Algebra, I Quit!

Algebra, I Quit“I get it. Really, I do. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. In fact, I hate it. Why do I have to do this?” – Here we go again! Every single day it’s the same argument.

My daughter struggles with Algebra. It’s not that she doesn’t understand the lessons, she does. It’s that she finds no purpose in the lessons, thus sees them as a waste of time.  You see, she is a writer. Words are her gift. Arithmetic is merely something which must be endured.

Even as a writer, we have assured her some amount of arithmetic will be necessary. After all, how will she calculate her royalty on published works? How does she plan to file taxes? Does she know how to balance her check book, establish savings, and handle expense accounts?

She concedes these areas and gladly learns them. She sees their purpose and happily proceeds to apply them to life. But, how do you motivate someone who hates variables to see the beauty in linear systems of equations? What example can I give to explain when she will use x minus y divided by a-squared equals z plus f?

It probably doesn’t help that our local librarians have confirmed taking algebra in college might not even be required of her! It seems pre-algebra was all they needed to gain their masters degrees. With a sigh of relief, my daughter came home to confirm her strong belief that Algebra was definitely not needed, much less Algebra II.

Thus, we are re-thinking our game plan. We are going to finish out this year. We’ve agreed she has come this far, she might as well finish off the book. (She has only two chapters left.) However, we’re reducing the amount of work being done each day; which might be a contributing factor in her strong dislike of the subject. We are also going to readjust our game plan for next year. We had thought to proceed directly on to Algebra II; it seemed logical at the time. Instead, we will move on to Geometry. Which – believe it or not – she loves!

Does she need to learn basic algebra? Undoubtably, yes. How much I force upon her is the debate. Perhaps we will return to Algebra II in another year and she’ll be ready to settle into abstractions and variables. Until then, we will definitely be praying over this issue.

Our desire is to encourage a love of learning in our children. We want them to continually seek knowledge and increase in wisdom. My fear is by pushing Algebra too hard, or any other topic, I might ruin their love of learning.

Okay, so maybe we aren’t quitting, just taking a hiatus during the next year. But, I’m not going to let it worry me. Perhaps we’ll try round two in another year. Then again, maybe not…

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all  things have been created through and for him.”
Colossians 1:16

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53 thoughts on “Algebra, I Quit!

  1. Well both of mine love math believe it or not….lol!! My issue is history. I cannot convince my son no matter how hard I try that history is important. He will only do as little as I will let him get away with. I try to entice him, I try to encourage, I try knock sense into him…etc . I mean I go round and round with him. But it comes to the same result…he absolutely hates history. Rest of the subjects he doesn’t have any issue with. I guess it’s just the way his brain is…lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My daughter is exactly as you described. We’re using older Saxon math books that incorporate geometry into the algebra. We were initially planning to go through the “Advanced Mathematics” book (the equivalent of pre-calculus). We had to pull back on that goal and slow down on math. She now does math three times per week, instead of five, which allows her to spread a difficult lesson over two days. If we stay on this schedule, she’ll finish Alg 1, Geometry, Alg2, and a touch of trig by the end of high school.

    She “likes” Saxon math (compared to other programs) because it’s no-nonsense and straight-forward. She just wants a basic math lesson that gets to the point so she can get it over with more quickly. She doesn’t want any colorful photos, stories, or manipulatives slowing her down. Sometimes I find an example of how the complicated math is used in life, but she will say “I’m not going to be a Rocket Scientist!” or whatever the job is. I have used algebra 1 many times in my life for everyday problems, but I can’t really argue with her on the higher math.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unfortunately, aBeka does not do a good job of sharing how these principles apply to everyday life either. I wish they would.

      They ARE straight to the point, however. No frills, cute pictures, manipulatives, or otherwise. They just have a mass of problems to work out (around 40 per day). We’ve cut the work down to help her out, and use online videos to reinforce concepts she might not grasp at first.

      Considering she wants to be a writer, and a librarian, she finds these lessons entirely frustrating. I confess, I really don’t know when she’ll use them. But, as we don’t know what the future holds…

      Overall, she is learning and understanding. She merely dislikes the subject. It’s something to pray about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I’ve tried to make it clear to my daughter that no one likes everything they have to do — in school or in life. I told her even in a person’s “dream job” there are aspects they don’t enjoy or parts that are difficult to learn. That’s just life; we’re not in heaven yet!

        So many things have come easily to my daughter that she gets frustrated when she has to work hard at something. I’ve constantly reaffirmed since she was tiny that as long as she does her best, that’s all that matters. Yet, she seems to think she’s a failure if she doesn’t get an “A” or if it takes a long time for her to master something. Sadly, I think she picked up those perfectionist tendencies from me. We are works in progress, every one of us. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • As a mother of a perfectionist, I feel you. I wonder where the pressure drives from, when all I have asked is that they do their best? Getting a perfect score has never been the goal.

