Friday, September 9, 2011

Two Weeks

Today we passed the Two Week milestone. We've made it through two weeks of our newest adventure: schooling at home. There have been 'Ups' and there have been some lows; some times where I've felt like I was on top of the world, and other moments where I felt trampled on, ground into the dirt.

You know what those two extremes have in common? It's one very, very simple phrase: This is why we're doing this. This is why we're sacrificing with my staying home. This is why we're giving up so many things.

For better or for worse: This.

Both of the girls have struggled with math. I'm not sure how genetic such a thing is, but if heredity plays any part it, they had a 50-50 chance of this. And no, I'm not too ashamed to admit that I am the weakest link in the genetic train of thought here. Math and me got along about as famously as a feral cat and a rabid dog. Which is to say, I would have rather been almost anywhere in the whole entire world (including a backed up bathroom stall in Grand Central Station), than sitting in a math class. I'm sorry, Mathletes of the world, I do not mean to offend. Math just never came easily to me. It's why I'm dabbling in words right now and not numbers.

But I digress. Math has always been their weaker area. I have approached each of our daily Math lessons with some amount of thoughtful trepidation; my eyes keenly scouting out cracks in the foundation of their understanding. And this week I spotted a gap. I taught the concept, Greater Than, Less Than, with the same hands on approach that each lesson takes. They played with my base 10 blocks, we used flash cards to create True or Not true statements, and we played rounds and rounds of Ready, Set, Compare. And for each activity, each new thing, they did well. Perfectly well. And yet the very moment I put a worksheet before them for more practice, the 3-dimensional world of manipulatives and play fell away and they were faced with the flat reality of numerals on paper. 34 __ 88  had no meaning for them. They could not do a single problem.

My frustration level grew. How could this be? When I handed them the 10 rods and some cubes, they were golden. 34? You mean 3 ten rods and 4 cubes? OH! Yep, that's smaller than 88. But to look at it on paper, no go.

But, as I said before. This is why we're doing this. It's for times like this. Rather than let them feel behind or move on to a new concept, we put the work and frustrations aside and took a breather. We did math in other ways: counting, reading numbers, finding numbers on signs, and so on. We did math, thank you. In a different way, going back to a place where they felt comfortable and confident. They smiled. I smiled. We breathed again.

This morning we revisited those irksome Greater Than & Less Than devils, with rested minds and fresh perspectives. And you know what? They didn't get us today. Not this time. The girls rocked the snot out of Chompers and his unworldly hunger. They did every problem with a sense of confidence that wasn't there yesterday. They took a test on it with assurance and strategy in place.

Then they looked at me and declared, "Mom! I can do this. I can. I really, really can."

And I'll say it again. This is why we're doing this.

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