Adjusting the Goals– My Creative Daughter’s Math Journey

My oldest child was born with a super creative ability and it has come out mostly  in her music.  When she was 7, she would sit down at the piano and just pay beautiful music.  She was always writing and illustrating her own stories.  She was great at art, she excelled in her ballet class and was recommended to move up a class.  She is just plain awesome that way.  However, as you can imagine and as I have documented in past blog posts- at my previous address http://www.academichomeschooling.blogspot.com, math has been a struggle.

When she was about 3 or so, I decided to experiment with homeschooling, so I started with teaching her the names of the colors.  It didn’t go so well.  She just could not remember the name of which color went with which one.  So I assumed that I had just tried with her a little too early.  She of course eventually learned all her colors, no big deal. So when her younger sister was about her age, I didn’t even bother teaching her the colors, I figured it was a waste of time, she probably wasn’t ready.  Then one day in the car, the said younger daughter just out of the blue started pointing to colors and telling me their names– she knew them all!!

Same thing happened with math for daughter#1, we were doing an early level in Singapore Math and this daughter just could not get the concept of “how many more or less than”.  I got a whole bunch of colored pencils and we counted them, I put 5 in one hand and 3 in the other and I would ask,”which one has more or less?”,  she would pick the right one, but when I would say, “how many more or how many less?”  She just would have no clue and would just say a random guess.  We spent about a week on that and I even had my husband come try to explain it to her, but to no avail.  She finally did get it, and I was in my experimental stage of figuring out the best way to homeschool, so I backed off of math with her, and let her just be creative a lot and just do like a page or 2 of math a day.  It was definitely easier.

But after a couple years of that, she turned 10 and I saw that she was only on like 2B and I just felt that that was totally unacceptable, that there was no way she was going to be able to do calculus on my time schedule not to mention earlier.  Plus I had decided that for us the unschooling just wasn’t really working, my kids were not motivated to learn math or do anything a tad bit difficult on their own, they mostly just made huge messes and got into fights with other.  Structure was a good thing for us.

So I spent 2-4 hours per day focusing on math with my then 10 yog.  She worked really really hard, and she learned a lot and got through it, but it was not easy for her.  But she did feel accomplished.  The other kids didn’t need hardly any help with math, it came easy to all of them, so it’s probably good I had this one first, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was for the other kids and not disappointed with her because I didn’t know any different.  She started Pre-algebra in 7th grade along with her younger sister who was in 5th grade at the time.  They did fine and got through it pretty well, there wasn’t a lot new and it was pretty basic.  Then they started algebra the following year,  this is the year we had issues in pretty much every facet of our lives– our homeschool friends and co-op all moved out of state, my extended family was being their normal difficult selves, we had the twins who were a lot of work and took most of my time, and our church/ward which had been a source of comfort and goodness in the past, now became awful, and instead of working from home, my husband now had a 45 min- 1hr. commute to work each way.  So we had a lot of personal obstacles which took my main attentions away from schooling as we moved into survival mode.  Long story short, we moved in that time also and had another baby, and sent the 3 older kids to public school for a semester.  We also tried the BYU independent study course for Algebra, just so the girls could have a transcript, but it ended up being a lousy course with very little instruction or feedback or practice tests, and they did not get A’s on their tests, so they have just barely finished Algebra 1 and started Geometry in March of this year in 9th and 7th grades.

However, the reality is that Geometry and math have taken huge amounts of time for this daughter to learn. The second daughter is ahead of her in Geometry and spends far less time on it.  It is really sad, when the older one finds out the younger one is done and ahead without hardly being on the computer for that online class at all, and the older one asks,”how did she do that?”  It’s just not fair, and it is at the expense of her music and other creative endeavors which are harder to teach and learn and which she loves, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of homeschooling and being able to cater the curriculum to the individual needs of the students.

So for her, we have looked at the graduation requirements for high school and for getting into college and for being able to not take any more math in college and we will have her do that much and call it good.  We wanted to make sure there were no doors closed to our kids, so that when they went to college and found they wanted to be a vet or a biologist or engineer or architect, but couldn’t because they didn’t have the math, that just wouldn’t happen.  My daughter absolutely could keep going and learn calculus, she is bright, it just takes a really long time, and she doesn’t love it.  At this point, she has composed some really beautiful music on the piano, and that is really the direction she wants to take with her life.  She wants to study music of some sort in college.  So that’s what we will be encouraging her to aim for. The reality for her is that she is not going to be interested in pursuing the math and science fields any further than a basic knowledge.  She does like science, but she loves music. Geometry will probably take her 1 1/2 – 2  yrs. to get through the course, Biology may take that long too.  She may need an extra year after high school to get some of these foundational courses strong or she just may start college the way most people do, not ahead, just right where she needs to be.  And that is just fine.  We just want her to be happy and find what she wants to do with her life.  We have to let go, and allow her to find her wings.

