Dear Homeschool Mom fretting over math curriculum,

Oh friend, I feel your pain!

If we could sit with a cup of coffee and chat, we might find that our stories are rather similar. We searched, studied, researched and thought we found the perfect curriculum! We perused used book sales and sites and finally settled on buying it new. After all…there are younger siblings who will use it too. With high hopes, we expertly fashioned the math plan for the year.

Perhaps it was only lesson 1 when you realized this just isn’t working. But at some point in the number line of math lessons…

Tears. Drama. Frustration. Angry words. Defiance.

And it wasn’t just from your child.

So you searched, studied, and researched all over again. You love your child and want them to succeed. You want to meet them where they are with curriculum that serves their learning style. You don’t want to lose control over the day’s math lesson again. Surely, you just need something different.

But sometimes, our response is the opposite.

In stubbornness and pride, we refuse to change. This child WILL do every problem, every lesson, every day, doubling up when necessary. And he or she better not whine or complain.

Math curriculum can be a vicious cycle of despair and hope for the best homeschool mom.

Math curriculum can be a tool for my sanctification.

A little of our math history  – Our first year in homeschooling, I’m not sure how many different first grade math curriculum changes my poor son had to suffer through. I finally settled on Singapore and loved it for a couple of years. Halfway through third grade, it just didn’t seem right, so I started jumping from one math trampoline to another again.

Then I heard the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit whisper to me.

“Aimee, have you asked Me?”

“Well, no, Lord, I haven’t.”

That’s when we started Saxon. It was fine for a while. But over time, my child struggled more and more. I sought and followed advice from wise mentors.

Just stick with the curriculum. Slow down and insist on mastery. Do every problem in the book. Do just the odd or even problems. School through the summer. Do math every single day.

But things got worse. I realized eventually that I had quit grading math tests because I didn’t want to even see his actual grades. I knew what he was struggling with – almost everything, or so it seemed. When we talked through math concepts, he seemed to get it. But he consistently missed much on every lesson.

I had heard God once, and I wasn’t about to change.

Perhaps more accurately, my pride wouldn’t allow me to consider changing again. Don’t get me wrong. I was on my knees in tears begging the Lord to help me, to help my son. That’s where God was working on sanctifying me: He wants me to keep going back to Him.

I knew that neatness and attention to details were part of the problem. But I realized confidence was a much bigger issue. My child had quit trying long ago. He hated math, and he hated Saxon. And my relationship with him started to suffer because I was pushing him. I pushed us both into a place of constant frustration.

Last summer, I realized I was once again stuck on my plan. So I went back to the Lord.

This time He gave a different answer.

We switched curriculum this year. What my son’s heart felt by the curriculum change is that I heard him and loved him enough to listen. (not to say I always do what my kids prefer!) But that was what God told me my child needed at this time.

Benefits of our change:
  • He feels loved because I listened to his complaints.
  • He seems to feel more studious sitting at the computer for his math lesson.
  • He actually chooses to do math first in the morning.
  • The immediate feedback is great. He works a problem on paper, enters the answer on the computer, then knows if it is right or wrong. If it’s wrong, he watches the video of the correct way.
  • His grades are MUCH better!

Thus, the biggest benefit: His confidence has grown tremendously!

I wondered if I didn’t hear God correctly years ago. But I don’t think so. This whole process is part of God’s plan for growing my son’s heart.

God desperately wants to change our hearts.

So keep praying, seeking advice, and researching. But don’t forget to listen to the Lord and trust Him.

I considered not telling you which curriculum we have been using. It really doesn’t matter. It could have been Right Start, Math-U-See, Singapore, Miquon, etc.

This is where our stories must be different.

There are many great options out there, but it really doesn’t matter. You make your choice. I’ll make mine. Either way, let’s follow God’s guidance rather than copy another family.

Our struggle over choice of math curriculum isn’t really about the book. It’s not really about the plan or the lesson problems.

The struggle, moms, is about our hearts. In order to stay in sync with God’s plan for our children, we must stay close to Jesus.

Fretting over math is an opportunity.

Feelings of unrest are a cue to me that something needs to change in my heart. Believe it or not, fretting can be our friend. Fretting can be a tool in our sanctification, because it can lead us to get close to Jesus.

Recognize your cue of unrest. Take it to Jesus.

Oh, if you’re curious, my other kids are continuing with Saxon 🙂

Blessings for you, my friend!