Back To School

It’s that time of year again. A type of new year for everyone where there is the new year sorting and sifting through priorities and setting up goals and schedules. I always have had mixed feeling about the “back to school” reshuffling and starting anew, but especially as a homeschooler combining the home and classroom, teacher and student, daily life and business life all together on one not-so-tidy bunch.

For moms who homeschool it means taking on another fulltime job that can be quite consuming, but one that has lots of “flex-time”. Because I have specific goals for the computer time, this year will see a combination of homeschooling and my computer time. With a laptop that is possible, and much better than squirreling away in a corner trying to catch time to do computer activities ( which for me combine home business, hobby, and household obligations ( banking chores, accounting household expenses,etc). With older children I don’t need to do so much hands on teaching as I do ensuring that the assignments get done. That makes me a hall monitor during the time they are supposed to do their math assignments, write, complete research and reports, et al. That part is always more difficult to fold into daily housekeeping because if you aren’t physically present the likelihood is for the group to disperse and find something they like doing better. Which usually isn’t important to academics, to put it diplomatically. And you can only do so much housework in one room.

I think that is a big difference in the schooling of younger children and older ones: the younger you incorporate into what you are interested in, your activities and chores, and bring the learning experience into that… with older children you must incorporate yourself into their activities and thinking, their assignments, You have to be more concentrated in your focus on them when that takes place, the time needed for the older ones is inversely proportionate to that needed for the younger ones. Young kids take lots of time, but you don’t have to intensely concentrate on their ways, moods, thoughts, in the same way that you have to with the older children. Older children are much more on their own, working independently, but when they need guidance it has to be with full attention and concentrated. You have to grab teachable moments more with the older ones because they seem to be fewer and farther in between.

So, the lap top and computer time are going to be sanity savers for me this year. I will probably not be as sleep deprived since that is when I used to catch computer time. Of course, the main thing that will help our schooltime is the fact that I don’t have (keep fingers crossed) family upheaval. If you have consistency and harmony it goes a very long way to having effectual school and learning time. But as I mentioned in a conversation with my husband, there is a certain challenge for us right now as all our children at home are now teens. Teenage angst x 4

This afternoon for instance I have to sit down with my oldest teen son and explain why algebra is important. He challenged me this morning and rather than allow the argument escalate ( it was taking lots of my time and I was getting hot under the collar) I said “I will discuss it with you later today, right now just get your math book and do it.” He said ok, he wants that discussion. Now that is good in one way and not good in another. Anytime a teen wants to sit down and discuss an issue with you is good, but the bad thing is that I have always been math handicapped ( Thank God for Saxon Math ) and that is largely underneath my emphasis of its importance for them. I have no idea why algebra is important, or what jobs it relates to.. or why we have to jump through the hoop of learning it. But we do ( I’ve heard we do from smarter people than myself). I just know that I have regretted over and over how lacking my own math education was – that it was stunted and I believed the lie that I was just stupid in math. No one needs to be stupid in math if they have average intelligence. they just need the proper tutoring until it “clicks” for them. My husband went on to do well in University level higher math, but he was tutored when he kept flunking it in an early stage. With his help and Saxon Math, my older kids pretty much went into math related fields of Computer engineering. The daughter who went into a service field was very good in math and uses it to good advantage in her business and personal life. We broke the mold on the “math handicap” with me. Thank God I am the last in that line…..

So. What to do? the trusty computer comes through. I googled the question at hand and am ready for the conversation. Algebra is important for thinking and thought processes. It is important for anything that requires higher math (engineering, computer fields), and in other things…which I have to review (though I have it bookmarked for the discussion). I expect to win this one. I don’t mind the asking of why, what I do mind is that a kid make up their mind that something is or is not important based on…. nothing… just their feeling of the moment. (which we all know changes with the wind).

We all have that, don’t we? We realize much, much later that we should have spent more time learning a lesson that we needed before we passed by the allotted time to master it. Before we found something lacking in our knowledge bank.

And so… we will start this new year of school, and I will try to give my children what they need in life. It is a daunting task, one that I have not always accomplished well, certainly not as well as hoped and intended. Yet, it is a fresh start, where the mistakes are learned from and repented of, the new solutions implemented. The thing I have best learned is that consistency wins the day. Try to have each day a success in learning something of usefulness. Now, there is a lesson for life.

One thought on “Back To School”

  1. I can’t believe I’m writing this. I’m absolutely kicking myself for blowing off math in school. On one hand, I was a music freak and barely finished high school so I could hit the road with a band in 1968. And when I did get around to college I got my degrees in journalism and mass communication. However… had I known that our culture was going to become so mathematically inclined, I would have pressed in a bit more. We have a tendency in our culture to want to only address the here and now; I blame television largely for that — life happens in 22 minutes, plus commercials.

    Oh, well… what do I know? I have a dog.

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