Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The World Did Not Stop Spinning Because We Skipped Math!

Today I thought it would be a good idea for my children to reflect on how they feel about being home.  We have had many discussions lately about sharing, caring, respect and friendship.  Some days my girls are doing great things like working together on their version of an iCarly show called the Abby and Madeline Show.  Other days they fight like cats and dogs.  It is the days that they fight with me that leave me emotionally exhausted.  Typically the fights stem from not wanting to do something that I want them to do.  Like math.  Math is the thorn in my side.  My nemesis. 
It should not be this way.
I like Life of Fred.  I think it is challenging, educational and fun.  Grace does not like it because it is challenging. She does not see it as educational or fun.  She is so used to worksheets of straight computation where she can get one problem wrong, move on the the next and since there are 50 problems, she will still score an A.  I am sure at some point in school she did higher level thinking problems.  They are on the mastery tests so I know she has seen them before.  She does not want to try anything that is “hard” because she fears she may fail.  She is afraid to try.  I don’t know where this attitude came from. I hate it.  I keep telling her she excelled in school because the math was easy.  Even she admits that the teachers spent very little time with her since she was independent.  She was never challenged.  I want her to be able to apply her knowledge, which she can do, when she is focused and determined.  I am thinking of some way to help her understand that computation without application is useless.  I am thinking of asking people in her life to share how math is used in their jobs.  Her dad uses numbers all the time, her aunt is an accountant, her friend’s Dad owns Veterinary clinics, my mom is an executive assistant, and her uncle is a bank auditor for the Federal Reserve.  I just need to somehow make it “cool”.  Her two career interests are heavy in math/science (vet and meteorologist).  I don’t want her to hate math because of her experience at home.
So I have decided (with the help of my friends) to chillax on math.  I have to let go of the teacher in me that says I have to do the book just the way the book says because that is the book.  If I am working with her every day and I know she solve the questions, yet she digs her heels in over the bridge (assessment) then I CAN skip the bridge.  It is okay.  I am not going to get in trouble.  We can skip the bridge.  Really, we can.   If I see she is struggling with a concept, I can reinforce it with other things until I feel comfortable she has mastery.  No biggie right?  Then why does it feel like a big deal?
To take our mind off the negatives and focus on the positives, I asked the girls to list in their journals all the positives they feel about homeschooling.  At first there was some reluctance to do this.  But after I told them I would make my own list and we would go around the dining room table and share one positive each, they bought into it.  What a great list we created!  Here are just a few of our positives:
  • We get to skate on Tuesdays.  
  • We ride our bikes outside almost every day!
  • No homework, no tests.
  • We can work in out pajamas by the fire with our dogs.
  • We can have a real job.
  • We blog, use youtube, and the internet to learn.
  • You don’t have to ask to go to the bathroom, get a drink or a snack.
  • We listen to great books on tape.
  • We joined homeschool Girl Scouts.
  • We get to learn history and poetry.
  • Our classes are about what we like: cooking, Audubon, sewing.
  • We can have dinner for lunch and playdates for breakfast!
  • We get to swim at the YMCA when no one else is there.  
  • We get fun field trips.
  • No mean teachers.

It was a great exercise.  The positives were coming fast and furious.  As something was said that they did not think of, they quickly added it to their list.  Fingers were flying across keyboards.  The best part is that I shared in this making it a bonding experience.  My biggest positive is that our learning is all connected.  I shared with them how we are at the period of ancient Greece in our history book.  We are reading Percy Jackson aloud to each other, the book on tape we listen to in the car (Juliet Dove, The Queen of Love) is about the Greek Myths come to life in modern times.  I did not even plan that!  It just happened!  During dinner Saturday night Lilah was talking about a getting lost and said it was just like a labyrinth.  When we are immersed in learning, learning is everywhere.  They still do not find this a cool as I do.
In addition to our list making exercise, today we read a chapter in Percy Jackson and I complimented my girls on how their oral reading is improving.  We went skating with our friends.    Lilah did an art lesson and made a very cool crayon batik picture while Grace worked on a lapbook about Hurricane Gracie.  We listened to a chapter of our audiobook and....we....skipped....math....today.  And guess what?  The world did not stop spinning.  And my daughter did not have a meltdown.  
It was a good day.


Monica said...

I love to read your blog. It mirrors my emotions so often! I love it when you are trying to convince yourself, not convinced at all, that you CAN skip math! I have these conversations with myself all the time! And regarding the girls not finding it cool that learning is everywhere, maybe it is because they, unlike us, have not been so entrained to see learning as something that is not associated with life. After all, the have been learning all the time since they were born!

Helena said...

Jessica, isn't it amazing, the learning WE do as parents on this homeschool journey? I think I might be the one who has learned the most this past year and a half! About myself, about my kids, how we each of us learn, and about what brings us joy. It is extraordinary, isn't it?
Glad you had a good day—thank you for sharing it!

mamak said...

Skip the bridge, skip the bridge! I used to follow the books and do all the stuff until I had a kid who hated to read. Use what works and feels good to both, The rest is probably much more detrimental than beneficial then we realize. Sure, it will teach them grammar, but will also teach them that they HATE writing their own stories. It's hard, but so liberating, and wonderful. Skip the bridge, skip the bridge!

Karen said...

Your journey has been one of my favorite pleasures in the past few months. I love the way you post the good and bad.
The "Juliet Dove" sounds good. I will have to see if our library has it. I love connections too! I try to make Kei aware of them also.

Michelle said...

i hate math too. i wish i could skip it every.single.day. ha! love your list of positives :D

Andrea said...

First time visitor here. Yes, skip the bridge! And you listed two great ways to incorporate math, sewing and cooking! I think those two things alone can be used for math more successfully than any worksheet. Lose a measuring cup or two so they have to figure out another less direct way to measure (the 1 C is a good one to misplace). And real money is always a great way to learn math. Discounts, paychecks, interest. Good luck, follow the easy path!

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