Inside: The real secret to Teaching Algebra in Homeschool.
I’m a liar.
What is worse? Getting caught by my 9th grader.
Now, I never meant to lie, most surely I did not.
I made a promise and got lazy.
There I was, sitting next to my 9th grader explaining his algebra lesson for the day when I was suddenly caught in my lie.
I had a sudden flashback to the time I broke a window as a little girl.
I was about 5 years old and was throwing rocks at the corner of the house. I missed.
Actually, I hit my mark.
I intentionally threw the rock at the window and it shattered.
I was five. I did not know I had the super-human ability to shatter glass!
I ran inside to try to fix the broken glass (because I was five) and cut my finger.
I was not only in trouble but dying from my wound. (yes, I was a drama queen).
Of course, my mom saw through my lie when I told her I was not trying to break the window. She was gracious with me, but I still remember the guilt over 40 years later like it was yesterday.
So there I was next to my son, stumbling over his lesson while trying to put up the front that I knew exactly what I was doing.
I am the teacher after all.
I couldn’t let him know I lied to him when I told him I would always be at least one lesson ahead of him in math (so I would not confuse the tar out of him).
But there I was like Brer Rabbit stuck to the Tar Baby.
(I love Uncle Remus. If you have never read these aloud to your kids you are missing out!)
I had decided I had this “Algebra Thing” by the horns.
And then I didn’t.
Question: What is the Most Critical Mistake to Avoid when Teaching Algebra (or challenging subject)
Answer: Faking it
As a Homeschooler, you may struggle with the math level your children are currently learning, but if you are no prepared you will frustrate them and set them up for failure. They may even just adopt our “You don’t need this skill to buy milk” attitude and never press into the subject. By being unprepared, we teach our kids it’s ok to do mediocre work. Yikes!
Steps to Teaching Algebra (or other challenging Material)
1. Admit that it is challenging for you. Do not fake understanding.
2. Commit yourself to learning the material. I know. There is laundry in the living room, the baby needs their diaper changed, and dinner needs to be made before tomorrow’s breakfast. If you are going to teach the material, you need to understand the material.
- Set aside 30 minutes to study tomorrow’s math/challenging subject.
- Take notes
- Do the lesson (I do at least half of my son’s Algebra lesson before he does so I can explain it properly)
- Get help if needed. There are all kinds of online helps to assist you. Khan academy is one of my favorites.
- Work through the challenging material together. For instance, my son knows I do not remember chemistry or advanced biology. We work through the vocabulary and concepts together. But with math, I have to be a step ahead of him. Math is challenging enough without having your teacher say, “first, you do this. Wait, that’s not right, try this. Shoot, that didn’t work either.”
3. Get Help. If you simply cannot figure out how to do the material, you can get your kids tutors. Not all tutors need to cost you an arm and a leg. It’s not a crime to enroll your child in a high school or community college class either. Our local high school allows homeschoolers to take single classes. That’s a great option. Our local community college allows students to take their junior and senior high school classes and they earn both high school and college credit.
When I tried to fake my way through my son’s Algebra lesson I really created quite a dramatic scene.
He deserved better from me.