Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finding a Solution That Works for Teaching MATH!

Don't you love it when you find a solution that works for a situation that was otherwise driving you mad?

So do I!

Or rather, I love it when the Lord graciously shows me a better way - usually after I've spent considerable time banging my head against a stone wall, trying a million and one ways that don't work.

This past month, that has happened with math - and I am very grateful for this!

In our current family dynamic, one ongoing challenge that we have is trying to work with two babies underfoot. Despite the use of playpens, blanket time, bouncer time, etc., getting our seat work done has been quite the challenge, especially as they are usually quite cranky by the time we get around to math. And if you've ever tried to teach math to a very distractable 7yo, with two cranky babies in the background, then you know how much of a problem this has been.

In one of my favorite homeschooling books, "A Mom Just Like You," Vickie Farris mentions one family of her acquaintance that gets up super-early and does all of their schoolwork before the babies and toddlers are up. Like Vickie, I thought, "That's nice, but it would never work for me." But it's been on my mind, and as the math situation escalated, I finally broke down and decided to give it a chance - at least partially - with math!

Thus, I've been getting up super-early with the 7yo to do math for two straight weeks now, and it has been an example of sheer awesomeness. This is an answer to prayer, and the way I plan to do this from now on!

With this method, we are completely free to work in a quiet environment, without interruptions or distractions, and it is a complete - and blessed - change from trying to shout over two toddlers while diving out of my seat every other second to pull one or the other out of whatever trouble he's into now.

Additionally, breaking up our seat work into two sessions - instead of one conglomerate lump - has been a huge blessing. Having a huge list of things to work through (math, copywork, handwriting, etc.) is depressing to both the 7yo and myself. Putting math in one time slot and writing in another really lessens the strain on our patience. It's much more doable.

Of course, when the 7yo gets up, he's not ready to dive right in, still being rather sleepy. To solve that, I simply put out one or two books to read to him, and by the time we're done, he's ready to go. More read-aloud time - an added bonus!

I am now in the process of adding our reading lesson to our morning time-slot, and that is also going well.

The one trade-off so far has been the loss of part of my morning "get stuff DONE" time, but it's worth it. And no one ever said that the home education journey was easy! It's a good trade-off.

With this change, we now have our daily lessons in three discreet time slots - early morning time (math and reading), couch time (Bible, catechism, Bible memory, safety skills, calendar, poetry, picture study), and late-morning seat work (handwriting, copywork, weekly map skills).

(There is also our afternoon read-aloud time, which covers science, history, and literature - but that is so much fun that it doesn't even feel like school! But I guess that you could say that our school day is divided into four parts if you want to count afternoon session.)

And there you have it. Another school problem solved - and I'm so grateful for the Lord's help in remedying what was otherwise a sticky and very troublesome issue in our home education journey.

Has anyone else tried the early-morning solution? Let me know how you like it! 

The 7yo and the 1yo together. The 1yo is cute, but there's no doubt that we get more done when he's SLEEPING!

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