Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's almost over!

We are almost done with school for the year. On Thursday, May 31, we will have completed Meelyn's seventh grade year and Aisling's fifth grade year, our sixth year of homeschooling.

This morning has been so very, very long. We got started at 8:30 and now it is 12:30, but I think something Rip Van Winkle-ish may have happened with the time, because surely enough hours have passed that it is actually 12:30 on Saturday.

Nope. Just checked the computer's clock/calendar, which verified that it is indeed 12:30 pm on Wednesday.

We started out with math today -- ohhhhhh, rats. I just realized that we didn't do the Morning Prayer. Will it count to do the Morning Prayer in the afternoon? I don't think God will mind -- and it was even more mind-numbingly terrible than it usually is. Why do we have to have dumb old math anyway? That's what Aisling said, not me. But I silently and heartily concurred.

Both girls have the Saxon Math D.I.V.E. CD-ROMs with a very pleasant-voiced professor, Dr. David Shormann, who teaches them their math. The computer screen becomes a "chalkboard" and he writes out the problems, showing them how to understand and solve whatever particular lesson they're doing, which could be anything from acute angles to subtracting fractions. These CD-ROMS were sort of expensive, but very worth it for us.

You see, my voice isn't always that pleasant the fiftieth time I have to explain that that that angle CANNOT be an 80 degree angle; it is not acute, it is obtuse! Obtuse! Obtuse! Aaaaagghhh!!!!


Edvard Munch's self-portrait, evoking his feelings about
mathematics.

So anyway, Dr. Shormann is a kindly sort and never gets an edge to his voice and never abruptly leaves his seat, muttering, to go out to the kitchen for another cup of coffee.

But sometimes, even Dr. Shormann doesn't quite cut it and I have to sit down at the table and work many problems out with the girls until they understand. Doing math irritates the very fiber of my being. It tap-dances on my ganglia and makes the skin on the back of my neck feel all bunchy. One of the hardest things about homeschooling is being pleasant even when you don't want to be.

Which, come to think of it, was also one of the hardest things about being a classroom teacher. Or a person.

Anyway, Meelyn is finished with her Saxon 7/6 math text and is now doing many supplemental exercises in the back of the book. If she misses none or one on each of these exercises, I give her extra credit. She needs it, I'm afraid. Her main problem is careless mistakes: forgetting to reduce fractions, forgetting to put decimal points in answers, making simple calculation errors like saying that 9 x 3 = 36 (oh, I wish she weren't so much like me!), but those careless mistakes can add up to a pretty rancid test score. It mortifies her and worries me.

I can remember being just exactly like this in my days as a public school student, but I don't think any of my teachers ever wept bitter tears at what failures they felt like because I was such a dunce in math. This is, I believe, the curse of the homeschooling mother. No matter how ridiculous you know it is, if your kids can't be brilliant at every single subject, carving life-sized carousel horses with one hand and splitting atoms with the other while conducting a symphony orchestra with the baton held between two toes from a score they wrote at age seven, you feel like you just haven't given it -- or them -- your all.

Aisling has only five more lessons in her Saxon 6/5 text and is due to cross the finish line next week.

We made it through math, finally, and moved on to the Greek and Latin roots workbook, which both girls enjoy very much. They also like the reading comprehension books they do, published by Seton Educational Media. The Seton books are Catholic-based and teach interesting things about the lives of the saints and the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, and to tell you the truth, I find them interesting myself. Both of these books are within mere pages of being finished, which is such a relief. The end is in sight!

We've already finished history (the Roman Empire) and literature (Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream, plus tons of pleasure reading). Science was wrapped up in late March at the ARCHES Science Expo. The girls both whizzed through their Wordly Wise vocabulary books this year; they've been done with those since early April and I think I might order their new ones a grade level ahead so that there will be more of a challenge. Or maybe I could order the proper grade level for each and schedule the exercises so that they'll complete the book in the first semester.

We finished up with French two weeks ago, although we'll be listening to our French language CDs for twenty minutes whenever we're in the car long enough for a lesson. The only two things we're still doing are American geography/history/social studies and English (both grammar and diagraming.) It looks as if we'll have to carry those subjects on into the summer.

Achievement testing will happen on those last four days in May's final week. The girls are just so looking forward to that.

I don't mind carrying our subjects on into the summer because I think it's important to keep a little something going during that long break. "Brain Drain" is the dread of teachers everywhere, no matter if their classroom is at P.S. 25 or in the dining room. When we only work for a couple of hours a week, schoolwork has a certain piquancy, we have found, and none of us really mind doing a little diagraming here and there. Especially me. I'm a bit like Aunt Josephine in the third book of The Series of Unfortunate Events, which was titled The Wide Window. "I find that grammar is the greatest joy in life, don't you?" she asked the Baudelaire orphans.

The girls also have piano practicing to do -- we carry on with piano over the summer, although we do stop with art lessons -- and then there's the Hamilton County 4-H Fair coming up in July with projects needing attention. We also go to the church once or twice a week, not just for Mass, but also for Aisling to have some time to practice her Mass music on the keyboard there. Plus in late August, a couple of other moms and I are going to be starting a Junior Toastmasters club with the ARCHES homeschool group.

Sometimes I think we never really stop at all. I can't decide if that's good or bad.

I've been working on this piece all morning; the girls finally finished their lessons at 2:00. We've all had a lovely break and now I'm getting ready to corral them into the van to head off to the church. Meelyn and I will have a nice holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament while Aisling practices.

I am really looking forward to going to Susies's house in a little over two weeks and to the lake in early August. Phew.

1 comment:

Kbg said...

Okay, that's it...I can't stand it anymore with you and Math. I will teach them Math next year! Math is fun and exciting and so definitive...really, what's not to love about Math??? Most relaxing hour of the day around here...just let me have at it next year, okay?
LOL.