Thursday, May 15, 2008

Homeschooling Frustrations

Some days go better than others. Some days Ella just drives me nuts!

I've mentioned before that for some reason (could be genetic - neither I nor my husband is partial to mathematics) Ella would choose almost any other activity over one pertaining to math.

Today, my Mum called and informed me that Ella can now count to 30. THIRTY??? In school I can barely get her to count to 10!

Here she is using the spindle box, as it is meant to be used. She always starts off very well, counting out the spindles to put the correct number in its proper section. But around 6 or 7 she still just mentally wanders off. From her behaviour, I'm guessing that she can quickly and easily visualize what number of objects makes the numbers up to six, even without actually counting, but beyond that, she just doesn't want to bother with the effort of counting them out, rather she just makes a guess and throws in about how many she thinks might make 7, 8, or 9.

Here she is still doing the activity correctly, dropping them in individually until the correct number of spindles are in the appropriate section.

And here she is grabbing a handful of spindles to toss in the 8 section! If I thought she was just having difficulty grasping the concept, then I don't think I'd be bothered by this, but she doesn't even seem to try. It's the same story with the number rods and the numerals and counters.

On the bright side, I was sitting, typing up a letter to my brother the other day while Ella watched Winnie-the-Pooh (the original) when Ella turned to me and said, "Bear! Bear starts with 'buh'!"

We haven't yet done "buh" in school. I was impressed and decided to see what else she could figure out. "And what letter makes that sound? What letter says 'buh'?" I asked.

She thought for a few moments and then exclaimed, "BEE! Bee says 'buh' and 'buh' is at the beginning of 'Bear'!"

Until now, she had been struggling with the concept that the sound that begins a word can be separated from the rest of that word to discover what letter begins the word. And today Mum also told me that they were playing a little "game" where Mum would say a word and Ella would tell her what sound began that word. Evidently Mum was quite impressed.

As frustrating as some days are, I have to say that when something like that happens, it's a real encouragement. I call them "breakthrough" moments, and they are as exciting for the teacher as the student. The moment when you see the dawning light of understanding overcome your student, the moment when everything "clicks" together and the student finally "gets" it.

Often these moments are followed by a sudden leap in the accumulation of knowledge, a period when the child, who until now has only been doing what he is expected to do, is able to absorb the information quickly and deeply, embedding it in himself to use for the rest of his life. Those breakthrough moments, and the rapid, exciting learning done afterwards are what makes homeschooling a joy, despite frustrations.

Now, if I can just get her motivated to count!

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At 10:38 a.m. , Blogger RebelAngel said...

Keep up the good work (both of you)

Don't get frustrated about the counting. It'll come.

Have you thought that by the time she gets to 7 or 8 the game may have gotten boring? IS it possible to start at 6?

"Mommy knows Ella can count to 6. Count to 6, Ella"
Now, lets play the spindle box and start with 7. Can you put 7 spindles in the box after the 6 box?"

Something like that. I don't know. I am just guessing.



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