Monday, October 25, 2010

A Homeschooling Bonus

I finally figured out Order of Operations!!


All this time, and the order of operations was a mystery to me. I almost always got them wrong, and when I didn't, I had no idea how I did it.

Enter: Homeschooling!

You're kind of forced to face your own demons and step waaaayyy outside your comfort zone in order to help your child. I've learned more about grammar than I even knew existed. (Shh. Yes, I'm a writer, but I didn't know what it was called when I left a participle dangling!)

But now I know that and the order of order of operations:

Parenthesis first.
Exponents, next.
Multiplication or Division next, worked left to right if there's more than one.
Addition and Subtraction next, worked left to right.

I know, I know. I'm probably the only grown-up out there who did NOT know how to work these problems, but there it is. Yay for me!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sometimes New Is Not Better

On Friday the boys and I had the opportunity to attend a field trip with our school. We went to Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah to see, we thought, The Phantom of the Opera. Nothing in the information we were given on the show suggested it was anything other than what you would expect.

As a former professional opera singer, I was thrilled to take my boys to this performance. Phantom would have been a good choice to introduce my boys to musical theater.

However, the Phantom, as I know it, was not at all what we got.

Instead our senses were assaulted with a rock version of the story (which in and of itself I wouldn't have had a problem with) written in the contemporary style of many composers, featuring dissonate chords and minor keys.

In short, it was torturous.

I thought the musicians, performers and singers were pretty darn great. A couple of them excellent, even.

But there wasn't a single thing about the actual composition and production that I enjoyed. At all.

At least we got to have a good discussion about music composition, performance and personal taste. Judging by the reviews, people have found this show appealing enough.

And hey, we got a break from school work and were able to walk around a bit on the beautiful UofU campus. Which also gave us the opportunity to discuss silver linings. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

From Bad Mom to Awesome Mom ~ Getting My Child Help

Toward the end of last year, Charlie really seemed to be getting a handle on math. So when he started school this year and was plugging along in math, I didn't question it. Everyone was happy since K12's change in math program that allowed for a lot more work to be done online.

It wasn't until Xan came to me with some difficulties with his own math, that I realized I couldn't take for granted the guys were making their way through math without problem. There were problems all right.

Except it wasn't Xan--he consistently gets enough questions right the first time around (80% or better), it was Charlie. The online checkpoints, and me being willing to relinquish my mom-smarts, enable Charlie to engage in some bad behavior.

Basically, Charlie would go through his checkpoint (basically an end-of-lesson test) and fail it. Then he'd click the "review" button where he could see where he went wrong. Normally, the parent should go through the review with their child to help work through problem spots. Well, I was a bad mom and didn't know he was failing and reviewing and then basically just entering in the right answers as he remembered them from the review. *sigh*
When I finally realized my mistake, it was on Charlie's Unit 2 review. Once Xan alerted me to the problem (sometimes it's a good thing to tattle!) I sat down with Charlie to review where he'd gone wrong on his unit review test. Um, he didn't seem to know any of it. He claimed complete ignorance on even relatively simple math problems.

Add to that some complaints about how stupid he is and how he'll never be able to do math ... and I realized it was time for me to do something.

Thankfully, I have a good friend who is a former math teacher. For the last few years she's been working as a math specialist at our local elementary school, helping kids just like Charlie. And, even better for me (but bad for her), she was laid off this summer as our school district made drastic cuts in their budget. Meg loves to teach kids math and she, thankfully, responded with enthusiasm to my request that she tutor Charlie.

I am so pleased and can't wait for her to come in and help my guy out. I'm hoping she'll start tomorrow, Monday. I only wish I'd paid better attention to what Charlie was doing sooner. BUT, at least it's only been a month. There's still time to really turn things around for him.

He's also been invited to join in the Reading Horizons program which promises to improve his reading skills exponentially.

I am thrilled and excited for Charlie. I think this is going to be his year to really leap ahead in his academic abilities and especially in his perception of himself. That's a tremendous and lasting gift that could change his life for the better.

So, I may have been a bad mom, but at least I can recognize my shortcomings and work to overcome them--and sometimes that means admitting that I can't do a thing, but finding someone that can.