Monday, September 5, 2011

Survival of the Nitty Gritty

If you have read my prior blog posts, then you know I have tried some pretty fun things to ease my children into the homeschool lifestyle.  However, as we all know, field trips alone will not adequately educate a child for today's world. As boring as it is, we all need to know how to spell and use punctuation. Like it or not, no one will make it in this world without math.  So, it was time to buckle down to the "Nitty Gritty" studies that my kids were dreading.

Good News!!!  We have made it through over a week of all subject homeschooling without anyone dead, maimed or bleeding.  I call that a success!  I would be lying if I said that the kids did not complain or have some meltdowns. They were to be expected.  I also anticipated testing of boundaries and comments about missing school friends.  I was not disappointed there either. Check those of the list, boundaries were most certainly tested! However, I met the challenges without loosing my cool and turning into a screaming banshee.  Success again!

For all of you who think that not turning into a screaming banshee is a poor definition of success, then you must have something that I lack, namely... PATIENCE.  Patience is a virtue that I simply do not have.  I think that when St. Peter was distributing patience in heaven, the line must have been too long so I probably just left.  For those of you whose kids are still in brick and mortar schools, search your conscience.  Weren't you just a little relieved when school started back up this year?  Any thoughts of, "Phew, we made it through summer"?  I think you see where I am going.

I have noticed that homeschooling has a double-edged sword of time with your children.  24/7... no breaks.  It is a lovely thing and it can also be extremely annoying.  I can tell that we are going to have to figure in some mental health breaks for Mommy.  Or as an alternative, my husband can go ahead and reserve a room for me now in the psych ward.

So did either child have any interesting moments during this past week of nitty gritty work?  Yes, for both of them.  My 2nd grade son has issues retaining rote facts. If it is not interesting, forget it!  Challenge him, and he is all over it.  He had no problems keeping up with his 5th grade sister in science and history.  But, math facts???  He can't be bothered.  He did have a lightbulb moment when something finally clicked.  We were listening to counting songs in an attempt to get the information to go in a different way. He asked about the lyrics where 9 would "slurp" (sound effects included in the song) one of the number it was adding.   The idea is that 9 is stealing one to make 10 and then leaving the rest.  Eureka!  He laughed and shockingly-- remembered!  The "slurping" noise got his attention long enough to let the concept sink in.  Then it was a simple jump to see that 8 steals 2 from the number you are adding it with to make 10 and 7 steals 3.

How exciting to see a lightbulb moment!  You mean to tell me that I have been letting his teachers have all of these???  Shame on me!  I'm glad I didn't miss his first steps.  This feels about as exciting as some of the baby milestones. Why would his intellectual milestones be any less important than his physical ones? I believe I have found the Holy Grail "PERK" of homeschooling.  This must be why so many families have chosen this path.

Did my daughter have any revelations this week?  Why yes she did, thanks for asking.  Hers also came during math.  She has always gotten math concepts extremely quickly.  So quickly that she has developed a nasty habit of not being required to think.  She is used to things being so easy, that she tends to freak over small challenges.  Her knee jerk reaction is to think that she can't do it if the solution isn't readily apparent to her.  This is one of the main reasons we wanted to homeschool her.  She has a beautiful mind that needs to be challenged.  Her first mental challenge came this week when she was required to combine factoring, algebraic thinking and mental math all together.  It was quite a shock!  It even caused to her to roll on the floor in tears crying, "I can't do this."  But with a little encouragement and showing her just how much she did in fact know, she attempted it.

It took real effort and (gasp) "thought" to find the solution.  I explained to her that she could do it, but it would take a genuine thought process to find the answers.  It was a challenge.  Her response was, "I like easy better."  But we stuck with it for about thirty minutes and then she conquered it.  Her smile when she realized that she could do it lit up the room.  Genuine accomplishment of a challenge!!!

Once again, I had a fantastic feeling that I had helped guide her.  No wonder teachers put up with poor pay and unruly classrooms.  The "Ah-Ha" moments of children must be addictive. Greedy me, I get to keep all of my children's "Ah-Ha" moments for myself.

The nitty gritty of homeschooling is going to be a bumpy, exasperating road.  I have glimpsed some of the perks, however and I think the journey will be worth it.  Educating my children is not going to be a sprint, but rather a marathon.  I hope I have the endurance for the challenge.

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