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My girls and I had been learning about cubic measurements and geometric solids. Out of a moment of frustration (and normal preteen annoyance with school), one of my kids huffed and said, “Why do I need to know this?” I had a pile of geometric solids in the center of the table, so the kids could feel the shapes as discussed them. We spoke about how many cubic yards it would take to fill the room we were sitting in. But my daughter’s comment couldn’t have been timed any better.

While they were answering their math problems, I had been brainstorming about our flowerbeds and gardens in the yard. We were in the middle of winter and I couldn’t wait to make our yard pretty again. Without having to give it much thought, I began explaining how bulky items like mulch, top soil and gravel are purchased by the cubic yard and how it would be lovely if truck-loads of it were delivered. I told the kids about how we would need to measure the front flower beds to how to convert that to cubic yards in order to know how much to order. We talked about how frustrating it would be order too little or too much.

I love it when our school table discussions connect with life in real time!

This moment in math showed my kids how our seemingly boring math topics actually come into use in daily life which boosted their motivation to keep learning. Sometimes those moments come while shopping (is there ever a more motivating reason to perfect your percentage skills than a big sale at the craft store?!?!), pumping gallons of gas and talking about cost per gallon and cost per mile, or perhaps while measuring walls before buying paint to redecorate their rooms. This math moment gave us a little mid-winter hope for the beautiful things to come in a few more weeks.

Have you found ways to discuss (sometimes boring) school subjects in a real way? DO you get the eye rolls that I sometimes get? Do you see your kids expanding on the discussion or referring back to it when they remember it later?

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Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.