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…)!