Saturday, July 7, 2012

One Down - Two to Go

Originally Posted 5/9/12
Our eldest daughter, Emily, is homeschooled through a program called Florida Virtual School. It's basically a public school education online. By taking classes at home we've been able to work in the courses as needed allowing her plenty of time for her true passion, gymnastics, without the burden or stress of homework and all that goes along with middle school. It's not the Christ-centered curriculum we would prefer, but it's been an adequate (read here "free") solution to her 6th and 7th grade years... until today. She's completed 3 of her 4

uninspiring courses but has been struggling with the 4th. Any guess what subject? Math. Everybody take a deep breath and sigh. If you have a child that 'gets math' there's no need to read further as you'll most likely have little appreciation for what it takes to get a kid to make sense of all those numbers. If you can appreciate our plight, read on.

Last semester Emily had a tutor. We loved this woman because Emily didn't "hate" doing math. She went willingly, put in her 3 hrs. per week, and stayed pretty much on pace for her course. We thought all was well until the tutoring sessions were over and the only thing she had left was the practice final and the final exam. Imagine our surprise when the practice final did not go well. After reviewing her work, it came to light that she had learned a lot of math, but she still wasn't really grasping the concepts well enough to pass the test. The tutor was wonderful at helping her pass the class, but not so wonderful at helping her do it on her own. Dennis spent hours and hours reviewing all the information till she was able to squeak by with a passing grade on the final exam; however, as we all know, passing a class is not the same as mastering a subject.

Semester 2 would be attempted without a tutor mainly due to cost. This kind of professional help does not come cheap and Dennis had gotten her through 6th grade, so we were cautiously optimistic (I hate that phrase... can't believe I just used it!). She completed the first and second module after many hours and many tears. Somewhere during the third module things really became unbearable. Weeks went by with focus turned towards other subjects that didn't cause so much stress. Each time she'd sit down for math her whole countenance changed and she'd basically have to spend hours trying to remember what had been learned (and I use that term loosely) the previous time.

Dennis and I spent a significant time pondering the pros and cons of withdrawing her from the course. Should we finish what we started? What will it mean in the future if she has an "F" on her pubic school record? Are we giving up too easily? "What is best for Emily?" "What is best for the whole family (especially since it would take all summer to complete the class and thus affect the other two). We prayed. We prayed. And then, we prayed. Today
we, okay I, made the decision to withdrawal her from the course. When something's not working, it's not working. There's no shame in changing directions and trying a new approach. How does Emily feel about it? Fantastic! She's smiling again, laughing, and looking forward to a fresh start with math. How does Dennis about it? You'd have to ask him, but I'm guessing he's a little more unsure about this new change in plans. I think his bottom line is that she needs to learn this stuff... eventually.
On its way to us now is Zeta from Math-U-See. We've used this program with Emily, and her brother James, in earlier years and they both took well to it. I think this will be a good review for her as well building her confidence towards Pre Algebra and Algebra I. Now she can truly work "at her own pace" without having to rush through the public school system's idea of what she should know by when. So as the title of this entry states, we have one child off the public school's rat wheel (that's what I call it) and two more to go. Their story is for another day.

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