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mms

Changing a curriculum that's working or conflict of philosophy & learning style

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Edit 6/11: Thanks everyone! Update on page 3.

I'm posting here because I'm hoping that this will generate some discussion beyond the limits of my particular situation though any insights you want to share for me personally would be appreciated.  What I'd like to talk about is moving away from a curriculum that is clearly working but is in conflict with one's philosophy of education and under what circumstances that is or isn't a prudent course of action.  Or alternatively, under what circumstances would you actively pick a curriculum that is in conflict with your educational philosophy based on a child's preferences.  And when would you push through with something that a child actively dislikes but it is overall suited for them even though there are options available that the child would both like and be suited for.

I started homeschooling strictly for academic reasons.  I knew that I could not afford the sort of solid education I received (which I now realize wasn't even that solid) and sending the kids to PS meant that I would need to afterschool heavily and it just made more sense to just homeschool from the beginning.  Over time, I evolved from homeschooling out of necessity to "Wow, I love homeschooling and I can't imagine NOT providing an individual education for each child and taking advantage of all the freedom HS allows."  Ironically, this attitude is leading me now to move away from the strict academic standards that I set early on.

At what point do I throw in the towel on what I think is important for her and just let her be who she is?  Where is the line between challenging a child and helping them grow/expand their interests and being pushy with one's own agenda?  Is it sufficient to say: you must study this (Latin, math, etc) but allow lots of freedom in how the subject is approached?

Edited by mms
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To your question of whether or not it is sufficient to require a subject but allow freedom in how it is studied, yes.  I think it is sufficient.  However, at the same time I think you can certainly find balance between 2 ideals.  For an example: my kid picked First Form Latin this year.  I hate it with a passion, he's mostly okay with it.  He likes how formulaic it is.  We reached a compromise of having a set time for Latin, with about 3/4 of that being FFL.  The rest of the time that day I bring in more fun supplements: an activity book, Cambridge...another exposure to things he knows and can do well but in a different setting. 

You can always devote one day of math each week to something different, or cut Saxon lessons shorter and do a bit each day.

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I think you are missing the forest for the trees. Have created an incomplete (or possibly, false) dichotomy in your mind about this whole thing. You have a philosophy, and you have a reality.

You can only change ONE of them because the other one is set by forces-that-are-not-you.

I think that you should continue to use Saxon for as long as it works. Period.

She might use it successfully beyond 7/6 and she might not experience success with it until Calculus. Just use Saxon for as long as it works and make sure that you don't let your philosophy get in the way of her being successful.

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Just to clarify: I am not speaking here of pushing a child beyond their abilities or accelerating a child working at the right level for that individual.  I am specifically reflecting on style of presentation/method/philosophical outlook (e.g. grammar first vs. immersion, traditional vs. conceptual).  I am more than happy following a child's abilities and interests.  I have no wish to push one of my kids into something that is not suitable for them.  The issue is one of balancing child-input with that of the parent.

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Edited by mms
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Two thoughts when I read your original post....

1) I have one for whom math has been a challenge.  The continual review in Saxon was very good for her up until prealgebra, but I was concerned that it wouldn't work as well for upper maths.   For Algebra 1 I switched her to MUS and it has been a great fit for her.  There are some things she could use more review on (more than I've made her do - we don't do all the worksheets in MUS, but I think her actual understanding is better).  I'm still not a fan of MUS in the younger years, jmho, nor would I use it for anyone other than her (unless as a pre-algebra year.)

2) There are other ways besides academics to provide challenge.  Imho, you can leave academics in a format that is comfortable for if she has opportunity for wrestling with good ideas through her reading (you mentioned) AND if you are addressing character formation in a different setting in a way that you are happy with - maybe household chores, maybe music lessons, maybe sports, maybe scouts, maybe some other endeavor.  At some point, kids (and adults - ha!) have to learn how to do things they don't want to do.  But it doesn't have to be academics.    

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Her brain probably works differently than yours.  The things you love about math, she may never love about math.  The things you find beautiful in math, she may never find beautiful.  I have a bachelor's degree in math, and my dd dislikes math but does okay with MUS in high school.  We are different people.  Focus on what works for your dd for math and what makes her appreciate it.  If Saxon is working and she likes it, recognize this is something to treasure.  Keep it up until she needs to switch ( and she may, but let her be the determiner of that, not you with some abstract philosophy about how she should appreciate the same things in the same way as you).  HTH!

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It's so hard when our children don't love the things that have been important in forming our own identities. Trust me, I know. I have great experience in this with my own dd. But our children are not us; they are their own people.

Even though she may be capable of doing the "puzzle math" you put before her (she's obviously very bright and eager to please), there's a good chance that she won't ever *love* math and look at it the same way you do. Some people see math as beautiful and exciting and something that makes sense of the world. For others, math is a means to accomplish an end, a tool -- but for them, other things (words, pictures, sounds, ideas) are what make life beautiful and meaningful. Do both kinds of people need to be able to use math? Yes. But not everyone will find the same level of satisfaction in manipulating numbers and solving puzzles, just as not everyone will find the same level of satisfaction in reading or writing a beautifully constructed descriptive paragraph or in a creating a particular combination of musical notes or in contemplating a deep philosophical idea.

Saxon will provide her with a solid math education. It's okay if she doesn't love math, or even understand it in the same way you do. As long as she can make the numbers do what they need to do (and it sounds like she's doing great with that already), she will be fine.

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I've had several things not work out the way I expected - living books were a miss here (older hated not being able to tell what was real and what was fiction, younger didn't want to read that much, neither wanted to imagine living at a particular time in history), and interest-led learning doesn't work for my younger because once I start to write down what we're doing in the school agenda, it's no longer interesting 🙂  .  I never imagined that we'd do some subjects the way that we do, but as long as the kiddos are learning, I don't see any reason to pick a way that they'd enjoy less.  As my older becomes more able to write, I've started assigning history essays every 2-4 weeks.  It's been fascinating to see how this kid sees history - what is important, what the long-term effects of various choices were....while we can both learn to know what the other thinks, we are not always going to find joy, interest, or beauty in the same facts, sights, and ideas.  

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It sounds like your dd learns math and Latin best through incremental, step by step instruction.  THere is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  It is simply how she masters content.  I personally don't have kids that would flourish with Saxon, but don't conflate MM and other math programs' approaches with superior mathematical outcomes.  There are 10s of 1000s (or more) students who have used Saxon as their math program for K12 that have gone on to have STEM careers. 

Math wars tend to exaggerate real math outcomes.  According to the posters on this site, Horizons elementary math teaches zero conceptual math and is purely algorithmic in approach.  It is what all of my kids have used for elementary math and ***shockingly*** (complete snark here!) I have a chemical engineer ds and a phd ds majoring in theoretical cosmology at Berkeley.  Obviously, both were solid math students.  🙂

Just bc she thrives with those approaches for those subjects does not mean that you can't take a different approach with literature, history, writing, science, etc.  Let her thrive with math and Latin with direct step by step instruction and use other subjects to challenge her in a different way.  You can read deeply, relate history, science, and literature, talk about connections, search for allusions, etc and explore those subjects in a more "putting the puzzle together" approach.

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I love this board so much.  You ladies always have managed to give me such a healthy dose of reality.

4 hours ago, Another Lynn said:

2) There are other ways besides academics to provide challenge.  Imho, you can leave academics in a format that is comfortable for if she has opportunity for wrestling with good ideas through her reading (you mentioned) AND if you are addressing character formation in a different setting in a way that you are happy with - maybe household chores, maybe music lessons, maybe sports, maybe scouts, maybe some other endeavor.  At some point, kids (and adults - ha!) have to learn how to do things they don't want to do.  But it doesn't have to be academics.    

