Teaching the Subjects You Never Liked

Having to teach your least favorite subjects isn't always fun, but can be a learning experience for both teacher and student.

By Kristen Kindoll


Teaching the Subjects You Never Liked

Just as Shakespeare’s dramas are about triumph and tragedy, a hero and a villain can be found in every story in literature and history. It is these opposing forces that can often be the most maddening or fascinating. In theory, a homeschooling parent should always embrace each subject, but even with the best intentions, there lurks a menacing foe. The topics you bitterly detested in school can plague even the most committed homeschooling parent. Yet, it is within this black mire and muck of despair that the true insight in learning begins.

My Least Favorite Subjects

Elementary math made me physically ill. My mind would get lost in the mystery of the numbers; there was no map to help me find the solution to a word problem or figure out at what time those two trains speeding down the tracks would meet. My parents tried to make math appealing. However, I was firmly convinced that no amount of cherry or even apple pie would make me like working with fractions.

History is another subject that proved to be of little interest or appeal. I thought the time lines and battles we discussed were a part of the past and had no relevancy to my present. It didn’t help that every year our school followed the same curriculum format; the year started with a discussion of the explorers and ended with lessons involving the United States right before the Civil War. 

Change Your Way of Thinking

It was with trepidation that I approached the task of teaching math and history. I didn’t want to pass on my personal loathing, but I wasn’t looking forward to teaching these topics either. I decided to put a determined, but careful toe, in those subjects' waters, and decided to attack them from a different perspective.

When I had to teach the areas in math that I found the most difficult, I decided not to teach it how I was taught, but how I would have liked to learn the topic. I began to speak in a language that didn’t need a translator or dictionary.  It was through imparting my knowledge that I began to feel confident in the material. When my child struggled, I could recognize his frustration. As I taught, I began to learn more. I didn't have to hide my lack of mathematical knowledge. With more confidence, my reasoning began to flourish from its long dormancy.

My success with math led me to be more daring with history. I began with the blank spots, where I had little knowledge, and filled in the time. Incorporating field trips and historical novels made the events from the past more real and often poignant. I dusted off the past and found that it did mean something to me in the present. Understanding where you came from, you can get your bearings better for the future.

While I may not find myself in love with math and history, my appreciation has blossomed into a beautiful bouquet.  The best way to conquer your dislike is sometimes to face the dreaded subject, armed with a trusty textbook and a open mind.

Lesson Plans

Mathematics Alive

This lesson plan has students find the relationship between mathematics and architectural design. The chance to design blueprints for a building are involved. This is a creative way to have students explore mathematics.

Formulated Fun

Uses formulas to analyze and solve problems. Children compare and contrast the speed of walking versus running. This is a way for students to be active while solving math problems.

Harriet Tubman

This lesson plan has students write an essay. They also make impressionistic pictures of this key figure in the Underground Railroad.

Jazz Music, dance and poetry

These three topics are all combined to create an original poem. The music and dance movements are used as inspiration, but also way to introduce the particular style of art.

Homeschooling Guide

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Kristen Kindoll