I Don’t Love Math, So How Can I Homeschool My Child?
- Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Susan, a homeschooling mother, hated math. She always had. She said this in front of her children. As a result, Susan’s children hated math. They consistently scored below grade level on standardized tests. Quite often, they did not get through their math curriculum because they chose to skip math whenever possible. Eventually, all of the children were enrolled in a Christian school because Susan lacked confidence in teaching the higher math subjects.
An avid reader, Susan could teach history, literature, and science, with ease and confidence. But because she did not have a solid foundation in math, she never felt confident. And so, she never passed confidence in math on to her children.
Maybe you’ve felt like Susan in the past. Maybe you feel like her now. I’m writing to tell you, “You can do this!” You can teach math through high school. Being home with you is the best place for your son or daughter, whether he or she is a math-lover or not. And for the higher math classes, teaching one-on-one is absolutely the best way to do it. Home is best for math. In the balance of my article, I want to give you a few rules for teaching math in the homeschool so that you and your children can gain “math confidence.”
Rule #1: Fake it. Our friend Susan never hesitated to tell her children how much she hated math. If you do this, your child will think, “If Mommy hates math, then I should hate it too.” Starting today, in your home, the words “I hate math” should never come out of your mouth. Fake it. Smile, and say, “We can do this!”
You need to act like math is no big deal. You need to pretend that you’re enjoying it. Attitude is everything where math is concerned. If you have an I-can-do-this attitude, eventually you will start to believe it. There is a reason that “Fake it” is rule #1. Having a positive attitude makes the rest of math easier, and having a positive attitude will influence your children’s attitudes. Not only will you begin to believe that you can do math, but your children will believe it too. We all want our children to believe that they can conquer anything. By having a good math attitude, you are well on your way to having children who are confident in math.
Rule #2: See math everywhere. Years ago I made the comment that every career our children would ever have would involve math. Ever since then, our sons have tried to stump me. We’ll be walking through the grocery store and one of our sons will shout out “Factory worker!” I’ll respond: “They have quotas to fill, so that’s counting. They have to eliminate shoddy work or a poor product, so they are subtracting while counting. They get a paycheck! So they have to do math to make sure they are being paid the correct amount.”
Think about it: every job requires at least a little bit of math, even if it is just on payday. You have to deal with numbers no matter what you do. Math is everywhere. Start looking for it. Point out the math involved in each and every day to your children.
I count everything. When I walk down a flight of steps, I count them. Start counting aloud with your children.
We make our boys figure out percentage discounts when they’re shopping. If something is on sale for 25% off, they have to know what the new price will be before they can buy it. We make them figure out tax too. In our state, we pay 6% on non-essentials. They have to know the total cost of an item plus the tax before paying for that item.
We also play “guess the total” at restaurants. When we go out to eat, Daddy covers up the ticket and everyone tries to estimate the total ticket. We estimate what each order costs, plus drinks and tax, and give our guess on the total bill.
I use algebra almost daily. Any time you have something you want to know but have only a few components with which to get your answer, you’ve got a variable and the need to do an algebra problem. My husband used a pretty complex geometry calculation to figure out how to shoot from his tree stand while hunting. Although you may not use the higher maths on an everyday basis, we can all agree that you do use math every day, even if you are just counting something.
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