One Last Push Before Christmas Break

As 2018 winds down and Christmas break approaches, I find that we are in a good space with homeschooling, Emily and I. She gets stressed still, mainly over math, but it is improving.

This morning there were tears. When I asked her why she was so upset she said, “I feel DUMB when I’m doing math, and I don’t like that feeling.”

Boy, can I relate to that! Memories of struggling over multiplication, division, fractions and more still come to the surface as we delve into 6th grade math. It has helped me realize that, thanks to my own pain points in math, I am the perfect teacher for her to have. I may not know the terminology at times, I may wave my arms in the air like I did today and tell her, “When multiplying 3-4 digit numbers you add another zero with each line. I don’t know WHY, I just know that you do.”

I’m not an expert at it, but like my husband’s struggles with reading at an early age made him the perfect teacher for Emily when she was struggling to read, so do my struggles with math.

Now, as the money manager of the house, I’m determined to not only get those basics down pat, but to give her the tools I was never given, NOW, so that she doesn’t have to struggle to learn them later.

How to create and maintain a budget. How to understand an amortization table (which horrified her by the way when I explained how a majority of the interest is charged in the first few years of the home loan) and the basic costs of running a household and living without debt is done.

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to me that she learn. These lessons I wasn’t even finished learning while I raised my eldest child, I know them now and I am determined to pass them on.

Each day we review math basics. Just a simple three minute timed test in which she answers as many questions as she can in addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Perfectionist that she is, it is a rare day when I catch her making a single mistake. This is a good thing, because it means that all she needs to work on is improving her time and efficiency, the accuracy is already there!

Three days per week she works on Logic and Word Problems and once per week she completes a full page of Pre-Algebra.

“I still hate math,” she tells me, and I smile and nod. I felt the same way for a very, VERY long time. Now I enjoy the numbers, even if my math skills haven’t gone much past the basic equations side of things. I’ll never be a great mathematician, but I do enjoy seeing those numbers grow, especially when I am adding up our savings!

Math As a Life Skill

As we reviewed our household budget today I pointed to different parts of it, “See here, this is our clothing budget for the year.”

Em leaned in, “Wow, $1200? That’s a lot!”

“Well, that’s for all of us, you, me, Daddy, Little Miss and Gramps. Let’s see how we did for the year.”

I switched over to my report in Quicken. “Looks like we came in $300 higher than I expected. So I’ll adjust the budget accordingly so going forward we have enough.” I changed the number on the spreadsheet to $1,500.

I turned back to her, “One year I had estimated we would spend $3,000 on car repairs and it came in at $4,600. That’s $1,600 of OUCH we were not prepared for. And that is what a budget does, it protects you from the ouches. If you can cushion for them, like I do by using the bank account that has the Non-Monthly Expenses in it, then the financial road in front of you is much smoother.”

Or as I later explained, “Shit happens. And it is a lot less painful if you have some money in a slush fund to handle it.”

We are reading:

This is a great book which I highly recommend to everyone, not just kids!

Last week, we had a bit of a kerfluffle as she pushed again for a cell phone, something she has zero need for. We have a house phone, and otherwise she is always with me or my husband. When she is sixteen she will need one. Until then? Nope.

This week, however, was vindication of sorts. As we moved through the budget she pointed to the entry for cell phones, “Wait, is that how much you pay for your and Daddy’s cell phones?!”

The amount was $106.00. “Yep, Daddy’s is fifty-something a month and mine is forty-something. At some point, we will get on the same plan and hopefully reduce our costs, but right now that $106 is for just two phones.”

“No wonder you said ‘no’!” She said staring at the amount, “That’s really expensive!” And what she said next made me smile, “Okay, so when I turn sixteen I’m going to really need a job to pay for all of this stuff!”

Money don’t grow on trees
We got bills to pay, we got mouths to feed
There ain’t nothing in this world for free

And with that, I’m off to listen to Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.”

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