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Monday, June 27, 2011

Some Random School Stuff...

Good morning! It's a muggy day already here and I am in bad need of some coffee! Woke up this morning to find everyone in the living room with me. They all, at some point, had gotten up and made their own pallets in the floor. The blissfull quiet interupted by the girlish screams of Jackson who had gotten a chair kicked over on his head. LOL Chloe was sleeping in the recliner and she stretched out and her leg knocked a wooden chair over and it nailed him right in the noggin. Boy was he mad, even after I tried to tell him that sweet, sweet little Chloe didn't do it on purpose...I don't think he believed me.

Anyway, lookin' at a house that's a disaster from the weekend, even though I spent all day Saturday cleaning it. So gonna probably set aside the whole day to getting it back in working order so I can maintain the rest of the week. But I wanted to share some of the things we've had going on on the learning side of things here.

First, I am going to brag. Yes, that's right. Not really brag, persay, but share , what I consider to be, exciting stuff concerning Lillie. After years of being uptight about her reading (thanks to my best bud, Joy and alot of really good books) I had relaxed quite a bit...trusting that when she was ready things would click and they have. Now she's not where she's reading everything she can get her hands on, but when she sits down to read to me, she has to have very little help and her decoding is SO MUCH better. And I suspiscion that when she is sitting there quietly looking at a book, she is reading to herself, practicing. She used to get so frustrated having to sound words out and would rather just make them up, but I think the Explode the Code has given her the confidence she needed. Lillie is the type that shys away from doing things she doesn't think she can succeed at right away, which makes teaching the basics a little challenging, to say it nicely. But I've gotten alot better at hiding any frustration that she might pick up on that would cause her to doubt herself. Every child has weaknesses and strengths. She's a whole lot like me...isn't really into math (doesn't get it) , not real interested in science, but LOVES history and writing and actually asks to do grammar every once in a while. An excellent speller and has a photographic memory that's astounding. So the plan now is to promote those strengths, allow her the freedom and the materials to develop her loves and work on improving her weaknesses. Even though she'll probably not overcome her weaknesses, with the confidence from her strengths she can at least maybe learn not to run from the challenges, but face them head on.

Now, math is what I'm really excited over. This may not seem like much to anyone reading this, but it's huge for this momma who tends to fret over alot of things. After reading Ruth Beechick's small booklet on beginning arithmetic, I found out that there are three modes of thinking when it comes to math.

1.Manipulative Mode: The stage where kids begin using objects to work math problems. Kids stay in this mode until about six or seven, in alot of cases they aren't ready to move onto the next mode until later than seven (each child is different).

"The difference between young children and us it that we can switch freely from the manipulative mode of thinking to other modes we have learned to use. But very young children can't switch. They are tied to the manipulative mode. They must become proficient in this mode as a preparation for the modes to follow...thus we must teach young children in the manipulative mode. Failure to do this is probably the greatest single cause of children's arithmetic difficulties."

Ruth Beechick

2. Mental Image Mode: The transition stage where kids are able to make the objects in their heads and no longer need to physically see the objects. They can think of four peices of candy, add one and get five all in their head.

"When we say a child doesn't understand something, we usually mean that he is not able to image it in his head. The cure for that is to provide more manipulative experience."

3. Abstract Mode: Children cand think about four and they don't have to imagine four dots or four plates.

"You may often think abstractly yourself, but you must guard agianst trying to push children into this mode before they are ready. Pushing does not work. It only leads to problems you wish to avoid: anxiety, frustration , dislike of arithmetic, and more."
Now, after reading all of this I realize that I have majorly messed up with Lillie in a number of ways....

1. I push. If I think she ought to get it and she doesn't I get frustrated. I can't tell you how WRONG this is of me. I ought to remember that she struggles in math the same as I did and I ought to sympathize , not get frustrated.
2. Where math is concerned, Lillie still needs to be in manipulative mode. For example, we were working on her memorizing her addition facts and she just wasn't getting it and I was beating my head against the wall. I finally stopped and switched to some other skills on my list of things I wanted to work on. A little advice from someone with experience in messing up: Don't be afraid to quit. If something is not working, try something different. Don't let anything tie you down and keep you from switching gears. When Lillie was telling time to the hours and half hours, I decided to reintroduce the facts. The site I found with a neat Number Familie Program suggested before starting that we needed to teach "touch math". I found this very interesting because I use that even today to add up my checkbook and I can add faster that way than in my head and I didn't learn that in school...They drilled facts and I never was very good at them. So, to cope, I developed my own system of touching the numbers and visualizing points on the number in my head. Like three points on the number "3" and so forth. Now let me be clear , I believe memorizing facts is important, but some kids won't be ready at grade 2 or 3 like the experts say they ought to be. Lillie is one of these.

Lillie LOVES the touch math and even asks to do math first thing in the morning and writes her own problems to solve and does it in her spare time. I have seen such a sudden change in her confidence level. She turned to me the other day and she said "Momma, math is fun." And I about bawled. LOL So I say forget the experts, they don't know my Lillie. They say not to let her rely on this method...I agree, but as long as it gives her the confidence she needs to, maybe not LOVE math, but at least not be scared of it, then I'll do it as long as I have to. She's a child, a special unique child that God has given talents , a child who has a purpose in God's eyes.

We're gonna move onto doing a little money since we haven't done hardly any. But using manipulatives and real life experience. I figure we'll revisit the facts in a couple of months and test the waters.

Okay, so some pictures real quick. We made skeletons the other day and read a book on bones.

Here's a neat video about the skeleton if you're looking into studying the human body anytime in the future. It's got every organ and system and it's packed with multimedia and activities.

More posts coming with some crafts I've done and some more school related things.

Have a blessed day!!!!


  1. This post made me cry, because I too know the struggles and trials schooling can bring. I am so happy for you all and that you have found your learning style! Its so amazing what God can do! He is so good to us! I loved this post! I also do touch math myself, and will have to study more up on it for my children! love ya

  2. Della you are such an awesome Momma!! I almost cried when i read this too. I am glad that you found a way to help her enjoy math and reading. I miss you guys so bad sometimes.I could really use some good ole fashion encouragment... But the Good Lord knows where i'm at! And i am very proud of you, keep up the good work!