Oh My Word! Have a Little Faith in Yourself!

Ever want to reach through the computer and shake someone? Of course, you wouldn’t actually do it. Neither would I. But if I were to ever meet certain people in real life, I might have to remind myself a time or two that shaking them is not something I would do. This is one such instance.

A woman explained online that she wants to homeschool but plans to use a public school online program, a virtual school, to teach because she thinks she’s not smart enough to teach middle school math because she had to retake a college math course 3 times to pass it. Hello? Lady, you may have had to re-take the class, but you passed it. You passed a college class. Even a remedial college class would be far above the middle school math level. Retaking a college math class doesn’t mean you aren’t smart; it means that you know how to persevere until you figure it out, and that’s a fabulous quality to pass on to children. From what I’ve seen in life, those who persevere and keep trying get a lot further in life than those who don’t have to try so hard and just coast along. And, hey, I happen to think that I myself am pretty smart: I was valedictorian of my fairly large public high school and tested well enough to know I could get into MENSA if I wanted to, but guess what? I had to retake some college math classes. I withdrew before getting a low grade, but I signed up again in a later term and tried again. I ended up with a degree in math from a prestigious university–even though I had to retake some math classes.

So I don’t see retaking college math classes as the huge stigma she does. I certainly don’t see that it will prevent her from teaching her child middle school math; in fact, she’ll likely be more understanding of the struggle to understand and will be more patient and more willing to search for ways to help the child understand the material than someone to whom it all came easily.

Here’s the part that really got to me: Her child is not even three years old. She’s worrying about teaching middle school math because she herself struggled in college and so plans to use a public school program even though the child isn’t officially school age yet. Hello?? Start with where your child is at. Don’t worry about how you’ll teach the hard subject several years from now. You might be surprised to find that you will learn along with your child. Most homeschool parents who actually are involved in teaching or working with their children find that they get a better education in the process. They learn with the child, strengthening their own base of knowledge, and find that by the time they reach the material that worried them, they are better able to handle it because they have a better educational foundation. So middle school math might not be the struggle she imagines, particularly if she’s not using some math program that requires some newfangled method that makes no sense to her but sticks with methods that make sense to her; after all, math hasn’t really changed and the methods that have worked for her all along can work just as well for her child.

Of course, I tried to explain this to her but was left with the distinct impression that she wants to think she can’t teach her child herself, that she wants to think of herself as incapable. And that makes me want to shake her. Or cry with her. Or somehow help her find her own sense of self-worth.



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