Saturday, February 23, 2013

Homeschooling Math

The other day my wife and I were having this conversation about how frustrating it can be to get our children, especially our oldest child through a math lesson in the allotted time. She'll get hung up on a tough problem and rather then face it down, she'll dawdle, draw, stare off into space. It can take some constant nagging and then we'll either have to spend much longer on the Math lesson to the detriment of other subjects or not finish.

Added to the dilemma is the way math curriculum is organized and the expectations around math our culture imposes. In a past post, I talked about some suggestions surrounding Suzuki violin practicing that I'll repeat here:
  • "Let the child learn at his OWN pace. It allows him to learn each step VERY WELL before going on to a new idea. (Example of rushing a child - is pushing him to memorize a new piece when he is still stumbling over the notes of his last piece.) Definition: Child's own pace -- is speed at which he learns something under optimal conditions.
  • Because of lifestyles we have chosen, too often practice sessions are not at an ideal time, or are rushed.
  • Because of 'other things' we have scheduled, 'careful repetitions' are not done (poor practice timing, interruptions, or distractions.)
Let a child practice only as long as he is interested and can cooperate. Once his attention is gone, his learning stops. Practice then becomes a measure of endurance and bad attitudes can develop from it. A few minutes, several times a day may work best at first.
If these are a good ways to learn violin, I'm not sure why or how other subjects of learning are different. For our daughter, why not slow down the pace of learning. Why the rush to get through the curriculum at the exact rate suggested? Why risk turning kids against the subject at a very early age and pushing them through the material before mastery has been achieved?

What we concluded is that we'll be consistent and steady, allocate a time window each day at an optimal time of the day. She'll get through what she can get through. Solid, consistent learning for significant years of her life without turning her off completely from the subject is preferable to the alternatives.

And this is one of the reasons why we homeschool: to allow our kids to progress through the curriculum at their own pace. Why should we try to act like traditional school when we don't have to.

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