The Math Genius

 Like any home educator, our heart is to give our children the best education possible.   And like most home educators, along the way, there are decisions to be made—decisions that bring uncertainty and anxiety.   I love the peace of Jehovah Shalom, and that occasional glimpse of His steady hand in the midst of our unsteadiness in navigating this road less traveled by.   I witnessed such a moment recently during a dialogue between our two girls.

As a brief bit of background, the oldest is in the throes of college scholarship applications.   She has answered questions about what college means to her, what are her plans after college, and how she intends to give back to the community often enough to write those phrases in her sleep.   On this particular day, however, the question was a bit different.  My paraphrased version goes something like this:

Name an area in which you have had to overcome a difficult situation, or an area that has challenged you, and how you were able to overcome that challenge, or if it remains a challenge for you.


The oldest chose to write about her struggles with math, and it was an eye-opening read for me as she shared why she thought math was difficult.   It was even more eye-opening for the youngest, who happened to walk by and begin reading.   After reading through the oldest’s essay, she thought to offer a

word of encouragement.  (You would have to envision a 9-going-on-39 voice and mentality to truly appreciate this):

‘Don’t feel bad.   I can remember when I was in 1st grade, and 2nd and 3rd.   I used to have soooo maaaannny problems with math—addition, subtraction, and multiplication.    But then I hit 4th grade, and I started division, and now, I’m a math genius!!!’

The oldest and I laughed heartily at the “old woman” reflecting upon her early math memories.   But what almost provoked tears, more of joy than of laughter, was the happiness I had that I intentionally waited a year to introduce division into her math studies.   I thought her remembrance of math facts was shaky, and there were other areas that I wanted to see her “tighten up.”   And, like many home educators, my hesitations found steroids as I began to worry about what being “behind” (quotes used intentionally) in math would mean in terms of that all-important question of what grade she is in, not to mention graduation dates or college—YIKES!!     Once I calmed down, though, we just kept plugging away with the skills she needed to be more comfortable.    We added drill sheets from Calculadder to build upon her memorization (we also took some things away as appropriate).   We fought through the frustrations, gradually adding a new challenge as the previous drills became mundane.     So, that level of self-esteem and self-confidence, however braggadocios it might have sounded, meant everything to me.

I wanted to capture this moment for those who may be close to tearing your hair out and wondering, “Will my child ever get this??!!”  It will be alright.

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3 thoughts on “The Math Genius

  1. I am SO with you! Learning to tailor the course offerings to meet their NEED rather than meet some arbitrary standard of where they should be has been both eye opening and humbling to say the least. Having been in the throws of homeschooling FIVE different personalities and learning styles, it was often like an educational obstacle course trying to figure out what to do for one, while accepting that the next one in line, might not benefit or flourish in that same scheme or system. But, as it has all played out, each one is uniquely gifted and it is our job, as their teachers, to help them identify and strengthen those gifts…without snatch a bald spot in our own heads! LOL! It teaches us patience but it also teaches us to value them as individuals. Cookie cutter education is a sure fire way to frustration and aggravation. I’m glad we learned that lesson very early in this journey. Great article. You’ve got a 9 going on 39 year old. We’ve got a 90 year old man in the body of our 9 year old son…just an old soul! Wouldn’t change him for the world! Blessings my friend…keep on writing!

    1. I agree with everything you said–even about your 90-going-on-9 year old!! You should see the youngest around here now. The concept of fact families finally kicked in, and now she moves through drill sheets like a locomotive. Sitting near her, all I hear is, “Fact family!! Boo-yah!!” That kid is hilarious!!

      1. Yeah…we are on the FRONT end of fact families with the youngest…and who appointed himself her “unofficial” teacher’s assistant? Yep…the 90 year old man! LOL! I love the “Boo-yah!” Makes it much more fun and exciting!

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