Monday, January 11, 2016

I have to teach math?!

Years ago when we were considering homeschooling one thing made me pause. Teaching math. I have a hate/hate relationship with math. I can remember sobbing my way through my math homework as a child. I some how managed to get through several upper level math classes in high school with straight A's....which is hilarious when I then tell you I had to take remedial math in college before I could move on to college level math classes. Seems if you took away my calculator I was useless.

When we decided to homeschool I knew math was going to be one of the hardest areas for me to teach. I just do not like it. My kids do not like it. My husband does not like it. No one I know likes it. Yet we still have to learn it.

I set out to find a way to teach math that didn't end up with us all sobbing our hearts out over a workbook. This was easy enough for the little ones. Our preschoolers through first graders count things around the house, do addition and subtraction with beans, start to tell time, play with pretend money, etc. Simple. Done.

Not nearly that simple with our 9 yr old. She is learning her multiplication tables, division, fractions, and currency. Getting harder but still doable with simple hands on activities completed with a pack of princess playing cards and some dice.  I have a post in the works concerning how we teach 4th grade math without a curriculum. I hope to be able to share it with you very soon!

Then we get to the more advanced elementary level of seventh grade math. I was asked recently "What happens when she gets to the hard stuff? The stuff you do not know?". This may shock some people but she got to "the hard stuff" in 5th grade. I have passed multiple college level math classes and still struggle with 7th grade math. I didn't remember how to change an improper fraction into a mixed number or how to solve a ratio problem. These are all things I had to relearn (or learn for the first time!) with her as she went along.  I quickly decided we needed someone to teach us how to do these things. We decided to go with Teaching Textbooks. There is a lecture, self grading work, and then help with problems that we just can not get right.

We sit down with her Teaching Textbook CD's and "take the class" together. We listen to the lecture together and then work the practice problems. We have even started racing to see who can get the correct answer first. After seeing the lecture once I am usually able to get the correct answer to the problems. There are times however when we are both stumped. We just have no idea how to complete the problem. Luckily the CD's have an option to not only see the answer but to have the problem explained and then worked out on screen for us. That has been a major help for both of us.

I am not going to say I like teaching math. I still hate it. I schedule it for first thing in the morning or we just will not do it. I have however realized that I can teach math. I do not have to know every aspect of math equations and procedures. Just like every other subject there will always be things that I do not know.

That is okay.

I am not supposed to know everything about everything. I am simply supposed to be a conduit for knowledge. I may not know the answers but I do know how to find them. There will always be amazing people out there who love things like calculus and trigonometry. It is my job to find them and to learn from them right along side our children.

I hope that through the years our children will learn that the pursuit of knowledge is just as important as the memorization of facts.  They will never be finished learning and someone will always know more than they do. They only fail if they stop pursing the knowledge they are missing. No one is a better example to them on this topic than me trying to learn math. I am willing to show my vulnerability to my children on a daily basis if it means they will learn that the pursuit of knowledge is never finished.

Yes, I have to teach math and we will all survive!

Do you have to teach a subject you dislike or do not understand? I would love to hear how you go about it! Please share with us!

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