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Can you get a visual here? Have you ever tried to bathe a cat? It’s the funniest thing in the world and it can totally traumatize your cat. They eventually dry out and forget about the bath but it leaves a lasting impression on them. The same is true with some kids and math.

Most kids enjoy the beginning stages of learning math. They love to learn all their numbers and to count things and divide things (especially when dividing candy equally amongst each other—you know, “One for me, one for you.”). It’s fun to learn how to cook using measuring cups and teaspoons. That’s one of the best ways to learn fractions. Telling time involves using numbers and time-out teaches them to appreciate every slow minute as it passes. Measuring their height as they grow is always something fun for kids. They love to count money and when they begin to earn money, they also begin to value it and their time.

But somewhere along the way, math gets hard. It turns into Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Calculus and Trigonometry. You no longer teach 1+1=2 or 5×5=25.

You have to teach x + 23 = 3x + 45 or 3×2 + x – 2 = 0 or Area = l x w or Area of a regular polygon = (1/2) N sin(360°/N) S2, etc.

You hear the question over and over, “When am I ever going to use this?” You can’t help but think the same thing. I used to think about the fact that I had not used any of that math since school except to homeschool my kids.

Sometimes it’s only certain maths that snag up a child. One might like Algebra and another thrives with Geometry. I remember having to bribe my daughter with those little Halloween pumpkins or candy corn type candies—every time she got a problem right, she got a piece of candy. Algebra II and Trigonometry were pretty difficult for her, thankfully, or her teeth would have rotted out. When it came time to teach my son these higher level maths, I was exhausted and simply didn’t want to do it again.

However, I had to. When the State requires that your child has upper level maths, you don’t really have an option, now do you? Thankfully, there are gads of publishers out there who publish high school math programs in all sorts of forms—books, video, cd-rom. And don’t forget math tutors, classes outside of the home and online classes.

Having finished my stint as a homeschool mom, I want to encourage you to press on. Be firm with your children and help them commit to excellence when it comes to their school work—and not just their math work. It is so easy to be too relaxed with your homeschool. I definitely leaned more toward a relaxed attitude regarding the upper level maths and sciences because I knew that my children were not leaning toward careers in those fields. But by being too relaxed in that area I did not always push my children to complete every assignment as they needed to. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating rigidity with homeschooling but I do now see (on the backside of things) the benefit of pushing children to excel beyond their own natural areas of giftedness for the sake of being able to compete in our fast-paced society.
Really, what this boils down to is putting self aside.

When we are selfish, we look at only the things that matter to us. We focus just on what we want to do. If we do not encourage (and even press) our children to stretch themselves, stretch their minds, beyond what is comfortable for them, then we’re not doing them any favors. A person who is at least open to learning something that is of little interest to him or her is someone who is open to letting the Lord teach something new that may be useful to them in the future.

Proverbs 1
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.

Cat photo by Gayle Lindgren: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1147302