How To Make Time for Exploration

Perhaps the most common objection I hear to using math games and enrichment activities is, “I don’t have the time. I can’t even get through our regular math book!”

Well, here’s one possible solution: Use a “Minimalist Math” outline to guide your instruction, turning your regular textbook into a backup resource, teaching only the topics your children don’t already know, leaving more time free for exploration and playful discovery.

Minimalist Math: Getting Down to Basics

Michelle at condensed the elementary math curriculum down to 360 problems per year, just 10 per week.

Take just a few puzzles each day, and talk math with your kids:

  • What do they notice in the problem?
  • Does it remind them of anything?
  • How might they try to figure it out?
  • Does it make them wonder about numbers, shapes, or patterns?

Use colorful markers on a whiteboard for low-stress exploration. If your children can solve a problem and explain their reasoning, you don’t need to study that topic. When they get stuck, ask leading questions to help them think it through.

If you’re both stymied, that’s when you pull out your regular textbook (or look the topic up online).

Practice with Games

Of course, children still need plenty of practice to master the math facts and solidify their knowledge.

Since you’re not spending as much time on lessons and homework, you can plan on playing lots of math games. Games are a fun, low-stress way to firm up math skills.

Check out My Best (Free) Math Games for All Ages, and follow the Math Game Monday posts on my blog.

Read Library Books

To enrich your child’s mind with the great ideas of mathematics and whet their appetite for learning, nothing beats a “living” math book.

A living book is one that brings our minds into direct contact with the great ideas of life.

Check out my Math with Living Books lists to get started, and ask your librarian for more suggestions.

For Older Students

Michelle’s Minimalist Math Curriculum goes through 6th grade (so far). But you could use the Corbettmaths 5-a-Day problems in the same way for older students.

And for enrichment activities to fill up your free math time, I can’t think of a better resource for all ages than the NrichMaths website.

“When I first started homeschooling, math became the most overwhelming, unpleasant part of our day. As someone who loves math, I didn’t want to continue on a path that was leading to such bad attitudes.

“My Minimalist Math Curriculum covers the same breadth of topics as a traditional curriculum without all the repetition. You are welcome to use what I created in whatever way serves your family.”

Michelle, Research Parent
Mathematics Activities for Kids

CREDITS: Photos by Aron Visuals, Andrew Ebrahim, and Melissa Askew via

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