        But, as you said, we’re all a work in progress. May we have grace for one another as we learn.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve told her the purpose of our homeschool is that she learns and retains information, not that she gets the right answers. My daughter seems to logically understand that the grade is not the goal. I can leave her on the couch working with the answer booklet sitting nearby and she will never touch it. (What a wonderful kid!) But, I guess her heart can’t take the idea of not getting 100%. I can’t decide if that’s a human desire for worthiness/praise or a subtle pride problem. (Sorry, I tend to over-analyze things. Lol)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My son (in public school) really struggled with the necessity of higher level math balanced against the investment of time and angst. My husband tutored him through Trig & Math Analysis and found the best source of help was Life of Fred. He found the Fred series at the HEAV convention after looking at all of the (high school) math curricula for books that clearly displayed how math is used rather than rows and rows of abstract disconnected problems. My daughter is a literature and music student, but we will require Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II/Trig because of the usefulness and the thinking skills. (We will be using LOF) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • We just started homeschooling last year when my oldest son started 6th grade. His 5th grade teacher had advised me that he was ready for Pre-Algebra, so after doing some research, I selected Saxon’s pre-algebra curriculum. It was the bane of my son’s existence!!! It took him about 3 hours a day to do the lesson and associated work, leaving him completely miserable. So, we switched to Life of Fred for Algebra this year and he is much, much happier and more engaged. I will add, though, that he has, of his own initiative, begun doing some of the Khan Academy Algebra lessons (free online) that correspond with lessons in LOF that he doesn’t immediately get.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved my son’s Time 4 learning Algebra as it was all about real applications in life when you’d use Algebra . He never questioned it’s purpose, but then again math is his thing… for someone like myself I would have loved that kind of Algebra and see the flaws in why I struggled with it . Funny thing was homeschooling healed all my old wounds about not being good at math as every once in awile he’d get stuck, I’d watch the video and figure out where he went wrong… It’s been a beautful journey.. Now if I could just get him to read and write…

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  5. My kids felt the same way about writing as your daughter does about Algebra. I am always surprised by the number of people who can’t even do basic Algebra at the end of college and have to stay an extra semester to pass the class to graduate! Certainly you need it for statistics, business, medical, science and of course math professions. More importantly, in the changing world it is often necessary to remain financially viable. Many writers and musicians end up with clinical psychology degrees to make ends meet between gigs. Not a tough choice. Algebra, statistics, graph reading may be what keeps you from starving or staying in a dead end job. I have a friend who is a writer in her 60’s who works at a fast food place. She is not happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not particularly worried about her career choice. She’s decided to become a librarian, focusing on her writing on the side. And the librarians are assuring her Algebra will not be necessary.

      My concern is finding balance. I don’t want to push too hard. But, I don’t want her to quit because something is challenging. We’re working on finding middle ground.

      Frankly, I never use algebra in daily life. Neither does my husband. However, as only God knows what her future holds, it’s best to be prepared!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. We haven’t gotten to higher math yet, but I’m not looking forward to it at all. Fractions and decimals are bad enough for my fifth grader, and the third grader whines and complains about these multi-part story problems. Seems nearly every day I question my decision to homeschool, but we keep plugging along, one day at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We are not in the higher math yet, but math is a struggle for one of my children who is on the ADHD spectrum. I struggle EVERYDAY with basic math so I can’t even imagine what lies ahead…but I am being joyful in what we do accomplish and as I try to understand his inability to comprehend this subject. We use Math-U-See for the first 3 books then move to Teaching Textbooks. Then I adjust based on each child’s learning style. I plan to encourage them to learn even at the higher math level, but a curriculum that works with how they learn so they won’t struggle as much…hopefully!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think it is important to encourage them to be part of the planning. If she took initiative and researched what others need for a masters it should be respected. What is started should be finished but if heavy math isn’t needed then heavy math should be forgotten.
    My daughter starts highschool next year. The plan is to take business and practical math that will follow her career choice and help her function through life.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As a math teacher who absolutely loves all things Math…why was always the question kids had. Honestly…I’ve never used Algebra outside of graduate courses or in my career. You wont need it for day to day. However…if she plans on attending college, College Algebra is a required course for everyone. With kids completely disinterested in Algebra, I explain that it just helps them learn to problem solve, to think in a linear pattern, and to make certain brain connections. It is needed so that they can get through college. Maybe that will help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is what I told her. But, she spoke to several people already in the field she’s pursuing who mentioned NOT needing Algebra, merely pre-Algebra.

      I think we need to do a little more research and speak to a few colleges before setting any decisions in stone. For now, here is where we’re at. Lots of prayer and moving forward slowly!

      Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂


      • What type of college is she looking at? SAT AND ACT test thru algebra 2. College tests to verify student is performing at the level not needing remedial courses test math thru alg 2, reading and writing. Encourage her to do her research and maybe speak with admissions counselors and report back to you in writing. As her mom I would be confident telling her that if she could prove in writing that she did not need this for college that you could forego it. (Not going to happen if attending college.)

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is the exact argument I used to have with my Mom when I was in high school. She had me doing Saxon Algebra, and I remember just loathing every single second of it. Instead of doing Algebra 2 the next year, I also moved onto Geometry, which I preferred. After that, we dropped math altogether so I could focus on English courses more, since I did not plan to have a career that would need high level math, but instead required knowledge of English and writing.

