Monday, September 20, 2010

My Head is Full of Children

A long time ago I saw a great tee shirt in the gift shop at Save The Children Headquarters.  It had a woman's face and all around where her hair would be were children.  The caption was My Head Is Full of Children.  I wish I had that tee shirt.  My head is certainly full of my two children!
We are in the process of helping Grace to adjust to home learning. She is frustrated becuase math is not like school.  In school she was at the top of her class, concepts came easily to her and she was very confident.  At the beginning of the summer I bought her Life of Fred Fractions thinking she would love it.  Unless I gave her a calculator, she could not complete the lessons.  She has a very good understanding of computing basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Unfortunately it is still basic.  I thought she had exposure to double digit multiplicaiton and division and fractions with mixed numerals.  She did not.  Today we talked about her feelings in math.  She explained to me that before, in school, things came so easily to her, she always got 100 and liked being one of the “smartest” students in the class.  I told her that in a class of 25, there are three groups of children (for the most part).  Those that the concept comes easily for, those who work at it and will get it with more practice, and those who need additional help to understand the concept being presented.  She agreed.  I asked her where her teacher spent most of her time teaching.  To the middle group, she replied.  So I asked if she was ever challenged.  Rarely, she replied.  So of course things came easy for her.  I asked her if she wanted to continue along getting 100s but never being challenged or if she would like to take a risk, try things that are new for her, struggle with some concepts and perhaps make mistakes, but then learn from those mistakes and grow as a student.  I told her she is no longer competing with anyone for grades.  She is only competing with herself now.  She laughed and said I sounded like her basketball coach.  I asked her to trust me.  I know Horizons 4 is easy for her now.  I also know she is doing several extra lessons as week and at that pace she will be onto the second book of Horizons 4 soon.  I want her to have a solid grasp of double digit multiplication, long division and a firm understanding of fractions and decimals.  Then we can extend her in so many ways.  
Her other frustration is writing.  She is struggling with short focused writing assignments.  We are using WriteSmart and so far she her assignments have been to describe an object and to describe a pet.  She struggles to infuse her writing with beautiful descriptive language.  She is looking for a framework to follow.  She is most familiar writing to prompts and has mastered the art of scoring well on them.  But take away that framework, open up the creative channels, and give her freedom in what she can write and she becomes very uncomfortable.  She said she hardly ever got to write stories in school and that is what she wants to do.  I told her to write the stories!  Write in her journal and blog them!  I would never hold her back from that.   She was intrigued by sports reporting while on her tour of ESPN and she loves blogging.  I told her I want to develop her writing and that starts simply by learning how to write well constructed sentences.  She is not aware of beautiful language.  Her limited vocabulary is holding her back.  I have taught her how to use a thesaurus and we continue with our word of the day.  I told her to go back and read her blog posts from the beginning to see if she notices a difference in her writing.  It has only been two weeks and I certainly notice.
Now that I am learning where her frustrations lie and that while she is taking it out on her sister and me, we are not the true objects of her frustration.  We are just the outlet she feels safe expressing them to.  I understand this.  Unfortunately, her sister does not and has had just about enough of it.  For now when tensions start to rise, we take break and sit down where ever we are and talk about it.  Lilah will start to understand that just like she had to adjust last winter, so does her sister.  Only she had the luxury of having me all to herself to voice her concerns, take out her frustrations and turn to for support.  She did not have to share all of herself with her sister.  
I feel like we are making progress.  Today we got through math, writing, cursive, and reading.  We took a trip to the post office to mail a package to Afghanistan, were on time for flute lessons and flute ensemble, and made it home just in time for Girl Scouts.  We did all that without a major meltdown.  The power of communication!


Marcie said...

Holy cow! This came at such a crucial time for me. As awful as this sounds I love to feel as though someone is in a similar boat. Thank you soooo much for taking the time to tell another incredible moment in your journey through this life.

Karen said...

Ok more words of not-so-wisdom from Karen. :)

Kei has always LOVED Math. She started hating it. I freaked out. I knew it was the program, not the Math. [Or heaven forbid ME teaching it!]

First of all go here and see what you think. I have heard nothing but excellent things about this program. It is what I wanted for Keilee but with my job situation I had to pass this year. It is a video program. Rave reviews.

Also did you check out They have free videos to show EVERY math problem imaginable. From Addition to Calculus.

Every now and then take a look at this site. It will make you thankful you don't have your darlings in PS.

I talked to one of my dearest friends about your girls not getting along the way you would like. She took her kids out of PS when they were a little younger than your girls. She said there was an adjustment period. She said the SAME thing that you did. They were not used to being together. They are great friends now.

This post sounds SO much more positive than last weeks. See how far you have come in 1 week. :) I am so proud of you.

Sorry for the Epic post. Hugs.

Theresa said...

A had a meltdown today. I thought of you and some of your previous posts and it helped me realize I was not alone!

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