Sunday, June 11, 2006

Support is a great thing

I am so grateful for support groups and friends. After the CAT test debacle, I spoke to several people and got just what I needed. The best advice was to apologize to the kids for putting them in that situation to begin with.

Yesterday, I sat them down and explained that I hadn't listened to them, hadn't prepped them, and I was simply acting like a crazy mommy while we took the math section of the test. They agreed and also accepted my apology.

We're going to take those two sections of the test again and get a better idea of how we look when we've all had a good night's rest, some practice beforehand, I let them write in the books this time and I don't act like a maniac.

And all is well again at home and in my head.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Julie, Jennifer, Pete, Stephanie, Nanci and everyone else who listened, advised, helped and reminded me that there are very few genuine big deals.

Monday, June 05, 2006

How I got my kids to hate math

Math math math

My constant worry since launching into HSing.

We started the year with a great computer program, which the kids really liked and were basically able to self-direct. Then something happened--someone asked them a math question off the cuff, I don't remember who or what the question was about but I do remember a sense of panic when they gave the wrong answer. OMG, they'll never learn math! I'm screwing this whole thing up!

So--off to the chat groups and on line research and up pops Math-U-See. It comes with manipulatives (fancy name for small blocks), workbooks, a CD and DVD! What could be better?

Well I could have been better. The program is fine but anything done with a sense of panic or rabid need to prove to the world that I'm not screwing up my kids is going to crash and burn.

We did math EVERY DAY for as long as it took to finish those worksheets--sometimes that meant we didn't do anything else for the day. [Don't I remember thinking that all those public school worksheets were stupid make-work?] We did ALL of the review sheets, even if the first two were a breeze, we still did the third one, then we took the test. We harped on a problem even if it was unintelligible to one or both children. WE WERE GOING TO GET THIS--and I was going to make it happen. Yuck.

How I freaked out my kids about an easy test that I didn't care about

So on to the CAT test we need to submit to the county.

After drilling and grilling the kids for 6 months on math I was sure they knew everything backwards and forwards.

I was dying to get the testing over with and I launched us into the math sections with gusto. Never mind that Zack had been sick earlier in the week, never mind that they were both yawning and groaning, never mind that they didn't seem to understand how to use scratch paper and not write anything in the books (stupid rule).

The test was like sending them to Mars for an hour. I loomed over them, watching them do every problem and stressing out every time they did anything wrong. When they had unexpected trouble with the first section, we plowed through the second section anyway. I didn't even do this for the curriculum tests, I was actually able to leave them to their work on those.

All in all, their test results won't reflect what they actually know, just how they take a standardized test with a crazy mom as a proctor. [Don't I remember pulling them from school because of the deeply stupid standardized tests?]

Well, everything will be fine. Their scores won't draw national attention (to me) but they will certainly be fine enough to graduate to third grade.

And the universe, once again, provides the opportunity to learn the lesson that there's more than one way and IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.

I hate that ;-)