The biggest mistake I made when we started homeschooling, was to try to do school at home.
It’s a common mistake. Most of us attended a traditional brick and mortar school. Some of us were even teachers in a traditional school. It’s hard to break the mold. As for myself, I was a high school math teacher. I taught Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, etc. to a classroom of not-so-eager-to-learn students daily. And what I learned from teaching all these angst-filled teenagers?
Most of them hate math.
And, really, why shouldn’t they? The traditional way of teaching math is boring and sometimes confusing. We spend 15 minutes discussing the newest topic, write the newest formula to memorize, and assign 30 or more problems for homework. As a teacher, I tried to add fun elements into my day like graphing waffles with syrup or eating pies all day on Pi day, but honestly, even I was a little bored.
So, what happens when a former high school math teacher becomes a homeschool mom? Yep, she tries to teach in traditional ways.
The Math Mistake
We started with Saxon (which I had taught in the traditional school setting) for my oldest and Horizons (because it was basically Saxon with more color) for my younger two. I energetically began teaching the same way I always had. I taught the lesson and assigned the problems. The result? Everyone except the first grader, who loved her little short worksheets, was in tears.
There were meltdowns.
There were screaming battles.
The teenager stopped speaking to me. My husband suggested I put him back in school before we killed each other.
It. Was. Not. Pretty.
The Math Fix
After nine weeks of torture, I decided to throw out all the math curriculum and start with something new. That something new was Life of Fred.
Life of Fred is a living math curriculum about a five-year-old boy named Fred, who is a little quirky. My youngers loved Fred; my older tolerated Fred. But, either way, it was a far cry from the previous drama.
There were no more meltdowns, and we started to like math again. We spent the rest of the year with Fred and, even though Dr. Schmidt introduces math concepts in a very nontraditional order, my kids still tested above their grade level (our umbrella school requires yearly testing).
Once I let go of the traditional mindset of teaching math, I was open to so many more fun and interactive ways of learning.Once I let go of the traditional mindset of teaching, I was open to more fun and interactive ways of learning. #ihsnet Click To Tweet
We started playing games. First, they were simple single player games that involved math dice or play money. But, soon they evolved into team strategy games.
We also discovered cooking involved lots of math and, our favorite, food! In fact, we were able to find math everywhere.
The Math Revelation
The best validation of our new methods came a few weeks ago. My oldest daughter was watching a Periscope where the girl (who had just finished her Saxon Math book) exclaimed: “I hate math!”. Without even glancing up from what she was doing, she said, “Hmm, I love math.” And that is what education is all about.
Periscope of Math in Our Homeschool Challenge
Below I’ve listed a few of the resources we have used to help stimulate the joy of math. Several of these have multiple levels of complexity to fit the needs of your children.