So we will be researching music schools and music programs.  We will be encouraging her to finish the improv dvd’s I bought.  She will take music theory and learn how to use the computer programs to get her music on paper for others to play and she will be learning how to record her songs and share them and make a name for herself.  It actually sounds pretty fun and very exciting.  I’m very proud of her.  She has certainly learned to work hard  from math, and that in and of itself will help her throughout her life.

 

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Summer School

Swimming and having fun in the sun is very much part of the summer school curriculum.  This is a photo of the kids’ first meet.

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All the kids are doing really well with their swimming.  The older ones are getting to be quite strong swimmers and the younger ones are getting really close to swimming on their own.  I really like the instructors and coaches, although I felt really old when the swim coach told one of the kids he was born in 1993– that’s when I graduated from high school!

We took an evening to go to the Boston Children’s Museum for the 2 yo boy’s birthday party.  It is only a dollar on Friday evenings.  It was way crowded, but totally worth the dollar and the trip especially as it cleared out around 8ish and was open til 9.  Riding the T and walking around the city is as fun as going to the museum.  I really love Boston, it is such a beautiful city.  Here’s a pic of a replica of a boat the Tea partyers threw tea into Boston Harbor, connected to another museum I really want to take the kids to– so much history.  And some people riding their Segways around.  There is a Segway factory somewhere around here.

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Here are some pics from the museum:

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And headed home, walking toward the subway station:

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The girls are doing much better keeping up with their online classes.  We sat down with the oldest and made up a chart with all the classes she’ll need to graduate from high school and what colleges are looking for.  I think it helped her gain perspective on why she has to do her online classes.  I have also been making group time more of a priority and we had a good day today school wise when we got home from the lake.  The boys just have to do math, greek, piano, reading and journal for the summer 4 times per week.  If they don’t whine and cry, it takes them about 30 min. – 1 hr.  For group time we watch a Great Courses lecture- we just finished photography today, it was awesome. We watch some science videos and talk about science with Super Charged science, then we practice our scripture memory verse and scripture read aloud.  And then I read a Chicken Soup story.  That’s the minimum group time stuff.  If we have more time, then we do some Spanish together, and a piano DVD course we have on improvisation.  And I have a few books I am reading to them.  I try to do group time at least 3 times per week.  I try to read to the little kids also, but that hasn’t happened much lately, but they have been watching the Letter Factory, playing fun learning games, one of the twins finished his first math book.  I will have to incorporate teaching the twins to read and helping them with math in the fall.  It will be busy, but I love teaching. We are doing a little better with the house, it sure makes a difference to not have a nursing baby and to have older kids who actually help and can do things without supervision.  I am enjoying this stage.

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Fourth of July & Summer Learning

We have had a nice holiday with a hurricane off the coast, we got lots of rain, which postponed fireworks to tonight, but the parade was nice and cool.  I love our little New England town and celebration, booths displaying old crafts, small animals, art, food and speeches in the square.  Old churches were open and a little town museum.  Very fun to walk around and then the older kids rode home on their bikes.  Unfortunately the roads are all just small country roads and seem quite dangerous for bikers so that doesn’t happen often, but it is close enough.  I go on some really nice jogs in the mornings.  Anyway, #’s 2, 3, and 4 rode their bikes in the parade, #2 won 3rd place and #3 won 2 nd place in the bike decorating contest because there were only 3 bikes in their age group.  Sometimes, you just have to show up!!

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The girls finished volleyball camp this week.  There was no air conditioning in the gym and it went from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Mon. through Thurs.  They worked them hard too.  Both girls were glad to be done, but also glad they did it and have improved their skills tremendously.  I hope the older one makes the team.  #3 has been fishing everyday at the lake and has gotten pretty good at it.  He throws them all back in.  #’s 4, 5, 6 and 7 all finished their first session of swim lessons this week.  They all made pretty good progress.  We will do the next session coming up also.  I’m so excited that they are all going to be swimming rather well by the end of the summer!!  Yay!!

We didn’t get much schoolwork done this week with all the stuff going on, but the plan this coming week is to watch some lectures after we eat lunch when we get back from the lake.  I’m going to make sure we have bread most of the days so we can just eat sandwiches for lunch, quick and easy.  Then we can watch a couple lectures, read books, do some science, some spanish and some book work.  High hopes for Monday!!  Should work out after such a nice relaxing weekend.  I plan to get a bunch of cleaning done this morning.  We replaced the broken washer and dryer with the ones we brought from Utah, so nice to have laundry efficiency again.  It was just taking all day to get one load done.  Crazy!!

The kids also got medals for participating in track, check out those trees!

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This quarry is right in our backyard!!  Lots of frogs, water plants, tadpoles and turtles.  I think it is a lot deeper than it looks though, so no little kids out there without me.  I love living in the forest! Nature Study made easy!

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First post at this address

This is my first post on this blog.  I will leave my posts and info over at http://www.academichomeschooling.blogspot.com, but my new posts will be here.

 

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