That is a good reminder.  She does chores and music lessons and I am actually very happy with her work habits.  I made the mistake early on of burning her out on academics by starting too soon with too much.  The work of Ella Frances Lynch really helped me find a balance between academics and good child development practices for my younger kids and I've managed to avoid that with them, but DD10 is my first and I don't really know what I'm doing as she gets older, what is appropriate and what's not.

 

 

2 hours ago, ClemsonDana said:

I've had several things not work out the way I expected - living books were a miss here (older hated not being able to tell what was real and what was fiction, younger didn't want to read that much, neither wanted to imagine living at a particular time in history), and interest-led learning doesn't work for my younger because once I start to write down what we're doing in the school agenda, it's no longer interesting 🙂  .  I never imagined that we'd do some subjects the way that we do, but as long as the kiddos are learning, I don't see any reason to pick a way that they'd enjoy less.  As my older becomes more able to write, I've started assigning history essays every 2-4 weeks.  It's been fascinating to see how this kid sees history - what is important, what the long-term effects of various choices were....while we can both learn to know what the other thinks, we are not always going to find joy, interest, or beauty in the same facts, sights, and ideas.  

I can identify with so much of this, esp the part about the school agenda!  I actually had to give up on trying to incorporate science or history in anyway into our school day because the amount of outside investigations/reading that DD was engaging in was directly proportional to the amount of assigned work she had.  When I do not assign anything history or science related but instead "strew" materials about she is far more likely to engage in nature study on her own or start up a conversation with DH about some obscure history topic they are into.  When I tried assigning mandatory science/history (even just interest led required 20 min of read in this subject) she would spend all her free time reading easy series type things (e.g. Hardy Boys) and wouldn't touch her nature notebook for months.  That's one of the reasons I've been afraid to have her start writing across the curriculum: I'm worried that even remotely turning these things that she loves into school subjects would immediately kill whatever spark of interest she has.

 

16 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

It sounds like your dd learns math and Latin best through incremental, step by step instruction.  THere is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  It is simply how she masters content.  I personally don't have kids that would flourish with Saxon, but don't conflate MM and other math programs' approaches with superior mathematical outcomes.  There are 10s of 1000s (or more) students who have used Saxon as their math program for K12 that have gone on to have STEM careers. 

Math wars tend to exaggerate real math outcomes.  According to the posters on this site, Horizons elementary math teaches zero conceptual math and is purely algorithmic in approach.  It is what all of my kids have used for elementary math and ***shockingly*** (complete snark here!) I have a chemical engineer ds and a phd ds majoring in theoretical cosmology at Berkeley.  Obviously, both were solid math students.  🙂

Just bc she thrives with those approaches for those subjects does not mean that you can't take a different approach with literature, history, writing, science, etc.  Let her thrive with math and Latin with direct step by step instruction and use other subjects to challenge her in a different way.  You can read deeply, relate history, science, and literature, talk about connections, search for allusions, etc and explore those subjects in a more "putting the puzzle together" approach.

Your posts on here really made me reexamine how I viewed early childhood education.  I did a whole bunch of "developmentally appropriate" pre-school math activities with DD10 and looking back I do think that the early start directly impacted the way she sees math now.  Reading your posts on the importance of non-directed play in the early years made me completely change course with her younger siblings and I can tell a definite difference in abilities to problem solve.  DD10 always tries to "find the right way" (I think that is what makes Saxon so comforting: there is only one right way, the Saxon way) whereas the next two are far more likely to come up with creative solutions to both real world and academic problems.

I'm starting to think that maybe focusing on logic/problem solving via math is really an attempt on my part to take the easier way out.  I have trouble with how to use other subjects to challenge her appropriately.  I really need to spend some time and energy before next school year really reflecting on your last paragraph.

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You could also spend time playing strategy games.  Multiple step planning in strategy games is a great mental exercise and fun.  :)  YOu might see growth in her problem-solving across the spectrum of life simply by helping her develop strategies in general.  :)

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OP, something struck me when reading your posts about math and Latin, re puzzle math, and fluency in Latin. I'll try to connect my own dots here, lol. I have one kid in AOPS pre-algebra who loves discussing challenge problems, etc. And I have one kid who wants to do his CLE for the day by himself and get it over with and a very math-loving DH who obviously prefers the AOPS approach. We also do MP Latin.

We don't study Latin for fluency here (as in creating/speaking it ourselves) as much as we study it for a)reading Latin texts, and b)the actual puzzle/problem solving nature of the grammar and structure of the language itself. So what you are looking for in puzzle math may actually be found in the Forms series and Latin grammar. It is, in a lot of ways, like balancing an equation or finding the  correct solution when you sometimes don't know where to start with a translation. So studying Latin grammar for the purposes of translation and reading is almost a complement to mathematics and logic and those subjects, which is why fluency and immersion is not our goal here. All that to say, you may find FFL to fill the math gap you see with "only" doing Saxon.

I also told my kids that it will aid them in becoming fluent in any other language should they so choose, but that the point of it was not the same as a Spanish or French or Russian class where immersion would be necessary for fluency.

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Also I know two people personally who are in comp sci, both love math, were home schooled with Saxon all the way through and would recommend it to anyone as a solid math education. One of them is my DH who much prefers AOPS now for pre Algebra and up, but would happily use Saxon if that's all we had available. And we see eye-to-eye on letting CLE kid continue on with it because it reaches him for some reason the way BA or Saxon absolutely did not.

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I don't think you currently have a problem. I think you already have a solution to a problem that no longer exists. You said you tried things your way, and you said: "She does not like math." That was a problem. Then you used Saxon, and you said: "She loved it." and: "It was clearly her style." I think you need to drop all math except Saxon unless it stops working for her at some point. I don't think you should ever change or supplement with anything else until she wants a change.

When I was in engineering at college, my (brilliant) friend told me she learned math with Saxon and loved it. It has been around a long time and is actually more tried than the newer products/methods that people are using today. 

I don't think you should spend another minute worrying or making plans about this. I think you should rejoice that your math problem has been solved.

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1 hour ago, Skippy said:

I don't think you should spend another minute worrying or making plans about this. I think you should rejoice that your math problem has been solved.

Yup, this. And fwiw Lynn's idea of Saxon to MUS is very wise, right on. 

It's very hard to accept the difference between what we THOUGHT educating would be and what it really is. You're making this all about YOU and the education YOU wish you had had and the way YOU think people ought to learn. 

18 hours ago, mms said:

I honestly do not believe one can achieve reading fluency in a foreign language without actually reading, no matter how much grammar is studied

I'm having a good laugh here, as someone who has studied just a few languages, lol. Prepare to burn out on this one too. It sounds like your dd might have some low processing speed relative to IQ. She likes what she likes and is who she is. If you stop and think about it, are you REALLY SERIOUS that you think "reading" is the only way to become fluent? Like hang all those linguists who go into places and learn with field methods. Hang people who have a couple years of college study and then become fluent abroad. Yeah, they weren't REALLY fluent, lol. Whatever.

If you hit too hard against how her brain really works and how she processes, you're just gonna get burnt. You might do better on this if you stop and ask how SHE learns well.

14 hours ago, mms said:

I'm starting to think that maybe focusing on logic/problem solving via math is really an attempt on my part to take the easier way out.  I have trouble with how to use other subjects to challenge her appropriately. 

