Valkyrie’s Log – When your homeschooler gets stuck in Math

Location: Home, Colorado.
Status: Brain Dead.

Thursdays are a very World School centric day of our week. I have set my daughter up with a schedule and she knows the minimum time she needs to spend on each subject. We also signed up for Time4Learning, an online curriculum that, for her grade, covers Maths, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. I have created an Activity Plan for her so she can recap Mathematics Grade 4 (my lack of confidence in what she had absorbed while in mainstream school made me keen to start her on a grade below and move on to Grade 5 after Christmas) as well as working on Grade 5 for the other 3 subjects. The good thing about the plans is that she knows how much she has to do and when it needs to be complete. She has the freedom to do more some days than others, her target is to be finished by Friday Evening. Friday Night is Move Night. If she isn’t finished by Friday… there is no movie night. It seems harsh and a little counter intuitive to what I had hoped for with world school. But until she becomes more intrinsically motivated, some extrinsic motivation is required. There have been many distractions of late (packing up out, quarantine in Mexico, cross america road trip , hopefully with some “normality” there will come some more focus.

This week I discovered that she had somehow not completed her previous week of social studies, how this happened and how I missed it is beyond me, but here we are. This does not make up a huge portion of working week, so she was able to catch up pretty quickly. But this does mean that she’s had a couple of movie night that should not have been! This makes me all the more determined that this week I will have to make sure she is clear on the consequences of not completing her week’s work. It just so happens that this week her maths, which does take up a heftier portion of her work, has kicked things up a gear with long division!

She attempted to tackle it on Monday morning, it did not go well. We were both sad and unsettled from the sudden recall of her Dad back to work. So it has been looming over her and she was in no hurry to tackle it!

Thursday mornings are also Game School. Where she meets up with 2 other girls her age to play teacher guided board games utilising Language Arts, Mathematics and STEM. I had given her the option of skipping it to give her more time to catch up on her work, but as her only current social outlet that doesn’t involve Skype, she was willing to risk Movie Night to go.

Deciding that it was going to take a little supervision to make sure she didn’t get overwhelmed, I sat down with her after Game School and we started working her Mathematics modules together. I am usually hesitant to get too involved with the Mathematics. I learned different methods in school (while being world schooled myself and then back into mainstream school in Gibraltar and Iceland in the 90’s) and it is definitely her Dad’s forte not mine! But I got my notebook out and decided I would learn the current method at the same time as helping her get a handle of it.

Page of long division sums

7 hours later, 3 modules out of 28 completed. THREE! I am glad I was working with her because if I had been focussed on my own work I would not have believed that she could have taken so long while working properly! It was also important as I have discovered that she doesn’t always read everything that is presented to her, or doesn’t clarify or go back over things she doesn’t fully understand, rather relying on her ability to pass quizzes… even if she has to do them several times. This means that when she gets stuck I can say “Did you read all the instructions?”, “Did you write out the key points?” and “Watch the instructions video again” if she is still stuck, then I’m happy to stop what I’m doing as she really is actually stuck.

So a period of closer supervision is required, making sure she is clear on each stage before moving on. Hopefully this will be a temporary measure, and she will get into the habit of reading everything she is being presented and take more self satisfaction with knowing the answers and acing the quizzes first time.

When I get frustrated with her I try to remember that my experience of world schooling included a very clever, very helpful brother and a fully engaged mother. My daughter has a playful dog and a mom who is still working, albeit part time. It is understandable that her journey is a little different.

Grateful for:

  1. The ability to dedicate 7 hours to helping my daughter conquer long division.
  2. Access to an online curriculum that challenges her.
  3. The opportunity to improve MY mental maths! Mathematics is something that fascinates me, hopefully my interest will inspire her to have some intrinsic curiosity for the subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *