Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Two Plus Two Equals Calculus {Homeschooling High School}

When I was just starting out as a homeschooling parent (and Addison was just a first grader), I remember people asking me what we'd do for high school math. I guess teaching high school math was the scariest thing they could imagine.

Luckily math doesn't scare me. Honestly I'm one of those weird people who loves math, and I was probably the only elementary education major at my school that voluntarily took two semesters of Calculus. Now that I have one student nearing the end of her high school classes, I realize that high school math doesn't have to be scary, even without a strong math background.

I think the scary part about high school math is the dread that comes from remembering that one hard class (or even one hard lesson) from years ago. The good news is that nobody expects you to jump from first grade addition facts straight to complex algebraic equations involving trains on opposite sides of the country.

As Addison progressed through her math curriculum, we reviewed place value, multiplication facts, simple equations, and even geometry before we ever got to the train problems. I had plenty of help in the teachers' manuals along the way (and access to all the answers).

Most high school math wasn't a matter of remembering everything that I had studied a long time ago. It was more a matter of walking alongside Addison -- as she was learning new lessons, I was remembering and reviewing.

My challenge grew as Addison moved past the "easy" high school math and took on Calculus. For a while, I could keep up with her and generally understood what she was doing. Unfortunately, I didn't always have the time needed to relearn Calculus and she quickly moved past the topics I was comfortable with.

That's when I discovered another wonderful truth about high school math -- I didn't have to teach it. By the time she was working through Calculus, she had grown adept at studying on her own, working through sample problems, etc.

We also had developed a network of math-savvy friends that she could call on when she needed help. I remember a day when she was asking a rather philosophical math question that was going to require more brain power than I could easily spare that day. (I was likely distracted by one of her siblings at the time.) Thankfully one of the youth ministers in town was also a college math professor and was thrilled to discuss math theories and applications. We sometimes joked, "What happens when a rocket scientist, a mathematician, and a physicist walk into the church building?" We're very thankful for brilliant friends that were willing to help.

Even if you aren't blessed with an astrophysicist sitting on the pew beside you Sunday mornings, there are plenty of other resources for teaching High School math -- online classes, tutorial videos, and community colleges.

The important thing wasn't about how much math I remembered from years ago or even about my ability to learn math now. For me, the important thing about homeschooling through High School is learning to trust God to provide a way.

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015

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1 comment:

  1. Very good point about not needing to jump from simple addition to complex algebra all at once! Getting through high school math isn't nearly as hard since we do it incrementally.



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