Isn't math the eternal struggle for some of us?
If you don't have a "math kid", it can be extremely difficult to find an upper grades curriculum that "works".
For the past two years I feel like we've been limping along in math. I take full responsibility for this - I am the teacher.
The buck stops here.
You see, I've been missing the most important thing .
I got too caught up in Saxon being the gold standard (after all - it is what Classical Conversation recommends for the Challenge program), and forgot to look at MY CHILD and HER NEEDS.
Thank GOD I was led -- by some miracle, really -- to attend a math workshop at FPEA earlier this year with Mr. D. I'm so happy for that hour I spent in his workshop, and for the chain of events that occurred after that day.
The Background Story
I share this with because maybe you can relate.
I have a feeling many of you have struggled with upper grades math or are even struggling now.
Anna (my 9th grader) began homeschooling when she was in the third grade. She has never liked math.
We started with Horizons, and after three years decided to switch to Saxon in sixth grade. Perhaps if she had been doing Saxon from the start it would have worked for her, but Saxon was just too MUCH. It wasn't engaging. It was time consuming.
Add to this the fact that I am not a math person, and it was just a recipe for disaster. I knew we should probably make a change, but I was so frightened to try something different.
I thought Saxon was the only path. Silly, I know.
The math problem kept coming to the front of my mind, and as I went to FPEA in May I decided I MIGHT try to investigate something different for Anna.
Enter Mr. D.
Truthfully, I wanted to go to his workshop because he was talking about strategies to help with the SAT. As I sat in his workshop I was getting excited about math (which is a big deal for me!), and becoming even more excited about the prospect of what kind of high school curriculum Mr. D offered.
Mr. D was artful at capturing everyone's attention, and was encouraging all of us to PLAY WITH NUMBERS... something I know (from a CC Practicum a few years ago) is so valuable for all ages.
I spoke briefly with Mr. D after the workshop and made myself a note to investigate further when I got back home to Georgia.
Summer Math - Algebra Readiness
After I had been home a few weeks, I reached out to Mr. D.
Guess what? He's a homeschooling dad!
After asking some questions about the specifics of his math program, I decided to enroll Anna in a 6 week Algebra Readiness class that is meeting this summer.
Anna logs onto Mr. D. Math every Wednesday afternoon for an hour of basic Algebra instruction... basically making sure she is ready for Algebra I in 9th grade.
Mr. D is humorous, engaging, and genuinely interested in each student. He brings the PERSONAL element to math I have been looking for.
Anna is learning math from someone who LOVES math. Math is no longer drudgery. It might even be somewhat enjoyable for her (grin).
After her hour long class, she receives an email with homework problems from Mr. D. She is given a document with the problems, and another document with the answers. Along with that are a recording of the class, a specially recorded video about the particular concepts covered that day, and any math rules they have gone over.
And guess what? I'm doing Algebra this summer, too!
Mr. D Math is helping ME reclaim MY math education!
And another awesome thing: Anna now enjoys math. When I asked her to rate Saxon on a scale from 1-10 she replied "2". When I asked her the same question about Mr. D math she replied "8".
I could cry with relief. We may have found a math solution for high school.
Anna is already registered for the Algebra I Math Co-Op with Mr. D this year.
When I spoke with her Challenge I tutor about this math change, she happily told me, "I bet Anna will be able to contribute a lot to our math conversations this year!". (This is yet another reason I love the Challenge program.)
Benefits of Mr. D Math
I encourage you to check Mr. D Math out for yourself. It is very well organized and thorough. Mr. D is also great about answering questions via email.
Some of the benefits that I have seen in just a few weeks:
- We have NO technical issues with Mr. D's online environment - logging on is easy and he is obviously very tech-savvy.
- Mr. D is a degreed math teacher with a LOVE of math and children - I really sense it is his passion to helps kids succeed in math
- He's a homeschooling dad. He GETS IT.
- NO textbooks to lug around or be bored with - everything is online. I feel like this is a great experience for what my daughter will deal with in the future.
- Lots of math vocabulary - as a Classically homeschooling mom, the GRAMMAR of math is important to me. Mr. D uses that grammar often, and I have a sneaking suspicion he's a Classical homeschooling dad, too.
- My daughter LIKES it -- and anyone who is homeschooling an almost 14 year old gets the importance of THAT. Yes, I know she can't LIKE everything, but this area is just too important to suffer through, don't you agree?
Getting in the Math Trenches
I promised Anna I would get in the math trenches with her this year.
WE are going to be reclaiming our math education at the same time. I'm excited about that.
Today, we completed 40 problems using rules for the order of operations and adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers.
We had a VERY long problem for the last one -- a type of problem Mr. D practiced a lot with the kids in class this week. I KNEW Anna could get it right.
She asked her dad to sit down with the white board and do the same problem she had -- a math race, if you will.
Guess who won?
This picture speaks volumes.
First, my girl has a large math problem on her white board and she is happily consenting to a picture and SMILING.
This picture gives me faith that math won't be drudgery this year.
It gives me faith that Anna will come to ENJOY math and faith that I will ENJOY math, too.
And, it gives me faith to continue on the path of doing what is right for my child... not to follow a curriculum just because everyone else is doing it, or because it's "the best".
I'm sure you will hear a lot more about Mr. D math this year. I will be sure to keep you updated.
And - for those of you who are wondering, my 5th grader, Grant, will continue with Saxon right now. It WORKS for him and he LIKES it.
Funny how that works, isn't it?
Talk to me about math in your homeschool. Please tell me I'm not alone in our struggles.
Let's support each other in the comments below.