Katie Brag

I just felt a need to brag about how great my Katie is.

We had each of the kids choose one project or goal for the sum­mer so their brains don’t go to mush. She’s home­schooled, and we don’t quit for the sum­mer but we do back off a lit­tle. (The oth­er two kids are in pub­lic school, not by our choice.)

Well, she wants to fin­ish her sixth-grade math book. Her choice. In pub­lic school, she’d have just fin­ished 5th grade.

This is the kid who hat­ed math (although she did well at that and every­thing else) when we start­ed home­school­ing. She took a real­ly long time to do it and ago­nized over every prob­lem. She was absolute­ly afraid to get any­thing wrong.

I can’t blame all of that fear of failure—or even most—on the school sys­tem. Her father was drilling her on her mul­ti­pli­ca­tion tables when she was in first grade but nev­er both­ered to actu­al­ly explain what the damned things meant. And they cer­tain­ly weren’t doing that in school yet, so she was just floun­der­ing around try­ing to mem­o­rize num­bers that made absolute­ly no sense. And he screamed and made her feel like a total fail­ure if she could­n’t rat­tle them off per­fect­ly and quick­ly every sin­gle time. And she could­n’t, because she’s not good at mem­o­riz­ing data with noth­ing to hook it to (nei­ther am I, and nei­ther was he, but he did­n’t real­ly care about that).

So she got real­ly afraid of mess­ing up. And she slowed down more and more, being real­ly care­ful and con­stant­ly sec­ond-guess­ing her­self. I tried to help her, but she was pret­ty trau­ma­tized by her father about math in general.

We’ve had two full years of home­school­ing now. She did­n’t real­ly get up to speed on the math until this year, but towards the end of the fifth-grade text, she start­ed real­ly feel­ing good about how much eas­i­er things were get­ting as she got faster and more sure of her­self. I did­n’t push her to speed up, by any means.

The way we do things is that if she miss­es a prob­lem the first time, she goes back and does it again. If she miss­es it again, we do that one togeth­er, then she does more prac­tice on that type of prob­lem (not out of the text, but with what­ev­er I find for her). That way we both know that she has a con­cept down before she moves on to the next con­cept that’s sup­posed to build on it. And in math, of course, that’s espe­cial­ly impor­tant. Spend­ing as much time as we need on each con­cept is one of the advan­tages of homeschooling.

I find that she needs a prac­ti­cal rea­son to know how to do a prob­lem, too, or it just seems stu­pid. Read­ing a word prob­lem isn’t enough. Say­ing “Okay, we have 1.67 lbs. of ground beef here, and I want to use the timed defrost fea­ture on the microwave. It wants us to enter the weight in pounds and ounces. So how many ounces is .67 lbs.? Fig­ure it out, pro­gram the microwave, and get it start­ed. Yes, I’m hun­gry too, and the soon­er you get that going the soon­er we’ll be able to fin­ish cook­ing din­ner,” is the kind of thing that sticks with her and gives her a rea­son to actu­al­ly retain how many ounces are in a pound, or how to con­vert .67 to x/16, etc.

So her goal for the sum­mer is to do the whole sixth-grade text. (I think she’s push­ing to do alge­bra soon­er, and that’s fine with me.)

If she can get at least 95% of the ques­tions on the chap­ter pre-test right, she can skip that chap­ter. The book has 12 chap­ters. She just test­ed out of the first four. Chap­ter five is about divid­ing frac­tions, which she’s nev­er done before—and she got 80% of that pre-test right. 🙂

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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