January 27, 2017

Can I Be Joyful All the Time? & a bit about Math


Reading Out Loud, and Taking Breaks on the Trampoline
Can I be joyful all of the time?    This was a question that my kids and I discussed during one of our devotions this week. They all pretty much agreed that "No, we can't." "Nobody is happy all of time." And this is probably most of our thoughts on the subject. But we were able to get into what joy is, and where it comes from, and what our joy is dependant on. Do things have to be going our way for us to be joyful? Do we have to get what we want to experience joy? That feeling of happiness is wonderful, and God created it, but the joy we can have is so much more. It's more about the position in Christ that we can experience. Peace in knowing our position is secure because of what God supplied for us through Jesus. This is where our joy should be rooted. And if it is, we can answer "YES" to Can I be joyful all of the time?


Part of me feels kind of guilty for not experiencing what we homeschooling moms refer to as a "Mid-Year Slump." That's when everyone is experiencing post-holiday duldrums, and perhaps like we can't wait until the first glimpses of warm sunshine---and maybe our "brilliant" plans we started out with in September are not panning out the way we expect, so we start researching for next year already.

Living in the tropics, and a 3rd world country, has its own frustrations and set of stressors for sure, but right now I kind of feel like we've entered a "groove" with our school. As long as the framework of a good plan is there, it's happening, and we take a day off here and there as we see we want.

This week I wanted to share about our Math Choices over the years:

We have tried a couple of different math programs over the years--Horizons, Saxon, and Singapore, Rod & Staff. 

I have found my choice of math programs depends on the child and their strengths and/or weaknesses. 

With my 5th grader, and firstborn, we started with Horizons math as a default option back in Kindergarten (also Sonlight's default math choice at that time). The program emphasizes memorization of math facts, and quite a bit of practice on the facts. The big draw to this curriculum is colorful books that are full of nice illustrations. The books look nice, and you want to be in them. But I remember my daughter being overwhelmed often, and being the daydreamer she is, took so much time finishing a lesson. Of course, this isn't the fault of the program. I liked Horizons because it gave her a good foundation for transitioning into Saxon math in her 5th Grade year. She has literally transitioned into Saxon seamlessly. In fact, we didn't even finish the Grade 4 Horizons math books, because we were feeling ready for a change already. So she went straight into Saxon 6/5 in the middle of her 4th grade year. She is now finishing Saxon 6/5 during Grade 5, with no trouble at all.

That being said, the redeeming factor for Saxon (because this is what I largely grew up on and didn't exactly love it) is that they have now come out with teaching DVD's. This has saved my relationship with my daughter over the past year! Math can definitely be one of those subjects that starts the tears flowing, from student or mom, and sending her off to watch the lesson on the DVD has been a true relationship-saver. Plus we have found that it keeps her going at a good pace. She wants to keep up with the DVD, so there isn't much time to dilly-dally around. I don't go through her math question by question checking everything. Because she is doing so well (90-100%), I just spot check answers with the Solutions Manual.

The best book I've read to help me
understandhow to teach math for levels K-3.

My second daughter was definitely struggling in math at the beginning in Kindergarten. She would just blurt out a number to an addition problem, and make random guesses constantly. I was concerned about her understanding numbers and how to manipulate them on the page from day one. So I saw Rod & Staff math and it looked great for her. Lots of repetitiveness, methodical, and very slow-paced. It ended up being the Ruth Beechick book The Three R's that saved the day and really helped me understand teaching math to young children. There was actually nothing to be worried about with this student. She just wasn't processing all of the information in all three "modes" yet, according to Beechick's book.

So after a little bit of time I put her into Singapore (which her older brother was already working through) and she is excelling in that. Rod and Staff would have been much too slow-paced for her afterall.

Thus far, Singapore math is definitely my favorite. I don't feel like there's a crazy amount of questions to work through. There are lots of options for adding extra practice if you choose, and I really appreciate how the concepts are taught. My math has even improved since using this program because you really learn the mechanics of math as well. So my three younger kids having been using this--Kindergarten through Grade 3 so far, and we have the Grade 4 material in our house and it looks great also.


My false bird of paradise or lobster claw, whichever you prefer, blooming even more this week. This is such a fun flower to watch bloom. I love it.  :)  As well the birds in my yard have been so active and fun to watch them in their acrobatic flight.

On My Side Table

What Hearts: from Sonlight 9th Grade Classical Literature program

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