Homeschool Math with Confidence (video interview with Kate Snow)

Kate Snow interview math help

Homeschool Math Help with Kate Snow: Does math ever cause trouble in your homeschool? Join me as I chat with Kate Snow, my go-to math mentor. We discuss how to lay a strong foundation for math at each age, what to do when your child is behind in math, and how to homeschool math with confidence. Whether you’re a math-fan or math-phobic, you’re sure to love this Homeschool Conversation!

Watch the video, read the show notes, and share with your friends!

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Homeschool Math with Confidence Kate Snow Video Interview

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Who is Kate Snow?

Kate Snow is on a mission to help parents teach math with confidence. She graduated from Harvard with both a math degree and an elementary teaching certificate. With experience as a classroom teacher, math curriculum writer, homeschool mom, and math tutor, she’s taught math from preschool to high school. Now, she writes math curriculum for Well-Trained Mind Press, tutors homeschoolers, and provides support and resources for parents as they teach math.

Homeschool Math Kate Snow interview

Watch my interview with Kate Snow

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Kate’s personal experience with math {1:30}

Kate and her family live in Grand Rapids, MI. Her 2 children are currently 9 and 13.

Kate has always loved math her whole life. In college, however, she hit real trouble in her “Real Analysis” class. It was incredibly hard for her. She hit the wall after years of success with math. In fact, she almost failed the class! But Kate said it was such a good experience to have, to experience that feeling of being at sea with math.

This pivotal experience actually played a role in her decision to pursue math as an educator. She wanted to bring the perspective this experience had given her into her work teaching math.

Later, during her years as a homeschool mom, she realized something interesting. As she participated in co-ops and park dates, she realized how many other homeschool moms were struggling with math. “I kind of became the ‘Math Mom’ in my circle,” Kate smiled.

That’s when she began her website, Kate’s Homeschool Math Help.

Kate Snow Homeschool Math Confidence

Homeschool math help from Kate Snow: Laying a foundation for math success at each stage {5:16}

An important part of laying a good foundation in math is “having the attitude that math makes sense and that we can figure this out together,” Kate said. “You don’t have to be the expert for your child. It’s ok to be a co-explorer.”

Kate continued, “Start from the premise that math does make sense.” You may have just been taught to memorize procedures, but there is a reason and a logic behind them. When you start with the underlying that math actually does make sense? “It changes the entire endeavor.”

{You may also like my post and video exploring WHY we invert and multiply!}

Kate Snow interview Homeschool Math Help

It can be such a relief to know that you don’t have to be the expert in the room! “If you have math anxiety yourself, it helps you take that down a notch,” Kate encouraged, which in turn helps protect your own children’s confidence.

Focus on these areas at each stage:

Preschool math: counting is huge as well as the ability to recognize small objects by sight, a skill known as subitizing.

Elementary math: math facts are very important. They are the core foundation for future math work. Help children understand what the basic math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) actually mean, and help them memorize the basic facts.

(Note: written calculations are significant, but the mental calculations are actually more important.)

Middle School math: it’s all about proportional thinking: fractions, decimals, and percents!

High School math: this is when students somewhat veer onto different paths. Some will take the college prep path, others the more practical application side of mathematics.

The thing that really helps kids succeed when it comes to high school math is learning to be independent learners in math.

Kate said we can help students slow down and read math like directions for putting together an Ikea dresser rather than a novel. They also need to learn to be neat and to organize and show their work.

Kate continued,

“It’s ok if math is hard. When things are hard it doesn’t mean you’re bad at them. It means you’re thinking hard, you’re doing hard work. And math is a subject where there’s going to be some hard work to do, and that’s ok. Nothing is wrong with you because it’s hard.”

Kate Snow’s new homeschool math curriculum {12:00}

I am really looking forward to using Kate’s new Kindergarten math curriculum with my little guy next year!

Kindergarten Math with Confidence is the first installment of a full elementary math curriculum, with new levels releasing each year.

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“What I really tried to do in these books is to give rigorous, thorough treatment of everything that kids need to know in each grade level, but also to make it fun and interactive and playful,” Kate said.

