Who is a “math expert?” Certainly not me. At best, I have an adversarial relationship with math. At worst, I have been known to cry – the ugly cry; the snotty, tearful, “I HATE THIS STUFF” cry that comes from the soul. How on earth does someone who feels the way I do about math teach their child successfully?
I became a homeschool parent specifically because I had this love-hate relationship with math – I loved hating it. If there is one universal truth that defines parenthood, I think it is the desire to want more for your children than you had yourself. I did not want my children to have to make life or career choices based on their lack of understanding about math.
The first time I saw Math-U-See, I looked at the clean black and white pages and the “short” (25 problems or fewer lessons) and judged it to be “not rigorous enough.” In the intervening 15 years, I have come to realize that we make a huge, mistaken assumption that “rigor” means more – more problems equals a more rigorous curriculum. Thankfully, my exposure to Math-U-See has expunged that mistaken belief from me, and I now understand that more is just that. Math-U-See’s lessons are developmentally appropriate in length, and teach a skill set that I find lacking in other materials.
I am the antithesis of a “math expert,” but Math-U-See has given me the confidence to instruct my children and the ability to learn right beside them. I knew being weak in computational facts made my mathematical experiences more difficult. In short, I knew that having to skip count a multiplication answer, or count on my fingers to get to an addition answer, made everything else more difficult. Math-U-See, with its emphasis on mastery and computational fact understanding as the solid foundation to mathematical learning, helped me see that the root of my math phobia lay in not knowing those facts. The good news is that age is not a factor in learning the basic facts; and Math-U-See, with its integer blocks as the central point of instruction, gives any learner an ability to commit those facts to memory.
As my math knowledge grew, I understood how important understanding operations with fractions was to upper-level math understanding. Twenty years after my sweaty-palms experience of high school algebra, I realized that algebra was difficult because I did not understand fractions thoroughly. Math-U-See’s fraction overlay manipulatives were the key to changing my understanding, and I realize in retrospect that had I had Math-U-See as a middle school student, high school math would not have been the scary proposition it was! I would have been able to make different choices in college. My math phobia would not have stalked me into adulthood!
Math-U-See empowers parents. It gives them the ability to learn alongside their children. It helps them gain greater understanding of how math works; it is no longer a mystical puzzle. You do not have to be a confident mathematician to be a successfully teach math to your children. You CAN be a changed parent who no longer dreads teaching mathematics by using Math-U-See’s tried and true principles. This is a very different way to teach mathematics. It will be as much an encouragement to a math-phobic parent as it is to a student. I will be forever grateful to the family friend who heard of our pre-algebra struggles and brought Math-U-See to my house and plopped it on my kitchen table. I had told her I could not help my daughter, who was having daily meltdowns. She said “Math-U-See is the answer.” How very right she was! I will never put the words “math” and “fun” in the same sentence. The understanding I have gained, and the abilities I have been able to see in my children, have been enormous. Math-U-See makes teaching math to your children possible; experts need not apply.