She sounds like a self-motivated learner who maybe is passionate about some things that aren't your areas of interest. Not sure if it's art, or people relations in the humanities or what, but you might look for that. I'm your linguist/math kind of person, and my dd was all about people and relationships. She's still that way btw. Anyway, she'd sit there for hours studying timelines in her COFAs to see how Mary Todd Lincoln's children turned out, and I'm like WHO GIVES A RIP??? She had questions that weren't in any curriculum, because that's her area of gift. She brought it to literature, philosophy, opera (ooo yeah, lots of relationships there!), history, etc. 

You might give her some room to explore like this. You can watch and see what she's thinking about and what interests her, and then find out how people stimulate themselves who are interested in that angle of life. That's what I tried to do with my dd. I went ok, she's into narrative, so what do other narrative thinkers do to become self-learners? And I noticed they read ESSAYS on things. They're crazy widely read, because as long as there's an essay, a narrative, they're like oh this is fascinating! So we did all our high school stuff bringing in that narrative, essay component just as much as we could.

So whatever. Don't be stuck on yourself and your ideas too much. I mean, not to be personal, but just saying. It's not about you. If you want your education, go work on it. This is her education, and the point of being at home is to customize it like that.

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Peter Pan, I’d give your posts five likes if I could. I, too, had ways of thinking, philosophies I clung to, subject areas I was passionate about and “the education I never had”. And then.... there’s the kids I have. And all I held dear had to be let go. But it really is, ok, and I am finding that self-education is a good thing, too.

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1 hour ago, KrissiK said:

Peter Pan, I’d give your posts five likes if I could. I, too, had ways of thinking, philosophies I clung to, subject areas I was passionate about and “the education I never had”. And then.... there’s the kids I have. And all I held dear had to be let go. But it really is, ok, and I am finding that self-education is a good thing, too.

Yup, that's how we all learn, the hard way, lol. And I don't know if the op is dealing with this, but I had to deal with my own intellectual boredom. I can't solve MY issues by teaching my kid, because my IQ is higher, what I need to do is more challenging.

The best way to make sure you're not doing too much with your kid or trying to hard is to MAKE YOURSELF BUSY. Go take up a hobby. Go do something for yourself that so occupies your brain that you force yourself to whittle down to what is essential. You need some distance. It's good modeling too. :biggrin: 

On April 14, 2019 at 8:56 AM, mms said:

At what point do I throw in the towel on what I think is important for her and just let her be who she is?  Where is the line between challenging a child and helping them grow/expand their interests and being pushy with one's own agenda?

I can tell you that for me, the realization that I was going to have to teach the specific child, not a theoretical child, became really obvious right about the age your dd is. You can't see so many old board posts now because of the changes, but if you could you could track my aha moments on this, haha. But yeah, this is the age where you hit that, which means you're right on target. I think it's a natural transition because the bent of the child is becoming so obvious. It's not that what you did in the past was bad, but just that it's more clear now how to go for the future.

As far as expanding interests, I think you can expand to ANYTHING and ought to expand to anything, so long as you're tapping into how they see the world and process the world and connect with the world. My ds10 is crazy with worksheets. Beats me why, because with his mix you'd think something else would be right. Gifted, ASD, in motion most of the day, that does NOT make you think worksheets, right? Nope, I can get him to do ANYTHING if I stick it in front of him as a worksheet. Blows my mind. We're doing civics and geography and science vocabulary and stuff that you're like no way... It's amazing. 

With my dd, like I said, it was that narrative thought process. I really like the Eide's book Dyslexic Advantage for this. My dd was diagnosed ADHD and it really fit her. My ds is diagnosed dyslexic (among other things) and it never fit him, go figure. So they talk about these narrative thinkers who take longer to make connections but make more intertwining connections. My dd is like this. She was a HUGE reader, prolific reader. My ds hardly even touches books, so the contrast is crazy. And this dd, wow the ACT scores. Crazy strong. And she was just telling me yesterday she's like Mom, I need to READ this summer. College is getting in the way of her learning, lol. But it's for real!! 

So with dd, I could get her into anything (biology, nuclear chemistry, anything) if I could get it into those essays, something she could read and engage with, a narrative, a question. Around the age of op's dc we were using Muse magazine a lot, and in high school we used a lot of the "Best Essay" annual collections. They have them for cooking, nature writing, crime writing, anything you want. We read a lot of books off AP reading lists for science, so she read books recommended for AP bio supplemental reading while she did bio. She's NOT a science person particularly, but she could engage brilliantly with these materials. I had her do a lot of response journals, and then in college she realized why. She read a lot of philosophy, like heady stuff (Nancy Pearcy, etc.). More response journals. Sometimes I made study guides to go with the books, but lots of response journaling, just thinking, making connections. 

So you SHOULD educate widely, yes, yes!! But you do it by realizing how their brains are processing and connecting to the world. I wanted my dd to be a lifelong learner, and I knew that if I shoved straight textbooks in her face she'd not retain and never want to see the topics again. Instead she's now engaged broadly with the world, interested in science, opera, anything, because she knows how to connect with it and why she would be interested.

She used MUS finally in high school, and really it was a good thing. I don't really see a lot of differences in the Jacobs Human Endeavor, Life of Fred, etc. to be trying so many things. The genre was a bust, so move on. A reason MUS was good for my dd was because it taught her how to learn, how to stick with something and monitor her comprehension and back up and say I didn't get this. When a kid is reading a lot, that textbooky skill is really different. It's a complementary thing, and it's not all bad. It gives them a variety, and maybe that's part of the reason your dd craves that structure. Maybe it balances out her world a bit. We always assume kids don't know what they need, but sometimes they do. Maybe they just don't know how to explain it. So we can look at what's working and connect the dots. But yeah, if you're feeling like xyz approach isn't good enough, you need to get those voices out of your head. Your dd functions as an individual. I'm math snob enough to know the issues with MUS, mercy, but I can look back at it and say it was good for HER. It taught her good skills that are serving her well. You have to look at your person as a whole, as a human, and shut out the "has to be the best, it's not the best" voices.

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On 4/15/2019 at 8:02 AM, Skippy said:

I don't think you currently have a problem. I think you already have a solution to a problem that no longer exists. You said you tried things your way, and you said: "She does not like math." That was a problem. Then you used Saxon, and you said: "She loved it." and: "It was clearly her style." I think you need to drop all math except Saxon unless it stops working for her at some point. I don't think you should ever change or supplement with anything else until she wants a change.

When I was in engineering at college, my (brilliant) friend told me she learned math with Saxon and loved it. It has been around a long time and is actually more tried than the newer products/methods that people are using today. 

I don't think you should spend another minute worrying or making plans about this. I think you should rejoice that your math problem has been solved.

Well, she still dislikes math 🙂 But, if she has to do math she loves doing it the Saxon way.

Editing out personal details!

Edited by mms
"did not want to limit her" not "did" Removing personal details

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8 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Yup, that's how we all learn, the hard way, lol. And I don't know if the op is dealing with this, but I had to deal with my own intellectual boredom. I can't solve MY issues by teaching my kid, because my IQ is higher, what I need to do is more challenging.

The best way to make sure you're not doing too much with your kid or trying to hard is to MAKE YOURSELF BUSY. Go take up a hobby. Go do something for yourself that so occupies your brain that you force yourself to whittle down to what is essential. You need some distance. It's good modeling too. :biggrin: 

LOL, I don't really have a problem with boredom: too many kids and elderly relatives that need my care and energy.  I've been trying to self-educate all along and unfortunately there is less and less time for that each passing year .  Well, once the kids are grown I have great plans!  Next year I'm actually looking forward to doing a physical science lab with the high schoolers in our co-op, gives me an excuse to brush up on physics & chemistry.

