Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of children understanding math concepts before ever doing any kind of workbook-type exercises. She liked to use manipulatives in order to help the children think through the why and how of solving word problems. She wanted them to see how math applies to real life.
Miss Mason wrote, "Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas ... which should quicken imagination."
She felt it important to teach the concrete before the abstract, no matter the child's grade level.
We've already discussed Miss Mason's desire to teach habits, well, that applies to math too. She felt that through daily mental effort, one step at a time, a child would learn the habit of concentration. She even tied in narration to math studies.
Many of the Charlotte Mason homeschoolers I know use Math-U-See as the program uses manipulatives and it is more gentle in its approach than something like Saxon.
I strongly recommend using Miss Mason's philosophy of Real Books when teaching math. Here are two excellent websites to get you strated:
Also see my book For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature.
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