, p.261)

Other posts in this series:

Part I - why study math?

Part II - good teaching

Part III - good teaching continued

Part IV - laying the foundation <---you are here

Materials, manipulatives, and activities