Since
beginning this site, I have had contact with a few professional
educators who express skepticism over these ideas and concern about the
message conveyed to parents. I've accumulated some comments here that
address these concerns.

This
site originated as a help for homeschool families struggling in the
area of math motivation in teaching their children. Many have used
sound curriculum but have struggled to help their children learn, or
have wanted their children to come away with more of a positive
experience in math than they themselves did.

I
do not focus on curriculum because there are oodles of curriculum sites
out there. At some point I may accumulate years of curriculum comments
from homeschool parents into a page here, but that is a tricky
business, because I feel curriculum success is less a factor of what is
used, and more related to how it is used. Curriculum switching is a
commonly attempted strategy for math learning problems, and sometimes
works, but often provides only a temporary relief.

So
the focus here has been on ways to enrich the math environment in ways
to facilitate easier learning and accomodate many different learning
styles in ways that cannot be as easily accomplished in a classroom.
Many of these ideas can be used by parents with children in school, my
own children have participated in classroom settings at various times,
and I use these same methods to supplement their more traditional
instruction on their class days.

Much discussion occurs on the LivingMathForum list
that relates to how to weave living math materials, methods and ideas
with curriculum, and vice versa for families that have used
unschooling, Waldorf or other methods that are heavily activity based
and not curriculum dependent. This discussion provides balance and
perspective.

One
more interesting observation made by a member of the list is that many
"mathy" people weave math into their daily lives and the lives of their
children very naturally, almost without thinking about it. This is an
area that many parent educators struggle with, particularly as the
majority are women who learned math traditionally, and know no other
way to see or teach math. Knowing how to "talk math" naturally is not
something easily taught or explained. Math oriented people often do not see how difficult this is, and can intimidate
non-math oriented individuals with the ease they experience.

Much
of the information here is geared toward helping parents become more
comfortable with math themselves, to self educate just as they would
brush up on English grammar or American History if they are teaching
their children these subjects, without feeling intimidated over having
to brush up on mathematics terms and ideas that may never have been
learned well to begin with.

I
hope that helps clarify the purpose of this site, and provide a basis
or perspective from which much of the information provided here is
coming from.

Julie Brennan

November, 2005