5 Tips for Pulling Back the Reins in Your Homeschool

For our family, home-education has been a beautiful journey in more ways than just learning itself.  One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is the opportunity to create an environment where mastery is at the heart of our learning.

However, a common issued that we’ve experience in our own home is what to do when a child isn’t mastering key concepts thus hindering progress in a particular subject (or subjects).  Do we forge ahead or pull the reins?



Back in November, Curly was struggling with multiple digit multiplication.  He had successfully worked through the fact families using Math U See (which is a wonderful curriculum!). I honestly felt I was giving him plenty of opportunity to practice.

Boy, was I wrong.

Gone were the “aha” moments of learning.  Now, math was a dreaded, tear-inducing agent.  So, here’s what I did.










Yes, we stopped doing bookwork and learning new concepts while I scoured the internet for resources and developed an action plan.  Curly worked on remedial multiplication worksheets.  Thank you Math U See worksheet generator! (Can you tell I’m a fan?)


That’s my fancy way to say just think about where its all started to unravel.  For Curly, it was the 6-9 multiplication families that did him in.

Go Back.

I know, I just stated the root of the issue in my previous point.  But to be certain, I went back to the zero and retaught two fact families per week from that starting point.

Involve More than One Pathway.

I was aware of the importance of teaching a child according to their learning style (auditory, visual, & kinesthetic).  But thanks to an article at All About Learning Press, I learned that children learn more when they are taught using all the pathways.

To incorporate this newly found scientific find I developed a plan to help Curly using the three pathways. (*All links to theses resources will be included at the end of this post)

  1. Times to Remember by Sandra J Warren.  This book is available on Amazon, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to fork over $18.  We snagged the ebook copy on iTunes for free (it comes pre-loaded with the song for each fact family)
  2. Math War card game. Almost like ” I Declare War”, each player has to give the answer to the multiplication problem on their card.  Highest answer wins.
  3. Audio CD, no fluff here. Just math facts being sung to pretty simple background music.
  4. iPad app called My Math App (free)-  This can be used for all operations (multiplication, addition, division & subtraction) and can be customized to focus on a specific fact family or a mix.  You can also select the number of questions.
  5. We continued to use our Math U See manipulatives to help Curly visualize the patterns that occur in multiplication





Praise the Progress

I make a big deal when Curly answers a question correctly and seeing the smile that spreads across his face is a reward in itself.

We returned to book work two weeks ago.  Although, there was some initial anxiety, Curly sailed through his lesson! If that wasn’t enough to make this momma smile, he said “I like math.” Which caused a smile to spread across my face and my heart to be overjoyed!


Resource List

The SMI Method All About Learning Press

Times To Remember by Sandra J. Warren {this ebook is now $4.99, not free but definitely better than $18 :-)}

Audio Memory Song & Workbook

My Math App

Math U See

Now it’s your turn.  Tell me about a time you had to pull the reins back.  How did you handle it? What did you do?

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  1. Tiffany,
    Thanks for sharing your success story! The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that you are never a slave to a curriculum, and you are free to take more time or take a detour.
    We often had to spend extra effort on learning something like math facts. With my wiggly boys, activity was involved in much of their learning. Some of the math drill activities that we did were:
    1. Flash Cards – an old stand by (just keep it short, so that it can be more intense)
    2. Speed tests – Your student works a sheet of math fact problems (usually focused on a group of facts like “x 6” or “x 9”. A timer is set to count how long it takes. Your student is trying to beat his last time. These can be worked once, twice, or three times a day.
    3. Pairing Math drill with throwing a ball: I call out a math problem…What is 8 X 9, then throw the ball to my student. He catches the ball and tries to give me the answer quickly. We try to keep it going rapidly. If he misses an answer, I remind him , he says it…”72″ and he throws the ball back to me. I will be sure to ask him again for the problem that he doesn’t know, several times more, sometimes in a row. The “teacher” in the game doesn’t have to be me. It can be an older sibling.
    4. Math-It- was our favorite. Math facts were learned with hands-on games. Children take a deep breath, hold it, and are motivated to get all their answers laid down on the card before breathing again.

    One of my wiggly boys is now an electrical engineer and another is a mechanical engineer. There was a lot of math in those degrees. Our only choice was to work with the wiggle. Real learning power comes when you combine all three learning pathways with simultaneous multisensory instruction -auditory, visual, and kinetic (wiggle).

    • Hello Julie!
      Thank you for sharing these activities. I plan on trying pairing a math drill with throwing a ball, what a great way to mix fun and learning. And I loved what you said about working with the wiggle….so true!

  2. This is such a good reminder for me! My little man struggles with Math, especially when it’s something new. Sometimes it’s that he’d rather do the stuff he already knows because it’s easy, and other times he truly is struggling with the new concept. I have to remind myself that I am the same way with certain things, and we do the same thing. We stop, go back to the basics and figure out what went wrong.

    • Hi Alison,
      I’m glad you found it helpful. It definitely fosters compassion (and is humbling) when we think and remember our own weaknesses, doesn’t it?

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