This year I didn’t go through my usual cycle of Spring = Daydream of Homeschool; Fall = Boot Them Out Now. We had a great summer that was a little crazy with our basement finishing project, and we’re still sucking the marrow out of the warm days and cool evenings. We’re on a hiking-to-waterfalls kick (Stewart Cascades and Battle Creek Falls recently; next up Grotto Falls and Diamond Fork) and finally eating dinner outside.
Avery is at the same charter school as Callie this year and though she still misses her old school, she likes her (male, laid-back) teacher and there’s even a girl from her fourth grade class. I asked if they were friends last year and Avery said, “Well I know her and I don’t hate her.” Here at the smaller school, away from established friend groups, they have progressed to eating lunch together. Could friendship bracelets be far behind?
Avery tried out for the debate team and though it improved my daily prayer habit (tryouts in fifth grade??) it’s an extracurricular activity I can really endorse. There should be no problem ensuring she gets plenty of practice. She’s also swimming and reading too much and I had to take her bra shopping (for fifth grade??) which reminded me of my own mortality and also how much I hate shopping for intimate apparel.
The only fruit fly in our basil is math. You might remember that we worked through half of a Saxon math book last summer after she got a C in third grade. Not that a C is so terrible (though it is, let’s be honest, I got one my sophomore year at BYU so I know), but her attitude is horrible. This summer I took her to a week-long math camp at UVU, after which I got to hear the words “love” and “math” in the same sentence, though the emphasis may have been on the word “camp.”(Seriously, it was their first year doing it and at $45 for 15 hours of a fun, interactive introduction to everything from game theory to cryptography, i.e. A STEAL, I highly recommend.)
Back in the real world Avery enjoys saying she hates math and watching my heart shrivel. Because a) I love math and b) I refuse to raise girls who hate math. I would rather they pierced their noses and tramp-stamped their lower backs than hate math. (Maybe a temporary tattoo on the left forearm.)
Homework is a nightmare. She dawdles, she doodles, she daydreams. We cajole, I yell, Tom commiserates and wanders into bypaths of How This Will Apply When You’re in Algebra. She tested into the 6/5 math group which is right where she should be, and the math groups themselves are small (11-12 kids) and taught by every adult, including the director, at the school first thing every day.
After school she asks me what 6 times 4 is and I want to take the knife I’m cutting up peaches with for their after-school snack and turn it on myself. (I don’t mean to trivialize the mental illness that leads people to cut themselves, but sometimes I honestly think it would be a relief to pull out my eyelashes one by one rather than remind her that 6 times 4 is 24 and always has been, always will be, till the moon turns red and the stars fall from the sky.)
Some days I sit next to her and get frustrated-er and frustrated-er. Some days I don’t say a word and that seems fine: it’s her homework, she’s old enough to be responsible and take the consequences or reap the rewards, but then it’s 9:30 at night and her head droops limply over the heavy book and I even though I know she’ll perk up long enough to read once she’s in bed I just want her to get some sleep.
So I emailed her teacher and asked if I could come watch the math lesson. It seems crazy to have an hour dedicated to math and then have an hour or two of drawn out, make-you-stabby assignment-doing at home. He talked to her math teacher and this morning I went in. They took a test yesterday and Avery was the fourth person to hand it in and she got a 95. She got 100% on the multiplication fact test (I didn’t check to see if 6 times 4 was one of them; I’m assuming not since the nurse didn’t call to report a case of hives, bubonic plague, and dysentery on Wednesday). Avery is fine in class, Mrs. B. said.
Of course she is.
So what do I do then? Mrs. B. said, “Let’s talk to the director, she’s really good about this kind of thing.” We walked over to the director’s office and when Mrs. B. introduced me it took her just a second to say, “You’re here about math right? Though Avery was the fourth done on the test yesterday.” I explained the whole thing and said I was quite open to suggestions. The director said she’d be happy for Avery to do her homework at the school one afternoon. She can sit in Mrs. B’s room and ask her any questions but basically do it on her own. I’m to come after half an hour and then the four of us will sit down and show her the test scores and look over her homework and tell her that since it’s clear she can do it, from now on it’s her responsibility, that it’s up to her whether she does it and gets the points for it or not.
This is my kind of intervention. After 3:30 pm this afternoon in the Year of our Lord 2011, I will not mention the words “math homework” ever again. Amen.