It’s right there all snug as a bug in a rug next to solving algorithms, the chemistry of photosynthesis, and what age someone else’s toddler learned to drive their family car.

…

What if we focus on character

Trajectory is one of those concepts grouped in the “Who the Heck Cares” basket in my brain.

“This guy cares about trajectory” Photo by NASA.

It’s right there all snug as a bug in a rug next to solving algorithms, the chemistry of photosynthesis, and what age someone else’s toddler learned to drive their family car.

…

Inside: The real secret to Teaching Algebra in Homeschool.

I’m a liar.

What is worse? Getting caught by my 9th grader.

Now, I never meant to lie, **most surely** I did not.

I made a promise and got lazy.

There I was, sitting next to my 9th grader explaining his algebra lesson for the day when I was suddenly caught in my lie.

*Crud.*

I had a sudden flashback to the time I broke a window as a little girl.

I was about 5 years old and was throwing rocks at the corner of the house. I missed.

Actually, I hit my mark.

I intentionally threw the rock at the window and it shattered.

**Crud.**

**I was five. I did not know I had the super-human ability to shatter glass!**

I ran inside to try to fix the broken glass (because I was five) and cut my finger.

I was not only in trouble but __dying from my wound__. (yes, I was a drama queen).

Of course, my mom saw through my lie when I told her I was not trying to break the window. She was gracious with me, but I still *remember the guilt* over 40 years later like it was yesterday.

So there I was next to my son, stumbling over his lesson while trying to put up the front that I knew exactly what I was doing.

I am the teacher after all.

I couldn’t let him know **I lied to him** when I told him I would __always__ be at least one lesson ahead of him in math (so I would not confuse the tar out of him).

But there I was like Brer Rabbit stuck to the Tar Baby.

(I love Uncle Remus. If you have never read these aloud to your kids you are missing out!)

I had decided I had this “Algebra Thing” by the horns.

And then I didn’t.

What?!

I tried.

I panicked.

I was tempted to swear.

And then I confessed. *I had not even looked at the lesson before we sat down.*

I gave him a lighter math assignment and sent him on his way and then I repented of my sin.

I found a quiet place and worked out the math. I may have shed blood, but I don’t want to freak out any of you who are still teaching your kids shapes.

Finally, I figured it all out and I created my notes.

I am happy to report that the next day I was able to happily teach my son about ratios being related to one another. Half way through the lesson I paused and said, “This is what it like to be taught by a teacher who is prepared. It’s better isn’t it?”

He said, “Definitely!”

**Question:** What is the Most Critical Mistake to Avoid when Teaching Algebra (or challenging subject)

**Answer:** Faking it

As a Homeschooler, you may struggle with the math level your children are currently learning, but if you are no prepared you will frustrate them and set them up for failure. They may even just adopt our “You don’t need this skill to buy milk” attitude and never press into the subject. By being unprepared, we teach our kids it’s ok to do mediocre work. Yikes!

**Steps to Teaching Algebra (or other challenging Material)**

1. Admit that it is challenging for you. Do not **fake** understanding.

2. Commit yourself to learning the material. I know. There is laundry in the living room, the baby needs their diaper changed, and dinner needs to be made

- Set aside 30 minutes to study tomorrow’s math/challenging subject.
- Take notes
- Do the lesson (I do at least half of my son’s Algebra lesson before he does so I can explain it properly)
- Get help if needed. There are all kinds of online helps to assist you. Khan academy is one of my favorites.
- Work through the challenging material together. For instance, my son knows I do not remember chemistry or advanced biology. We work through the vocabulary and concepts together. But with math, I have to be a step ahead of him. Math is challenging enough without having your teacher say, “first, you do this. Wait, that’s not right, try this. Shoot, that didn’t work either.”

3. Get Help. If you simply cannot figure out how to do the material, you can get your kids tutors. Not all tutors need to cost you an arm and a leg. It’s not a crime to enroll your child in a high school or community college class either. Our local high school allows homeschoolers to take single classes. That’s a great option. Our local community college allows students to take their junior and senior high school classes and they earn both high school and college credit.

When I tried to fake my way through my son’s Algebra lesson I really created quite a dramatic scene.

He deserved better from me.

I can’t say that I will never fail again because that would make me a repeat liar, but I am determined to be better prepared each day.

How about you? Have you ever “lied” to your kids?

Confession is good for the soul…

Inside: Practical Strategies for Teaching Math.

This post may contain affiliate links.

Crocodile tears are big. Crocodile tears are ugly.

I remember the day my son cried huge crocodile tears because he had already spent two hours “doing math” and still wasn’t done.

We had just made the big jump to homeschool and he was not thriving. Why?

