…and you want to bang your own head against it.
You’re going along swimmingly. Things like place value don’t cause conniptions anymore. Adding with regrouping is not fun, but do-able. The addition and subtraction facts have finally been mastered.
And then you introduce double-digit subtraction with regrouping.
You can almost hear the gears in your child’s head grind to a halt…
…just before he explodes and dissolves into a puddle on the floor.
If you homeschool long enough, eventually one (or more) of your kids will hit a brick wall.
It happens to everybody. The simple truth is that knowledge and understanding isn’t effortless and at times it requires more effort than a child has on tap at the moment.
The key is not to avoid come up against the wall at all. You can’t.
Sometimes a fog will descend without warning when everything seems to be clear skies and sunshine. Meteorologists can’t predict the weather with 100% certainty, and you can’t predict with 100% certainty how your child will react to a new concept.
Or if he’ll be hungry or have a scratchy tag on his shirt or feeling a little under the weather or be sick of winter…whatever factors happen to magically align and lead to him wanting to pull out his hair.
It is possible that if subtraction with regrouping had happened next week or even an hour earlier that he would have handled without blinking. It’s also possible that this particular concept is simply beyond him right now. Maybe he’s a really concrete kid who needs to work more with real things.
It’s ok when your child hits a brick wall.
The key isn’t avoiding the wall.
The key is how you react. What do you do next?
There’s a strong tendency to want to fix things. Nobody wants to see their child struggle. Nobody wants to deal with meltdowns. Nobody wants math to feel like pulling teeth.
You just want to take a sledgehammer to the wall and bring it down.
Sometimes you can fix things pretty easily and bring the wall down right away. Maybe it’s simply a matter of tackling that subject earlier in the day, changing the environment, or explaining it a different way.
But sometimes you are in for a long haul of hard work. You may need to reexamine your methods, try new materials, or just doggedly stick with what you are doing until it sticks and take the wall down brick by brick. Or find some tiny footholds and painstakingly scale up and over it.
When the going get tough, stick it out.
I feel for you. I’m going through this right now. Again.
When you are in the thick of the blank looks and the wall to understanding seems unscalable, it’s tempting to want to take a shortcut. Or even run away. Sometimes it seems as though you are never going to get there, especially if you seem to run into wall after wall.
And if you have a child with learning issues, sometimes that road seems to meander through deep, dark woods, with walls closing in on all sides, and you realize that your map is out of date or some of the details have been rubbed out by unfolding and folding it over and over again.
Maybe you feel like you’re not a very good guide?
The very worst thing you could do is give up.
Don’t be beaten by the wall. Believe in your child. Believe that together you can find your way. Just having you by his side is a blessing to him. It is better to be lost with someone who loves you than to be lost in a dark on your own. And…this is important…you can give him a boost up.
When you stick by his side, you are sending him an important message. You are telling him, “You are worth it, I will work hard to help you.” You are also setting a strong example for him---how can he give up on himself if you will not give up on him?
And you know what? This is true whether you are educating your child at home or are sending him to school. He needs you. He needs to know that you will see him through.
There may come a point when someone (maybe a teacher) will say to you, “Your child will never learn x.”
And she may or may not be right. But don’t you believe it! Learning is a lifelong journey---even if a child does not learn something in the timeframe prescribed by educational experts, be very careful with “never” and “always” statements.
In the realm of humanity, they are rarely true---“You always leave you socks on the floor,” “You never remember to do your chores,” “Your child will never learn to read.”
If you give up, and if your child gives up on himself, chances are he really won’t learn it. Give him the support he needs. Maybe he needs testing. Maybe he needs a different approach to the material. Maybe he needs more developmental maturity. Maybe he just needs to do a little bit each day, each and every day.
Don’t skip it. And don’t give up. Just help him find his foothold or a bit of loose mortar.
And most importantly---don’t take it personally.
It’s not your fault if you child has trouble learning subtraction with regrouping at first (or, at least, I keep telling myself that). Learning is always worth it, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. If it all came automatically, they wouldn’t need us to teach them at all.
They’d just get it.
And they’d have no reason to feel good about themselves when they win a hard-fought battle. It’s a battle worth fighting, and they have a right to be pleased.
Have your kids run into any brick walls lately?