Can you homeschool upper-level math if you're not a math expert? If your math skills are a little rusty and you're feeling unsure about homeschooling when your kids get to high school, this post is for you!
As an experienced teacher with a degree in mathematics, I obviously love math, but I completely understand that it's not everyone's favorite subject! Math can be intimidating, but it doesn't need to be.
Sarah from Homegrown Scholars describes math as "The Nellie Olson to my Laura Ingles." If she can homeschool math, so can you! Here are my top 5 tips to help you homeschool high school math:
1) Find an Online High School Math Curriculum
Even if you're great at teaching math, it's ok to outsource it! Amy from Rock Your Homeschool is a self-described math nerd (she took Calculus 3 in college for fun!) and has learned some important lessons over her past 9 years of homeschooling: "One of those lessons is that it is that it's totally okay to outsource certain subjects. You don't have to do it all, especially when you're trying to homeschool multiple ages!"
I love what Sarah from Techie Homeschool Mom had to say about this: "Teaching math in your homeschool (especially for high school levels) doesn't have to be scary! Outsourcing to online learning is a great option, and has many advantages over traditional book learning. Online courses are usually taught by experienced teachers, teaching what they know and love. Most lessons are self-paced, meaning your kids can learn on their own schedule and work to mastery. And, instead of taking on all the responsibilities as "teacher", you are more free to come alongside your kids as their guide. Online learning isn't going anywhere, and as your homeschooler takes online classes, they are learning HOW to learn online which is a skill they will need throughout their life."
There are so many advantages to an online math curriculum, but there are so many to choose from. You'll want to do your research and decide which one best meets your needs. Here are a few helpful reviews of resources to help you get started:
2) Find Ways to Supplement Your Math Curriculum
I've lost track of the number of different textbooks and online resources I've used over my teaching career, but I can say that I've had to supplement each one. It's rare to find a one-size-fits-all curriculum that's going to be exactly what you need.
Amanda from Wander Homeschooling recommends using your curriculum as a guide and to tweak when needed. I also liked her advice to take breaks and cut lessons in half when your child is feeling overwhelmed. Flexibility and the ability to supplement the material are just a few great things about homeschooling!
Fortunately, there are a lot of high-quality resources available to help fill in the gaps and enrich the curriculum that you decide to use. Here are a few favorites:
Kate's Math Lessons: A website with a wide variety of online math lessons with examples, practice quizzes, and activities. If your child prefers video, you'll want to check out my math video courses. I'm unable to keep up with requests for private tutoring these days, so this is my next best thing if your student needs extra help! For those of you wrapping up Algebra 1 or getting ready to start Algebra 2, don't miss this Algebra 1 Review Course.
Xtra Math: This website is great for remediation if your child needs to work on their foundation of basic math skills to make high school math easier. Mary Wilson recommends extending the time limit as the teacher and types the answers for her kids so they can focus on just yelling out the facts. You'll want to check out Mary's Math Fact Practice List for more great ideas to help your student review their math facts without flashcards.
IXL: I've used this website for years with students and love the instant feedback they get as they practice. It has practice problems from Pre-K to Calculus.
3) Keep a Math Notebook
Even if you decide to use an online curriculum, it's still important for your child to take written notes. The physical act of writing helps our brains remember information and written notes are so helpful for students to refer back to as they work.
4) Don't Forget the Basics
Della from The Beauty of Play says, "We tend to think that older children don't need to use them, but I find manipulatives, especially when we hit factoring polynomials to be highly useful."
Manipulatives are not just for elementary. They're especially helpful in Geometry to help students visualize surface area and volume. Here are a few of my favorite manipulatives for middle and high school math:
Fraction Tiles - Students are going to be working with fractions all throughout high school math. These are great even to just have out as a visual reminder.
Folding Geometric Shapes - The key to these is the removable folding exterior! Incredibly helpful when teaching surface area of prisms and cylinders.
AngLegs and Protractor Kit - These movable pieces are great when learning about angles in Geometry.
Hands-On Equations - I LOVE Hands-On Equations. This is an incredible way to help students physically represent linear equations with game pieces.
5) Play Dumb Even if You Know the Answer
If you know the answer to your child's math question, pretend you don't! Make them tell you what they already know about the topic and push them to figure out how their problem is different from one they know how to do. A huge part of your job as your child's teacher is to help them become an independent learner. Teaching is not about the ability to spout off the correct answer when asked. Give your children tools and strategies they can use when they don't know an answer.
If you're feeling frustrated with homeschooling high school math, Bekki from A Better Way to Homeschool has a great free printable reminder list to help you stay focused on the heart of homeschooling. Don't lose sight of the reasons you chose homeschooling when you get to the hard subjects and reach out for help when you need it.
I hope these ideas will be helpful for you! What other ideas or tips do you have for homeschooling high school math? I'd love to know! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.