I can tell you that for me, the realization that I was going to have to teach the specific child, not a theoretical child, became really obvious right about the age your dd is. You can't see so many old board posts now because of the changes, but if you could you could track my aha moments on this, haha. But yeah, this is the age where you hit that, which means you're right on target. I think it's a natural transition because the bent of the child is becoming so obvious. It's not that what you did in the past was bad, but just that it's more clear now how to go for the future.

As far as expanding interests, I think you can expand to ANYTHING and ought to expand to anything, so long as you're tapping into how they see the world and process the world and connect with the world. My ds10 is crazy with worksheets. Beats me why, because with his mix you'd think something else would be right. Gifted, ASD, in motion most of the day, that does NOT make you think worksheets, right? Nope, I can get him to do ANYTHING if I stick it in front of him as a worksheet. Blows my mind. We're doing civics and geography and science vocabulary and stuff that you're like no way... It's amazing. 

With my dd, like I said, it was that narrative thought process. I really like the Eide's book Dyslexic Advantage for this. My dd was diagnosed ADHD and it really fit her. My ds is diagnosed dyslexic (among other things) and it never fit him, go figure. So they talk about these narrative thinkers who take longer to make connections but make more intertwining connections. My dd is like this. She was a HUGE reader, prolific reader. My ds hardly even touches books, so the contrast is crazy. And this dd, wow the ACT scores. Crazy strong. And she was just telling me yesterday she's like Mom, I need to READ this summer. College is getting in the way of her learning, lol. But it's for real!! 

So with dd, I could get her into anything (biology, nuclear chemistry, anything) if I could get it into those essays, something she could read and engage with, a narrative, a question. Around the age of op's dc we were using Muse magazine a lot, and in high school we used a lot of the "Best Essay" annual collections. They have them for cooking, nature writing, crime writing, anything you want. We read a lot of books off AP reading lists for science, so she read books recommended for AP bio supplemental reading while she did bio. She's NOT a science person particularly, but she could engage brilliantly with these materials. I had her do a lot of response journals, and then in college she realized why. She read a lot of philosophy, like heady stuff (Nancy Pearcy, etc.). More response journals. Sometimes I made study guides to go with the books, but lots of response journaling, just thinking, making connections. 

So you SHOULD educate widely, yes, yes!! But you do it by realizing how their brains are processing and connecting to the world. I wanted my dd to be a lifelong learner, and I knew that if I shoved straight textbooks in her face she'd not retain and never want to see the topics again. Instead she's now engaged broadly with the world, interested in science, opera, anything, because she knows how to connect with it and why she would be interested.

She used MUS finally in high school, and really it was a good thing. I don't really see a lot of differences in the Jacobs Human Endeavor, Life of Fred, etc. to be trying so many things. The genre was a bust, so move on. A reason MUS was good for my dd was because it taught her how to learn, how to stick with something and monitor her comprehension and back up and say I didn't get this. When a kid is reading a lot, that textbooky skill is really different. It's a complementary thing, and it's not all bad. It gives them a variety, and maybe that's part of the reason your dd craves that structure. Maybe it balances out her world a bit. We always assume kids don't know what they need, but sometimes they do. Maybe they just don't know how to explain it. So we can look at what's working and connect the dots. But yeah, if you're feeling like xyz approach isn't good enough, you need to get those voices out of your head. Your dd functions as an individual. I'm math snob enough to know the issues with MUS, mercy, but I can look back at it and say it was good for HER. It taught her good skills that are serving her well. You have to look at your person as a whole, as a human, and shut out the "has to be the best, it's not the best" voices.

PeterPan our journeys sound rather similar 🙂  I think I have followed your posts over the years, did you used to post under a different user name?  I'm glad your DD is doing well.

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Just wanted to clarify my previous post since you've posted more about Latin. I was a linguist by trade in a previous life and the words fluency and immersion mean something very different to me than what you've stated subsequent to your first post. I am unclear what you mean by having a goal of reading fluently but not translation, but in any case, clearly you're familiar with the idea of Latin as the language complement to mathematics and that's not what you're looking for, so mea culpa!

As an MP user, I'll just say I've read Lowe's articles and my goal for my kids is reading and understanding Latin texts. If you look at where the program goes after the forms series, the kids do end up there even with grammar as the base in the forms. So my response was based on a different understanding of the definitions if fluency and immersion and I thought Latin could possibly fill the gap that you feel is left by just Saxon but I definitely misunderstood what you were saying. Best of luck as you navigate all this!

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On 4/15/2019 at 11:35 AM, EmseB said:

Just wanted to clarify my previous post since you've posted more about Latin. I was a linguist by trade in a previous life and the words fluency and immersion mean something very different to me than what you've stated subsequent to your first post. I am unclear what you mean by having a goal of reading fluently but not translation, but in any case, clearly you're familiar with the idea of Latin as the language complement to mathematics and that's not what you're looking for, so mea culpa!

As an MP user, I'll just say I've read Lowe's articles and my goal for my kids is reading and understanding Latin texts. If you look at where the program goes after the forms series, the kids do end up there even with grammar as the base in the forms. So my response was based on a different understanding of the definitions if fluency and immersion and I thought Latin could possibly fill the gap that you feel is left by just Saxon but I definitely misunderstood what you were saying. Best of luck as you navigate all this!

Thanks for clarifying EmseB.  I am not a linguist so I do not know the terms.  I think I meant "direct" rather than immersion.

 

Edited by mms
Never mind, all that stuff about Latin instruction is irrelevant to this thread.

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I have a math background and sympathize :-). What philosophy would you like to expose your daughter to? If she doesn’t like puzzles, she doesn’t like puzzles. But what would you like her to get that she won’t get from Saxon?

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2 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I have a math background and sympathize :-). What philosophy would you like to expose your daughter to? If she doesn’t like puzzles, she doesn’t like puzzles. But what would you like her to get that she won’t get from Saxon?

 

Well, it was not all puzzles: we solve CWP/MM word problems, discuss the whys behind procedures, etc.  The text I was planning on using with her next year was the 5th grade predecessor to the Russian Math 6 book published by Perpendicular Press that is sometimes cited on these boards.  It definitely gets into some of the whys/proofs of natural numbers and fractions.  Russian Math 6 was not some sort of "honors" text, it's what was used across the entire Soviet Union in schools with kids of wide ranging abilities.  Hence my thinking that this is not an unreasonable expectation to use that as a supplement to Saxon even with someone who doesn't particularly enjoy math.

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Just now, mms said:

 

Well, it was not all puzzles: we solve CWP/MM word problems, discuss the whys behind procedures, etc.  The text I was planning on using with her next year was the 5th grade predecessor to the Russian Math 6 book published by Perpendicular Press that is sometimes cited on these boards.  It definitely gets into some of the whys/proofs of natural numbers and fractions.  Russian Math 6 was not some sort of "honors" text, it's what was used across the entire Soviet Union in schools with kids of wide ranging abilities.  Hence my thinking that this is not an unreasonable expectation to use that as a supplement to Saxon even with someone who doesn't particularly enjoy math.

That’s gonna be a ton of math for a kid who doesn’t love it. So you’d like her to know the whys, is that it?

Has she enjoyed any math? Do any ideas or concepts interest her?

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3 minutes ago, square_25 said:

That’s gonna be a ton of math for a kid who doesn’t love it. So you’d like her to know the whys, is that it?

Has she enjoyed any math? Do any ideas or concepts interest her?

