It’s A Break, Not A Break-Up

Sometimes we homeschool mamas don’t know when to make changes. Or we make too many changes and never settle on any one curriculum. I tend to fall in the former category. I find what works and we shall never deviate from that thing until Jesus comes back, Amen.


I’ve recently come to the conclusion that sometimes just because something is working doesn’t mean it’s what is best for my kids At That Moment.

We’ve done Math-U-See since Sam and Ian were in kindergarten. It works. I get it. They get it (usually). And even though long division reduced us all to tears this year, it wasn’t the fault of the curriculum. It’s because long division is straight from the pits of hell and it would stink in any curriculum.

That’s in the Bible, I’m sure of it.

This September, when we revamped our schedule, Andrew took over the checking of math homework. I still did the “teaching” (aka “sliding the video into my laptop and hitting play”) but Andrew was going to keep a closer eye on our progress. Because everyone’s motivation, including my own, was slipping.

He observed our progress for a few days and then we sat down for a meeting. We asked: What’s working? What isn’t? At first, we thought maybe the curriculum wasn’t a good fit. But more research and more study revealed that we were still very satisfied with the curriculum.

Were our kids just lazy? Had we burned them out on math forever by schooling year round?

We dropped to our knees and looked up to the skies and asked, “WHY, OH, WHY WON’T THEY CARE MORE ABOUT THEIR MATH SCORES??????”

Or maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I know there was angst.

We thrashed about a bit more until we finally hit on a solution. We’re going to take a break. Not from math altogether. But Sam and Ian are going to get a respite after five books of Math-U-See. They’re going to do a “review period” with Teaching Textbooks.


They think it’s for funsies because it’s on the computer. I think it’s a vacation because we don’t have to grade their work.ย And yet, secretly, we’re reinforcing all those fifth grade math facts that are so important and yet so painful.

We’ve all agreed that, unless we change our minds again, this isn’t a break-up. The twins will go right back to Math-U-See when they finish this little interlude with Teaching Textbooks. Math-U-See is still what works for our family. But we think it will work even better for us after we take a break.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, let’s all say it together because I know you’ve been thinking it since you saw the title: WE WERE ONNN A BREAK!!!!

Here’s hoping this isn’t our own mathematical version of Ross and Rachel…





  1. I love you. Absolutely. Utterly. You are a star. Here’s to all the blessings that come when there is a break. Not a break up.

  2. Hi! I have recently started following you after a friend shared this post:
    As a parenting educator I thought it was an excellent piece of writing and was so glad that you had written it!

    Anyway, my first thought after chuckling over your title was have you tried either IXL (which you have to pay for) or Khan Academy? Both have a child led math programme that is computer based. Khan is fantastic but the kids have to do IXL for school (not so good but there you go!) but both enable the children to go at their own pace, mark it for you and have a challenge aspect to it too. Khan even gives videos explaining it if you are stuck.

    Either way, thank you for sharing your lives with us! Have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Anita Veyera says:

    I literally JUST had a conversation with my husband not 1 minute before read this post about Math-U-See and how you’ve pointed me to its language-arts equivalents with AAR/AAS, etc. (Cue Twilight Zone theme)
    Am currently homeschooling our oldest, 5 1/2, who has severe speech and language processing disabilities. Biggest challenge of my life, no contest. Will soon begin school with his little sister, also special needs, in a few weeks.
    THANK YOU for passing along curriculum advice — as well as awesome Mommy advice! Those of us floating in the black of the night sea need a bouy to guide us to The LightHouse. (Consider that an Advent hug from a brand new blog reader.)

  4. We needed to do the exact same thing last year after six years with our beloved Math-U-See. We’re on year two of Teaching Textbooks for the third grade and up crowd and my motivation to return to our roots is slipping away… I do think MUS a more solid curriculum than TT, but the convenience! Oh, the convenience…. Math is being done, and happily and painlessly at that. It’s a hard thing to leave behind.

  5. Fifth grade math and long division reduced me to tears. I still remember!

  6. Lora Lynn Fanning says:

    Louise – Yep, I’ve done IXL. It didn’t catch on with my gang. We have Khan but we haven’t tried it. Thanks for the tips! (And thank you for the kind words!)

  7. Lora Lynn Fanning says:

    Anita – So glad to hear you find all this rambling helpful! Best of luck to you as you add Student #2! I know you can do it! Thank you for the kind words!

  8. Jennifer Ott says:

    We did the same thing this year; my kiddos finished their entire year’s worth of curriculum (we use Horizons) in 3 months, and I was DONE with grading their work. TT to the rescue. They are doing two lessons a day and are in books at least a year ahead of their grade-level, but at least math is getting done. We are dreading an impending move to Africa and the possible end to the opportunity to use TT…

  9. Are you saying that 5th grade long division is harder than 4th grade long division? Or maybe we are already learning 5th grade levels in the 4th grade curriculum we are using (Singapore Mathematics). I’m hoping it doesn’t get any harder than it already is for my kids. I have also seriously thought about changing to a different curriculum, but haven’t made that step yet.

  10. Lora Lynn Fanning says:

    Suanna – I think long division is hard no matter what the grade. MUS does their grades weird, so I’m not sure what grade level the division book is considered. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. There’s a point in just about every MUS textbook where *many* kids struggle. You can google the lesson number, check in w/message boards, etc. for some validation that your kids are at that sticky spot. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We do little breaks when we hit that point (Khan Academy, Timez Attack, Marilyn Burns books, cribbage, yahtzee, etc.) and then come back & tackle it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. For all of you struggling with long division — have you heard of “Don’t Make Silly Boo-boos” ? The first letters stand for the process, which keeps being repeated — Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring down. Of course, you might need to explain the word “boo-boo”!

  13. Teaching Textbooks! Anything you can change an image from a gorilla, to a tank, to a seal cannot be bad. Lol! In all seriousness we switched from Abeka to Teaching textbooks because my oldest simply needed a change and I needed the extra try with my Kindergartener. It has been one of the best changes we have ever made by far.


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