Curriculum, Elementary, Homeschool, Parenting

Stagnant Learning in your Homeschool and Five Ideas for the Frustrated Mom

Lately it feels like we are at a stalemate with Little Miss Buttercup (age 7) and her math.

She’s not quite where the curriculum says she “should” be. She’s been on the same concept and not really getting it for a while.

I’m questioning where I’ve gone wrong.

Well, momma, if you’re feeling the same way be it math or learning to read or narrate, you are not alone. Remind yourself of the big picture.

Why are you homeschooling? What’s the end game?

In other words, will your student ultimately leave home not knowing her math facts or not knowing how to read or narrate. No, it’s unlikely.

Yesterday I had the chance to talk with some fellow homeschool mom friends and found myself voicing my frustrations. It was all about how Buttercup should be able to be quicker with her math facts and that we are still working on this particular concept. That if she were faster and the math facts came like second nature then she’d get what we’ve been working on for what seems like for.ev.er.

Typically I don’t compare or worry where my daughter is according to standards or where she should be. I know that she’ll get it.

I know that in the big scheme of things these little hangups don’t matter, but that we continue to work through them that does matter. 

Case in point: Buttercup was barely reading early reader books this time last year and now she’s loving reading chapter books. When teaching her to read I had one person seem to question her ability and act, let’s say concerned, about where she was at. Me, I was all nonchalant knowing that little by little she’d get it.

I recall being asked how much she was reading each day. I said “five minutes.” Oh that look of shock I got. It felt as if I could read minds and I was hearing “she’ll never read at that rate!” Thankfully I didn’t let that change what I was doing. Seriously, at that point, Buttercup could only pay attention without getting frustrated for five minutes at a time. It’s okay. You know your child and her limits. Don’t let others’ opinions dictate what you do.

Well, I realized that in some fashion I was feeling the mom guilt. That guilt that I hadn’t done a good enough job. But my friends brought me back to reality and helped me realize what I already knew: I just have to be faithful and little by little she will get it. 

So what are we to do in the meantime when we just want to pull out our hair in frustration?

Here are some ideas:

1. Take a break.

Put the workbook away, set aside the teacher’s manual. Skip the lesson that is causing frustration or meltdowns from your child, or you. Skip the lesson for a couple of days, take a breath.

Go outside during the math lesson instead. Do a puzzle or play a game together. Play store, or pet shop (for the animal lovers). Play legos. Build something. Bake something. Sing silly songs. Draw. Do origami.

Sometimes pushing pause is all that’s needed to get back on track.

stagnant learning cubes

2. Try something new.

When I first realized that Buttercup was not quite getting the concept we switched it up. I set aside the teacher’s manual and brought up the computer games. For a few weeks her lesson consisted of playing games that allowed her to practice her facts in different ways.

We are adding our curriculum back in and I’m still finding that doing her lesson in a creative or new way is helpful. We are playing card games and dice games. I had even purchased a couple of math based games for us.

We got out the link cubes again and tried explaining the concept again. We wrote out problems on the white board. And we used dimes and pennies in a “real life” situation to represent 10s and 1s to reinforce the concept.

We are getting there. Slowly. But surely.

3. Be consistent.

Math was beginning to be wildly refused at one point. Simple questions were difficult. Emotions were high.

One problem when it came to start math was Buttercup was not in math mode. It took a while for her to get her groove, and by that time, if we had gotten that far, the lesson should be over because we need to keep lessons short and attention high.

My solution was to do some “warm-up” problems. In short, I added a “Good Morning/ Warm- Up” to our routine to start the day. On it, among a few other things, is 10 quick math facts for her brain get into school mode and to gain confidence, so when the lesson comes up she’s a little bit more prepared.

We’ve been consistently doing this and I have seen tiny, but good, improvements. I know that, just like the reading for five minutes a day, this little warm up exercise will help to turn on that light bulb.

stagnant learning morning board

4. Move on.

Every once in a while moving on is more effective than trying to master a concept right then and there. Go ahead a bit. The challenge may help your student rise to the occasion. It may help demonstrate the earlier concept and allow that aha moment to happen.

In the long run will not mastering this concept right now be detrimental, probably not, it’s okay to move on, the concept will come up again. And when it does maybe you’ll be surprised and your child will KNOW whatever it was he didn’t know just a few lessons ago.

5. Be patient.

Sometimes it just takes a little more time than “normal” to understand something.

When I ask my kids to be patient I sometimes ask if they know what it means. I tell them that being patient means waiting quietly.

What does that mean for us? Well, we need to keep on keepin’ on, we need to just keep swimming, just keep swimming. We need to be calm in our demeanor, even when we want to slam the books shut. We need to be careful of our words and tone towards our children, show them that we are behind them, encourage them. Save the ranting for behind closed doors, if we must.

In this homeschooling journey we all have those moments of doubt. We all wonder if we’re doing enough. 

Yes, even through the times that seem like learning is stagnant, the kids are learning. Even when we wish they would just get it already, they are. They are getting it, little by little. Have faith, they’ll surprise you one day.

And before you know it this will all happen again. Except it won’t be in math, it’ll be in something else. And again, they will get it.

What are you struggling with right now? What do you wish your child would get already?   

Stagnant Learning in your Homeschool and Five Ideas for the Frustrated Mom

 

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