I’m a homeschool mom of 3 very different children.
They range in ages from 15 and 10 to my youngest who is 8 years old. Most of what I post in this blog features my younger children, but I devote much of my time and energy to my high school daughter …
and in particular to her maths.
Maths was never my strong subject and I failed many maths exams and tests through my high school career, yet somehow still passed. I was always insecure and stressed about maths. In my final school year I had a fantastic tutor who explained things clearly and slowly and patiently, until I ‘got’ it.
Despite his help, I did not feel confident doing maths.
Then, a few years later I studied to become a public school teacher and I was given 3 grades’ maths classes during a student practical experience. I was terrified! How could I teach maths?
I studied at least 3 different textbooks on the work I had to present, and I gained confidence. The more I scribbled and practiced, the easier it became. The next day I entered the classroom armed with my textbooks, and I had some tricks up my sleeve. I had my examples, manipulatives, some games and exercises that made maths come alive.
Actually, I was a good maths teacher!
Fortunately, when I qualified, I was given my favourite subjects to teach (English, History and Art) and I never taught maths again. (Sigh of relief!)
Now, many, many years later I am facing grade 9 maths with my daughter. Whether it is hereditary, or temperamental, I don’t know, but she is also terrified of maths.
I can teach her,
I can urge her,
I can support her,
instruct, remind, exhort …
but she has to conquer her fear of maths for herself.
I must lay out each step slowly and clearly.
I must stay patient while she thinks the work through.
I need to try different approaches if the one I am using is not clear.
The textbooks may give us the break-down of each step, but we need to work through the concepts until it ‘clicks’. I usually show her the principles, then show her some examples, and then she has to try while I watch.
While she works I give some encouragement, whispered reminders, a nod, yes … you’ve got it!
If she keeps at it at her level long enough, she’ll eventually say, “Mom, I know this stuff.”
She has to work at it till she ‘gets’ it. This means a lot of hard solo work. She needs to keep at it until it shrinks in her view finder into the subject it is – and not the giant terror that it seems.
Teaching high school maths is a challenge. The work is abstract and complicated and complex. But, by far, the greatest challenge is the attitude and emotional issues that add stress to learning and mastering high school maths.
I’m reminded, even as I write this, the prayer is vital.
I pray for mental clarity,
to conquer maths.
What high school homeschool experiences have you had?