Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Knowing When to Embrace Change

It's not everyone who can say their child is good at math. Even fewer people can say their child likes and understands math without much effort. Yet our daughter is one of those kids who breezes through math like it is no big thing. At least she was before dysautonomia. 

Even with a chronic illness, Amber still comprehends math concepts easily and actually finds the lessons interesting. But with dysautonomia came a new level of anxiety and math suddenly pushed Amber over her daily stress threshold, by a mile. It didn't seem to matter what I did to help, math assignments triggered anxiety which then led to dysautonomia flares. I even quit grading Amber's math exercises and eventually her math tests allowing her to check her own answers with the agreement she would ask for help when it was needed.

Unexpected Homeschool: Embracing Change

Through it all the one thing I was unwilling to compromise on was our choice in math curriculum. Even when Amber had been in parochial school she used Saxon Math. It was all she knew. It was all I planned for her to know as I own the entire set through Calculus. Amber did well in Saxon and I was pleased with the rigorous lessons. I had no need to explore other math options. 

Clinging to the idea of using Saxon Math all the way through high school, despite the obvious problems, seems ridiculous in hindsight. Math disrupted our entire school day. Amber dreaded math to the point she worried all day the next subject would be math. It wasn't that she didn't understand, but the work drained her mentally and physically. We could choose to have a math lesson or three other subjects. Given the options, we often skipped math. However, this caused Amber to worry she wasn't learning enough math either. 

My husband and I both went into science fields that required advanced mathematics, actually, it doesn't get much more advanced than what we took. We were both the product of public schools and have no clue what math curriculum either school used, except it wasn't Saxon. So, a pretty solid argument could be made that Amber doesn't need Saxon Math for a future in science, if she chooses. Still, it wasn't until Amber announced her intention to emphasize language that I felt even remotely safe leaving Saxon Math. 

Unexpected Homeschool: Embracing Change

Thankfully I did come to my senses. If the difficulty had been in any other subject, we would long ago have researched another curriculum. I immediately stopped all math lessons to Amber's immediate and obvious relief. I then let her sample various options and provide input. We made a list of features to avoid and a list we wanted included in a math curriculum. 

For now we are using Life of Fred with some other supplements as necessary. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was Amber's. She willingly completes her math assignments and doesn't have any adverse reactions to the subject. Amber is actually enjoying math again and can demonstrate an acceptable level of understanding. I'm satisfied. After all, isn't the point to encourage a love of learning and facilitate comprehension?

I was almost afraid to admit we had abandoned Saxon Math after being such huge proponents of the curriculum. I'm still a believer in its methods although I've always agreed it wasn't a perfect fit for everyone. It just took a while to acknowledge it no longer suited my child. Perhaps next time a change is needed it won't take me quite so long to embrace it. 

1 comment:

  1. I understand how hard it is to leave a curriculum. I hung on to a math program that specialized in helping kids with learning challenges years ago (with my oldest). I was so sure it was the right fit and he HATED it. I finally switched away and my son improved in math overnight. One of the great things about homeschooling is having options. Thanks for the reminder.
    Blessings, Dawn