Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Working on 2nd grade math

I've sort of been at a loss for words lately when it comes to writing. Homeschooling is going well this year and we've been off to a great start, which is rather unusual for us. Most of the time (so far), the kids are cooperative and attentive and I can see the wheels turning in their heads while they are learning - both during structured learning and in unstructured learning (cooking, baking, playing, cleaning.)

For instance, one particular day, Child B was having repeated anxiety attacks. I'm not kidding; she has them. It's heart-breaking and frustrating to help a 7-year old through anxiety attacks. She had 4 this particular day. One involved her portable CD player and headphones. She was so focused on it that she just couldn't focus on anything else, but she and I worked together to get her work done so she could have a break. During her break we worked on some of her therapy activities involving gross motor skills. I was hoping it would pull her out of her anxiety. Then she really wanted some computer time, but there was laundry to be folded. Her sisters were ready to help fold, so we got started. After I pulled the laundry basket off the couch and we all sat on the floor, I noticed something on the arm of the couch. It was her CD player. If she had gone off to use the computer or play outside, she would not have found her CD player. Always learning. This lesson was about when we do what we are supposed to, things usually go well for us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord. For this is right.
Honor your father and mother,
which is the first commandment with a promise
that things will go well for you
and you will enjoy your life on earth.
Ephesians 6:1-3

Some days learning comes easier than others. Child A struggled with learning to read and didn't actually enjoy reading until 4th grade. She also didn't like to write because her hand would get tired. Child B taught herself to write and pretty well taught herself to read - twice. That's a story for another time. But this year, 2nd-grade math is a real challenge for her. It's the borrowing and carrying thing that is hard (ahem, I know, re-grouping, for all the classroom teachers. But you knew what I was talking about.) And some of the math facts - like 9s. She'll be trekking right along and have 7 or 8 math problems right and then all of a sudden, every answer is 10. Not really, but that's what she writes. So I erase them, usually yell a bit re-explain what she needs to be doing, then she zips right through them. But when it comes to adding and subtracting 9, she has a hard time. Not adding 9 to 1-10, but to 68 or 74 or 46, y'know. She can do it on her fingers, but it takes her a long time and she will often become distracted by what one of her sisters is doing. So, I tried to give her a short-cut. When you have to add 9, just add 10 then subtract 1.

So, this is how that went. "You have 54 cookies (she likes to use cookies as an example) and I give you 9 more. How many do you have? 54 plus 10, then subtract 1." Using her fingers, she started counting, "Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven..." up to 64. Then she stopped. I prompted her, "Now subtract 1." "From what?" Sigh. This is going to be a long day! (And this is why we use math blocks and rods and cubes and such now.)

Today, while working on math at the dining room table, Child B was standing up. We've been working on proper posture while writing, but one of the nice things about homeschooling is that education doesn't have to take place in any particular place or method. So, I asked her the obvious, "You'd rather stand than sit?" Her reply was a straight-faced, totally serious, not looking up from her work, "I'd rather be a peacock!"

It's these moments that I am so thankful to not miss. Now if I can just find some things to keep Child C out of trouble while I spend so much time with Child B. Does anyone have a 4-year-old-size cage I could borrow?

Disclaimer: I would not really put my child in a cage. I have to say this because someone, somewhere will take it seriously and I'm not serious. I'm joking. Get it? And if you're a parent, you're right there with me. Of course, this doesn't have anything to do with the time that Child C said that her sisters locked her in the bunny's cage. I have no idea when that was, but it just might be true. It's a large cage. Bigger than a 4-year old might need. And it's in the family room. So, you see, I didn't even need to ask for a cage because I already have one. I was just being funny and making light of the fact that she has been quite a handful lately. A really (mostly) sweet, cute handful.


  1. Oh my, I didn't know children had anxiety attacks, poor dear! My father used to get them, no fun!

  2. hee hee, i'd rather be a peacock!

  3. There are some AMAZING peacock cakes on Cakewrecks from last Sundays' Sunday Sweets posting. I'm sure Child A would love them!!