Kindergarten Math with Confidence is a complete math course that is appropriate for children who already recognize numbers and can count to ten. They should also have developed enough small motor coordination to write in the workbook, but parents can assist those who need help writing.
The course consists of a 452-page instructor guide and a 128-page, full-color student workbook. This is a hands-on course, but it doesn’t require a lot of expensive manipulatives.
You should collect all of the resources you might need for each lesson in advance, so the instructor guide tells you how to put together your own math kit for this course. Required resources that will be used for a number of lessons include pattern blocks, counters, coins, 200 3” x 5” index cards, paper, regular pencils, and either crayons or colored markers. There are nine pages of blackline masters for the pattern blocks and other items such as a ten-frame and a hundred chart. You could purchase items like plastic pattern blocks, but pattern masters are included for the pattern blocks and other such items so that you can create them yourself if you prefer. You should print these in advance, and maybe laminate four specific pages that the instruction guide says will be used frequently.
Many other household items will be used for just one or a few lessons. These include items such as scissors, tape, paper clips, a clock with hands, a digital clock, small toys, an egg carton, toothpicks, and measuring cups. A complete list is on page 434 of the instructor guide, and there are also weekly lists and daily lists of required items within the lesson plans.
Children will learn to read, write, and compare numbers; to count to 100; to perform addition using numbers and symbols for sums up to 10 (continuing with only pictorial addition up to 20); to subtract numbers up to 10; to recognize shapes and patterns; to follow directions; and to begin work with money, telling time, and measurement.
The course is divided into ten units, but the number of weeks required per unit varies from two to five. Each week has four lessons, and those lessons should take no more than 15 minutes a day. With lessons for only four days, you can use the fifth day if a child needs more time for some lessons rather than working too long on any one day.
Each unit focuses on one topic at a time. In addition, each week sticks with closely-related topics, although review is built into the lessons. For instance, Week 15 teaches about addition, and those four lessons are titled, “Introduce Addition,” “The Plus Sign (+),” “The Equals Sign (=),” and “Equations.”
At the beginning of each week’s lesson in the instructor guide, two pages list the topics to be covered, briefly describe the objectives, and list the household items you will need. These pages also include two optional activities for the week: “Weaving Math into Everyday Life” and “Math Book of the Week.”
The everyday life activity makes a real-world connection with what is being learned. For instance, during the week when children are working with pattern blocks to learn spatial skills, the suggestion is to either work on a jigsaw puzzle or create their own. The math book recommendation will be a colorful children’s book that should be available at the library. For instance, the book recommended for the week on spatial skills is Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban.
Each day’s lesson begins with a three- to five-minute period for warm-up and review directed from the instructor guide. This keeps previously-learned skills fresh in students’ minds. Occasionally, the warmup includes a simple game such as Addition War or Make 10 Go Fish. (Instructions for these games are included.)
After the warm-up, a five- to ten-minute, hands-on activity is used to teach new information. The lessons are scripted in the instructor guide, but you should feel free to adapt the wording and presentation to suit you.
Each lesson ends with brief workbook activities on one page: one activity to practice tracing numbers and another to practice a new or previously-learned skill. The emphasis is on interaction and activities with minimal time spent on the workbook.
Every unit concludes with a “Checkpoint” page that lists objectives that the child should have met, and discusses whether or not all of these objectives must be met before moving on to the next unit. This is a very helpful form of evaluation that is simple to use.
At the end of each week, the instructor guide has reduced images of the four student workbook pages with overprinted answers, although the answers should be obvious.
Lessons required direct teaching time as well as some preparation time. You can try to use the lessons without going over them in advance, but I think they are likely to go more smoothly if you spend just a few minutes reading through the lesson plan before you begin.
The course is relatively inexpensive, and there is little difference between the cost of printed books and PDF versions. Personally, I would probably use the teacher’s guide on a tablet and buy the printed student workbook.
Kindergarten Math with Confidence does a great job of helping parents teach their young children with hands-on activities without an expensive program. And children should find the lessons playful and fun.