# Homeschool To Do List: Learn the Math They Need to Know — Part 1

When I was in fourth grade, my math skills were good enough to place me in a special group of young mathematicians. When I was in college, I was placed in advanced English and remedial Algebra! What happened between age 8 and age 17? I can’t say that I know for sure. Perhaps it was the fact that my 8th grade math teacher was in her last year before retirement and I started high school Algebra on the wrong mathematical footing.

At that time (I kid you not), we were required to take only one math course to graduate from high school. I graduated with honors having taken exactly that — one math course. I was completely unprepared for college math. I concentrated on social sciences and took the minimum math requirements, which was again the equivalent of one year.

As we homeschooled, we learned to find what fit our children. We used A Beka, Saxon, Jacob’s Geometry, and Math-U-See — all successfully, but not necessarily successfully with each of our children. For example, we had one child who learned the Saxon way and went all the way through it, including Saxon Advanced Math and Saxon Physics; we had another cry through a year of Saxon Algebra II.

That is one of my big homeschool regrets. Why didn’t I realize early in that year that this math just did not fit that child and go find something else? The next year we switched to Jacob’s Geometry and it was smooth and happy sailing. My mathematical self-esteem was so low (after suffering through that remedial college Algebra class in which the teacher told us what idiots we were) that I decided to sit down at the dining room table and learn geometry with the two children doing it that year. In my 40s I learned that I could do math after all!

Last week blog reader Bekah left a comment saying that she would love to hear more about what I meant by “Learn the math they need to know” in My Homeschool To Do List. I believe that the “math they need to know” varies by child. For our mathematically-inclined child, that meant Saxon all the way through the most advanced courses. When help was needed, my mathematically-inclined husband saved the day. For all our children, that meant finding the math that worked for each individual.

However, there is much more to the “math they need to know” than simply math curriculum. It means knowing how to use math in their everyday lives. When Bethany shopped for fabric recently, she purchased 2 yards of fabric at $3.00 per yard. The substitute fabric cutter had to get help from a manager to figure the cost, and the manager used a calculator to figure the total — a calculator for 2 times 3!

If the problem was that Bethany happened to be helped by two people with learning glitches, that I understand; but if they were not taught practical math skills, that is an avoidable handicap. More about that tomorrow . . . .

*Train up a child in the way he should go, *

*Even when he is old he will not depart from it.*

*Proverbs 22:6*

On every homeschooling mother’s to do list is figuring out the way each of her children should go. It’s a joyful quest because He made each of them so wonderfully — even those who need a calculator for 2 times 3.