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.