All math, all the time

If there is one word that defines my homeschooling journey, it is reactionary. Reactionary in that I am usually focusing on remediating whatever area my over-active imagination has decided to fixate on and worry about. These worries can run the gamut from feeling the need to do daily nature journal entries to deciding I have failed the lot of them if they do not know Latin and everything in between. I do tend to veer wildly in what homeschooling here looks like. Watching my older children be successful adults makes me think perhaps I did okay, but that doesn't stop me from obsessing about the current crew.

As I was thinking about the spring and the time we've lost watching, caring for, and cleaning up after our household barnyard animals, I decided yesterday morning that too many times math had fallen by the wayside. I made the decision to call in the big guns.


Hey, it does have its place. Here was my offer. Every child who could complete the math book they were currently working in by the end of the spring, would get a trip to the bookstore where I would buy them whichever book they wanted. Heck, I'd do math for that offer.

It seems to have worked. I think Y. had the high end of nearly ten pages of math completed yesterday. But she really likes math. It did motivate the couple of children who don't really care for it, and they focused on math far longer than they would have had it just been a regular school morning.

Here's what I've noticed. First, I will be paying for this twice, in time and money. When a child does ten pages of math, someone needs to check it to be sure things are being done correctly. I tried to rope A. into the correcting fun, but she was having no part of it. I'll be correcting a lot of math for the near future.

Secondly, the math skills which I was despairing about inside my head yesterday morning, are not nearly as dire as I had thought. In fact, nearly everyone is doing things that I didn't know they could do. Even though we had not been moving quickly through our math books, I had been diligent in making sure that the things we had done were extremely well understood before moving on. I am currently the queen of elementary math manipulatives. There is something to be said for a really strong foundation of how the concept of numbers work.

We will still keep on with our 'Round the World Tour, but we will also spend a good chunk of our school time this spring with those math books. Summer will provide us with time to sit and read books together to solidify the reading habit. I personally find this method of focusing on one thing at a time to be my chosen method for learning something. Then that topic can rest a bit, and the brain can sort and store all the information while moving onto another, often very different subject.

I will say, though, that after correcting so many math pages over the years, my knowledge of addition and multiplication facts have never been secure.
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