Roadschool: How we do math. Part 1: Curriculum

Roadschool: How we do math. Part 1: Curriculum

I would love to unschool. To cook with my kids and delve into fractions when measuring or multiplication when tripling a recipe. To find shapes in the great outdoors and use pocket change purchases at gas stations to explore money. And we do all that.

But. We’re not planning to homeschool forever. When this great adventure is over, the plan right now is to re-enroll them in our community school back in Nashville. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of just winging it while we’re on the road and letting curiosity and happenstance dictate their growth and fluency in math concepts. Also, I love math and am very good at it, but have always had trouble explaining what seemed so obvious to me to others. I needed a plan but I was overwhelmed by the curricula and standards online. Happily, a few months into our travels, we met my aunt who recently retired from a career as an elementary math teacher and more recently a math teacher coach for her school district at Assateague Island (check out the amazing overnight on our family’s travel blog!). She urged me to check out the Common Core information online and explained that there were lots of parent tutorials available. She also said she’d look for some materials for us from her stash.

Thanks to her encouragement, I took the plunge into the great interweb of possibilities. I had been pretty involved at our elementary school and we had attended the Family Math Nights, so I knew the curriculum the school used and how it related to the Common Core. I figured that since we were going to drop the kids back into school, it would make sense to just follow that curriculum. So I googled it, and lo and behold, it was online and totally free!


The curriculum is called Engage NY. It’s the state curriculum of New York and each grade level is divided into modules. I downloaded the first modules for Kindergarten and Second Grade and we were off.  The lessons generally start with fluency practice, an application problem, concept development, and then a problem set for independent practice.

Our ‘scale’ for K measurement practice. Side story – my first successful lesson during Teach for America’s summer institute was a pre-K lesson where we made these scales and then practiced comparing the weights of different objects. Life comes full circle!

Now, my second grader already had two years of experience with this curriculum, so we didn’t have to spend any time teaching him what a number bond was, for example. If you have an older child you might need to spend a little time building his or her familiarity with some of the concepts from lower grades. That said, I think the curriculum does an excellent job scaffolding and reviewing previous concepts, so I would just start with Module 1 Lesson 1 and see how it goes!

What I love most about this curriculum is that it reviews constantly, it has built in fluency practice, and that it is a script with suggestions for above and below level learners. Basically, there’s little thinking involved for me – I can pull up the curriculum and just wing it if I need to. Lessons run a lot smoother, however, if I review them ahead of time and do a little bit of prep.

Check out my next post in this series! Roadschool: How we do math. Part 2: Prep

This post was originally published on 5/7/2018 on my Women of the Road blog!

Back to Top