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Monday, April 19, 2010

Math. I don't want to hate you.

I was not the best math student you ever met. In fact, in 11th grade, I ended up taking Algebra 2 without the trig that every other "average" student was taking. I was still lost, although I am sure the pace was better for me. My senior year, I opted not to take any math. Yeah, not the brightest decision I ever made, but, you see...I had math anxiety.

In college, I took what basically was remedial algebra. Every other "average" student took one semester to cover what I did in 2. For the first time, however, I understood math! I almost liked it! When I had to study for my math Praxis in order to become a teacher, I loved it! I sat with my little test prep book. It broke everything down step-by-step. I loved solving a problem--and actually getting it right!

I don't know where that delight has gone. I am right back to how I was in high school (minus that whole "I'll never have to know this" attitude. I know better now.). My ds, Scrappy, really excels at math. He just opens up his Math-U-See book and does it. Every once in a while he watches the video, but I think it's more procrastination for him. My dd, Funny, she's another story. I've tried Singapore Math, Math-U-See, and now we're using Saxon. And I love Saxon--for her. I think it's step-by-dull-step approach is good for her. She likes repetition and predictability, as much as it makes me want to scream.

Today, Funny decided that 12 and 21 were the same number. Before you go telling me how normal it is, please let me say that I have been telling her for over 2 years which is which. I have done every little silly game I could do. If only I could tattoo it onto her brain.

This brings me to my point: Math frustrates me! I want so badly to leave my bad attitude elsewhere when I sit down to do it. I'm out of ideas for making it fun or silly. It is what it is, and it just needs to be done. For my lovely little Funny, this is likely painful for her (as it was for me). I have a hard time not telling her that, yes, the number 0 is sad, and he would look much better if you gave him a little smile.

At what point do I have to tell her, "Some things you just do because you have to?" Is this what someone told me? How come Scrappy loves it but Funny doesn't, when they both have the same miserable teacher?

I know someone out there has amazing insight because I am too close to it to see. It's probably my fault, though. I can see that much!


  1. Well, Carrie, from the lack of comments here, I'd say we aren't any smarter than you are. We definitely have math problems in my family, too (pun intended). I do believe that with a seven-yr-old you can relax. Forget the math book and just do real math with her. Count stuff. Add real things. Subtract real things. Do fractions with real stuff. Numbers are symbols, and maybe your Funny isn't symbol-ready yet.

    AND, something to do with her NOW that will help her way in the future is sorting and grouping. Remember that in algebra? You have to put all the x^3 together, then all the x^2's, then all the x's. Having her clean her room (put away clothes, stack books, sort red/blue/gray Legos), or wash dishes (silverware first, now plates, now plastic cups, now whatever group), or anything real this way will be an important skill for her to have later.

    This spoken by a mom who has at least one child who "can't" do algebra....

    Best wishes!

  2. I never took algebra myself. I just couldn't do it. I stuck to basic math, consumer math and business math and guess what? I actually use those things now.

    My 12yodd has dyslexia and dysgraphia, so she has lots of math problems. We just started using Christian Light Education for math. I love it! She is doing so much better now. It's a spiral math program. Both of my girls need to do different types of problems daily. They don't do well with the mastery math programs. You can look at samples of CLE at



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