My plans for homeschooling my sixth grader never included me outsourcing her math teaching.
The plan included us opening up a fresh, new curriculum — one where you could actually smell the progress of “We’re gonna fill up all the holes in your math education!” on every worksheet. “This time, this new book, this new teaching system. It’s going to work!”
And here I am writing about how my oldest ended up in someone else’s math class, and why we both are loving it.
The Trusty Table.
Trusty Table, or in our case the dining room table now covered with a masonite board because he was becoming: Crusty Table due to the farmhouse grooves of crumbs galore, is a staple in our homeschooling.
Your Trusty Table is where you do school.
They’re supposed to be the foundation for fun learning stuff — like glitter from a preschooler’s craft, modeling clay from a middle-schooler’s biome diorama, and snack crumbs from all!
Trusty Table is not supposed to be gathering gobs of grief. Tears from piggybacked misunderstood concepts, piles of eraser lint, and pencil shavings are NOT what Trusty Table was built for.
What We Were Doing Was Not Working
Our daughter has her heart set on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) path for her career. Lord willing she is aiming to become an exotic animal vet — specifically big cats, lions. And we know that this path requires science.
Science has a BFF you may have heard of it: math. Our girl loves science! Our girl is not so sure about math . . .
And people, believe me when I say that although my natural giftings do not align with math or singing, I have TRIED to instill a love of math in my heart and in my daughter’s. My intention is always to cheer math on! Math is our friend!
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I’ve interviewed other homeschool teachers who have kids that like math and get it — “What do you do!?” I’ve tried various games, we’ve studied math in the real world, we’ve baked to apply math . . . you get it. We’ve done it.
My daughter, who doesn’t struggle in other subjects, was just not getting math. Year after year, pep talk after pep talk about how “math is a tool”, we would see mixed grades. Sometimes a low A and sometimes C’s and F’s. We don’t harp on grades, but for our school we have to have a measure in place.
The main concern: a sixth grader who is not confident in her math studies. Junior high, in the school world, is Go-Time. All systems need to be ready for launch for Planet High School and Beyond!
It’s Not The Curriculum . . .
After the fourth curriculum switch, loads of prayer, talks with her dad, and stress-eating, I realized something: I don’t think it’s the curriculum.
There were so many days of hours spent on math. (Is this true of your schedules?) It got to be where we were planning every other subject around this one. And, I knew it was time to look into other options when we were letting the other subjects slide.
Talking with other homeschool families and always listening to what works for others (okay eavesdropping), I remembered a program in our community that does “a la carte” classes. And inexpensively so.
It all came down to this:
We could have another meltdown and further fracture our relationship over this subject that is supposed to be enriching our student’s life or we could put her in a new space — a new environment with a new face and learning alongside new students.
There is Always the Reset Option
This reset button has helped her so much. She now goes twice a week to this program and now has concrete ownership over math. She is working hard to complete her assignments and confidence has been restored. And, while at first I didn’t know what to do with myself, now I hang in the background with that subject and cheer her on. Always there to play a math-facts game or bake with her to apply her new found skills.
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A HUGE Teaching Moment
Maybe this is your current lot in life, and like me, you are feeling the failure weight that you have let your kids down. That is not what homeschool is about.
You are not a failure if you figure out what works best for your children! Quite the opposite! That is a win!
You are teaching your kids to not give up until they find a solution that works!
Perhaps it doesn’t have to be quite a drastic change as it was for us, maybe it can be an online class or a tutor coming to your home. Or, maybe a family member can step in to encourage your child in whatever subject they need help with! Hey, Aunt Cathy, the grammarian!
Ultimately, this never-ending quest to figure out what works for your kids is probably how a lot of us became homeschoolers to begin with! And like many of us attest: we can always reevaluate next year!
Gillian homeschools her two daughters and focuses on the funny in life through imperfection over at her family’s blog: www.fournicholstwocents.com. Follow The Four Nichols Two Cents on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest.