How on earth am I gonna teach Algebra?!

Back in 1999, I was student teaching in Bismarck, ND. I had both juniors and seniors – and those seniors were only five years younger than me. Kinda scary.

Also scary is finding out that your first unit to teach – for me, William Wordsworth and the Romantics (no, they are not a band, although that would be a pretty great name) – is the material you slept through in college a mere year earlier.

I survived that unit by staying one day ahead of my students. Quickly I realized that even though I only had a day or so’s head start on them, I KNEW MORE, and knew HOW TO LEARN, so poems that took them days to understand I was able to “get” almost instantly.

I have no intention of homeschooling my kids into middle and high school. But if you ARE one of those parents, I have some news for you (and note that I am no expert – so this is just the basics!):

1) Even if you don’t remember calculus and chemistry, you have already learned it (well, most of you. I happily avoided calculus entirely.) and so you already have a head start on your kids.

2) Curriculum for high schoolers is not written for only experts in those subjects. It is written for PARENTS – normal, average people – to be able to teach.

3) Backup is available. Technology has been fantastic for homeschoolers, as there are so many online options. In fact, those aren’t limited to older students – lots of elementary age kids do their math online, too.  You might even opt for an online public school!

4) You can mix and match. Your high schooler could go to some classes at the public school, and do some at home…and maybe even throw in a college class and get a start earning credits.

5) You probably don’t have to figure it all out right now.  If you have younger kids, don’t let the fear of “how do I teach physics?!” keep you from homeschooling now. Just BREATHE, people! One year at a time!

One of the unspoken benefits of homeschooling is that you, the PARENT, relearns a lot of our early education. And that is fun! Learning WITH your child is one of the things that makes homeschool a unique and special environment.  Instead of listening to an “expert” lecture about subject matter (the “expert” who may have slept throught that material in college…), it is a more collaborative effort. Questions can be investigated instead of simply answered. Students take more responsibility for their education instead of just being a consumer.

Of course, this can be your approach to education even if your child attends a traditional school! 

(Disclaimer: I am not a homeschool-or-nothing person. There are great public and private schools out there. I am not anti-school!)


What have you re-learned lately?!


2 thoughts on “How on earth am I gonna teach Algebra?!

  1. I re- learn and learn something new pretty much everyday…not only with my kids’ academics or my job as Head of School, but by reading the Wall Street Journal! But I don’t think anyone should stop learning. Brain elasticity is important.

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