As someone who LOVES Math and did all the extra problems in school for homework (just because it was so fun) and now have been teaching it for about 18 years, I’ve learned so much while teaching! Math came so easy to me, but I learned, while teaching my own 4 kids, that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone and when it doesn’t, it can drive a parent up the wall, especially if they don’t understand how kids learn Math and especially if they love Math themselves and are naturally good at it. I did not realize how much repetition it took, how much time certain concepts would take and initially didn’t have the knowledge of how it all fits together like one big beautiful puzzle. So it created a lot of frustration.
I feel I owe this article to all the Math-loving parents and non-Math loving students out there! I hear more about Math frustrations and confusions than any other subject. The worst part of all? Everyone thinks they’re the only ones with the problem! I believe anyone can learn Math, it’s just a matter of time, patience, and the right way of learning it.
I tell my students that Math is a language, it has vocabulary, it follows rules and you can’t learn to write essays before you can write words, so everything builds on everything before that. If someone is teaching you Math and they don’t understand the flow of how Math builds, it becomes extremely frustrating and no fun, while Math is inherently fun with all the cool patterns and all the amazing things we can do with it. We put a man on the moon with Math! But let’s not start there, let’s start at the beginning.
There are 2 types of teachers who teach Math, whether in home schools or in public schools: those who love Math and find it easy and fun and those who hate Math and find it very confusing, frustrating and near impossible to understand. The latter, once they do understand it, naturally have more patience with students, because they remember the struggle and how hard it was for them, while those who loved it and found it easy, often can’t even remember the order they learned it in, because they just know it all now and can’t remember a time that it was hard and often don’t exhibit a ton of patience, because they can’t even understand how anyone “can not get it, since it’s so easy!”
If you feel you aren’t the best person to teach your student Math, one way of dealing with it is outsourcing it to someone who is experienced in teaching it like the caring teachers at Learn Beyond The Book, where we do Math twice a week for 1.5 hours each time and students can come once or both sessions, combine it with some fun math games each class period and move up to the next level as they reach their math goals. Students are allowed to work at their own level of Math without being compared with the other students in the class and classes have max of 12 students, in which case we normally have teacher’s assistants in the room as well.
Another way might be to employ a private tutor, which we also offer at Learn Beyond the Book. If none of those appeal to you and you would like to teach your homeschooled students at home yourself, you might find this information helpful. I decided to develop a very simple product (cost is $1) that looks a bit like a table of contents, but it is much more than that. It shows a logical flow of what needs to be taught in terms of Math instruction in the order that is easiest to teach and for children to understand based on my experience from my 18 years of teaching Math.
Many parents and even non-math-loving teachers try to teach their students math and use traditional textbooks, but they don’t understand the flow of Math instruction and then aren’t always aware that e.g. teaching fractions when someone has not mastered the concept of division and what it entails, will be very difficult and you won’t get very far and it will end up in frustration for everyone involved.
This product is meant to be used with whatever curriculum you choose to use, but it is to help you sift through where your students are at, help with assessing what they might be missing and where they might’ve developed “gaps” in their math instruction using certain textbooks and help you stay on track. The Math curriculum that most closely follows this approach is Math-U-See, and then the “Key To” series once you reach Decimals, % and Fractions. Used in conjunction with those curriculum, it will be easier to follow this plan and cover all your bases and make sure your students are not getting lost in what could be a Math jungle.
For any questions, feel free to contact me at LearnBeyondTheBook@gmail.com.