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Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Math Obsession

I’ve been a bit MIA lately.  I’ve been so wrapped up in my new obsession that I've spent entirely (ENTIRELY) too much time researching online, reading forums, looking at samples, and on and on.  To say I have a computer induced headache is a real understatement.
My current living, breathing, homeschooling brain-twister that keeps me rolling over and tangling the sheets each night is the big math question.
Math question?  Is math a question?
It is when math has been a constant struggle for your oldest child.  It is when you feel like you’ve tried every math program you can afford and yet this bright kid still dissolves into a puddle when faced with a page of arithmetic.  There are some things that, for some kids, simply don’t come easy.  But this is one area where I can’t say that it’s just not his thing.
Last fall, I was a little freaked out about the math question.  You see, this kid is interested in science and technology.  What if he never gets past basic math?  How can he ever hope to have a future in science and technology?  He was convinced that he was stupid.  At least when it came to math.  The facts would go into his head and then they would fall back out again.  He was entering 6th grade, but doing math on a 4th grade level and I simply couldn’t see how he was ever going to catch up.
I was honestly beginning to think that maybe my bright kid wasn’t as bright as I once thought.  That maybe higher math simply wasn’t within his reach.  That maybe we would just have to settle for the basics.
And I was also tired of every single math lesson coming between us.  I was tired of the whining.  I was tired of the arguments.   I was tired of teaching something one day only to have him look blankly at me the next.  I was about ready to just give up and admit that math had us licked.
But I couldn’t give up because this is my child and this is an area where failure isn’t an option.  I decided that we would work on the basics this year.  He’s been making progress, slowly, surely, but it’s still been a bit like pulling teeth.  But he’s definitely closer to where he needs to be.
Then last week he announced me that he likes math.  And he meant it. 
He was perusing a pre-algebra book.  How many kids peruse pre-algebra books in their spare time and declare that that’s what they want to study in the fall?  It was the algebra bits that fascinated him. 
There was the little light bulb, the motivation, the kick in the pants he needed to want to master basic arithmetic.  He wants to get it and move on.  He sees a point in it all.
And here I am researching math curricula.  Again.  The best laid plans and all that, lol.  I thought I had next year’s math all figured out and now suddenly things are up in the air.  We will be working on math all summer.  At the moment, we are working our way through Learn Math Fast, with some modifications (look for a review on LMF in a couple of weeks---I only mention it here because it was the LMF Pre-algebra book my son was perusing, so it has already earned at least one thumbs up in my house ;0).  But the missing element, the motivation, is finally there.
In David’s case, he was willing to learn, but not highly motivated.  If arithmetic came easily to him it wouldn’t have been an issue.  But it doesn’t and he simply wasn’t highly motivated to work hard at it.  Now he wants to succeed and I know that he will.
Getting back to the math question, it was essentially this:  what will this boy be doing for math in the fall?
And the answer is this:  I don’t know!  Ha ha!  Because at this moment in time it is an unanswerable question.  This is an area he is growing in and will continue to grow in throughout the coming weeks.  It’s something he’s working on every day.  I can’t predict what he will be ready for in a few months.  Maybe he will be ready for pre-algebra.  Maybe the 6th grade JUMP math (complete program, not the JUMP at Home workbook) I already bought will be a better fit.  Maybe he’ll start in one and then continue in the other.  Or maybe a Pre-A program with a bigger emphasis on basic operations?  And then, if it is Pre-A, which Pre-A will it be?  I simply don’t know and all the research in the world isn’t going to tell me. 
Now that I’ve done the research and know what’s available, I need to wait and see where he’s at in a couple of months.
Some things I’ve learned:
  • Don’t underestimate your kids.
  • Be flexible with your plans.
  • There’s a right time for everything, if your child isn’t ready for something now, that doesn’t mean he never will be.
  • Don’t give up.
Now, I just need to turn off my OCD brain for a bit.  Eeek.  Or find something else to obsess over.
Have you ever driven yourself crazy looking for the perfect curriculum only to realize that you really need to put your plans on the back burner?

You might also like:
When Math Manipulatives are Too Abstract
This Year's Flops in Our Homeschool
Putting the Pieces Together

Disclosure:  I received Learn Math Fast for free to facilitate an upcoming review.  This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated for it in any way.

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