My Struggling Maths Student is Struggling No Longer

L11, my little mathematician
L11, my little mathematician

Over Christmas I noticed a revolution going on.  It was occurring so quietly, lead by my calmest and quietest child, but a revolution none the less.  This radical change I speak off?  L11, who absolutely, definitely, nothing was ever going to change her mind hated maths with a passion, had decided it’s not so bad after all.  I had noticed a distinct enjoyment of numbers throughout each lesson over the past few months and the begging her daddy for mathematical questions at dinner time was another clue but what really gave it away was when she rather flippantly (not to mention accurately) told her sister how to work out 1/20th of something.  ‘Oh, you just divide by 20!’ said she to a slightly startled C11.  This was all the more amazing since she had only had her first lesson in fractions that same morning, and we are talking just a quick lesson to explain a ‘Life of Fred’ maths problem.

I wouldn’t say she loves maths, but she no longer hates it, and she is no longer afraid of it.  At the beginning of the year we began very slowly working our way through a program from CIMT a few days a week.  I am using this primarily as a guide for what to teach her, as I am not a natural teacher myself.

I have found if I show her pictorially each concept, with lots of manipulatives and then apply it to everyday life, she copes really well.  So far we have covered logic tables and Venn diagrams.  After I have made sure she understands the principles involved, I show her the mathematical notations (it is these symbols she used to find so hard) and she then goes off on her own to do the questions.  A couple of weeks ago I let her read through on her own and left her to it, and found her in tears a while later, really struggling.  It made me realise how important I was to the equation.  I genuinely think she would thrive with any curriculum now, so long as I (or somebody) was there to show her the concepts in a non numerical way before giving her the notational maths.

So, how will this fit in with our new way of schooling?  Actually, nothing is changing with maths.  After much discussion with the children it is the one thing we are all unwilling to change.  T12 and C11 seem both to be thriving with Saxon and L11 loves the ‘living maths’ approach.  A5 is a natural, and I won’t be using any curriculum for a while, just letting her have some fun.  It has taken us so long to find something that works, we’ll not be changing it just yet.  However, we are having a couple of easier maths days a week, which will contain more literature, history and DVD based maths, just for a change and a bit of fun.

I am once again so grateful for the flexibility of home schooling.  My struggling student really seems to be struggling no more! (So long as I am beside her….)


  1. What a happy piece of news! Congratulations to both of you for overcoming L11’s struggle with maths together. It’s great that you recognise and honour her learning style, and are able to support her in this way. 🙂

    1. It’s been interesting to watch three children who were essentially very similar suddenly develop into three very different people over the past couple of years. They all have very varying needs now, it’s tricky keeping up sometimes!

    1. The disadvantage with homeschool is my own inexperience means I don’t always pick problems up as soon as I should and when I do I’m not always sure what to do about them! We get there in the end, I suppose, and that is all that matters!

      1. Believe me, with conventional schooling, problems often don’t get picked up, and even more rarely handled on an individual basis.You’ve gotten there, and it’s thanks to you and your care 🙂

  2. Fantastic! Home schooling is such a great way to meet the needs of the individual child. Glad you found something that works for her.
    Have a lovely day, Claire.
    PS. I hope your weather is better than it is here in Texas – ice and sleet – again.

    1. Thanks Donna, and no I don’t think we are having any better weather at the moment. Half of Britain seems to be submerged under water due to fairly severe flooding. It just keeps on raining, raining, raining….and then rains some more!

      1. I feel terrible! I’ve just noticed that I didn’t reply to your last message. In my head I thought I had. You know I’m a bit blonde! Don’t worry about the book. We’re moving soon so gotta pack up all our stuff. Don’t need more things that belong to others than I may risk losing. I’ll put it on the list of books to buy and read when I get time. Love to you all. Hope everything is good. My granda McSwiggan died peacefully on Friday morning. Funeral was today. Sad for granny but joy for granda in heaven now! Speak soon xx

      2. I’m sorry to hear about your Grandad. I hope your Dad is doing okay?
        How come you’re moving? I thought you’d be where you are for a long time! Where are you moving to? Spill all!
        Take care Danielle and tell Amelia I love her blog!

      3. I’ll give you a call soon to tell you. Not sure where we’re going! The church are selling the house to pay for the new pastor’s house. It’s ok. We know it’s God’s timing. We’ll find something good x

  3. Well done both of you for finding a solution that works for you. I’m struggling with J(8) and maths at the moment. His brain works in SUCH a different way from mine. We congratulated ourselves, Edison-style, yesterday on finding about 200 ways doing maths does NOT work for us! But I must admit I kind of enjoy the challenge. It will be oh so satisfying when we find what does work! Thanks for the inspiration. 😉

    1. Ha, my brain works differently to everyone I know! Thankfully I only have to teach the five brains who reside in my house (although that’s hard enough at times!) I so know that Edison feeling but try, try again and you’ll inevitably hit on something that works eventually. I mean, the number of ways to teach maths had to be finite right?!

      1. Well, since math itself is infinite, I suppose the number of ways to teach it might be even more infinite? But it’s wonderful to hear that L11 is no longer afraid of math! 🙂 With that hurdle gone, you and she can focus on the adventure of figuring things out — which is still often a struggle, but it’s so satisfying when a concept clicks into place and makes sense.

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