Homeschool was only 1/2 great today

Hard at work doing math

Hard at work on math problems.

I realize that it has been a while since I have blogged.  My world has been a blur of homeschooling and marathons as of late and while I have composed numerous blog posts in my head, none of them seem to actually make it to my keyboard.  In retrospect, the reason for the dearth of blogging seems to be that everything was going so well in both regards that I chose to spend more time enjoying these activities and less time reflecting upon them.

But today things went kinda wrong and I feel the need to figure out a change of course.  Not with my running by the way.  I recently completed both the Steamtown and Marine Corps marathons and owe you blog posts for both of those.  And I am on track to complete the Richmond Marathon this weekend.

It’s homeschool that bit me in the butt today.

Let me state for the record that I have really been enjoying homeschooling my girls.  I love the extra time we’re getting together.  I love knowing that they are learning and oftentimes learning right along side them.  And I really love that there are no more morning screaming sessions to get them out the door.

But I don’t like seeing my kids struggle with a topic and not know how to help them over the hump.  For my eldest that topic seems to be fractions.  Or more specifically, word problems with fractions.  She can add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions like a boss when they are written as equations.  She can convert a fraction to a decimal, a mixed number, or a unit of measurement.  But lay it all out for her in the form of a word problem and she stares at it like it is written in Swahali.

She can’t seem to visualize what the problem is asking her, even though we have tried all sorts of modeling techniques.  Instead, she just starts pulling the numbers out of the problem and throwing them together in a hodge-podge assortment of mathematical functions.

She is frustrated.

I am frustrated.

And we seem to be at a standstill.

My biggest problem is that I really want math to click for her.  She doesn’t have to be great at it.  But I want her to see that with practice, she can get it.

Right now, all she sees is that practice just makes her hate math more and more.

I would love to hear your advice on this.

Should we:

A. Walk away from this particular section of math and try it again later?

B. Start the chapter over and work at it more slowly until she gets it?

C. Throw her math textbook in the wood stove (her suggestion) and let her live a life uncomplicated by things like fractions and word problems?

D. Move on to the next chapter and be happy that she understands the basic mathematical concepts?



  1. I disagree with Megan, don’t walk away…sure, it might be an option for homeschooling, but I think it sets a bad precedence. Math is a tough subject, and I have often found that personal relationships (i.e., mother/daughter) can sometimes hinder learning (particularly math). If it were me, I wold consider hiring an outside tutor (say 2 hours a week or something) to help your daughter through some of the concepts she is having particular difficult time with…sometimes, just having a set of outside “eyes” is helpful, and might reduce anxiety she might be having regarding math. I don’t know, maybe doing something like this violates some unwritten homeschooling credo? Still, that’s my recommendation..

  2. I agree with Megan. She’s got the math right now so don’t try to beat a dead horse with this particular section. Move on and see if it clicks with her again in a few months.

  3. How frustrating. I would start with A. That is the beauty of homeschool – if she is not ready or has a mental block brought on by frustration, there is no reason to keep pounding away at it right now. Another suggestion would be finding another person – a peer or another adult to work on it with her. I clearly remember being convinced my parents had NO CLUE about how to do long division. And something else you could try would be to ask her to take one of the equations she understands and have her write a word problem from it. Maybe that would give her a fresh perspective on what the heck those silly word problems are about.

    • Jenn Savedge says:

      Thanks, Megan. I know you’re right. I was reminded too that it really might not matter whether or not she knows how to do fractions in word problems. I mean how often do you have to fill a bag 3/4 full with 5/9 apples and the remainder cherries?

What Are Your Thoughts?