So I won't get Homeschool Mom of the Year this year - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 12:57 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm mad at myself. I can't seem to stop worrying about being "behind" in math and spelling/writing, and my anxiety upsets my 9yo son. He has some learning differences, so it's not his fault. I don't require much for homeschooling--we get unschoolier every year. He's happy that way. He has a lot of natural interests and is a great reader. He wants nothing to do with math though. And his dyslexia and dysgraphia make spelling and writing a big chore. Typing is a little easier, but it's still a struggle. And he's not really interested in it anyway. I try to make those things fun with games and activities, but I know he's only doing it for me. If we completely dropped math and spelling and writing, homeschooling would be a breeze. But those are needed skills!

The reason I'm angry at myself is that sometimes I get annoyed at him for his low frustration tolerance and what I perceive as his lack of gratitude for my efforts to make those subjects fun, and I end up guilt-tripping him. Tonight I was lecturing him about needing to know math to get into college. He's only 9!

I sometimes feel overwhelmed because I don't know how to approach the areas of difficulty. Should we keep working on them at a slow pace despite the frustration, or should we back off completely? We're already behind, so if we back off, will he be able to catch up by graduation? I feel like I'm just making this up as I go along. And because of that, any difficulties or failures are mine alone. There's no school district or curriculum to blame! You know?

Do any of you struggle with this? Do you have any words of wisdom?

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#2 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 04:10 AM
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Yep..I have a 9 yr old (almost 10) and he has LD's too. He is a good reader in my op. He struggles with math a little < but I feel that as we go deeper it will be more. He really really struggles to write..can't spell very well and it is very illegible. If he manages to get it down neatly once in a while...he forgets everything else about content.

I worry from time to time because I don't know if he will go back to ps someday. I have to redirect my focus and really prioritize what is important to me and that is his self esteem. I am guilty of the " if you don't learn this" syndrome at times . It is common among many hs moms. I say take it easy on you both..tell him your sorry to get angry , but that you want the best for him. If he is frustrated then the best thing you can do is model the assignment and discuss it as you work through it. I found out most of the kids in our group whine about lessons . Hate to say it ..that makes me happy!!!
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#3 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 04:28 AM
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Have you read up on how dyslexia effects math?

Make sure you have aids like posters of math facts. Find numatics and other tricks to help him learn. Don't shy away from calculators.
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#4 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 04:47 AM
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I have been there and I know it can be so frustrating for everyone!

If it were me I would back off for a while.

Then reintroduce math in fun or practical ways. He can help you cook or bake? Chart the birds that land at the bird feeder, measure the rainfall, plan to paint a room in the house, build something, find ways that math is used in the real world and help him learn it that way.

When it is important to him he will learn it.

Trust that he will learn what he needs to know in good time.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. ~ John Lennon
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#5 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 01:02 PM
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You sound like a great mama, and you're being really honest with yourself about the challenges you're facing, which is most of the battle, I think.

What about explaining to your ds about these worries that keep bubbling up, thanks to your own very different educational past and all those assumptions you internalized through your years of schooling? So that he understands where your panicky mini-lectures are coming from, and that you realize they're more about you than him. I'll bet if you explained what you explained here to us in terms suitable to a 9-year-old, he'd get it. He might be able to shrug it off more easily, and might even be able to help you "get over it" with a catch-phrase that you agree upon. If he feels you're getting all snitty about something that probably isn't a real issue in the big picture he could say "you're having schooly worries again, mom" or some such thing.

Just a thought.


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#6 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 03:41 PM
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It sounds like you are a great mama doing your best!

CherryPie, age 11, has always struggled in Math. We pulled her out of school in 3rd grade and we started using Singapore Math. She started to enjoy it at that point, but still had somewhat of a hard time. Recently, we started to implement the Living Math approach, and that has helped tremendously!

If I were in your situation with a very frustrated unhappy (when it comes to math/writing/spelling) child, I would back off for a little while. From the sound of it, that would probably make both of you happy right now. Take a step back and come back to it slowly and with fresh eyes and a whole new perspective.

Both of my kiddos and I are all dyslexic and it affects math greatly. I was very surprised to find out that all of my troubles with math are probably attributed to my dyslexia.

Since your son is a lover of reading, you might really like the Living Math approach. A lot of unschoolers use it... and it sounds like you lean toward that end of the spectrum. The Living Math website can be very overwhelming at first ... at least it was for me!

I started with the articles and they were pretty helpful and a nice introduction to the living math approach.

Then I moved on to their extensive book list. The book list took me days to go through. Some of the books are out of print, some are just really hard to find. From the books that were accessible, I had to figure out which ones would work best in our house now and which books could be put off for a little while until my budget permitted. Thankfully, our small library has quite a few of them!

The games list on the Living Math website is also pretty useful. We got a few of them and plan on getting more.

There is also a Living Math Yahoo! Group if you are interested.

I think I talked enough about Living Math. If you want I can tell you more about how I was able to implement it into our home as it was still tough for me. All the articles are great, but I still didn't know how to make it work in our home.

For spelling, we use All About Spelling. It's a great hands on approach to spelling, and as dyslexics, we love it in our house! There is also a discussion forum for All About Spelling that was incredibly helpful for me in the beginning. AAS is slow and gentle and you can go as fast as you (or your son) feels comfortable with. It also has a lot of review, but not too much repetition... which is another great feature that us dyslexics need.

