Between a Rock & Hard Place

For the past year my husband has been teaching my oldest daughter, Lela, math. She would wake up at 5:30 a.m. and head downstairs to have her lesson before her father went to work. This arrangement was a blessing to me. I struggled teaching 5th grade math and the thought of having to deal with 6th grade math left me anxious and overwhelmed.

The schedule worked, most of the time. But I saw how hard it was for them to keep consistent with it. When we had late nights, it was cruel to have her up so early. And when he travelled, (sometimes he was gone weeks at a time) well, math didn’t happen for her at all.

I was a quiet observer to what was happening – neither of them could gain momentum and it left my daughter feeling behind and unsure in her studies. I knew I didn’t want that for her, neither of us did. When I evaluated the situation honestly, I saw that we were between a rock and a hard place. I didnt want to teach her math and she wasn’t able to get consistent instruction from her dad.

After many hours of trying to come up with a solution to the problem, I realized (or rather accepted) that I had to be the answer for her right now. Boy did that scare me, because I believe in my core I didn’t have the stuff it would take to teach her correctly.

But I was the answer.

After I put the girls to bed one night, I went and got her text book, found her next lesson and was immediately confronted with a wall. Oh great, fractions, I murmured. My worst mathematical nightmare.

But I had to be the answer.

Immediately, I knew I had to somehow learn the material before teaching her. I went to YouTube, hoping I could find help there. I typed in Saxon Math 6th grade lesson 43 and low and behold a ton of videos popped up (thank you YouTubers!). I got out pen and paper, told myself “you can learn this” and pushed play.


The next morning when Lela woke up, she apologized for missing her 5:30 a.m. math call. I told her I was going to teach so she didn’t have to wake up so early anymore. She gave me a politely puzzled look.  After a deep breath I went on to teach the lesson.

That was about two months ago. My process for teaching her hasn’t changed. I sit at my computer, most times in the evening, and I become the student and then I give it to her.

Being a student, especially in a subject that so intimidated me, has humbled me. Sometimes I think I forget what it is like for my girls as the student. It also affirmed a belief I tell my girls, that they can learn anything. This saying is no longer mere words in our family, it is living truth because they are a front row witness to my 6th grade math education.

With math, she knows we are learning side-by-side. There is something wonderful about this that is shared between the two of us. Her unexpected learning companion helps make math fun. It is now my favorite subject to teach (wow, I can’t believe I just typed those words but it is true).

One of the scariest things about this homeschooling journey is trying to figure out exactly how to teach subjects that you simply don’t know, or even worst, subjects you have a healthy fear of.

What I am learning is the power of humbling myself to be the student alongside my children. There are so many rewards – for you and for them!

What subjects give you the mot pains? What do you enjoy avoiding? How have you handled it in your homeschool?  Please share in the comments section below.

As always,

Stay encouraged & Be Blessed

6 thoughts on “Between a Rock & Hard Place

  1. I was in a similar place when it came to my daughter and learning the writing process except my husband was unable due to his work schedule (military) to assist. I had to find a way to learn how to write well so that I could help our daughter. After some research I found, Institute of Excellence in Writing. I was a God-send for me. I learned first, then taught her. I even ended up teaching a small group in my home and at a small co-op for 3 years. It was a amazing experience to go from having zero confidence in being able to teach something at which I was not good to sharing what I had learned with others.


    1. Love this! It is so true that there are so many unexpected gifts when you have to learn something so you can teach your children. English is my background and I am a huge fan of IEW! So appreciate your comment, very encouraging. Who knows, I may even be able to teach others kids some math😄


  2. Good for you, applying yourself to learn math to teach your daughter! That devotion shows what
    advantage home schoolers often have over students in public school. A high school senior now, I’ve home schooled since fifth grade and I know how difficult this education course can be. After Algebra II, my mom couldn’t teach me math anymore based on her own knowledge of the subject. (She’s more science-minded – biology, chemistry, and the like.) She shares your struggle! If you need any other resources for your oldest daughter in math, I’ve used Khan Academy for the past few years of math instruction, and loved the format and teaching style. Sal Khan, the creator, uses short lecture-style videos to teach math from K-12, and even dabbles in some college material.


    1. Abigail, thank you for this. I am impressed with you and do appreciate the encouragement. Please share with your mom I am so encouraged by her as well. This homeschooling journey can often feel like you are walking (or sometimes crawling) in the dark. So to hear from a person such as yourseld is truly a blessing. Thanks also for the Khan tip. I will give it another go. She tried but got discouraged a bit with the placement test. I will probably have her revisit it during summer. Any other resources you can think of is welcomed. Best of luck to you!


      1. Of course! I’m glad you were encouraged. Like you said, home schooling can feel like a groping in the dark, but so relieving when you know that others have succeeded and you CAN prevail. I returned to the traditional classroom in 9th grade after home schooling through 8th grade, but returned to home school the year after because I missed the flexibility and freedom that home schooling allowed. It had its rough patches, but I’ve never regretted it. I don’t imagine your daughter will either.
        For a source designed to use alongside Saxon Math, have you heard of D.I.V.E. Math? D.I.V.E. Math sells CDs and downloadable curricula that teaches each lesson in a Saxon math course using a chalkboard method similar to Khan Academy. That program, along with my mom’s and friend’s help, brought me through Algebra I and II.


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