Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School

Wow! Here we are already at the (end of) the first day of school. Sorry for the blogging break. . . we packed our bags and spent a weekend up at the lake, enjoying every last drop of beautiful, sunny summer weather. Today the temps hit a humid 90, considered dreadfully hot here, which actually made it all the easier to sit inside the cool house and hit the books.

I don't think I could have hoped for a better first day. My planning panned out better than last year, and the kids and I moved from subject to subject with relative ease. Jimmy did a great job pumping up Paloma over the weekend for "school," and crazy Miss P. sat very nicely, proudly showing us her coloring, puzzle piecing, or books as she jumped right in alongside of us.

We are SO happy that we switched our math curriculum to Math-U-See The blocks were a huge hit with Atticus, Paloma and Hatfield. The Teach/Practice-until-you-get-it/Teach It Back To Teacher to Demonstrate Mastery system already has proved its value with Hatfield.

This afternoon, Hatfield worked on a series of problems, after I explained/demonstrated the problems to her. She worked through the first sheet with no errors. On the second sheet, I asked for her to explain to me what she was doing (Teaching the Teacher to Demonstrate Mastery.) Although she could correctly solve each problem, she had no idea WHAT she was doing. I explained again the concept, and then demonstrated for her with the first problem. It took two more pages before she had mastered the problem solving fully and could explain with ease EXACTLY what she was doing.

While watching her, it became very evident to me just how it was possible for her to breeze through first and second grade math with a 95-100% average, but never actually "Get" any of it. And why we spent a good part of last year frustrated that she always had to "re-learn" what we had worked on just two months earlier, although she got A's on that work as well. The work is set up so that it never deviates, and all the child has to do is simply learn how to fill in the correct blanks. The HOW and WHY we do it was never imparted upon the child.

Scary stuff, huh?

Well, thank god for Math-U-See because now I feel confident that we have a fighting chance at both getting math and loving it.

Beginning this school year, on the whole, was a tough thing for me. Why? Because, overly optimistic (aka stupid) me really really thought that our boys would be home and I would be teaching a class of FIVE. It took some time for me to be at peace with where we are, as awful as it sounds. Not that my three beloved children are some consolation prize; certainly, they are not. I just had such dreams of being one big family under our home school roof. It was hard for me to accept that this just wasn't going to happen. As soon as I did accept it, then I was able to freely jump right in, enthusiastically planning about our year for our Triple Threat here at home.

But what kind of Home School Mom am I, to post about our first day with nary a photo in sight? For shame, Mrs. C! I shall strive to put my best foot forward on all remaining school posts from here on out.


Deb Pagel & fam said...

We hear you LOUD & CLEAR on this. Jeff spent 3 hours toight with Morgan on math homework regarding the same thing; not just getting the answer right but rather understanding the concept of what you are doing to achieve that answer.

Great job on what you are doing and staying focused and positive!! Keep it up sista!!

Deb Pagel & fam :)

Beau said...

Wow...thanks for the insight on the math thing. Never really thought of it that way. They are constantly being timed and tested (I think timed tests are a little strange, but maybe that is just me), so they memorize the facts, but not necessarily how to break them apart and the "why" of it. School starts this week for us here, too...hard to believe! I love your spirit Sarah, and don't EVER feel stupid about hoping that the boys will be home...whenever! What is the worst that can happen? You have to push that goal back? Well, you've done that, and you know how that feels...but the hoping and positivity in the meantime is worth it, right? I love your spirit :)

Sawatzky Kids said...

First day of school always exciting stuff! :) Glad to see this year has started off so smoothly!
And I agree.....
Shame, Shame on you for no pictures of those little cutie patooties! ;0

ManyBlessings said...

Glad to hear you're off to a great start! We are in the same boat as you, two in school, 3 at home. Last year I came to peace with it, and what a difference it made for all of us. :) Can't wait to see those pictures!!!

Anonymous said...

Wish I could say my first dat went so well. With a newborn and two toddlers, it did NOT.