The Muddle of Maths


Maths in our home school has always been about getting it done.  Along with science, it is our only text-book curriculum.  I have A level maths and whilst my degree is in nursing, it also contained a great deal of maths.    I get maths.  The problem is I’m not good at teaching it.  I naturally think pictorially, so maths is less about figures to me than pictures and patterns.  I am completely unable to learn phone numbers or pin numbers off by heart.  It is only when I learn the patterns they make on the key pad that they are fixed in my mind.  T10 thinks similarly to me so I find teaching him very easy.  He speaks my language, if you like.  The girls don’t.  The result can be compared to me teaching in Chinese when they only understand Spanish.  They look blankly at me, trying to explain that which they do not understand.  This leads to me staring blankly at them, wondering whether we are even talking about the same subject, let alone the same sum!!

A few months ago I changed them from Saxon 54 to Mathusee Gamma.  Friends recommended it to me because of the teaching DVDs.  I thought this might be the answer – someone else teaching.  It’s just okay.  The girls still hate maths but only for half an hour (time taken to do a lesson in mathusee) as opposed to an hour and a half (time taken to do Saxon).  We still have tears and I can still see that they do not fully understand what they are doing.
So I am going to help them discover the wonder of maths, the pictures, the beautiful order of the patterns that litter mathematical concepts.  Truly, if I ever needed proof there was a God, maths would provide it.  I am going to take it easy and I am going to link it to our main school studies (learning maths through history!!).  However, the girls are still going to be working their way through Mathusee.  For now I need that as back up.  I’m not sure I’m capable of this and I’m really not convinced I’ve got the time to do it justice.  But I want the children to have my best and I don’t think the girls are getting my best when it comes to maths.


My plans for this week are to use Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map and photocopies of our British map to teach about graphs (a fairly new concept) and our actual map to teach about perimeter and area (concepts the girls keep muddling up).  I’m hoping that by actually doing maths instead of just writing maths it will become concrete in their minds.


  1. Sounds exciting. I know what you mean about the time to do living maths justice.
    We actually use Galore Park for our 12 year old which is quite traditional UK maths. We find this well presented but also spirals round so that the same topics are covered each year. I think this is more common in UK courses. This has meant that difficult topics are covered again, the following year when often they are grasped readily. It has also meant that where there are problems, we go back to the previously year’s book and tackle the topic at a lower level before going on to new work.

    1. We’ll see how it goes. If this isn’t successful we’ll maybe look into Galore Park. This week was quite exciting and I know the girls have really enjoyed it. It’s just the time issue. I need to find approximately two more hours in each day! Any ideas???

  2. This looks interesting, I have been having similar thoughts about math. will be checking back to see how it has gone

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