We have made it. We have completed Math U See’s elementary curriculum.
Next stop: pre-algebra.
For me, that statement represents a tremendous success in my homeschooling journey.
There have been moments over the past several years when I truly wondered if we would live to see this day. It seems like an eternity ago but actually it has only been six short years since we first cracked open our Alpha student workbooks and started playing with manipulative blocks. You see, I am not a particularly gifted mathematician, and all of my children prefer language arts and science over math any day. We have climbed this mountain called elementary math with no small amount of effort, tears, scrapes, bruises, detours, backtracks, and drama. But we made it.
The perseverance I’ve seen Jaelah and Selah develop in spite of the fact that they really would rather do anything other than numbers fills my heart to the brim. They have stuck with it, they have fought the fight and finished this race. Perhaps other parents know what I mean when I say I am far more pleased by the fact that they have succeeded through much difficulty at something that often seemed an impossible feat than when they jump years ahead in subjects that they truly love and that come naturally to them. They have made great strides and are well into the upper grades in some subjects, but it seems like we didn’t really suffer as much pain with those hurdles as we did with the math ones. Victories that hurt are the ones that really reveal the character and thus are the ones that I treasure as a mother. Real life is filled with struggles in things that don’t necessarily come naturally to us. Living the life of a believer is and should be no exception. Of course, we also cultivate the girls’ strengths and allow them room to grow and put down roots of strength in the establishment of their gifts. But there is something so special about seeing them soar on the wings of achievement when I personally know the price they paid to be able to do so. We’ve all worked incredibly hard to reach this milestone, and somehow it means so much more to me that we accomplished something in an area of such great difficulty.
This is the first milestone we’ve reached in homeschooling where I actually want to put up my feet and let the girls bask in the glory of it for a few minutes before we rush off to the next textbook. We don’t have a lot of areas in school that require so much dedication in order to attain understanding. So, so, so many pencil erasers and scratch paper. There is something to be said for doing math the old-fashioned way – no calculators – and I know those math facts are cemented in! I feel like Steve Demme of Math U See is an old friend by now, and it’s largely the success of his amazing curriculum that has gotten us this far. Still, the actual teaching of math has fallen squarely on my shoulders. It has been a heavy burden to bear. Looking back, I have to laugh at all the moments over the past six years when I’ve calmly (er…not so calmly) gone into the bathroom for a silent scream in the middle of a math lesson. I have had moments of fantasizing how big a bonfire of math books we could really build in our backyard. I have sunk my head in frustration after repeating instructions and concepts over and over and over and over again in seeming futility. Yet, I persevered, and so did my girls. Paul’s words about perseverance leading to character leading to hope have stayed in the back of my mind. The Lord is faithful to accomplish His will in us and He is not above using a math workbook to do so.
There is plenty of very difficult math ahead of us. We’ll be taking a step back for a few months from formal math and reviewing the main concepts of decimals and fractions with Life of Fred before we start Math U See pre-algebra. I do not necessarily anticipate Calculus or Trigonometry with my little crew of students, but there may yet be an engineer among them! The point is, we are here on this mountain peak right now and I want to enjoy the fresh air, the heady breeze that tells us we have come much further than we ever thought we would.
The view is fabulous.