Rejoicing over Fractions? Not so much…


Jake and Caleb are learning about equivalent fractions in math right now in our Happy Blue School. The thing is though; learning how to convert fractions into equivalent formats in order to add or subtract has not been a piece of cake for either of them. Determining fraction equivalents involves a lot of steps. And once the equivalent fractions have finally been figured, then another set of steps are required for reaching the final sum or difference.

Jake doesn’t understand why there are so many steps needed to achieve one answer!

Isn’t that just the way life is sometimes?

Jake’s anxiety increases when he doesn’t understand something. Tears of frustration fall. And rather than stick it out and persevere with learning something that requires more thinking and more steps, Jake just wants to quit and move on to something else that’s easier or makes more sense to him.

I knew it was going to be a tough math class today. So rather than do the next lesson in the math book, I had the boys pull out their white boards and we went through the equivalent fraction process step-by-step in a game-like format. At least I tried to make it a little more fun, but even with my creative attempts, the process was still a challenge.

Did we rejoice throughout that 45 minute period?

Not so much.

However, what did we do? We stuck with it; over and over and over again. Learning something like equivalent fractions may not be a fun or joyful experience, but a time is coming when the boys will be able to carry out the equivalent fraction adding and subtracting procedures all by themselves and when they do, we’ll dance, we’ll sing, and we’ll rejoice! And Jake will exhale a big sigh of relief! For right now, Jake doesn’t know if he can do it. He doesn’t grasp it all quite yet. You can be sure that Jake will be relieved and thankful when he can!

This is why it is so important for me, as his teacher (not just his mom), to guide him, to cheer him, to challenge him, to stand and sit beside him, as he works through the process. I want him to reach the point in time when he ultimately can do it all by himself; with his hands, with his mind, and with his will.

A long time ago, these words were written:

There in the presence of the LORD your God, you, your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD has blessed you. New International Version, Deuteronomy 12:7.

This verse is about holy, reverent, and joyful worship in the presence of the LORD by not only individuals, but the whole family.

Today, I’ve applied the verse to our Happy Blue School fraction experience. We’ve put our hands to learning adding and subtracting fractions that are not equivalent and then making them so. We’re doing this in the presence of our God as a family. We’re sharing in the highs and the lows of learning, that’s for sure! There was definitely some whining, complaining, whimpering and even some tears today. For Jake, I’m sure he would empathize with the Israelites who wondered why they were in the desert so long and hadn’t found the short-cut yet. Jake is looking for a short-cut or fast-track to mastering all of these steps!

However, for the Israelites, once their journey-on-the-slow-track was complete, their God instructed them to be glad and rejoice and express their joyful worship as a family. Their journey had come to an end and now it was time to settle, to grow, to mature, and to rejoice in all that had been accomplished.

Like I said, I think this verse applies to Jake’s fraction learning too. But not only that, we all are putting our hands to something, aren’t we? Sometimes, we’re able to achieve what we’ve set out to do without much sweat or many tears or hefty brain power. However, other times, I’m sure many of us feel like Jake. We want to find a short-cut. We may even want to quit. Life learning is hard.

Why aren’t we there yet?

Why isn’t there a short-cut?

Why can’t I figure this out?

Why do I have to do this again?

Who came up with this equivalent fraction or ________ process anyway and is it really relevant to my life?

Why is this so hard to understand?

Today, for Jake and our family, we’re dealing with adding and subtracting fractions and converting them to equivalent fractions to make that process clear. We’re not quite there yet. You may be dealing with something similar and looking forward to the day, like we are, when we’ve got it figured out with our hands, our minds, and our wills. In the middle of it all, is our God. He is not absent. We do everything, even converting fractions, in His presence.

Therefore, we can seek His help, His peace, and His patience in the process. And one day, when the fraction feat is accomplished, or whatever we’re working through as well, we can be thankful for that effort and rejoice in the help and care we were given, but not just alone. We need to be thankful and praise and worship our God as a family and in community.

You can bet we will when Jake and Caleb have mastered those pesky fractions and how to make them equivalent to add or to subtract. Like I said, we’ll dance and sing! And we’ll remember that accomplishment; because in this journey of life learning, there will be something else around the corner to put our hands, our minds and our wills to. We’ll need to remember that we made it through fractions with God’s help and we can do it again with any new, future experience. And you will too!

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