1. Today I sat my third-grader down in front of Khan Academy for a refresher on how borrowing in subtraction works (good news: he remembered quickly, so I guess we'll retry that math test), and spent all my school time utzing the first-grader through her lessons. I pulled a page of sentences from the reading program she's taken against because I needed to test some sight words (good news: she recognizes "you" and "the", finally). She stamped and pouted through the first half, and ended up sitting on the floor.
"Look," I said. "We can spend all day in this room at this table trying to get through this page. Do you want to do that?"
"Or, you can work with me and look at the page while you're reading, and we can be done very soon."
"I'm going to count to three."
Bottom in the chair.
"All right. Let's get this done fast. It's 12:58. I'm writing it down. Then we'll write down the time you finish and see how fast it goes. Are you looking at the page?"
She started reluctantly, but read faster as we reached the end, and finished the six sentences by 1:02. Success
2. Then it was math: writing number sentences based on word problems. Stamp, stamp.
"Let's check this out. 'Matt has 8 pens. He gives 3 away to Sal. How many pens does he have left?'"
"It says he gives three away, and then asks how many he has left. Are those addition words or subtraction words?"
She sulkily drew a minus sign in the bubble.
"Okay, how many does he start with? And then how many do we take away? Let's try it with fingers."
And so on. She was figuring it out but not loving it. Each successive problem drew fresh moans. Eventually I took to having her dictate the answers while I wrote. So on to the last problem.
"Jan has 7 cats. She gives 2 cats to Nick..."
"Did you count that up?"
"I know it in my head."
I raged. I yelled. I crumpled up the finished paper and threw across the room as she collapsed into proud giggles. Then she ran off, and I sighed and collected the phonics book for the next round. Fortunately, she likes phonics.
3. The first-grader wants to learn cursive, so we have a notebook in which each day I write a letter and have her copy it and practice joining it. If she wants to write cursive, we'll do cursive.
4. Obviously, sometimes something you're doing with your children is simply not working, and you need to pivot. And children all learn in different styles, so that needs to be taken into account. But in general, I've found over the years, with my own children, that when they balk and fuss at schoolwork, it's simply that they'd rather not be doing schoolwork. A sentiment many people share, I'm sure, but it's not going to fly when you need to learn to multiply or read. I don't think that education needs to be tedious all the time, but sometimes learning is work and just needs to be done. And sometimes the discipline of keeping your bottom in your chair until you finish your work is acquired by your mother repeatedly placing the bottom in the chair until the work is complete.
5. And later on, this can translate into older children having the discipline to supervise their own work and schedule, while their mother instills discipline into the younger ones.
6. Speaking of older kids and their work, I say again that although the lesson plans from Catholic Heritage Curriculum have worked out well for the big girls, the actual materials are so frustrating that we certainly will be doing something else next school year. It's so Catholicky. Everything in every subject must be explicitly tied to the Church. This is one path for children raised in fervently religious homes to fall away when they're independent. No truth is allowed to stand on its own merits. It must become a pious bludgeon for Catholicism. And eventually the children learn to associate the truth of Catholicism with the bludgeon and not the piety.
Not in my house.
7. To be honest, a lot of our time lately has been spent watching Studio C sketches on Youtube. This is a group out of Brigham Young University, and they do clean SNL-style sketches that are consistently hilarious.
Learning some history:
Watching some TV:
Discussing the cinema:
Spoiling a BBC series:
What Harry and the gang really want:
We Can't Handle the Truth?
4 hours ago