A Different Perspective on Homeschooling Algebra

 

Algebra - A different Perspective

Tears.

That is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of the word algebra. My past experience with algebra wasn’t great. I struggled to understand the concepts, spent hours studying, and got help with my homework from friends and family. I just didn’t get it.

When we decided to homeschool eleven years ago, I knew I’d have to face my fear one day in the far off future. I think algebra is one of the subjects that causes many homeschool parents to think they cannot continue through high school. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that far off future day arrived at my house this year, and yes, we are still homeschooling!

I still don’t get algebra, but we have discovered that trying something different and changing our perspective has helped make it a reachable goal. My son has the tendency to want to focus on reading and writing like his mama, so he isn’t too enthusiastic about algebra either. I realized that I needed to check my attitude and not let it reflect onto him.

Whether it’s algebra, chemistry, phonics, or spelling that make you break out in hives, trying a new perspective just might help you make it through your homeschool day and year.

Try a Different Perspective

Find a tutor, or at least find another family member or friend who can explain the material in a different way. A group of friends and I have formed a teen literature discussion group, which I am teaching. My background is in English, so this is right up my alley. I found a former math teacher who meets with my son once a week to review and explain things that are muddy.

Search online. My son and I have discovered many free resources for algebra online, and he is especially responding to the videos on Khan Academy’s website. These give my son a visual explanation and a different “take” on the concepts in his book.

If you’ve given a curriculum your all, and it still isn’t clicking, don’t be afraid to try something else. Our first algebra curriculum just didn’t have enough explanations, so we called it a wash and found a substitute. You can always save the other one for a different child, sell it at a used book sale, or pass it along to a family who could use it.

Break things down into manageable pieces. Instead of trying to complete an entire lesson in one sitting, spread it out and spend twenty minutes on it, then move on to something else and come back to it.

Stick with it every day. Because algebra is so challenging for us, we do it EVERY DAY. That keeps everything in our brains. Even if it just means watching a short video or working a few problems, daily exposure really helps us not have to go back and re-learn past material.

Don’t move ahead until you’ve mastered a concept. Even if it takes a few days to complete a lesson, it is important not to move ahead “lost.” One of the luxuries of homeschooling!

Sit down with your child, no matter what his age. Even a teen benefits from your undivided attention and should not be expected to work independently all the time. Just being there beside them to guide them through the lesson and offer support makes a world of difference in their attitudes.

Don’t cry. It’s only algebra (or phonics, or chemistry, or…)!

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Comments

  1. I have shed many tears over Algebra myself, first in high school, then as a college student and also as a homeschool mom. It hurts my brain! Your advice is excellent. Thank you for reminding us that we have options and it doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. Personally, I am very thankful for my husband who ‘gets’ algebra and takes over the supervising of our children’s math studies when they get to that point!

  2. Such great tips! Fortunately, we have a friend who is a senior in high school…doing CALCULUS 3. So, whenever we have math questions, we all go to him. 😉

  3. Jennifer Whitten says:

    Such wonderful tips! My heart definately clicked with what you’ve said about our attitude affecting that of our children! The condition of our hearts is mirrored in those of our children! I can use this advice for English with my oldest! Thank you for the post!

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