Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Burnout & Shifting Gears: Making Peace with Math

It's not uncommon for homeschoolers to feel burnout around this time of year.  Classroom teachers feel it, too.  There are so many extra activities to fit in, and the kids are exceptionally excited and anxious.  But as homeschoolers, we have extra burdens, because we have to fit in all the other household holiday tasks while we're teaching and learning and trying to have fun in a month that should be joyous.  Instead, I feel overwhelmed, and we aren't even in December yet.

I had a plan.  (Isn't that how all homeschooling-gone-wrong stories begin?)  Really, I did.  We were going to take it easy and fill the month with crafts and games and review and fun.  But after another month of Math Wars with my oldest, I knew I had to completely shift gears.  I considered taking a month off of math, but that wasn't going to solve our problem.  We've hit a subtraction wall, and we need to go back and work on those subtraction facts (mostly the above ten fact families) she didn't get the first time around.  So, that's what we're doing.  Unfortunately, she's so cranky about it, that I felt I needed something to get her excited about math.  Enter Fred.

I ordered the first book (Apples) of the new Life of Fred elementary series.  I was always hesitant to use these, because I didn't think it would work as a stand-alone curriculum, and I have math issues.  I feel like I need something to tell me what to do in math every day.  I'm slowly getting away from that mentality, but . . . baby steps.   That said, my very verbal sciency girl LOVES this so far.  She asks me to read an extra chapter every morning, she doesn't complain when it comes time to answer the questions at the end of each chapter, and she's learning so much more than just math.  Even though the first book is way behind where she is, I'm glad we started there so she could start at the beginning of the story.  Plus, there's lots for her to absorb besides the math facts in there anyway.  I don't know how long we'll stick with them, or how we'll incorporate them later, but for now, some couch cuddle time with Fred is just the math therapy we needed.

In addition to Fred, we're also relearning those fact families.  I ordered the Math Mammoth Add & Subtract 2A  book.   She hasn't complained once this week about doing any of the exercises.  Seriously.  I'm also rethinking doing the full curriculum next year, and maybe ordering the individual topic books as we need practice.  Just . . . thinking . . .

Actually, I'm slowly warming to the idea that I can do math on my own, with the help of a few workbooks or worksheets just for those areas that do need drill.  I'm not there yet, but I can potentially see us leaning in that direction.  It's no coincidence that I've been reading Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything.  I don't think I could ever completely be an unschooler, but I definitely welcome the inspiration.  It's an excellent reminder to let go a little.  And I think that's what December is all about.
Let go.
Have fun.

And craft your butt off.


  1. We have been using Life of Fred Elementary books as a supplement. My kids love it! They too ask to read more....that's got to be a good sign :)

  2. I'll give you the flip side--I'm trying to fit in all the things I want to do with my kids around the stupid school schedule. AND my oldest is (rightnowaswespeak) crying over the multiplication tables, so I still have the math crap, except I LIKE math, so I'm not, apparently, empathetic enough. I can't stand how they teach the times tables these days (let me get my crotchety old lady hat on)--some things you just need to memorize, darnit. Oh, and know what? He LIKED math when I sent him to school. Grr.

  3. We are using Math Mammoth right now with two of mine. One in 2nd grade; I'm amazed how easily he is picking up on the fact families! This is the first kid I've had that did well in math from the get-go, and I don't know if it's the kid or the curriculum!
    The other kid using MM is in remedial multiplication mode...that's all I will say. She hates math, but tolerates the pages well enough(better than she was doing with Teaching Textbooks, which my other two are using).

    I am looking forward to the crafty fun part of December! But right now our story pretty much begins with "I had a plan" as well!

    Happy Advent season!

  4. I ordered Life of Fred as a supplement to Saxon and the girls love it. With the chaos going on in the house I may need to do it more than one day a week to two, because I am burned out on doing math lessons every day to every other day.

  5. Hey...your plan sounds a lot like my plan! (Which I also abandoned because we are moving a lot more slowly than I predicted in...everything.)

    We love Life of Fred AND Math Mammoth. Sounds like they are working well for you and your daughter so far! We do our own thing for math, shifting gears as needed. Honestly, it's more work/planning for me but it seems to be the best way for my kids.

  6. I recently ordered the Life of Fred based on great reviews that I've read all over. I am hoping it will go over well here.
    I really like Free Range Learning! It's full of inspiration :)

  7. About these books I need to investigate them further for my youngest


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