High School Math Blues

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. ~ Albert Einstein

Does your highschool child breeze through math or do they struggle and need help at every turn? I have noticed recently that many highschoolers seem to struggle with secondary math. Even those who were very strong in math in elementary school often found themselves in a quandry in high school. This very same thing happened to me.

As a child, I was strong in math during elementary school. I went to Jr. High school and seemed to get most of Pre-Algebra, but the cracks really were beginning then. Ninth grade math found me with bigger cracks, and by mid term, the cracks were so big I was falling through them. I had a terrible Algebra I teacher – he would put a few problems on the board and then sit down and tell us to work quietly. I got NOTHING from that class. My parents transferred me to a private school before the new year. It was amazing, but the private school was using the same book and was in the same chapter that we were at the public school. The difference soon became obvious that I had a TOTALLY different teacher. My new teacher spent time with us. Each child was asked if they understood the section, and time was taken to make sure that we were able to complete the assignments. It wasn’t long before my F became an A.

Same book – same chapter. What was the difference?

Some may say it was all the teacher – and to some degree it was. Yet, I believe it was the approach the teacher took. She presented each new concept in a straightforward manner. She explained it in as few terms as possible. In essence, she streamlined it! She made sure we understood through a mastery learning approach. It completely changed my life. If it wasn’t for that teacher – teaching that way – I would not be where I am today. She taught me math so well, and made such a huge difference that even then I wanted to share that experience with others who may have had the same struggle.

I loved math so much after her class, that I went on to complete a Calculus course in high school, and then to minor in math in college. Now, every week I tutor students who are struggling in math, who are in the same situation I was in at the public school. I now have the opportunity to do what my great math teacher did. I guess you could say, I am “paying it forward.” I love it – and am reminded every day of what a privilege it is to change these student’s lives.

My recommendation for homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled parents is to pay attention to your children. Notice when they seem to be struggling, and get them the help they need. It may take a completely different way of schooling – or it may just take some extra help. But, you just may be changing their lives forever.


Jamie Gaddy is a homeschooling mother of six children. She taught elementary education in a private school for 14 years before realizing how fulfilling homeschooling was. Jamie also tutors students in math and teaches several college level teacher courses. You can visit her website at Online Education for Kids.

avatar Jamie Gaddy (2 Posts)

I am a homeschooling mother of six children. I had taught elementary education in a private school for 14 years before realizing how fulfilling homeschooling was. I also enjoy tutoring students in math, and teaching several college level teacher courses. I believe that homeschooling is an adventure - and there are no perfect answers for the right way to do it!


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