Yes, I do definitely want her to know the whys.  Is 5.5-6 hrs/week a ton - 5 hrs on Saxon (including mental math drill) and 30-60 on the supplementary stuff?  That's what it ends up being in real hours.  I wasn't planning on going through the whole book, just pulling bits and pieces from it.  But, yeah, maybe it is too much.  As I said, part of this is a culture clash about what "reasonable expectations" are, lol.

She liked MEP when we did it exclusively.  It was just taking up too much time every day.  But, honestly, math does not interest her.  But, at that age it didn't interest me either.  It was only once I got into a geometry text based on Kiselev around 12 or 13 that I started enjoying math and it wasn't until Calc II that I decided to actually take the more proof-based courses.  I just can't see how she can ever be exposed to "interesting" math later on if she doesn't have the proper foundation for it, ykwim?  Maybe I'm way off base on that as well.

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4 minutes ago, mms said:

Yes, I do definitely want her to know the whys.  Is 5.5-6 hrs/week a ton - 5 hrs on Saxon (including mental math drill) and 30-60 on the supplementary stuff?  That's what it ends up being in real hours.  I wasn't planning on going through the whole book, just pulling bits and pieces from it.  But, yeah, maybe it is too much.  As I said, part of this is a culture clash about what "reasonable expectations" are, lol.

She liked MEP when we did it exclusively.  It was just taking up too much time every day.  But, honestly, math does not interest her.  But, at that age it didn't interest me either.  It was only once I got into a geometry text based on Kiselev around 12 or 13 that I started enjoying math and it wasn't until Calc II that I decided to actually take the more proof-based courses.  I just can't see how she can ever be exposed to "interesting" math later on if she doesn't have the proper foundation for it, ykwim?  Maybe I'm way off base on that as well.

I’m winding up designing my own curriculum to make sure my daughter stays engaged but is also not doing math by rote. Is there any “interesting” math you could expose her to now? My daughter has so far had minimal patience for puzzles but loooved learning binary, for example.

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7 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I’m winding up designing my own curriculum to make sure my daughter stays engaged but is also not doing math by rote. Is there any “interesting” math you could expose her to now? My daughter has so far had minimal patience for puzzles but loooved learning binary, for example.

That's what I've been trying to do 🙂  The problem is that I can't do this just casually at odd moments like I did when she was younger because I have several children now: I need to plan and sit down with her and that cuts into her Saturday mornings.   We did home grown lessons before I got sick and switched her to Saxon as an emergency measure.  Basically I was using the MM Gold workbooks and Strayer Upton for the scope & sequence and practice and doing the teaching myself.  She just vastly prefers the drill/kill/get 'er done approach in Saxon and doesn't want anything else to do with math whatsoever.

If I end up dropping the Saturday morning math then I think I will definitely try to directly teach Saxon more rather than letting her do it independently the way she has been and vastly prefers.

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12 minutes ago, mms said:

That's what I've been trying to do 🙂  The problem is that I can't do this just casually at odd moments like I did when she was younger because I have several children now: I need to plan and sit down with her and that cuts into her Saturday mornings.   We did home grown lessons before I got sick and switched her to Saxon as an emergency measure.  Basically I was using the MM Gold workbooks and Strayer Upton for the scope & sequence and practice and doing the teaching myself.  She just vastly prefers the drill/kill/get 'er done approach in Saxon and doesn't want anything else to do with math whatsoever.

If I end up dropping the Saturday morning math then I think I will definitely try to directly teach Saxon more rather than letting her do it independently the way she has been and vastly prefers.

So she’s never shown any interest in any of it? What’s covered by the workbooks you were using?

I’m still not entirely clear what it is you want from your math program, to be honest. To be less algorithmic? For her to be more interested?

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3 minutes ago, square_25 said:

So she’s never shown any interest in any of it? What’s covered by the workbooks you were using?

I’m still not entirely clear what it is you want from your math program, to be honest. To be less algorithmic? For her to be more interested?

I am not looking for another math program: she likes it and I already told her she can keep going into 6/5 and maybe 7/6.  It's a broader question of how does one find a balance between a child's interests/personality/priorities and a parent's goals/philosophical outlook/priorities.  If my child actively dislikes math and would rather just do what's in her math book (independently without teaching) do I push my agenda of promoting the less algorithmic, conceptual, deeper understanding of mathematics that I was taught?  If math is getting done, consistently and the child is making progress am I justified in interfering with what's working to add something that I feel is important but the student has no interest in whatsoever, especially as it cuts into her free time?

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1 hour ago, mms said:

.  I just can't see how she can ever be exposed to "interesting" math later on if she doesn't have the proper foundation for it, ykwim?  Maybe I'm way off base on that as well.

I have admittedly never used Saxon math, but are you positive that Saxon is not providing her a proper foundation in elementary math?  My kids have had zero issue with going from Horizons into Foersters/AoPS with nothing at all extra from me.  I added in HOE with child #6 (she is a complicated child and as stubborn as a mule and HOE was more of punishment for constant complaining and negativity than any direct desire by me to supplement.  I decided I liked it, so my last 2 have used it as well.)  IOW, you might be surprised by just how much she is understanding/mastering.

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16 minutes ago, mms said:

I am not looking for another math program: she likes it and I already told her she can keep going into 6/5 and maybe 7/6.  It's a broader question of how does one find a balance between a child's interests/personality/priorities and a parent's goals/philosophical outlook/priorities.  If my child actively dislikes math and would rather just do what's in her math book (independently without teaching) do I push my agenda of promoting the less algorithmic, conceptual, deeper understanding of mathematics that I was taught?  If math is getting done, consistently and the child is making progress am I justified in interfering with what's working to add something that I feel is important but the student has no interest in whatsoever, especially as it cuts into her free time?

 

Well, for me, I haven’t offered programs that don’t match what I want. I wouldn’t do Saxon myself for that reason. But I’ve also been very flexible about what we actually do.

As for math getting done, it depends again what you want to get done. Saxon wouldn’t be “getting done” for me, because what I want from a math education is flexibility in problem solving first and foremost, and I also want a certain level of interest. But I’m also pretty comfortable covering things way out of order to be able to provide that. Have you seen any of my posts on stuff we’ve done? It’s totally out of order with the standard stuff. We’ve done no algorithms at all yet, even though we’ve done negative numbers, and binary, and a bunch of combinatorics. But I’m happy to park at a topic that engages my child at the expense of learning algorithms and because I have very clear goals that don’t align with any curriculums I’ve seen (including the “conceptual” ones, which seem to overly prioritize beating your head against a wall.)

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I guess in your shoes, I’d figure out what I want first :-). If Saxon is providing more or less that (and from what I’ve heard, it does allow a student to acquire facility with numbers and operations), I’d stick with it. If it’s not, I wouldn’t do supplementing as much as I’d redirect to something that does fit your goals that your daughter still likes and is in a format she enjoys. 

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On 4/15/2019 at 1:34 PM, 8FillTheHeart said:

I have admittedly never used Saxon math, but are you positive that Saxon is not providing her a proper foundation in elementary math?  My kids have had zero issue with going from Horizons into Foersters/AoPS with nothing at all extra from me.  I added in HOE with child #6 (she is a complicated child and as stubborn as a mule and HOE was more of punishment for constant complaining and negativity than any direct desire by me to supplement.  I decided I liked it, so my last 2 have used it as well.)  IOW, you might be surprised by just how much she is understanding/mastering.

 I personally know that the system I was educated under worked, I don't know anyone personally who has a 100% Saxon background who went on to have excellent math skills.

