Heather Sanders

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March 2013



Math on Saturday? Say it ain’t so!

Written by , Posted in Curriculum, Homeschooling, Kids and Parenting


This past week Meredith and Kenny hit a few academic walls full force. In our homeschool the kids are old enough to teach themselves, but when they struggle in any academic discipline it is my responsibility to step in, explain a lesson or concept more fully (if I can) or find a tutor or other resource (if I cannot). After all, learning is not always fun, and choosing to homeschool is one way we prepare the kids for a future of their choice, by equipping them with a strong foundation.

In the case of Meredith’s math frustrations, the lesson was mine to learn too. After digging in to discover what the issue involved, I wrote a warning for other homeschooling parents about turning educational tools into crutches.

Once I decided to re-shape the way we utilized Teaching Textbooks (TT) for Meredith’s 7th grade math, I immediately did the reconnaissance on Kenny’s previous math lessons. He is in TT 5 and appeared to be falling into the same “second option” trap as Meredith on the new concepts introduced in the last two weeks.

Not thinking through things clearly enough, I set the same parameters for Kenny as I did for Meredith (read the lecture in the textbook, work out the problems on a separate sheet of paper, and finally, enter the answers into the TT software), not keeping in mind he has an entirely different learning style.

Turns out, it led to a unusually tearful Friday as he tried to grasp the newest concept of cross-multiplying large numbers (triple and double digits) by simply reading the text explanation. As an auditory leaner, Kenny benefits more from hearing, not reading the lesson’s lecture. Another lesson for Momma, and the reason we took a break from math yesterday, and wrapped up the lesson this morning instead.

I started the morning by re-explaining the idea of “carrying”. Then, I emphasized the importance of keeping his rows of answers neatly aligned to reduce mistakes in his addition. Finally, I downloaded one of these multiple digit multiplication worksheets for practice.

After the eighth practice problem, he stopped making errors and correctly answered the rest of the problems without further help. With the concept grasped, he confidently completed Friday’s TT lesson.

Though a math lesson was the last thing Kenny or I wanted to do on this lovely Saturday morning, it only took an hour and boosted his level of confidence considerably – totally worth the effort.

Please note: Teaching Textbooks is an impressive educational tool I continue to recommend. We have five years worth of their curriculum and plan to purchase TT Algebra 2 next year for Emelie.

Though it is my opinion the “second chance option” on daily lessons and quizzes can give parents a false impression of their students’ understanding, if parents are aware of the option, they can also keep a close eye on it.

Heather Sanders


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