Despite being in tech, when it comes to educating our kiddos, I’m not typically one to advocate for using screen-based solutions. We’re pretty traditional with our homeschooling, and we’re blessed beyond measure to have the freedom we have so my wife can stay home and teach our children.
But then there’s this thing called math….
(Real photo of our daughter when we teach her math)
Math is one of those subjects that could make a handful of forks on a glass plate seem really pleasant.
Or maybe we just suck at teaching it?
Our daughter (age 10) has struggled with math since we started homeschooling, and we’ve tried to address it with different teaching/learning styles, methods, changing curriculum, etc.
But nothing seemed to make much of a difference.
(Insert sigh here)
It was honestly at the point where math had become a huge source of stress for both my daughter and my wife, and I wanted to find something (anything, please!) that would curb that stress and make math kinda fun for our daughter. One can hope!
We try to make it clear to our kids that it’s OK to have weak areas, but we should spend more time developing those areas.
Saying, “I’m not good at X” is a defeated mentality that I never want my kids to have. It is far too easy to dismiss as “OK” even things that are sinful when we see a weakness as part of our identity rather than an opportunity for growth.
Is struggling with math a sin? Certainly not! But our daughter’s reaction to that struggle often turns to sinful frustration.
So what is my responsibility to her with this struggle as her father?
I think of Nehemiah’s reaction to the disrepair of the wall of Jerusalem. If he simply threw his hands in the air and said, “There’s just holes in the wall! Woe is Jerusalem!”, but never did anything about it, he would have never left the side of King Artaxerxes as his cupbearer, and Jerusalem would have been left vulnerable.
But instead Nehemiah’s was compelled to act, to improve the situation, when he saw Jerusalem’s weakness. As a father, this is my reaction when I see my daughter having a defeated and discouraged attitude when she encounters the difficulties of life, math being only one of them.
You see, homeschooling isn’t just about education. I would even say homeschooling isn’t primarily about education; it’s about raising children, and what we’re truly dealing with when it comes to our daughter’s interaction with math is how she handles difficulties and weak areas of her life.
That’s far more important to me than multiplication tables!
I want her to learn how to find creative and even enjoyable ways to work through tough challenges, to see that there can be joy in the struggle.
So I knew we needed to help her find a way to develop this area.
We try to be pretty conservative with screen time, but along with the weightier matters of life, I also can’t neglect that I have a responsibility as a father to instill a love of Pokémon in my children, so yeah, we bought a Nintendo Switch.
Anyhow, in thinking of creative/fun ways to approach math with our daughter, I realized there’s a game for the Switch called Mathland, and it was only $7, so definitely worth a shot.
The next evening after dinner, I told the kids I had a surprise for them.
I honestly wasn’t sure how this was going to go, but I was happy that our son and daughter both seemed excited when I revealed the new game and explained that I bought it to give them a fun way to do math.
They, of course, thanked me and were eager to play, so I handed the controller over to my daughter, and it began….
Fast forward to three weeks later, and my goodness, I could not have anticipated that my daughter’s feelings toward math would change as much as they have.
Is she suddenly in love with math? Not at all.
No more meltdowns.
Her attitude when doing math has improved.
Her speed at worksheets has increased.
And this affects the overall tone for nearly every school day, since math is a subject we cover daily!
She also wants to play the game and do math every day, so I’d call that a win.
We’ve tried to be intentional about helping her realize that our goal in buying the game is not to simply play a video game but to show her that hard things don’t have to be miserable; they just require extra time and patience, and we can find enjoyable ways to get extra time developing a weak area.
That’s called a life skill right there, folks, and I pray this is the beginning of a new stage of growth for our daughter, one in which she approaches difficulties with less angst, looking for the opportunity to enjoy the challenge and get to work overcoming it.
Thanks for reading!
Founder | Homeschool Hall