Quick check-in: How are you holding up? I hope that your finding ways to care for yourself and that at least math lessons are a few minutes every day where you have some assistance. Teaching is difficult work, and I truly help that this bit of outsourcing leaves your reserves full for the other stuff I know you have on your plate!

Want to hear a funny story? Great, me too. Actually, this one is a funny story about me, and how I experienced on a very personal level what some of your kids are going through!

You may or may not know that I’ve been filming the lessons for two books this year. I was already working through Advanced Math when I started Saxon 3. As you can imagine, there’s been a whole lot of camera-and-white-board action in my home studio this year (and not always a whole lot of time to think)!

Well of course, Saxon Math 3, thankfully, is a breeze. Glad to know I haven’t lost my elementary school math skills–even though sometimes it feels like I’ve lost so much else of my brain as I’ve gotten older. I know some of my subscribers can relate to that feeling.

Advanced Math, though, got me bad the other day! Now, I love math and have always understood it easily. But this book gets into some tough stuff: Binomial Expansions, Polynomial Equations, Calculations with Logarithms… It’s just, as the book says, advanced. And complex.

Well, as the teacher, I present the lessons, but of course, I don’t sit down and do the problems every day as I would if I were the student. So I’ve been trucking along with the teaching, but the other day, I came upon a lesson that I *really* needed a refresher on before I could successfully teach it!

“Nicole, what on earth? You know this stuff!” I said to myself. And then I realized… “But Nicole, you haven’t been practicing it.”

And that’s when it hit me. This is why we practice. This is why John Saxon used the spiral method, and why students need to hit the concepts over… and over… and over again. When you keep pressing on to new and different lessons without reinforcing the concepts you learned, you’ll lose your grasp on them. And I’ve told parents that yes, doing all 30 problems every day is important, but suddenly I was living the result of what happens when you don’t! 

I’ll tell you: it was humbling. And enlightening. But that’s why I think it was important to realize it on a personal level. Our kids need to be practicing the concepts and doing what the books say to do: all the problems, every lesson.

Now I hope you know me well enough by now to know that I respect your decision-making in the arena of math coursework for YOUR individual student. You’re the boss.

But since this question of “Why 30 Problems?” lands in my inbox all the time, I want to answer it well. So when the realization happened to me, I had to share my A-ha Moment!

I do know the thought of changing up your routine can be intimidating. I understand that it may be something of a battle to get your kids on board with adding in more problems. That’s why I fully endorse making challenges fun! Encourage membership into the 30-5 Club. All I can do is offer bragging rights and a little internet love. But YOU can offer your student whatever it is that you want as a reward for that. Go as big as you want with it.

Also, give them a timetable that works for you (and them). Reward them incrementally: when the make it into the 30-1 Club. And the 30-2 Club. And the 30-3 Club. You get the picture.

Get them there step-by-step and I’m pretty sure that at some point you’ll both end up with an even bigger, intangible reward: A kid who has a solid foundation in math and thus doesn’t dread it. When they understand what’s going on, the fear goes away. The tears go away. And the real fun begins.

Talk to you soon,

Nicole the Math Lady