I’m pretty sure all—and I mean all—homeschool parents know the frustrations and tears that a homeschool math lesson can bring on. Whether the frustrations and tears are that of the parent or that of the student, it matters not when it comes to the homeschool math lesson.
In a fit of frustration with middle school math, one of the twins muttered, “I hate math.” Now for me growing up “hate” was a bad word, especially at school. So whenever one of my children uses the word hate when referring to their schoolwork, I typically feel responsible for their academic vitriol and try to redirect their attention back to joy. I am their teacher. I am their mother. I want learning—especially our learning together—to be associated with joy. Joy indeed.
In an article titled “Joy,” Peter Kreeft writes:
Pleasure is in the body. Happiness is in the mind and feelings. Joy is deep in the heart, the spirit, the center of the self.
The way to pleasure is power and prudence. The way to happiness is moral goodness. The way to joy is sanctity, loving God with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself.
Pleasure is in the body. Happiness is in the mind. Joy is in the heart. How can I guide my child, my student, towards joy in her heart for math? How can I direct my students toward sanctity?
- You were created to know. You were created in the image and likeness of God—God who is all knowing, all powerful, and all good. He knitted you together in my womb, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You can learn math. All of creation is groaning, including ourselves to know in full (Romans 8:19-23), and right now we may know in part. However, we will and can see the whole (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). It may take effort, discomfort. You may feel alone in your struggle (Genesis 3), but you can know, learn, and have an understanding of math.
- Be not afraid, (Deuteronomy 31:8). You are not the first to struggle with math and you will not be the last. You can actually rest in the fact that learning math can be hard. Many have gone before you in the struggle of understanding 8th grade math and have made it over.
- You are not alone. You have help. You have a guide. Your math curriculum offers you assistance. Look back to previous lessons to remember what you have learned (Deuteronomy 32). Read your instructions again. Ask for help before you are frustrated. I am here with you to assist you and to comfort you. You are never alone (John 14:25). You are never alone, even in learning math.
- I know it can be hard. That’s why I want you to remember you have guides, so that you may understand that you are not alone and that you can come to know your math. When your lessons get hard, I want you to trust the advice I am giving you. To do so you may have to struggle with doubt and negative thoughts. Resist and they will flee (James 4:7). Speak or think positive thoughts—life to yourself about your ability to learn (Proverbs 18:21). Remember you were made to know, made in the image and likeness of a God who is all knowing, all powerful, and all good, therefore with perseverance you will bear fruit (Luke 8:15).
It is my prayer that I can guide my children to find joy in learning math and anything else that they desire to learn by reminding them of who they are, whose they are, as well as their purpose and end; reminding them of the tools always at their disposal: trust, humility, and perseverance; by pointing them towards and praying for their ability to discern what is true, good, and beautiful. I pray they will always find joy.
Author Danielle Bennette Dukes (B.S., Early Childhood Education, Florida A & M University) has homeschooled her six children from birth and is a native New Orleanian. She is married to her college sweetheart, Dion Dukes. She is a co-founder and former board member of Nyansa Classical Community and a graduate of Circe Institute’s Apprenticeship program. She guides and directs her children and families of all backgrounds to integrate their faith and knowledge to cultivate Christian culture.
Note: Guest bloggers share their own thoughts as classical educators and learners and do not represent ClassicalU.com or Classical Academic Press. If you are interested in writing guest blog content, please contact us with your name, connection to classical education, and ideas for a blog post.