Homeschool Confessions #4: Math

Hi. I’m a homeschool Mom of 3 boys, and a baby girl. I stay home and teach, clean, cook, etc. Sometimes I sit on the couch and delegate the chores while I’m nursing (or just sitting!) I read aloud to and with the kids nearly every day. We read straight from the bible, from a devotional book, and right now, from a book on stuff/ecology/economy/systems. It’s a good read. Lengthy, a little beyond the younger two, but a good one so far.

I was never a history buff, but I try to engage the boys in historical-type topics. I try to have them practice some sort of writing exercise almost daily. Sometimes we just focus on penmanship (which, for some odd reason, one of the boys is fighting tooth and nail). We have a weekly home ec day, where we just bake and clean and practice life skills without ever touching a textbook.

I love workbooks and worksheets and “busy” work. I like the kids to become proficient at a skill, and therefore will make them practice a lot. The new information doesn’t stop while we practice skills we already have, though. I just like seeing them put on paper that they really have something figured out. I like to encourage them to teach each other – like trickle down education. It’s pretty nifty.

We don’t do the same thing everyday. In fact, I change it up all the time. I’m still not sure what works best for the oldest, so instead of getting stuck in a rut, I change it up. The kids know they have school time every day, but they don’t always know if we’ll be working together, or sitting at the table, or what order they will do their subjects for the day.

I loathe math. Not adding and subtracting. Or even multiplication or division. I can handle fractions, decimals, and counting back change. But algebra makes me sick. I get a headache instantly and my brain becomes dumb. To combat this, I spent lots of time watching YouTube videos so I could help the oldest with his work. (Am I allowed to say that doing so sucked? No? Okay, then I won’t say it.)

Guess what I found? I found an online compilation of YouTube videos, with lots of online work, and tests, and it’s free. It starts with basic math and works up all the way to trigonometry and calculus. So now, I sit back and let the kids watch the YouTube videos, and then work the problems. This program even tells us when they are proficient with a skill! (Click here to check out the program! Note: I am not in any way affiliated with Khan Academy, and I receive nothing for using or recommending it. Just sharing something I found with you!)

My confession boils down to this: I am taking a “backseat” position with math. I am admitting that just because I homeschool, doesn’t mean I know everything (or even have to). Homeschooling means I know how to find and use resources and have vowed to teach my kids the same thing.

Have you ever taken a “backseat” position with a subject? Or anything in life?


Homeschool Confessions #3

I want to be a fly on the wall, and I want about 10 different homeschool families to observe. I wish I had some other reason to offer other than my own insecurity, but the truth is, I feel like I’m doing it wrong most of the time. Now, this is a little bit funny because the boys are all learning a lot. The man-child is adjusting to being homeschooled, and I think he may even like it now.

The younger two are progressing daily with their reading, writing and math. They are blossoming and learning, and I am thankful. But I still feel like I’m doing it wrong. I keep trying to find and calculate the magic formula for success, as if success is measurable by some standard set by someone else. Then, I am reminded about how those kinds of measurements are affecting other educational institutions, and that I’m trying to avoid those things.

I have decided to build our curriculum for this next year, piecing together things I want to teach with things they want to learn, with skills they need to have. By combining the internet, the library, the things I purchase, and the resources all around us, I hope to teach them many things this coming year. This semester has been about growing together, getting used to the system, and just maintaining forward progress. (Which we have done!)

Truth be told; however, I really wanted an all-in-one curriculum. I still wanted to be told what to teach, as if I might miss something crucial or forget that math (or English, or composition, or science, or …) is important. I have this huge need to make sure we aren’t missing anything… and when I run across something I haven’t been teaching (like how to use a day planner) I start fretting over how ill-equipped I’m making these boys.

But the reminders come when Hubby says something in reference to what he’s seen in the boys. Or when we are out in public and the boys use their manners and speak intelligently and people are shocked to learn we homeschool. I was homeschooled, and it’s something I whole heartedly believe in, and am blessed to be doing. You would think that by now, I would have developed some measure of confidence in our ability to grow and learn together.

Do you have a homeschool confession this week?

We expect teachers to do what?!

Hi. It’s almost 2 in the afternoon, and today was a new adventure for me. I officially homeschooled 3 kids today. Not just the usual 2, but 3. All 3 of which are very active boys, with very busy minds. They range from 8th grade to kindergarten.

And if I measured today’s success based on someone else’s measuring stick, I’m pretty sure we failed. We didn’t get through nearly as many “lessons” as I thought we would. On top of managing 3 that are doing school, I have a 3 year old and a 2 year old keeping me busy. And as I manage a total of 5 kids, I’m scratching my head thinking, “We expect teachers to handle 20+?” Now, granted, they are all the same age and they use one curriculum, and teach the same material to everyone in class. But does that really make it easier to manage them?!

I had to stop sitting and directing to cook lunch and school fell apart. But I don’t know how to make soup and sandwiches and make three kids stay on task. So, we put school aside, I finished cooking, we ate, and now they are outside. I almost started doubting this whole idea, as much as I love it and want it…I thought “can I really do this?” But you know what? They all learned something today, they are all happy today, they are all fed today, and this is day 1 with 3 in school. That changed our entire routine.

Tomorrow, we’ll get through a little more, I’ll start a little earlier, and I’ll be better prepared to be a little stricter. Plus, I know a little more of what to expect.

Seriously though, if 5 kids can be this challenging, what causes us to expect a single teacher to manage 20+ students? I really can’t make sense of this at all… thoughts?