But, I do concede this might just be overkill in the worry department: she's entering 5th grade/logic stage and that's kind of freaking me out.  I really like your idea of adding strategy games!  

ETA: If I remember correctly, 8, you've always directly taught Horizons right?  And you didn't just follow the teacher's manual, but actually taught?  I guess if I was right there teaching her every day I wouldn't quite feel the need to supplement.  But a major appeal of Saxon for her is that she was able to do it by herself while I was sick and she wants to keep it that way and since her test scores are fine DH doesn't see a problem with that, especially since so many homeschoolers do let their kids self-educate with Saxon without negative results.

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12 minutes ago, square_25 said:

 

Well, for me, I haven’t offered programs that don’t match what I want. I wouldn’t do Saxon myself for that reason. But I’ve also been very flexible about what we actually do.

As for math getting done, it depends again what you want to get done. Saxon wouldn’t be “getting done” for me, because what I want from a math education is flexibility in problem solving first and foremost, and I also want a certain level of interest. But I’m also pretty comfortable covering things way out of order to be able to provide that. Have you seen any of my posts on stuff we’ve done? It’s totally out of order with the standard stuff. We’ve done no algorithms at all yet, even though we’ve done negative numbers, and binary, and a bunch of combinatorics. But I’m happy to park at a topic that engages my child at the expense of learning algorithms and because I have very clear goals that don’t align with any curriculums I’ve seen (including the “conceptual” ones, which seem to overly prioritize beating your head against a wall.)

Saxon was not "offered" as an option so much as ended up being the only option available during an extended medical emergency when I was not available to supervise.  And it stuck beyond the emergency because DD requested to keep it and it was too much of a disruption to change in the middle of the year.

Your eldest is a first grader and you only have two kids, right (forgive me if I'm mistaking you for someone else)? No criticism and I say this very gently, but when I only had two and DD10 was much younger I had a lot more freedom with what we did for math and how we did it.  She has never been particularly "mathy" but I definitely was far more hands on and exploratory than I am now (I've seen some of the stuff you've done and it is very neat, I mostly followed Russian circle type materials - in Russian - and Miquon - your background in math is way higher than mine and you're a lot more creative! 🙂 ).  I never imagined that I'd use Saxon when I started homeschooling but it is what it is and I want to respect my daughter's wishes and make the best of a situation that I find less than ideal. And yes, I do have a good idea of what I want as far as the math part goes but as Peter Pan pointed out earlier: it's not really all about ME 🙂

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24 minutes ago, mms said:

ETA: If I remember correctly, 8, you've always directly taught Horizons right?  And you didn't just follow the teacher's manual, but actually taught?  I guess if I was right there teaching her every day I wouldn't quite feel the need to supplement.  But a major appeal of Saxon for her is that she was able to do it by herself while I was sick and she wants to keep it that way and since her test scores are fine DH doesn't see a problem with that, especially since so many homeschoolers do let their kids self-educate with Saxon without negative results.

I would never let my 10 yr old dictate to me that they wanted to any of their work on their own. That is just not the type of parent I am. If they didn't want me sitting there with them teaching them the lesson, I would be sitting there telling them they had to teach it to me. Either way, everything we do us open to discussion bc discussion is how I understand how they are thinking. (I didn't use TC without reason. Conversations are at the core of our homeschool. 🙂 )

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21 minutes ago, mms said:

Saxon was not "offered" as an option so much as ended up being the only option available during an extended medical emergency when I was not available to supervise.  And it stuck beyond the emergency because DD requested to keep it and it was too much of a disruption to change in the middle of the year.

Your eldest is a first grader and you only have two kids, right (forgive me if I'm mistaking you for someone else)? No criticism and I say this very gently, but when I only had two and DD10 was much younger I had a lot more freedom with what we did for math and how we did it.  She has never been particularly "mathy" but I definitely was far more hands on and exploratory than I am now (I've seen some of the stuff you've done and it is very neat, I mostly followed Russian circle type materials - in Russian - and Miquon - your background in math is way higher than mine and you're a lot more creative! 🙂 ).  I never imagined that I'd use Saxon when I started homeschooling but it is what it is and I want to respect my daughter's wishes and make the best of a situation that I find less than ideal. And yes, I do have a good idea of what I want as far as the math part goes but as Peter Pan pointed out earlier: it's not really all about ME 🙂

 

Yep, that’s me! I’m a Russian speaker, too, so I sympathize with your background and goals.

I agree that it’s not all about you :-). It’s about you as a dyad, so to speak. I think continuing to use Saxon if it’s communicating more or less the ideas you want to communicate is a good plan. 

All I can say is that a lot of the more “conceptual” materials I’ve seen (like Russian math circle) are definitely predicated on kids who enjoy puzzles for the sake of puzzles. Which I did, but my daughter does not. I had to let go of what I thought our math teaching would look like to fit her :-). I had to really think about what I wanted to communicate and how to do it so it fitted us both. Luckily, I’ve been able to find something that works so far. But I do understand the feeling of having to adapt to the child I actually have!

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14 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I would never let my 10 yr old dictate to me that they wanted to any of their work on their own. That is just not the type of parent I am. If they didn't want me sitting there with them teaching them the lesson, I would be sitting there telling them they had to teach it to me. Either way, everything we do us open to discussion bc discussion is how I understand how they are thinking. (I didn't use TC without reason. Conversations are at the core of our homeschool. 🙂 )

 

I gotta say, I very much agree there. We homeschool so we can have hands on teaching. If my kid was requesting complete independence, I’d examine whether we need a change of style, but I don’t think I’d allow complete independence.

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I think part of the problem is that the only time that you have to sit down with her and do math is on Saturday mornings.   If you could work with her on this other math at another time, in place of a Saxon lesson (say, on Wednesdays or something), that would be fair.  But it seems like you're adding on to her burden not just because of your philosophy but because of your schedule.  And that doesn't seem quite fair.  I think she could get a perfectly acceptable elementary math education through Saxon, and I agree that you should keep using it as long as it's working.  But I also agree with you that some supplementing could be a good thing.  But....to force a kid who doesn't love math to give up part of her free day to do math "your way" because you don't have time to educate her during her regularly scheduled school time seems mean and counter productive and likely to backfire spectacularly.  

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6 minutes ago, Terabith said:

I think part of the problem is that the only time that you have to sit down with her and do math is on Saturday mornings.   If you could work with her on this other math at another time, in place of a Saxon lesson (say, on Wednesdays or something), that would be fair.  But it seems like you're adding on to her burden not just because of your philosophy but because of your schedule.  And that doesn't seem quite fair.  I think she could get a perfectly acceptable elementary math education through Saxon, and I agree that you should keep using it as long as it's working.  But I also agree with you that some supplementing could be a good thing.  But....to force a kid who doesn't love math to give up part of her free day to do math "your way" because you don't have time to educate her during her regularly scheduled school time seems mean and counter productive and likely to backfire spectacularly.  

Yes, I think this really is the crux of the matter.  We do some math together during the week but it's not a sufficient amount of time for me to go over Saxon/check her understanding AND the supplementary material I want to go through.  I think I have the rudiments of an alternative plan to try out before the school year is over so that it is in place once we start next school year (which will be right after the baby is born so I really need to have all my ducks in a row!).

This has been an incredibly fruitful discussion for me, thank you!

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On 4/14/2019 at 7:16 PM, mms said:

Your posts on here really made me reexamine how I viewed early childhood education.  I did a whole bunch of "developmentally appropriate" pre-school math activities with DD10 and looking back I do think that the early start directly impacted the way she sees math now.  Reading your posts on the importance of non-directed play in the early years made me completely change course with her younger siblings and I can tell a definite difference in abilities to problem solve.  DD10 always tries to "find the right way" (I think that is what makes Saxon so comforting: there is only one right way, the Saxon way) whereas the next two are far more likely to come up with creative solutions to both real world and academic problems.