And yes, if you back off for now, I'm sure he will catch up by graduation. I'm sure he will catch long before graduation! Just trust your son and trust yourself.

loveeyes.gif Loving homeschoolin' mama to CherryPie modifiedartist.gif and KiwiBoy eat.gif::: wife-y to my high school sweetheart partners.gif
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#7 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 04:59 PM
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May I suggest Montessori Arithmetic materials? A few articles from a Montessori publication on this topic may give you great insight for showing him math.

And practice using terms like;
~ eggs and cheese make a great omelet
~ eggs plus oil plus bag of mix equals chewy brownies.
~I need that scoop of detergent two times, (Why mom? because this muddy load is going to go through an extra long wash cycle w/ an extra rinse! So, it needs more detergent.)
~Or from that scoop we need just 1/2 for our 1/2 load, so lets divide equally...etc.
Keep up the terms. The more often he hears and experiences them, it'll click.

Play LCR. Find this dice game at Target. You pass objects Left, Center, Right. The objects you use are up to you. Marbles, GI Joes, hotwheels, nickles, pennies, dollars. It comes with little chips. You will have fun with this with adults as well as children, even adults and children playing together. Plus, they all get to practice lefts and rights.

Shopping helps so much, especially if he brings some money to spend. (Its great help if they bring a little notebook with them so they can take notes.) I do this, and when they need more money, I reflect with them how much more they will need for that. Do the same for less. For example: If it is $3.96, and he has $2.50. I would draw out five dollars and explain briefly how the item is only four cents from a whole other dollar, which is $4, see? So, once you get another whole dollar plus half of another, you will have the same as what this "transformer" costs. I like to show the extra dollar just in case he would like to wonder passed exactly what he needs. (hoping he will see he could save even more and have more choices) Then I would paraphrase maybe on the way out....Hey Brandon, so once you add a dollar fifty to your two fifty you will have the four dollars you need for that toy you want.

If you are going to incorporate a calculator, then he would need to understand how to read the equation. Which isn't a bad thing, after he understands what all the values and symbols mean.

Momma, once you can use what he is interested in to reveal where math plays a part (cause it's pretty much everywhere) and use the nomenclature/ terms often and just matter of factly...He will begin to relate with math. Be sure that you are comparing without emotion, so he can see for himself and judge for himself. Although it's not a bad idea for him to hear you think aloud to yourself "I don't think that candle is worth the same to me as $15." and "What do you think son?" You may be surprised that he was paying a lot of attention. A discussion, where you are just comparing, is a good experience for him.

Since I have three kids, they've caught on early how if we can find sets of things our money will last longer, aka: can get us more stuff. A set of 4 notepads is way better for us than the sparkly single one that is the same price as a this set. So now, we can get some extra pencils/ pens/ cap erasers/ squishy grip thingies, too.

Good luck with this.

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#8 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 05:15 PM
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Pardon the little hijack, but its related to shopping and math....

My fiance (yea!) took my 8 year old son to the store to get a small list. They got to the charcoal. F picks up a small bag of charcoal, and DS says, but mike, the big bag is ten dollars and the small is 7. Mike says, hmm I see that, but its ok because I only need a little. DS reasons with Mike.... Yea, but the big bag at 10 bucks will bbq more times, like 4 at least, so it's a better deal when the little bag bbqs once. Mike said, I see what you mean. So he gets the big bag.

I love love love it when I see the "click" shine out of my children.

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#9 of 10 Old 01-20-2010, 03:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you ladies for the support and understanding. I was kind of afraid of getting griped out!

We've been doing Living Math activities and readers off and on for a couple years now--and although he definitely prefers it to worksheets, he's still like, "But it's still MATH, Mom." Yesterday we read a little of Mathematicians Are People Too and he said, "That is most BORING book ever!" Actually, that's what prompted my math lecture last night...

The only obvious math-related stuff he doesn't mind is games. Unless I try to make it too educational and explain stuff that he's not interested in. If we just play and I let the educational stuff speak for itself, he's cool with it. He told me several months ago that math is like a foreign language that he doesn't speak. It's almost like he's phobic about it. As soon as his math-detector goes off, he puts up a wall. Maybe we should just play math for a while?

Real life math doesn't bother him either, because it's not obviously math-related to him. It's when I try to *teach* him math that the problems start. (Which is strange because it's not like that with any other subject!)

Thank you all for helping me think about this. I do know that he legitimately has a hard time with math. He's not lazy or defiant or misbehaving. He wants to please me, but his frustration with math overwhelms him.

I apologized to him today, and told him that this is my problem and not his. He actually reassured me by saying that I'm a great homeschool teacher and that he will learn what he needs to learn by the time he goes to college. I have a great kid. I really want to be the mom he needs.

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#10 of 10 Old 01-20-2010, 12:58 PM
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Now I have a different approach. All 5 of my kids have LDs and Math is our worst subject. 3 of my kids are in school. The one that is at home I just started on Right Start Math. If your ds hates math, you may want to look into this approach. It is very little drilling and more a visual approach. I have never tried this approach till now and i have to say i love the direction it is going in. Lessons are all spelled out. (Something I need. I am terrible at coming up with ideas.) lessons are short. We have been combining 2 lessons in one and they are still only 20 minutes. Work pages are short.

If you give math a break, then you may be in more of a panic later if he looses what little he knows. Some kids learn through every day activities, others have to be taught. You know the saying "If you don't use it, you will loose it." Well my kids always lost their math facts when they were not reviewed every day.
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