My Struggling Maths Student is Struggling No Longer

L11, my little mathematician
L11, my little mathematician

Over Christmas I noticed a revolution going on.  It was occurring so quietly, lead by my calmest and quietest child, but a revolution none the less.  This radical change I speak off?  L11, who absolutely, definitely, nothing was ever going to change her mind hated maths with a passion, had decided it’s not so bad after all.  I had noticed a distinct enjoyment of numbers throughout each lesson over the past few months and the begging her daddy for mathematical questions at dinner time was another clue but what really gave it away was when she rather flippantly (not to mention accurately) told her sister how to work out 1/20th of something.  ‘Oh, you just divide by 20!’ said she to a slightly startled C11.  This was all the more amazing since she had only had her first lesson in fractions that same morning, and we are talking just a quick lesson to explain a ‘Life of Fred’ maths problem.

I wouldn’t say she loves maths, but she no longer hates it, and she is no longer afraid of it.  At the beginning of the year we began very slowly working our way through a program from CIMT a few days a week.  I am using this primarily as a guide for what to teach her, as I am not a natural teacher myself.

I have found if I show her pictorially each concept, with lots of manipulatives and then apply it to everyday life, she copes really well.  So far we have covered logic tables and Venn diagrams.  After I have made sure she understands the principles involved, I show her the mathematical notations (it is these symbols she used to find so hard) and she then goes off on her own to do the questions.  A couple of weeks ago I let her read through on her own and left her to it, and found her in tears a while later, really struggling.  It made me realise how important I was to the equation.  I genuinely think she would thrive with any curriculum now, so long as I (or somebody) was there to show her the concepts in a non numerical way before giving her the notational maths.

So, how will this fit in with our new way of schooling?  Actually, nothing is changing with maths.  After much discussion with the children it is the one thing we are all unwilling to change.  T12 and C11 seem both to be thriving with Saxon and L11 loves the ‘living maths’ approach.  A5 is a natural, and I won’t be using any curriculum for a while, just letting her have some fun.  It has taken us so long to find something that works, we’ll not be changing it just yet.  However, we are having a couple of easier maths days a week, which will contain more literature, history and DVD based maths, just for a change and a bit of fun.

I am once again so grateful for the flexibility of home schooling.  My struggling student really seems to be struggling no more! (So long as I am beside her….)

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