Until the student achieves the mental maturity for abstract thinking, algebra is a big waste of time at best and roadblock to academic pursuit at worst.
It doesn’t matter how fast your child learns math facts. It doesn’t matter how quickly he races through math workbooks in elementary. It doesn’t matter how much he loves using math in middle school. It doesn’t matter how bright he is, how articulate he is, how quick he is with his figures. He will not do algebra until his brain grows into it.
You can’t rush mental maturity. You can’t force it, you can’t push it along, you can’t lesson plan it. Like physical growth and puberty, each student will reach mental milestones at his own pace, according to a God-ordained timetable that we can’t see. We can expect it in a general time frame, we can guess based on external physical clues, but we just don’t know when that mental growth spurt is going to occur.
So here’s my math education theory: Until the student achieves the mental maturity for abstract thinking, algebra is a big waste of time at best and roadblock to academic pursuit at worst.
Sometime between ages 14 and 16 (and sometimes younger for girls), students experience this mental growth. Up until this point, their learning is very literal. They learn words for what they experience with their own senses. They apply rules for what happens into their own lives. They learn from their five senses, using skills of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. And this is how they learn math — manipulating objects, describing the patterns they experience in nature and time, memorizing math facts that they know by experience hold true in their real world.
High school math really can be easy if we allow our student to learn at his own pace. It really makes all the difference.
This post is an excerpt from my new book Homeschool High School Made Easy, available on Amazon. Get your copy today!
And don’t miss the prequel, Homeschool Made Easy.