Homeschooling Series: Here is the third of four blog posts about Math Manipulatives! We believe it is possible to reach beyond basic manipulatives to create a rigorous, homeschooling environment. For access to our previous post on Number Sense (Understanding Numbers) or the previous post about Operations (Using Numbers), please click here!

Homeschooling Series: Patterns

Patterns are taught to children in early grades. Often combined with learning shapes, pattern identification usually involves a 2-3 week unit that is hands-on. Typical Math curricula include worksheets and activities similar to those listed here:

Patterns are much more than shapes or identifying a repeated number, though.

Patterns involve every aspect of Math and even English, regardless of a child’s age. If a child is struggling with fractions, for example, they probably struggle with their ability to identify number patterns. They probably cannot see how fractions exist as a pattern of parts. Additionally, if a child struggles with writing, they have probably not realized that paragraph writing is a pattern (A-BBB-A or A-BBC-A). For younger children, if they have difficulty with remembering multi-step instructions, they may be unclear on how to identify a oral pattern when someone is speaking to them.

Firstly, teaching patterns should draw a child’s attention to atypical patterns that exist:

  • The time Mum, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa wakes up in the house, or the time the child goes to bed.
  • The stoplight turning Green, Yellow, Red.
  • How their favorite TV show begins.
  • The melody of their favorite song.

A deeper understanding of patterns includes drawing a child’s attention to what they find “easy to remember”, as well. This includes:

  • Telephone numbers (3-3-4 pattern, not the numbers within the telephone number)
  • Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
  • Newspaper articles (overview-details-summary)
  • Symmetrical shapes (butterflies, snowflakes)
  • Possibly something not-so-positive: a baby crying whenever his mother leaves, being scared of the dark, etc.

Focus Online LLC would never advocate for elminating the classic forms of teaching patterns. Instead, we advocate to build upon them. Once a child is able to identify patterns that some may find discrete, or even disparate, they will be able to remember the information presented more easily. They will also be able to support their opinions with a logical point of view that presents on a higher level than their peers.

Thoughts on patterns from Psychology Today.