    Liked by 1 person

      • After much thought on the matter I decided not to attend college, but to work to help support my Mom. I still do not plan to attend college full-time anytime soon.
        Most people tend to look down upon me due to this education choice, but my Mom never gave me any grief over it, I finished a rigorous homeschooling program with a 3.8 GPA, and I am very happy being out and about in the work world!
        If I were to major in something, I would probably major in either English (The University of MD does not require advanced math for that major) or early childhood education (and the highest level of math needed for that is geometry!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s commendable that you chose to help out your mother. College is not for everyone, nor is it necessary right out the high school gate.

        Frankly, it does not concern me if my children choose not to attend college. College is not the only way, nor always the best way.

        Thanks for sharing your story!

        Liked by 1 person

      • My thoughts exactly on needing Calculus to teach Pre-K kids….I used to work as a teacher’s aide at a private elementary school and the workload that the teachers were assigning these children was shocking to me. This included mandatory iPad time to work on learning to read and write.
        Also, thank you for your kind words and understanding about my choices for not going to college at this point. I am considering possibly taking a course or two at a local community college next fall in Art and English. But you are right–college is not the best choice for everyone! If only more people understood that it is not the only route to take.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Upon looking back at the early childhood education courses, I just noticed that Calculus is now a requirement. It was not the last time I looked (which was a little while ago). Oh well.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. We have just started Algebra 1 this year with my eldest son also and he is finding the load heavy compared to previous years. He is good at maths but its taking a long time to work through the lessons. Our opinion though is that he needs to learn to persevere and push through a task that he is not thrilled about – just as adults in a work situation will have components of their job they may dislike but have to get done anyway. Also, as you’ve already stated for your daughter, who knows where and what God has for him in the future? We are trying to prepare him on every front. His current career choice as all the stats now say may be only one of several that he is likely to move through as an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Higher math classes are non-negotiable in our house, but then again, I majored in math and taught it for years. I tell my kids that they may not use algebraic equations in their career, but the process they learn of tackling problems that seem overwhelming by breaking it into steps and proceeding according to the rules they’ve learned is good mental training that will help them tackle other problems in life. Who knows, they might end up wanting a job that requires advanced math and I want them to have that option. As a child, I was awed to see my dad use trigonometry on a daily basis to chart our course as we sailed the world; I grew up seeing advanced math as something that everyone should know in order to be able to find their way around; so I’m definitely biased toward learning upper level math.
    As far as my college career, it seemed that almost every major at my alma mater required a year of math. My university considered anything beneath calculus to be remedial math; those who had to start at lower level math classes had to pay to do so but the courses didn’t actually count towards graduation. Therefore, like it or not, my kids will take up through at least beginning calculus.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. By the time I was in 12th grade I was taking Calculus – and couldn’t understand it and ended up dropping it. I get shivers when I think about sines and cosines. I think where you are is where we’ll be in a few years. My oldest is a writer and at 10 is working on getting a short story published and hates math. BUT, I think I will still push her to complete as much math as she can throughout high school. In my opinion, it’s not only the MATH that’s learned, but the life lesson of struggling through something you see no point in and doing your best anyway. Yeah, I dropped Calculus, but I struggled through a semester and gave it my all -hours and hours with the teacher before and after school (poor woman) – before we both admitted defeat. Of course it started all over again in college (although I took statistics instead of Calc), but by then I had more resources to help me through it. You never know where life will lead her anyway. I never used higher level math outside of school, but the knowledge may come in very handy with homework and/or homeschooling. Lol, after having said all that, I may change my mind by the time she is in High School. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Former high school math teacher here who, much to my surprise, had a child who hated math. Luckily, she’s still in elementary so I’ve been able to adjust my approach and incorporate Life of Fred and lots of games. In our state, all high school students must have a math every year of high school. So, my oldest will be starting Calculus next year. Now, I will admit that I never used Calculus outside of school, but it always cracks me up when people say they never used Algebra after school. Really? Did you never think “Hmmm, I have 2 eggs. I need 6 for this recipe. How many more do I need?” (2 + x = 6) or “I really want this $10 shirt. It is on sale for 20% off. What will it cost me?” [$10-($10*.2) = x) and don’t get me started on tax and tips. Now, the most commonly used math is probably Geometry…especially if you’ve ever owned a house. Any calculation for paint or carpet uses Geometry. One other thing I noticed from teaching — there are Algebra people and there are Geometry people. Generally, if you like one, then you dislike the other. So, maybe your daughter will love Geometry. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think most people use basic geometry and algebra in daily living. I wonder, however, how often people need advanced algebra. It would be interesting to take a survey.

      I, too, hope she’ll enjoy geometry. Up to this point, she has. Here’s hoping!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I doubt anyone other than engineers or scientists would use advanced algebra outside of school. I think the most benefit of advanced algebra has been conceptually. When the rare occasion for advanced math came up, it helped me in understanding. But, yeah, it’s probably not going to be used. My son is in dual enrollment and I have considered him taking a business math class instead of Calculus. It would be more beneficial to him, since he isn’t really interested in any STEM field.

        Liked by 1 person

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