Great lesson to re-learn

I hate mathematics!

I am constantly learning lessons during this homeschooling journey we are on (probably more so then the boys!). Often I end up re-learning those lessons many times. But it is good to get a reminder every once in awhile. Really good.

A couple of days ago, the boys decided that it was time to go toy shopping. Between Jason’s birthday, Christmas and over two months of untouched allowances, they each had a bit of money burning their pockets and I had been putting them off for awhile. My only condition was that Jason needed to figure out how much money he had to spend.

Some background…a few years ago I started acting as bank for the boys, mainly because we tend to forget to give them their allowances. This way we have a written record of when we give them their allowance. When they get Christmas or Birthday money they can either keep it in their banks or “deposit” it with me. Then if they are out and want to spend their money, we deduct it from their “account” when we get home.

It had been a while since we had updated their balance, so we needed to add in Christmas money, Birthday money, 10 weeks of allowance (!) as well as deduct for money spent on snacks after swimming and few miscellaneous purchases.

I have to say that I was duly impressed. Jason did adding and subtracting (much of it involving carrying) in his head without missing a beat. No hemming, no “I can’t do this”, no “this is too hard”. He just did it. Because it was real and it would give him an answer to something that he really wanted to know. And that is the lesson that I need to remember.

Jason has a love/hate relationship with math. He is very instinctual and can completely get math concepts but he HATES remembering math facts. My challenge has been to balance these two sides. As he gets better at remembering the math facts, he gets more confidant at figuring things out on his own. But he does need a push now and then. So we do “do math” but not tons of drill and I try to throw in enough “fun math” (he likes the Marilyn Burns books like The I Hate Mathematics Book which focus more on the fun math concepts).

Now that we have started multiplication, we have been having lots of conversations about not seeing why he needs to know math. Part of this I realize is that I tended to do most of the everyday math for him. The idea being that he would see how I used math and start wanting to do it on his own (please don’t laugh…it is working great this way for Kyle! He is constantly telling me to stop so he can figure out things on his own.) But Jason has no problem with letting people do things for him…not because he is lazy, but because he is a perfectionist. If someone can do something easier/better/faster then he can he prefers to let that person do it.

So I now make a point of letting him do the everyday math we come across. It has become a running joke between us and I think that he is seeing that there is a point in knowing his math facts. In fact I think that I scored some points when we talked about how mulitplication would have been a much faster way of calculating how much allowance he was due (he manually added up his allowance 10 times rather then multiplying by 10).

But it is times like these where he does math pretty much effortlessly that help ease my worries that math computation will never be easy for him. It will be. I know that. I just have to remember it. And if all else fails he can use a calculator….

Also published in the 4th Homeschooling Country Fair.

Also published on Life Without School.

About throwingmarshmallows

I am a homeschooling mom to two sweet, energetic boys although I am probably not exactly what you would expect (definitely NOT your stereotypical homeschooler, if there is really such a thing). I support progressive political causes (yes, liberals can and do homeschool!) and I have found a spiritual home in the Unitarian Universalist Church. I have no real idea of how I want to use this blog, but will probably focus on homeschooling, things that I am learning from my boys, personal thoughts and opinions and maybe some liberal politics thrown in, who knows!
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4 Responses to Great lesson to re-learn

  1. Marjorie says:

    Math…yeah, it can seem pretty boring and pointless. I actually have some SOL test prep books I got at a used booksale. They’d be pretty funny if they weren’t so disturbing.

    I introduced Suzanne to the concept of the times table grid and she thought that was fun — I gave her a completed one and an empty one and she had fun filling the empty one in — hey, at least its handwriting practice with numbers.

  2. Steph says:

    Hi Stephanie. :-) I do this same thing with allowances. I asked my bank for a couple of blank savings account books (vinyl covers with registers), which they obligingly provided. I looked at this as 1. a way to keep the youngsters from leaving their allowances scattered on the floor all over the house, 2. a way to justify the fact that I rarely remember to give it to them anyway & 3. (last but certainly not least!) an opportunity for some living math lessons. My 11-year old has difficulty with the concept of decimals (a concept which she would’ve been force fed several years ago in PS). I am trying to help her **see** that $2.50 x 10 = $25.00 (wow that money really grows, doesn’t it?) and *why* that nifty litle trick of bumping the decimal over one place to the right works.

  3. Yes! Money has been a great teacher! It seems to give him the right motivation for wanting to do math. :)

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