I don’t think anybody actually enjoys doing math. Well, except maybe that one instructor who taught my college algebra class. Man, did he get excited about numbers!
Ok, let’s be honest. I guess the majority of math teachers do like math. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have the job in the first place now, would they?
Math Can Be Torture
Odds are, at some point or another, you’ve had to watch your child suffer through tough math problems. As a homeschooler, I know I have.
At first, I chalked it up to the fact that she just disliked math. I always did, all the way through school, and it just made sense that she would too.
However, as a homeschooler, it’s my job to dig down and find out why she didn’t like it. Was it boring? Did the numbers simply get too monotonous? Was there something she didn’t understand? I literally went over every scenario I possibly could.
One thing is for sure. If a child doesn’t have a firm grasp of mathematical fundamentals, you might as well be teaching in another language!
Then I finally realized something. Maybe it was her at all.
Math Fundamentals Are A Necessity
As I combed the internet, blogs and forums, I came to the stark realization that perhaps she didn’t have the foundation in math she needed. She had attended public school for some time before I finally pulled her out. So really, I didn’t know what she had been “taught”.
Oh, I knew what was coming home with her: no homework, no math books, no notes or handouts. Just progress reports and grade cards that showed her falling far behind her peers in math class.
I should have known something was wrong back then. She has always been incredibly smart! But, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. I trusted that she was getting what she needed without realizing that the No Child Left Behind Act was academically disabling children.
But that’s a post for another time…
Putting 2 and 2 Together
(No pun intended!) 🙂
As we started into algebra in my daughter’s freshman year of high school, her struggles kept her in tears. Finally, I decided to strip the whole thing clear to the bare metal, so to speak.
I explained to her we were going to go all the way back to first grade math. Now, since she’s a perfectionist at heart, I also explained that this wasn’t because she couldn’t do the work. I told her that we were going back to find the “holes” in her learning of math.
Once she understood the process, we began. And to say that the turnaround in her thinking was monumental would be an understatement! She began to excel at speeds I hadn’t expected. Little by little, we found and then addressed those “holes” – and we still are, truth be told – and she’s actually enjoying math!
We’re both ecstatic!
Don’t Be Afraid To “Start Over”
I found so many things that my daughter didn’t have a grasp of in our starting over. I had to fight the urge to become angry. At least in front of her. How could they move on when she didn’t know these things? But, in fairness, many classrooms are overcrowded and there’s simply no way to address each child’s personal needs.
We had to learn carrying, plus the basics of multiplication and division. Once we had a firm grasp on that, she no longer dreaded math. I pulled out the multiplication table and taught her to use it. We discussed prime numbers and how to find things like the least common denominator and the greatest common factor.
In fact, starting over has empowered her. Where she once was brought to tears by this subject, she now has a firm grasp. And that grasp allowed her to realize that it’s just a process, or combination of processes that lead to a correct answer.
You Can Do It Too!
If your child struggles with math, they might just be struggling with the same problem my daughter had. And if that’s the case, I assure you, you can remedy the problem. Just start over!
We didn’t stay on any topic too long. Once she had a firm grasp of addition, we moved on to addition with carrying. Once she had that down, we tried bigger and bigger numbers. When we conquered that, we moved on to subtraction. And so forth.
It seems like every stage got shorter and shorter. I am of a firm belief, especially in review situations, that once a child has the initial concept down, you can stop. If they are doing the problems with no help, quickly and easily, there’s no point in hammering on it. Move on!
If you encounter problems again, simply stop. Back up to where you were the day before and find out where the issue is. Once you’ve started down this road, it won’t be hard to do.
Find Your Child’s Learning Style For Math
Some children can simply look at numbers and see what they need to see. Others, like my daughter, are visual learners. My daughter also needed close one on one supervision and assistance for awhile. She needed that assurance that she was doing each step right. And with every problem that she got right, the need for that assurance grew to be less and less.
It might take a few days to realize the style of learning that best suits your child. You might have to try and fail at a few before you find the right niche. We did. And that’s ok! It’s part of what makes homeschooling so great. We are not confined by a particular curriculum that lasts the entire year!
If it doesn’t work, kick it to the curb and move on to the next thing. Both you and your child will be better off for it. And once you find what works, you’ll be on a roll.
A Few Resources For You…
There are lots of resources out there for math class. Here are a just a few that have helped us and others I have spoken to about this problem.
- Khan Academy is a great site that offers free video and text lessons. This works best if your child is ok with numbers only. However, there are some videos that offer a bit of visual support, especially in multiplication. It’s definitely worth checking out because it’s free!
- Math-U-See is another resource that many parents simply rave about. It is directed towards children that are visual learners and does a great job. When I heard about it, I couldn’t afford the books, but I did a lot of research on it. There are even some lessons you can find on YouTube if you type it in the search and they can be very helpful.
- Life of Fred Mathematics is another favorite of a great many parents I spoke with. This is yet another vastly different math course in which the text is written in novel format. It’s great for children who like to “think” about things and teaches them to extend that thinking into the area of mathematics. Click the link to learn more!
Don’t Be Afraid To Research
The three resources I listed are just the tip of the iceberg. If you do a simple google search for “favorite homeschool math”, you’ll find tons more. It could be that none of the ones I have mentioned are the right one for YOUR child, and that’s ok. Finding what works for each child is of the utmost importance. You won’t regret the time spent in research on this one!
Also, another thing that helped me immensely, was reaching out to other homeschooling moms. I joined a ton of Facebook groups, tracked down specific homeschool math forums and message boards and hooked up with as many as I could. Having a valid support group is so very important when things like this come up.
Do You Have Any Advice?
Perhaps you’ve been down this road as well? If you have, and you found something that worked great for you, would you consider sharing in the comment section? I’m sure it would be a welcome addition for those who are still looking for their child’s break.
Of course, you don’t have to have advice to leave a comment 🙂 I love to hear from you just the same!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, but more so, I hope it has helped you. Or at least given you the courage to press on. Math is hard. But it’s downright unbearable without that foundation!