Monday and Tuesday were “homeschool free” days, but we’ve been packing in the learning today!
Our “Three Day” Homeschool Week
Balancing work with homeschool is tricky. I had originally envisioned working in the afternoons and homeschooling in the morning, but things don’t always work out the way you would like. Some folks need housecleanings on certain days, and in one case, needed a morning not afternoon cleaning. So I found myself staring at three days each week (which vary) as our prime learning days.
Learning occurs on the other days, just not as intensively. On the “off” days we have cello practice, I read aloud to her, Em practices her math basics (3-minute timed tests), and she reads independently 1-2 chapters per day.
Most of the rest of the work can be finished in the three days that we have set aside. I’m rather amazed at what we can get accomplished in those few days!
Learning Averages and Using Them as Encouragement
I mentioned that Em practices math basics. These are three-minute timed tests in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. At the end of the three minutes I grade for errors, eliminating any incorrect answers, and tally up the number of correctly answered questions.
Today’s tally was 26 correct answers out of 26 questions answered. She scores very high on accuracy.
We then divide that number by 3 in order to learn the average number of questions answered in one minute, and then by 60 to learn the average number of seconds it takes for her to answer a question.
That happened to be 6.9 seconds today. We compared it to a subtraction test from last week, which came in at 7.8 seconds per question.
She subtracted 6.9 from 7.8 to learn that her average time had improved by nine-tenths of a second!
“Look Mom, I’m doing better!” she crowed.
She’s understanding why averages are important and how they can indicate performance.
A 2 1/2 Hour Mathematics Slogfest
I mentioned last week that after a page of dividing fractions in the Grade 6 Pre-Algebra book I had decided that once per week was more than enough. It had taken us nearly two hours!
Today was worse because there were more four additional problems AND after double-checking our answers with the answer key I realized we had solved two of the problems incorrectly.
We started work at 8:30 and finished at 11:00. By the time we did, Em was glassy-eyed and unable to manage even the most basic of math equations. She…was…DONE. I told her that she had passed a point where it was time to stop due to diminished returns. Thankfully, we finished a few minutes later.
One of the things we focused on, and that got Em really excited, were the shortcuts you can take in math by breaking things down. Take 40 x 15, for example. It breaks down into 40 x 10 plus 40 x 5. Last week when I began to show her these leaps, she was confused, but she has quickly caught on. I doubt I teach it like a math teacher would, but we keep going round until she understands me. In the end, if she understands me, and she understands the math, it’s all good.
Em Met Our Mayor!
After we finished the Pre-Algebra slogfest, she settled into creating some art while I read from 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens, Don’t Know Much About History, Women Who Dared, and we discussed a poem from Faber’s Book of Beasts.
That last one was interesting, it mentioned Reynard the Fox (a trickster fox) that appeared in Gunnerkrig Court graphic novels. While I was reading, my phone had been dinging with messages that turned out to be my husband, leaving work early and having to walk home.
We drove along the route and found him, coaxed him into the van so that we could go off to Mission Taco Joint for some of our favorite tacos and street corn. Mmmm. Soooo good!
Just as we are digging in, who should walk in the door and sit down at the table nearest us? Why Kansas City’s very own mayor, Sly James!
Em was fascinated and wanted to meet him, so Dave took her over, introduced himself as Lykins Neighborhood Association president, and then introduced Em to Sly.
It took Sly about half a minute to ask, “Why aren’t you in school, young lady?”
And of course, she told him she was homeschooled. I explained that she had truly earned a lunch out, having slogged through 2 1/2 hours of pre-Algebra and he asked her how she had felt about it.
“Well, it was a lot, but there is a definite sense of accomplishment,” she answered. “I worked hard at it, and it was a lot of math!”
She got a few photos with him and he was kind enough to give her a pin, told her she was articulate and encouraged her in her interests (science and art).
And I figure I can put a nice big check mark by the Social Studies box for the day. She just met a part of our local government!
Fun (in the rain) at the Zoo
After lunch we dropped my husband off and headed to the zoo to use our free pass. Kansas City residents get a certain number of free passes to the zoo, and we were eager to finally use one of ours. They are only good for weekdays and during the school year she was always in school on days I had off.
Em was very excited about seeing the stingray tank. In fact, it was the first place we went to and we stayed for nearly an hour. She was even able to feed them a fish that one of the zoo employees slipped her while whispering “Don’t tell anyone I let you do this, okay?”
The rays were absolutely magnificent, and we even managed a few pets of the nocturnal leopard sharks (a few oddballs were out and about) and they felt like lizards skin, very rough.
We took the tram to Africa and the rain began to come down. We kept on despite this, much to Em’s immense joy.
She so enjoyed our visit and we left just as they were announcing the zoo would be closing.
Public School Was an Amazing Reset
I know I’ve said this before, but I have say it again. Having Em attend a year of public school was beneficial in so many ways. Not only did she have amazing teachers, but I quickly realized I hadn’t been doing just an “okay” job – she was obviously in line with expectations. While I am sure there was some level of adaptation she needed to make, her abilities were there and ready to be utilized.
It has led to a far more relaxed state of mind for ME this year. Sure there was the initial, “Oh my god, am I choosing the right subjects to study?” panic. And I’m still not totally happy with history, but we are already slipping right into the swing of things and it is…glorious.
If I hadn’t had to take a step back and question everything, I wouldn’t be as certain that I was doing the right thing now.