9 Ways Teaching Math is Like Giving Birth

Now that school’s officially in session, I’m really thinking about all the homeschooling moms who are taking on teaching math. I can’t help but see the similarities to something they’ve already done – given birth.

For each, I noticed that…

It’s darn scary.

Giving birth is pretty freaky. Especially if you’ve never seen or done it before. If you have the privilege of seeing another arrive in this world, it makes it easier. (I watched both my sisters and my best friend give birth!)

Teaching math might be a whole new world – and pretty strange if you’ve never done it. Dig back to some good math experiences you had as a child and draw on those.

It’s gonna happen no matter what.

Kids get born. They must. And they do. So you might as well make the best of it and enjoy the process the best you can – with a happy and positive pregnancy!

Kids learn math. They must. And they do. So you might as well make the best of it and encourage them in the best way – with a happy and positive math environment!

You get to choose how you do it!

You can give birth at home, in a hospital, with a doctor, with nobody, with drugs, without drugs… pretty much any way you want.

We’ve got more freedom now that we ever had. In Texas, where Betsy and I live, a homeschool is an independent private school. We get to teach in an unschooling way with lovely things like Math on the Level.

It may not go the way you want,

You’ve got a great plan. You know what to do and how to do it. You’ve taken the classes and my goodness! You’re in hard labor for 32 hours and you’re still at labor station -4.

You might think you have the best curriculum in the world. You’re all prepared. You start teaching an holy cow! Your sweet student couldn’t be less interested in everything you’re presenting.

…so be flexible.

Yes you’re frustrated. Remember the goal – a healthy child. Put away the frustrations and go for the C. Make it up by being a breastfeeding champion.

Likewise, you’re wanting a happy, healthy child. Choose a different curriculum. Let your child choose a different one. Experiment. Make it up by taking the crew to a great museum.

There are professionals for this.

Get a good ob/gyn, doula or midwife. You don’t have to go-it alone.

Get a tutor, enroll in a program like Kumon, join a homeschool co-op. You don’t have to go-it alone.

There is lots of information online.

With sites like Betsy Dewey and MathFour, there’s no reason to go into either blind.

It’s hard,

Giving birth is no piece of cake. However you choose to do it, you’re gonna have pain – in some way. Not to mention the nine months of puberty-like hormone swings!

Teaching math is a challenge. It’s not about conveying information, it’s about following a child’s natural curiosity and pointing out the math that happens along the way. Which means having to recognize math and the learning/curiosity style of another human. Not an easy task.

…and it’s worth it.

AH, the prize! When you are presented with a slimy little mini-human, you can’t help but think how cool it is!

And when a munchkin comes to you and says, “Did you know…” your heart fills with the glee of knowing that she extrapolated to get that – not just memorized it.

Are there more?

Any other similarities that I missed? Share them in the comments!

Betsy Dewey, my cousin, was a huge help and resource when I was pregnant with Daughter. She was pregnant with her second at the same time – that made it even cooler!

Betsy is an advocate of natural home birth and homeschooling. This article is written in honor of her and everyone else that listens to the beat of their family’s drum – and marches to it!

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3 Responses to 9 Ways Teaching Math is Like Giving Birth

    • Thanks so much, Betsy. The feeling is mutual.

      Although your cousin is still having difficulty with the idea of homeschooling. Luckily, your niece’s only two, so we’ve got some time. His argument: “I don’t see why we should homeschool if there are plenty of good private schools out there.”

      I want to do a blended school, with a co-op or part-time private school on 2 or 3 days of the week. I’m going to start now working on private schools I like to get them to change their methods and offer part-time.

      It’ll be an interesting 3 years.

      Congrats on the book!

  1. I clicked a few links and landed here.

    The first thing that crossed my mind in teaching or tutoring math is that we need to guide the students to solve the problem themselves by asking questions providing examples but never to do their homework. Only then, they can experience the “enlightenment”.

    In a similar way, we mothers may be doing a lot of hard work but it is the baby who need to come out from the dark into the light 🙂

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