I'm starting to think that maybe focusing on logic/problem solving via math is really an attempt on my part to take the easier way out.  I have trouble with how to use other subjects to challenge her appropriately.  I really need to spend some time and energy before next school year really reflecting on your last paragraph.

 

You know, I just saw this. And I wanted to mention that you don't have to give them "right ways" ;-). You don't need to give her really hard problems to allow her to problem solve... that's one fallacy I keep seeing in the "math wars": the idea that creative problem solving requires really hard problems. It doesn't. All it requires is letting kids grapple with small, incremental problems that they feel able to conquer and not giving them answers as soon as they get stuck (which is really hard to do as you watch.) 

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33 minutes ago, square_25 said:

 

You know, I just saw this. And I wanted to mention that you don't have to give them "right ways" ;-). You don't need to give her really hard problems to allow her to problem solve... that's one fallacy I keep seeing in the "math wars": the idea that creative problem solving requires really hard problems. It doesn't. All it requires is letting kids grapple with small, incremental problems that they feel able to conquer and not giving them answers as soon as they get stuck (which is really hard to do as you watch.) 

Yup, that's what we do 🙂 Anything "extra" we do is actually half or one grade level behind so that she is fluent with the operations it involves and is perfectly capable of solving with me simply as the cheerleader at her side encouraging her that yes, indeed, she can do this.  I guess I'm a mean mom, I have no problem watching my kids struggle these days as they figure things out on their own.

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Just now, mms said:

Yup, that's what we do 🙂 Anything "extra" we do is actually half or one grade level behind so that she is fluent with the operations it involves and is perfectly capable of solving with me simply as the cheerleader at her side encouraging her that yes, indeed, she can do this.  I guess I'm a mean mom, I have no problem watching my kids struggle these days as they figure things out on their own.

 

Oh yeah, by that definition I'm a mean mom, too ;-). I do the same thing: I make sure any enrichment is a year behind so that the concepts themselves aren't hard. 

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Sorry to be late to the conversation, but I am so intrigued!

If you think that your daughter "doesn't like math", then maybe concepts are more important than procedures.  We have calculators that can do all sorts of arithmetic, and much of algebra (maybe even all of it).  In my opinion, what kids need is to understand the concepts, the "why?", so much more than they need to perform the algorithms.   

So if the supplementary stuff is more important to you, then keep doing it on Saturdays!

You can make Saxon work for you.  it is a tool, like any other tool.  You decide how to use it.  Maybe she gets a day off of Saxon since she works on the weekend.  Maybe she does 80% of the problem set, or instead of 75 minutes a day, she does 60 minutes.  And save that time for Saturdays.  If she doesn't get through the book in a year - just keep going.

Even if she did not like Beast, maybe AOPS will be a good fit when your daughter is older.  It is sort of silly, and sometimes the instruction is not entirely clear. 

There is no time-table for math.  Each student needs to learn as much as they need to learn for their chosen career.  Math classes will stop at that point, and not before.  Hopefully, an enjoyment of math (and an appreciation of the power of math) will last a life time!

9 hours ago, mms said:

I am not looking for another math program: she likes it and I already told her she can keep going into 6/5 and maybe 7/6.  It's a broader question of how does one find a balance between a child's interests/personality/priorities and a parent's goals/philosophical outlook/priorities.  If my child actively dislikes math and would rather just do what's in her math book (independently without teaching) do I push my agenda of promoting the less algorithmic, conceptual, deeper understanding of mathematics that I was taught?  If math is getting done, consistently and the child is making progress am I justified in interfering with what's working to add something that I feel is important but the student has no interest in whatsoever, especially as it cuts into her free time? 

I think that you can continue to teach for more conceptual understanding, and less procedural focus.  And I think that you should!  If you have the background to teach your kids the reasons, and not just  the procedures, then you are giving them a huge bonus.  Not everyone has a mom who can teach math! So I do agree that even though she is making progress in math, if she is not making progress conceptually, then you can make a decision to change it up.  If it is a difficult transition, maybe there are other compromises that you can make so that it is more palatable for your daughter.

But, maybe what most people are reacting to is the fact that you are taking her "free time" to do it.  I am not sure how much math is the exact best amount for a 10-year old.  Only you can determine how much is just right for your child anyway.  But perhaps your heart is telling you to spend that limited time first with concepts, then with procedures.  And stop before overload, which for a compliant child might be hard to figure out.  Maybe do what you like first, and then fill the rest of the time with Saxon.  Consider that Saxon will just provide a time to practice - she will gain speed and the comfort with the procedures that will allow her to use what she knows to the maximum.

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So, I'm going to step back and talk about your base question.

Imperfect life, real children, and my own limitations mean that I have to make compromises and tough decisions. I am not a super woman like some and have found that my limit is teaching about three full time kids. I have five, so that's where the tough decisions come in. Compromises happen when the kid in front of me is not the kid in my head. So, your questions, above, happen all the time.

I actually feel sorry for the parents who start out with the "perfect", compliant, smart, talented kid & then get whammied later with a kid who is not some of these things. I was blessed to begin with a stubborn, late-to-read, writing-phobic, arithmetic-hating, falls-out-of-the-chair, constantly-moving, procrastinating perpetual-sarcasm-producing child. She knocked me off my high horse and trained me for dealing with my later kids. She's now a senior National Merit Finalist, learning three foreign languages, and planning on majoring in math in college. She's also pleasant to be around, has a healthy sense of humor that her online teachers all comment on, and I will greatly miss her when she leaves the nest in a few months. I would not have guessed any of this, including the language/math love, when she was 10 and learning Latin (which is not one of her three current foreign languages).

I would say there is always a balance between challenging a child and pushing them into unhappiness with your demands (which we will define here as minimum expectations). Something that has helped me with my minimum expectations is determining what my goals are in homeschooling. I sat down and came up with some statements of the goals I am trying to achieve in teaching my kids at home. I'll give an example. "We will like to read (or be read) good books." My DH and I are both avid readers. But, we all know people who hate to read or those who just never pick up a book because they don't really care one way or another. I had this grand plan and great vision of how all my kids would love to read. Four of my five kids have been late to read (fluent, on grade level). How do you try to instill a love of reading in a kid when it has always been a struggle? When it is their least favorite school subject? Reality is harsh to ideals. (Note the parentheses that include "or be read to" - that was meant to cover my littles when they couldn't read yet. I now use it to mean that audio books are ok as a way to achieve that goal. Humorously, my biggest audio book fiend also has the best pronunciation and vocabulary of all my kids. She's also one of my best writers.)

I could go on, but I guess my points are these: you'll have to decide where that line is yourself, kids at 10 are not the adults they will grow into (they change), reality means compromise but that doesn't mean something unexpectedly good might not result anyway, and regrets are probable regardless of what you decide.

My poor eldest was my biggest guinea pig. First grade math was a full hour. I didn't do that to my later kids (and, honestly, even my dd#3 doesn't spend an hour on math a day yet). I have a shelf of things I'd love to use with a kid (any kid!) but time restraints and kid inclinations mean those items still sit on a shelf.

I hope that helps some - from someone still in the trenches with you - but from the perspective of realizing that regardless of my mistakes, my kids are finding a way to turn out ok. They might not turn out how I expected, but they are finding a way to be themselves and that is wonderful.