Kate’s guiding principle has been to communicate “really good math [that’s] really fun, enjoyable, and interactive for the family.”

Homeschool math help from Kate Snow: Why is it important to learn math facts? {14:51}

One reason is the brain science behind working memory: “We can only hold so many things in our head at a time,” Kate smiled. When your student is doing a complicated multi-digit multiplication problem, they don’t need to lose the thread of what they’re doing by having to count out something basic like 8+7.

Worse than that, Kate said, is that kids often can’t understand new material because they’re too busy figuring out the basic problems.

“If you are adding 8X + 7X and you’re stopping and having to think that 8+7 is 15, you have really lost the point of this linear equation, graphing it, finding the slope, and such,” Kate noted.

Knowing the math facts also makes kids feel more confident in math.

Finally, all problems do not come in ways that are easily packaged. There are lots of places where you can’t just plug numbers into a calculator. You have to evaluate the problem first. Mathematical thinking is important. Knowing the math facts is core for being able to do that!

{You may also enjoy my review of Kate Snow‘s Math Facts That Stick series!}

Homeschool math help from Kate Snow: Encouragement for the Mom who has a child who hates math, or who worries that their child is falling behind {18:05}

“It can be really overwhelming,” to find yourself with a child who is way behind, Kate acknowledged.

“Let go of any guilt,” Kate encouraged. “Guilt just weighs us down; it doesn’t help us move forward.”

Start with a realistic list of what your child can already actually do. It is totally possible to help a child get back on track! There’s a lot of time within the typical middle school curriculum to make up some ground.

Trying to make up ground quickly? Focus first on the basic operations. Condense, and do what is most necessary. “Streamline what you’re doing, be consistent, but don’t beat yourself up,” Kate said.

Sometimes we can globalize our problems, so I appreciated Kate’s advice to start small and move forward consistently! It makes it feel much more doable.

Kate recently wrote a helpful article “How to Fill in Math Gaps” that further addresses this topic. (It’s part of her new “Ask Kate” series)

When homeschool math is hard; video interview with Kate Snow

Homeschool math help from Kate Snow: Do we have to do every lesson in the math book? {21:30}

It depends on the age of the kids, of course, but Kate says usually you don’t have to finish the math book. So what’s the best way to decide when to stop as the sunshine beckons you away from the math textbook?

Look at the first few chapters in next year’s math book and see what is reviewed in the opening sections! Even Kate, a curriculum writer, doesn’t expect people to do the final chapter in her math books. It’s helpful to get an introduction this year and a review next year, but it’s not really necessary.

Kate noted that homeschool moms often don’t trust themselves, but they’re really a smart bunch. She encouraged us to think carefully and then move forward in confidence that we’ve made a wise decision.

I am one of those mean homeschool moms who does make the kids do every single chapter in the math book, but I do NOT make them do every single problem. Some children just don’t need that much repetition and review on every topic. That’s another way to simplify things for your family.

Only the mom with the child in front of them, Kate said, really knows how much review a particular student actually needs. She said we can be empowered to make those decisions with confidence.

How to choose homeschool math curriculum for next year {25:20}

How did this year go?Kate encouraged us to start with assessment. “If this year worked well, you are good! Keep going!”

Kate did say that sometimes people get really worried about switching up curriculum, perhaps based on fears of leaving gaps in math knowledge. If you approach the change carefully, though, it shouldn’t be a problem. “You need to do it thoughtfully…look at the placement test and see where your child fits in that new scope and sequence…” she explained.

Anyone else get way too optimistic about next year? Kate said we need to be ruthlessly realistic about what fits our budget and our schedule as we plan for next year’s math curriculum.

I loved Kate’s “Tomorrow Rule”: “If I had to start this tomorrow would I be excited about it?”

We also had a really good discussion about crying during math lessons… is it sometimes ok? Watch the video to see what we said!

{You may also enjoy 4 Questions to Ask Before Planning or Shopping for Curriculum}

Find homeschool math help from Kate Snow online

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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