I was stumped.

I was also impatient.

I thought, ” I know I am explaining these concepts to you, so why can’t you “pound out the lesson” in two seconds flat.”

Do you ever do this?

It’s easy to expect too much from our kids. I really expected too much from Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, expectations are great. I am the queen of setting the bar high for my sons. But I was missing something critical.

It turned out, he had made it all the way to 5th grade without mastering his math facts.

How the heck did that happen? I was right there the whole time and missed it.

After eating a big helping of guilty pie, we began working on fundamentals of math.

(25 Minute Video Filled with Ideas)

You can teach a 13-year-old a math concept

Simply identify the goal and create a learning strategy.

Ask Yourself: Do you teach your child kindergarten, first grade, third grade etc? Or do you teach your **child**?

**How to teach math facts **

1. Discover your child’s way of learning. I had to come face to face with that fact that my son learned differently than I was teaching.

There are a bazillion ways to learn and practice the facts.

Math facts need to be memorized. Sorry. Now way around this one. Actually, they need to be over-memorized. Practice over, and over, and over again.

**2. Examine your Own Math Mentality**

- Do you hate math? Do you voice that to your children? Does math confuse you? Do you say things like, “I never could do math well,” rather than, “Hmmm, I do not remember how to do this right now, I guess my brain gets to exercise!”Many homeschoolers do not feel qualified to teach math, that’s OK. Instead learn it together! Discover the power of “yet”.

**Purpose to Speak Positively about Math**

- “Math is everywhere!”
- “I’m glad I know how to add because that means I know _____.”
- “I like the challenge of math!”
- You get the idea.

**3. Get Help if you really Do Not Understand**

- When you hit a math wall and simply cannot solve it in order to explain it to your child, seek help. Tell your student you need to have someone explain it to you. Affirm that there is always someone who is willing to help if you are humble enough to ask. Our kids need to see us ask for help! Here is a great online help for you and your kids.

**Related:** Some Practical Math Resources

4. Use Flash Cards

5. Learn Fact Families Kids need to master facts as related groups.

Like this 3, 4, 7 fact family.

6. Creative Practice

- dry eraser markers on windows and mirrors
- sidewalk chalk
- pudding:)
- writing on sandpaper
- using magnetic numbers on fridge
- saying facts while playing ball, dancing, or rolling

7. Math Fact Games

We do drill games kind of like “mother may I”.

Call out math questions, if they get it right then they take a step forward.

If they get it wrong, take a step back. If they start counting to the answer they stand still.

Call out math questions, if they get it right then they take a step forward.

If they get it wrong, take a step back. If they start counting to the answer they stand still.

8. Manipulatives

Use anything from blocks and pattern tiles, Legos, Cheerios, M&M’s, and play games.

“You grab 5 and I’ll give you 12 more, how many?”

“If I make 4 groups of 3, how many will there be all together?”

“Here are handfuls of snacks… divide them into 6 separate zip-lock baggies evenly.”

**Tip:** Give kids time to explore manipulatives without giving them guidelines. I always let my kids “play” with new manipulatives a week or two before I use them in a lesson.

**Sources of Math Frustration:**

__Attitude:__ Theirs or ours.

__Curriculum.__

Curriculum causes so many issues.

We feel our kids need to “get it” and be able to move forward from concept to concept.

Page 27 means nothing. It’s like expecting a child to read a book but they only know 11 letters and sounds of the alphabet. Remember curriculum is a tool, not the goal.

*Establish a clear math goal (or set of goals) for your student and use the curriculum to help you get there. That may mean you skip pages, even chapters of the book!

__Guilt.__

Comparing your kids to mine, hers or theirs.

Asking, “Shouldn’t my child be a grade level?”

I feel like a failure because I barely can complete the fourth-grade math book without an answer key!

Guilt binds us.

We need to release it.

Curriculum doesn’t teach our kids.

**We teach** our kids and *sometimes we even use curriculum* to teach them;).

**More ideas:**

- Count everything.

- Work on facts daily.

- Print a bunch of math fact drill sheets and do timed drills (if they at least tolerate them I have one child that drills devastate. for some reason a timed drill shuts his brain down.)

- Do Car math: Ask math fact questions while running errands

- Bake

- Measure things with rulers, measuring tapes, straws, bananas

- Go to the store and pretend (or really buy) as many things as possible with $100.

Lastly, it is important to remember that not all of our kids are destined to be mathematicians.

That’s OK.

But everyone really needs to know their basic math facts inside out.

Focus on the basics and build your math program around fundamentals. Don’t rush your young children. If they master their facts they will be well ahead of their peers in the end and you can help avoid those crocodile tears.