Quote

What I'd like to talk about is moving away from a curriculum that is clearly working but is in conflict with one's philosophy of education and under what circumstances that is or isn't a prudent course of action.  Or alternatively, under what circumstances would you actively pick a curriculum that is in conflict with your educational philosophy based on a child's preferences.  And when would you push through with something that a child actively dislikes but it is overall suited for them even though there are options available that the child would both like and be suited for.

Ironically, this attitude is leading me now to move away from the strict academic standards that I set early on.

At what point do I throw in the towel on what I think is important for her and just let her be who she is?  Where is the line between challenging a child and helping them grow/expand their interests and being pushy with one's own agenda?  Is it sufficient to say: you must study this (Latin, math, etc) but allow lots of freedom in how the subject is approached?

Edited by RootAnn
Can't get my formatting right this morning
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47 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

I hope that helps some - from someone still in the trenches with you - but from the perspective of realizing that regardless of my mistakes, my kids are finding a way to turn out ok. They might not turn out how I expected, but they are finding a way to be themselves and that is wonderful.

Beautifully said

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1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

So, I'm going to step back and talk about your base question.

Imperfect life, real children, and my own limitations mean that I have to make compromises and tough decisions. I am not a super woman like some and have found that my limit is teaching about three full time kids. I have five, so that's where the tough decisions come in. Compromises happen when the kid in front of me is not the kid in my head. So, your questions, above, happen all the time.

I actually feel sorry for the parents who start out with the "perfect", compliant, smart, talented kid & then get whammied later with a kid who is not some of these things. I was blessed to begin with a stubborn, late-to-read, writing-phobic, arithmetic-hating, falls-out-of-the-chair, constantly-moving, procrastinating perpetual-sarcasm-producing child. She knocked me off my high horse and trained me for dealing with my later kids. She's now a senior National Merit Finalist, learning three foreign languages, and planning on majoring in math in college. She's also pleasant to be around, has a healthy sense of humor that her online teachers all comment on, and I will greatly miss her when she leaves the nest in a few months. I would not have guessed any of this, including the language/math love, when she was 10 and learning Latin (which is not one of her three current foreign languages).

I would say there is always a balance between challenging a child and pushing them into unhappiness with your demands (which we will define here as minimum expectations). Something that has helped me with my minimum expectations is determining what my goals are in homeschooling. I sat down and came up with some statements of the goals I am trying to achieve in teaching my kids at home. I'll give an example. "We will like to read (or be read) good books." My DH and I are both avid readers. But, we all know people who hate to read or those who just never pick up a book because they don't really care one way or another. I had this grand plan and great vision of how all my kids would love to read. Four of my five kids have been late to read (fluent, on grade level). How do you try to instill a love of reading in a kid when it has always been a struggle? When it is their least favorite school subject? Reality is harsh to ideals. (Note the parentheses that include "or be read to" - that was meant to cover my littles when they couldn't read yet. I now use it to mean that audio books are ok as a way to achieve that goal. Humorously, my biggest audio book fiend also has the best pronunciation and vocabulary of all my kids. She's also one of my best writers.)

I could go on, but I guess my points are these: you'll have to decide where that line is yourself, kids at 10 are not the adults they will grow into (they change), reality means compromise but that doesn't mean something unexpectedly good might not result anyway, and regrets are probable regardless of what you decide.

My poor eldest was my biggest guinea pig. First grade math was a full hour. I didn't do that to my later kids (and, honestly, even my dd#3 doesn't spend an hour on math a day yet). I have a shelf of things I'd love to use with a kid (any kid!) but time restraints and kid inclinations mean those items still sit on a shelf.

I hope that helps some - from someone still in the trenches with you - but from the perspective of realizing that regardless of my mistakes, my kids are finding a way to turn out ok. They might not turn out how I expected, but they are finding a way to be themselves and that is wonderful.

 

Lovely post :-). My oldest is only 6.5, but I've already had to adjust my expectations to my actual child... and I fully expect to grapple with this over and over again. 

Our first grade math is an hour at the moment, though, but that's because it takes my daughter forever to color everything for our current topic :D. Lingering over math isn't necessarily a problem. Depends how much the child is enjoying it, I think. My daughter seems to like doing some things the slow way, and I don't discourage her, if it makes her feel that the activity comes alive as a result. 

 

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1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

So, I'm going to step back and talk about your base question.

Imperfect life, real children, and my own limitations mean that I have to make compromises and tough decisions. I am not a super woman like some and have found that my limit is teaching about three full time kids. I have five, so that's where the tough decisions come in. Compromises happen when the kid in front of me is not the kid in my head. So, your questions, above, happen all the time.

I could go on, but I guess my points are these: you'll have to decide where that line is yourself, kids at 10 are not the adults they will grow into (they change), reality means compromise but that doesn't mean something unexpectedly good might not result anyway, and regrets are probable regardless of what you decide.

My poor eldest was my biggest guinea pig. First grade math was a full hour. I didn't do that to my later kids (and, honestly, even my dd#3 doesn't spend an hour on math a day yet). I have a shelf of things I'd love to use with a kid (any kid!) but time restraints and kid inclinations mean those items still sit on a shelf.

I hope that helps some - from someone still in the trenches with you - but from the perspective of realizing that regardless of my mistakes, my kids are finding a way to turn out ok. They might not turn out how I expected, but they are finding a way to be themselves and that is wonderful.

RootAnn, thank you so much!  I wish I could give your post a dozen likes.  This is precisely the sort of discussion I was looking for with my original post.  Oddly enough even though I had a very good, compliant, very mature first child the limitations of my own health and our somewhat chaotic life (periods of job loss/extended family crisises/you name it) I have really had to face making tough decisions and compromises from the beginning.  I've gone through a lot of growing pains as a home school mother, lol.

My second, DD7, sounds very much like your first.  She's also the one I suspect might be dyslexic (there is also a strong possibility that's she's just not interested in learning to read - every time we have a reading lesson she tries to convince me that listening to audiobooks is far more efficient: she loves her audiobooks, lol).  But, because of the various philosophy of education discussions that have occured on this board, the work of Ella Frances Lynch & Ruth Beechick and simply having an older child as a guinea pig I have a confidence about the elementary stage that allows me to be flexible and secure in my decisions.  The practical result is that with my younger children I am far more observant and have much better instincts about when to push, when to back off, when to insist and when to drop something.

I guess there is not really a way to avoid my own growing pains as my eldest gets older; but, I really wish there was a manual for the next decade, lol.  Especially knowing that I had pushed my first too hard and expected too much I don't want to let my eldest's maturity and compliance blindsight me to what this particular child actually needs.  I know that in addition to a strong faith, I want my children to have good work habits, self-discipline and creative problem solving skills so that they can be successful in whatever they end up doing as adults.  With the faith I can teach them the truths and model, but at the end of the day it is a personal thing that each one will have to grapple with and I have no control: I'm okay with that.  I don't want to take it for granted but I do feel that work habits we can achieve even if the kids did zero school: there are always plenty of chores and assistance that they can provide to others (neighbors, elderly relatives, service-work) and in the case of my eldest she's always been very entrepreneurial so I don't really worry about her having to scratch out a living: she's amazing at turning her talents into practical results, lol.  What I often have trouble with figuring out is how academics fit into this bigger picture. My childhood was all about academics (to the point where I could get out of anything if I used school as an excuse) and that really limited me in many ways to this day.  I don't want the same narrow focus for my children, but I also don't want to swing too far the other way and loosen up too much to where my children are not actually prepared for the realities of modern life with its hyper-focus on all things school.  Your long view perspective is so helpful!

 

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