Our Struggle with Math…is REAL

Our struggle with math is real…or at least it WAS real.

One of the things we were most excited about regarding homeschooling was math.  The Penguin thinks logically and has always found math to be quite easy.  She was always ahead and frequently had to wait until everyone else caught up.  The freedom to allow her to go at her blazing pace was so exciting!

Unfortunately, no one prepared me for the damage the spiral approach would do to my math-loving child.

We chose Saxon math because everywhere I looked, Saxon was the preferred math program for a child gifted in mathematics.  We did the placement test.  After having finished 3rd grade, she placed at the 7/6 level.  I was a bit shocked by that.  I sat down and went over the placement tests with her.  She had figured out how to solve problems she’d never seen before.  While I was thrilled, a warning was being shouted in the back of my head.  My mom alarm was sounding.  We decided to opt for 6/5 so as not to push her too hard.

Now, please do not misunderstand me, I am not saying Saxon is a bad math program.  Not at all.  Not even a little bit.  What I am saying is that Saxon was a horrible math program for The Penguin.  The spiral approach and my very perfectionist, very methodical, very mastery-oriented learner did not mix.  They were oil and water.

My biggest mistake?  I didn’t change it.  I had her keep going.  I had her push through.  Tears were shed.  Teeth were gnashed.  Frustrations mounted.  In the end, my child that loved math – my child that said math was her favorite subject – my child that was so very confident when tackling anything math related – HATED math.  HATED it.

When we’d finished her fourth grade year and had our annual evaluation, the teacher evaluating her work confided in me that she hated the spiral approach to math and then praised The Penguin for doing so very well.  Unfortunately, the damage was done and The Penguin’s confidence shattered.

So, for 5th grade, I went with a mastery based math program.  We decided upon the highly reviewed Rod & Staff curriculum.  I looked it over.  I knew it would be easy for her.  Almost too easy.  I; however, liked that it included frequent word problems that would challenge her while the rest of the program would…well…not challenge her at all.

She breezed through math last year.  While it was a welcome break for her, I felt – yet again – like I had failed her.  I had selected a math program that was too easy.  She really didn’t learn anything new.  I was ready to switch back to Saxon and give it another go…

And then I found LifePacs.  Glory!  Hallelujah!  LIFEPACS!  I could sing the praises of Alpha Omega Publications and their math LifePacs curriculum for days…weeks…months…YEARS!


I had her take the assessment tests and based upon the results, we selected four units from their 5th grade math curriculum with which to start.  I ordered those units and she asked to start them as soon as they arrived.  She absolutely loved them…and so did I!

She has since completed those four units and just began the first unit of 6th grade.  She feels far more confident.  She is being challenged.  The layout is methodical and makes sense to her.  In short, she loves math again.  And I am so thankful.

About Nikki

I’m just a child of God, wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, chef, maid, chauffeur, and (somehow) teacher taking this homeschooling adventure one day at a time. I’m lucky enough to be married to my best friend. We have two children: the Boy (who is in college studying to become a computer programmer) and the Penguin (my partner in homeschooling crime).

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