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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where We’re At


A while back I posted about lighting a fire under the kiddos (and myself).  And you are probably wondering:  is he finally learning those times tables?

Yes, actually, he is.  I knew he would.  He is making slow but sure progress, with a little help from a 3rd grade math book that was first published in 1938.  It’s called Living Arithmetic.  We’re skipping over most of it (except for some review), but it teaches multiplication brilliantly, giving varied practice on each set of facts until he’s got it, then we move on.  He doesn’t like copying math problems from a book and answering them, but it’s been good for him.

I’ve a confession to make.  I didn’t learn the times tables until 4th grade.  And I didn’t learn them in school…my mom taught me after school.  Because I wasn’t learning them.

And I just found out something.  Hubby didn’t learn the times tables until around 4th or 5th grade either.  He doesn’t remember how he learned them, but he does remember the frustration he felt when he couldn’t get them.  And he admits that he still has to think about the 7’s (so do I!).

You see, we do understand.  And that’s part of the reason it’s so important to us that he get it.

So, math is working.  I’m pretty sure that David will be totally caught up with his peers by the end of this school year.  Or at least he’ll be ready for what they call “6th grade” work in the fall.  He can definitely do this.

On to other subjects.

The workboxes are not such a good fit for us.  I can’t really implement them the way Sue Patrick suggests anyway (not enough room!), and it conflicts somewhat with our together work to do it that way.  So I was using a modified version.  I had a book for each child that has 8 plastic pockets (picked them up on clearance at Walmart).   I can put worksheets, paper, pencils, things of that nature into the pockets.  For larger books, I would just put a note in the pocket. 

But, that doesn’t really work well for Peter (can’t read yet).  I honestly think he might benefit from doing the full workbox thing, but I have 2 major obstacles:  finding a place to keep the boxes that Emma can’t get into (but he can!), fitting them anywhere at all.  Plus, there’s the initial investment in boxes.  I won’t use the clear shoeboxes, because I won’t treat my books and supplies that way.  Too many things simply wouldn’t fit and would need to be folded or else put to the side with a note in the box.  So, I’m stuck with more expensive ways to do it and, well, that’s not really an option right now. Hmmm…

How about doing “activity bags” instead:  Just using gallon size bags and putting them into a crate for him.  They would be able to accommodate bulky items the way that file folders or other flatter things  can’t.  And wouldn’t require a big investment.  Hmm, the wheels are turning.  When he’s not using them, the whole crate could be up out of Emma’s reach.  And when he is using them, it might be easier to keep her distracted…

Anyway, where was I? 

Ah, I found that putting together the workboxes for the older two was a bit time consuming.  And redundant.  And they didn’t really like it. 

So I suggested doing an assignment sheet for each of them instead.  This week was our trial run.  I took their pocket books and used one pocket for each day of the week (if this idea works, I’ll make a label for each pocket).  They just flip to the pocket for today and find their assignment sheet plus any worksheets, paper, etc. they need for that day.  The necessary books are grouped with the pocket book. I also write in read alouds and activities we do together so they can check them off---they know exactly what they need to accomplish each day.  As they complete their work, they put it back in the pocket to be checked over later.

So far…I need to tweak this.  Mary’s #1 complaint is that she cannot read my half-print/half-cursive handwriting (wink). My #1 complaint is there’s not enough room to fully explain the assignments.  And that if David comes to an assignment that requires Mama’s help and Mama’s not available, he disappears.  Or if I put independent reading on the list, he’ll do that and nothing else.  I really don’t want to have to stand at my 10-year-old’s elbow all day, every day.

So, this system could work with some tweaks.  The question is, do I want it to work? 

Yes, we did get lots done this week.  And we were done by 2 almost every day.  I even got at least 2 loads of laundry done EVERY day.  But our attitude was not so good…it was too much “come on, let’s get it done so we can play.”  Hmmm, I feel a conference with God coming on.

What have you been trying differently in your homeschool lately?

This post is linked to the Weekly Wrap-up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


  1. I have a confession to make. I wrote most of mine on my hand and managed to recite my tables w/o being caught in 3rd grade when they were taught. In 6th grade, I tried to sit and study them while we were over at the house of my parent's friends and all the adults gave me a hard time for "working so hard" and they wouldn't LET me study despite me crying and telling them how I was picked on. To date I still stink at 7's, 8's and 9's! There are a few others that I have to still think really hard about as well.

    I'm thankful for homeschooling for the opportunity to re-learn all that I missed as a child. :)

    I WANT your book!!!

  2. I didn't learn mine until 4th-5th grades and math STILL frightens me~yikes! LOL...I see LOADS of progress here, you go girl! I can relate to feeling too..

  3. I'm discovering more and more what I (and others I know) didn't really learn in school. And you are right, Kristi, homeschooling is as much for me as for the kiddos. I've learned sooo much the past few years.

    We're pushing a little on the math now because I can sense that David's hate for math is intertwined with his need to be "perfect" at everything. That and he's definitely capable of learning some more difficult math concepts, but it'll be so much easier for him to do those things if he's got the times tables under his belt (he could improve his addition and subtraction speed a bit, too).

  4. I had a tough math teacher in 4th grade who gave us timed written tests every Friday. And she kept a chart of how everyone did on said timed tests posted by the door. Who do you think was flunking every test? And who's mom discovered it on "Back to School" night? (blush)

  5. Times tables can be so boring to learn. My teacher used to make us all chant them out loud a couple of times a day.
    My children have grasped the more relevant ones as they apply to daily use. Eg: counting a couple of dozen eggs to sell to the neighbours, or multiplying the cost per dozen when sold.

    Workboxes ... we don't use them either.
    A lady on our homeschool forum is trying to set them up by turning a narrow bookshelf on it's side. That way she still has pigeon-holes per child.
    I just run through who needs help with what. If I'm needed with one child, the other has to find something they can manage alone. Then we swap around.


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