*with*

**Steve Demme**

It is to the latter group that I am writing today.

Consider homeschooling math as an opportunity for a do-over. Your first experiences were not positive and now you have a chance to learn it along with your children. You have several assets at your disposal that you did not have when you were a struggling student.

You are not a classroom teacher, you are a tutor. Classroom teachers follow the book. Tutors follow the student. As a tutor, first figure out what your children know and begin there. Move at their pace. Give them time to really understand a concept before moving on to the next topic. I know this sounds foreign to those of us who were hustled through the system in fear of being behind, but as a tutor you are in control. Take whatever time you need. You are the expert on your child’s progress.

YOU ARE NEVER BEHIND. Truly. Resist the temptation to compare your student. Your child is where they are. Build on what they know. Give them the gift of being successful. Don’t push. Lead.

Pray. God is on your team. He has your back. He is a wonderful teacher of you and your kiddos. Many times when I am tutoring and hitting a wall, I will ask the Spirit to help me figure out a new way to present material or a new strategy and He is always faithful.

No one is more motivated to see your children succeed. No one knows your children better than you do.

When your children are not getting it and starting to get emotionally distraught (or you are), take a break. Consider a strategy a friend shared with me which helped me teach one of my sons who struggled with math. Instead of giving your students more problems, give them more examples. It sounds trite, but it revolutionized the math relationship between me and my son.

Let’s say you are teaching double digit multiplication and your children are getting upset and discouraged. Tell them, school is over for the day and you will be doing the remainder of their work. They are only to watch and not participate. You select several multiplication problems and work them out. If possible, use blocks and build the problem, write what you are building, and say what you are doing out loud. We are using as much of the brain as possible. Finish the first problem and check your work. Model exactly what you want them to do. Do a few more, then tell them class is over and you will see them the next day. This approach was counterintuitive to me the first time I heard it. But as I tried giving more examples instead of more homework, I found that it worked!

3 blue ten rectangles

2 little green unit squares

When you are looking to illustrate place value in base 10, money is a wonderful illustration. Ten pennies makes one dime. Ten dimes makes one dollar. I use money frequently to help students grasp place value, and most of us are motivated by the study of moola!

After they understand place value, then study addition. I think it is wise to memorize your facts so that they become second nature. There are only fifty-five single digit math facts. When you have mastered addition, then study the opposite or inverse of addition, subtraction. Every subtraction problem may be seen as an addition problem. Instead of verbalizing 8-3=5 as “8 minus 3 is what number?”, consider saying, “What number plus 3 equals 8?” When addition is memorized, subtraction is a piece of cake.

Multiplication is fast adding of the same number. 3×4 is the same as 3+3+3+3. To help students grasp the connection between addition and multiplication, I often read 3×4 as “3 counted 4 times.” Take whatever time your child needs to be successful and competent in multiplication, then begin the study of division which is the inverse of multiplication. When you know 3×4 is 12, then you can see that 12÷3=4. You can verbalize 12÷3 as “What number times 3 is 12?”

When your basic operations have been mastered, then tackle fractions, decimals (fractions written on one line) and percents. There are not that many math topics.