Teaching math to my kids has been one of the toughest, and sometimes most frustrating aspects of homeschooling. Of the four remaining kids that I have at home, two are doing great working independently using CTC Math and Life of Fred. And two struggle to retain…..just about everything. We have tried many, many different things, and still haven’t found that magic approach that really sticks for these two kids.
Honestly, you guys, while on the one hand I worry about how on earth I’m going to get these kids through high school math, on the OTHER hand, math time is where I really shine as a paragon of patience. And actually, I’m not even kidding when I say that.
I don’t want to mess my kids up, you know? And if they don’t understand, it’s not like that’s THEIR fault, right? And if they feel jittery or upset or like someone is mad at them, how can they use their brain power to hopefully do their math? They can’t.
So, I’m calm. I speak so, so nicely. I gently remind them of what they did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before…..and show them examples.
We get out the white boards and dry erase markers. I talk them through the process. I give them fun little hints to help them remember. (ha)
In short, I’m a paragon of virtue. While the gray hairs are sprouting and inwardly I’m probably losing minutes from my life. lol (But gaining stars in my crown, y’all! Stars in my crown! lol)
Well, the other day one of my kids was just stuck. Absolutely stuck. As it sometimes happens, it was for something that really shouldn’t be too hard for him to do. For whatever mysterious reason (so many mysteries like this in our life!) the way he was trying to think of it was taking him a looooong time.
This mysterious math problem? “What is half of 34?”
I gave him space.
I gave him suggestions.
I wrote out the problem on the white board.
And after about ten minutes, I took my frazzled, frustrated self over to the couch. And pulled a blanket over my head.
(FYI: Humor works well to diffuse frustration. And the kids won’t cry.)
I sent the above text message to my friend Amy. She’s a fellow homeschool mom who also has her share of struggles. She also used to be a high school algebra teacher. (So I complain to her about our math woes from time to time) You can see how sympathetic she was. LOL (So glad my suffering can bring joy to someone else! hahahaha)
Well, we got through math that day, of course. And while I was glad that I’d been able to remain calm (nobody could see the faces I was making under the blanket), there was still that lingering worry about the homeschooling itself:
What am I doing wrong?
How can I help my kids succeed?
What if I don’t figure it out in time?
Will they be ok?
Am I screwing this up?
Now, I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for a long time. This is the end of our 18th year since we began, in fact, and two of our kids are grown adults. So, I can objectively know that things will come together sooner or later, I am not screwing everything up, and they will be ok.
But those doubts and fears can creep in. In some seasons it can feel overwhelming.
I don’t have any pretty answers for this. This is just the tension that goes along with the responsibility of being in charge of your child’s education. And for those of us with kids that struggle with academics, it can be regularly daunting. I don’t share this in order to provide an easy answer. It’s only to let you know that we all have these things. You aren’t alone.
If you want to feel less alone, if you want to hear from a mom who tells it like it is, let’s get connected, ok? You can sign up to get my newsletter, which includes a bunch of stuff including regular from-the-trenches posts from me. You can follow me on Periscope and interact with me over there live. I also plan to get going on Facebook live, so if you Like Enrichment Studies over there, we can connect that way, and you’re also welcome to join the Enrichment Lifestyle group on FB as well. I just know it helps to keep it real with other people that are also going through the same kind of stuff.