Math. Just the sight of this word makes my head hurt. I knew from the very beginning it would be the most difficult subject for me to teach in our homeschool. In the early grades, math can be fairly easy to teach, but it doesn’t take long for the children to outpace me. I am much more comfortable teaching a high schooler how to write a stunning essay than teaching square roots and polynomials.
Besides that, I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. I’m managing a large family, and that, my friends, takes up a lot of my time. I have meals to cook, laundry to wash, school to teach, cleaning to keep up with – all on a large army-sized scale. Anything that can be streamlined, must be. I’ve written about how I create systems to streamline the household chores, and I knew math needed a system too. (Systems are especially helpful for any task that causes you stress – math definitely fits into that category!)
That’s when I began a dialogue with Teaching Textbooks about trying out their products with my older children. They sent me product for 3 of my children to test out. The results were stunning!
How We Do Teaching Textbooks
I have 3 kids using Teaching Textbooks (my oldest son is in college and my younger kids are in grades that are not available in Teaching Textbooks). My 16 year old is doing Geometry. My 12 year old is doing Math 7, and my newly-turned 11 year old is doing Math 4. The younger two each took a placement exam on the Teaching Textbooks site before I ordered.
We set up Teaching Textbooks on one computer to start out with. Word to the wise – if you have a large family or multiple children using the program, find a way to get a second computer for school. My college kid works in the IT department on campus and got me a smokin’ good deal on a used computer. Best decision ever! Otherwise your kids are waiting on each other to do their math (or any other subjects they may do online or via CD).
You set up each program with the name of the child using the program and a password they can remember. The parent also has a password to be able to check the gradebook.
So, on to the actual lessons. My 16 year old takes notes on her Geometry lecture. Then, she does the practice problems and moves on to the regular problems. If she gets a problem wrong, she tries again and will often use the HINT button. If she gets it wrong a second time, it will give her the correct answer, and often she knows immediately what she did wrong. If she still doesn’t know what she did wrong, she will watch how it is done so she can learn it for next time. An average lesson takes her about an hour. NOTE: If you find your child is consistently taking more than 90 minutes on a lesson, I highly recommend you set a timer and have them stop mid-lesson and pick up the next day by watching the lecture again and starting where they left off.
My 12 year old also follows this method for her Math 7, although she doesn’t really take notes on her lecture and there are questions within her lecture she answers along the way. She does refer back to her book occasionally, and rarely uses the HINT button because she says the hints are things she already knows. An average lesson takes her 45 minutes.
My 11 year old doing Math 4 does the same thing as his sister, but his average lesson only takes 30 minutes tops.
How Teaching Textbooks Fits Into Our School Day
Our school day starts with Bible and Read Aloud. From there, my 12 year old goes to one computer and the 11 year old goes to the other to do Teaching Textbooks. The computers are side by side, so one or both of them wear headphones during their lessons. When my 12 year old is finished, the 16 year old starts her lesson on that same computer. Before it’s her turn, she is usually doing Science in her bedroom. I’ve always liked to put math at the beginning of the school day. We do math every day during our 4 day school week. (You can read more about why we have a 4 day week here.) For graduation, I require Algebra I, II, and Geometry.
How Teaching Textbooks Helped Us Through Difficult Circumstances
I write and speak about homeschooling through difficult circumstances a lot. I’ve been in tough situations many times throughout my homeschooling career, so I know how easy it is to let homeschooling slide when things aren’t going so well. Sometimes this is fine, especially if the trying times you are going through are short lived, but when your difficult circumstance is dragging on and on, you have to find a way to keep school going in some form.
When Mercy was born, I figured we’d be in and out of the hospital in a few days, and I’m usually plenty ready to jump back into school by a couple of weeks postpartum (by the way, this is not typical for most moms – I am so miserable and huge at the end of pregnancy that having the baby makes me feel great!). So, when Mercy was flown to a NICU 4 hours from our home, and we ended up staying there for nearly 6 weeks followed by many doctor’s appointments and another hospital stay and surgery, I realized just how important having this math curriculum was to keeping our homeschool going. Usually math is something the kids cannot do on their own, but with Teaching Textbooks, they have been able to stay with their math when I can’t be there.
I’ll be the first to tell you that no curriculum is truly perfect, but for us, Teaching Textbooks comes close. All 3 of my kids love it, and I love that I have one less thing on my plate! If you have more questions about how we use Teaching Textbooks, feel free to ask me!