Learning Math at Home

How to Learn Math at Home

How to learn Math at home

All the mathematics I have ever learned I learned at home. That’s after a decade of high school and university science programs in which I struggled almost daily to improve. I was absolutely not born to be good at Math, it simply was required for the programs I wanted to study. In fact, I had to take Math 11 twice. I went on to complete Algebra, Linear Algebra, and Precalculus 12.  I completed at least 18 credit hours of post-secondary Mathematics including calculus, differential equations, experimental design, statistics, quantitative research methods, and genetics. All of these courses required my very best effort just to obtain modest grades. I truly identified with an advertising slogan on TV, “Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down”. Although I failed my first major Math class, my last math class scored an A+ with a congratulatory call from the professor. How did I do that?

Throughout those years was attending a school, I can say this with confidence: I never understood a single thing a Math teacher said--about Math at leastI was clueless in every class, every time. The best I was able to do in class was to make a record of what I needed to learn. Eventually, I just took notes on paper if necessary but mostly in the margins of my text, circling and starring things for future reference.

At home, I would open the text and find the example problem. I would write out the example problem in my notebook. Then I would try to solve it. When I got stuck I would formulate my question. What do you do right here? Then I would look back at the text to find the answer to my question. Armed with the new answer, I would restart the problem on a new page. When I had mastered the example questions I would do all the examples and then the problem sets. After each problem, I would look up the answer, and if it was wrong I would do it again until I got it right. I knew I had mastered the questions when I could invent my own problem and solve it with confidence, using some mathematical proof to verify my solution.

So here are the steps I used

  1. Attempt a problem I didn’t know how to do, but for which I did have a solution.
  2. Get stuck and formulate a question.
  3. Find the answer to my question in the available solution. Sometimes at this stage, it is helpful or even necessary to find extra help.
  4. Master the example. Try more examples.
  5. Find a problem set with answers.
  6. Attempt each problem and check the answers. Re-do until the answer was correct.
  7. Mastery is when you can create your own problems and solve them.

I have a lot more to say about how to learn Math but it will have to wait for future newsletters.

Happy Learning

Dates and Resources

Leaving Money on the Table

Everyone is aware of HCOS funding for learning resources. If for any reason you don't need all of it, there's nothing wrong with leaving it for others. It's a shared table and HCOS counts on the fact that few people spend every dime in their accounts. That said, it's wise to be deliberate about it, rather than missing the deadlines. My classroom experience matches my HCOS experience: conclude spending for the current year by the end of March. That leaves room for error and emergencies. Spend only what you need and leave the rest, but don't just procrastinate past the deadline. That's not good for learners.

  1. Recommended date to conclude spending: March 30
  2. Funding opens for 2019-2020 school year: approx. April 30
  3. Deadline for purchasing outside of Canada: May 1
  4. Deadline for all resource purchasing: May 15
  5. Purchasing Department shutdown: May 15

Note also: This is the last year for internet reimbursements.

These are some of your best days

Make hay while the sun shines! The problem is recognizing that the sun is shining. If you are not facing any immediate travel or circumstances likely to affect learning, then the sun is shining. Winter is very sunny so make lots of hay. Soon it will be spring and the children will want to be outside. These next two months are some of the best for learning. 

Dates and Links:  

February 22 Term Two cutoff for submissions to SeeSaw

Feb 22 to March 11: Rob Focussed on Report Cards

March 18- 29 Spring Break

April 19-22 Easter

April 23 to 30 CHEC (Convention in Kelowna)


You may be interested in my recommended resources page. I only add to these resources when I see a learner has done well using it within the BC curriculum. I hope to add a few more links this year.

 Rob Wahl recommended resources