Finally Really Jumping Off

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Today I made a decision (after pouring out all my sorrows at midnight last night to a friend).  Today I decided that I'm no longer going to follow math textbooks.  There has been a battle going on inside of me (and partially with my dear spouse) on the principles of "Inspire, not Require."  As much as I full-heartedly believe in inspiring our children to learn, as much as I have been telling other people to just "let their kids be kids," and as much as I've wanted to practice what I preached, I have been a slave to one subject:  MATH.  It's the one subject I thought I was willing to deal with the tears over and require my children to do, only to see this mentality backfire. 

My focus this year, especialliy with JW in school, has been to strengthen the relationship between my daughters, as well as my own relationship with them.  As pressures of life all seemed to hit at once during their "more formative years,"  I think I have been pressuring my girls faster than their little minds could take in.  Stronger than ever, I'm beginning to believe Raymond Moore's motto that "Better Late than Early" is spot on!  So, after the first week of adrenalin and happiness (everyone is excited the first week!) I found myself fighting the whines and moans and complaints of "I don't want to!" or "I don't understand any of this!"  That's when it hit me that, the kids were right!  They hadn't fully grapsed the concepts from before so WHY was I pushing them to move forward so quickly?  Well, I can say that now I'm taking the final step and hoping it will be more fruitful!

So far, the first day has been spectacular.  We did our chores.  We read aloud (finishing Summer of the Monkeys through tears and choked voices).  I had some "get stuff done" time while the kids played who knows what.  We played a game (matching is a math concept, right?).  We read some more.  Then we did an afternoon project making swords and magic wands out of dowels, ribbons and string.  Now my girls are excitedly putting together a spell book for more imaginative play!  This may not sound too productive or successful to some.  My girls are 8 & 9 . . . they should be reading and doing their math homework.  But listen, amidst all that playing one daughter spent time writing thank you notes to friends while the other worked on cursive . . . without any "hint" from me.  My boys contentedly made shapes on the geoboards.  I got plenty done and still have an hour of time to fill as I please  (something that I'd been missing though it's been "scheduled" in).  And now they are reading their spell book!!

Where does math fit in here?  Don't worry.  My hubby wiill be sure to keep me accountable for that.  He has a "math every day" policy . . . and I agree.  So, what am I working on?  This week we're just going to kind of take a break while I plan my mathtime fun!  What I did is go through the Core Knowledge series by E.D. Hirsch.  I made columns: 1st, 2nd, 4th.  Then I made rows listing all of the mathematical topics that should be covered in a year. In each box, I then wrote down the more specific goals for each age/grade.  We are now going to study math in TOPICS rather than textbooks.  I'm not sure exactly how I will structure it, but I do know there will be lots more books, games and fun involved.  

I feel free.  :-)


  1. I didn't completely give up the textbooks, but I forced myself to align my math strategies with my fundamental education philosophies. Why is that so hard with math and easy with everything else??? My dad has told me so many times that you can teach an entire elementary school curriculum in one year to an 11 year old, and I BELIEVE it, but DOING it are two different things. So Miriam's math book looks a little different this year. It is going SO MUCH BETTER. Eventually I'll get around to posting about it on frolic and farce. In the meantime, can I tell you how much I love Nature Friday and taking a day off to hang with my kids in the great outdoors?? LOVE IT. Some things are going really right this year.

    PS--Some of my oldest child's issues ended pretty much overnight when school started back up again. I wonder what a pyschologist would make of that.

    Miss you.

  2. We struggle with this too... I'm trying with my younger girls to keep a little less adamant about the math book... I like the suggestion to use the core knowledge theory and cover concepts!


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