I want to caution you all to not fall into it, if it is not too late. Parents are avoiding math. Moms and dads, we are homeschooling our children. We are not buying books for them to homeschool themselves but that is exactly what many parents are trying to do with math. Many of you already have children studying algebra and are afraid that you cannot possibly understand how to teach them. To you I say, try your best to learn the material and work with them. While I am mainly speaking to people with younger children please don’t disregard the rest of this message.
You do not need to be gifted at math to be able to help your student through most years of their studies in the subject. If you did not do well in mathematics in school you need study math with your children from the beginning. If you did well in mathematics while you were in school you will find this easier, but no less necessary. You must understand every lesson from the time you start teaching them to count and add so there will be no holes in your understanding of math. You should read the material before your children look at it, so you can know if they will be able to work with it? If you are buying math books which do not sufficiently explain the material for you to read the lessons and be able to teach your children, what makes you think that they can do it on their own?
I would like to share a little secret with you. Even though I am talented with mathematics, I do not remember how to do everything that I ever learned in math. Each time I endeavor to teach a math lesson, I read it myself. If necessary I study other lessons in the book to make sure that I completely understand what must be taught. You should do no less. I have spent months working through math books ahead of my children so that I am ready to teach the new material to them. You can do the same. You definitely should do it if you don’t understand the material ahead of time.
The truth is that this is not a problem unique to mathematics. I have spent most summers studying subjects to teach my children. When I teach classes at co-op I study the subject before the school year begins then I read and study each chapter within one week of actually presenting it to class. Good teachers learn much more about a topic than they teach in class. Homeschool parents should aim to do no less. While there are times when there are so many different things going on that it’s all we can do to keep up with what they need to learn, it is never okay to know less than what they need to learn. If you are homeschooling and doing so many things that you cannot do this, you need to start re-evaluating how you spend your time.