Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Great lesson to re-learn

I am constantly learning lessons during this homeschooling journey we are on (probably more so then the boys!). Often I end up re-learning those lessons many times. But it is good to get a reminder every once in awhile. Really good.

A couple of days ago, the boys decided that it was time to go toy shopping. Between Jason's birthday, Christmas and over two months of untouched allowances, they each had a bit of money burning their pockets and I had been putting them off for awhile. My only condition was that Jason needed to figure out how much money he had to spend.

Some background...a few years ago I started acting as bank for the boys, mainly because we tend to forget to give them their allowances. This way we have a written record of when we give them their allowance. When they get Christmas or Birthday money they can either keep it in their banks or "deposit" it with me. Then if they are out and want to spend their money, we deduct it from their "account" when we get home.

It had been a while since we had updated their balance, so we needed to add in Christmas money, Birthday money, 10 weeks of allowance (!) as well as deduct for money spent on snacks after swimming and few miscellaneous purchases.

I have to say that I was duly impressed. Jason did adding and subtracting (much of it involving carrying) in his head without missing a beat. No hemming, no "I can't do this", no "this is too hard". He just did it. Because it was real and it would give him an answer to something that he really wanted to know. And that is the lesson that I need to remember.

Jason has a love/hate relationship with math. He is very instinctual and can completely get math concepts but he HATES remembering math facts. My challenge has been to balance these two sides. As he gets better at remembering the math facts, he gets more confidant at figuring things out on his own. But he does need a push now and then. So we do "do math" but not tons of drill and I try to throw in enough "fun math" (he likes the Marilyn Burns books like The I Hate Mathematics Book which focus more on the fun math concepts).

Now that we have started multiplication, we have been having lots of conversations about not seeing why he needs to know math. Part of this I realize is that I tended to do most of the everyday math for him. The idea being that he would see how I used math and start wanting to do it on his own (please don't is working great this way for Kyle! He is constantly telling me to stop so he can figure out things on his own.) But Jason has no problem with letting people do things for him...not because he is lazy, but because he is a perfectionist. If someone can do something easier/better/faster then he can he prefers to let that person do it.

So I now make a point of letting him do the everyday math we come across. It has become a running joke between us and I think that he is seeing that there is a point in knowing his math facts. In fact I think that I scored some points when we talked about how mulitplication would have been a much faster way of calculating how much allowance he was due (he manually added up his allowance 10 times rather then multiplying by 10).

But it is times like these where he does math pretty much effortlessly that help ease my worries that math computation will never be easy for him. It will be. I know that. I just have to remember it. And if all else fails he can use a calculator....

Sunday, February 12, 2006


After an incredibly warm winter (temps in the 60s a couple times) the snow finally came! They were calling for a lot of snow yesterday and the boys were disappointed when it was mostly rain. Then in the late afternoon it turned into snow. They went out in it when there were a couple of inches and it was getting dark. Talk about excited kids! Went to bed expecting to wake up to even more snow.

Around 1:30 am (what can I say...watching the Olympics throws me off because I forget how late it really is! Or at least that is my story and I am sticking to it!) the lights suddenly went out. Flickered back on and then went out. Ah yes, perfect. I have absolutely no problem being snowed long as we have heat! Had to hunt around for the flashlights (our power went out last month due to major wind...note to self...make sure to always put the flashlights away!). Couldn't find them but was able to find some candles and matches. With a little bit of light I was able to track down a flashlight out in the garage. I was not sure how cold it would get over the night and Kyle sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and is very scared of the dark, so I went and woke Jason up and got Kyle and had them come sleep in my room (Jeff was in Ocean City this weekend). We all fell asleep only to be woken at 3:30am by the lights coming back on! (Note to self...when the power goes off, you still need to turn the lights off!). Imagine my surprise when we woke up in the morning with the power back off again! The power stayed off until around 10:30 am. So all in all not bad. We got a bit chilly but can't complain.

Jason takes a bit of a rest from sledding in our back yard.

We ended up with about 6 inches or so which is a lot for us. The funny thing is that it will most likely be gone (or nearly gone) by tomorrow or the next day. It is supposed to be in the upper 50s by Thursday. So we have to enjoy it while it is here. And enjoy it they did. They spent some time going down a really small hill that we have in the backyard and then we went and checked out the school about 2 blocks from us. There was a great hill. Talk about happy kids. We spent a couple of hours (and yes, I joined in!). Jason loved the speed. Kyle kept saying that he was doing the luge...laying all the way back and moving his legs back and forth to steer (can you tell we have been watching the Olympics?).

Enjoying the "big" hill.

Came home and had a nice relaxing rest of the chocolate, watching the Olympics and welcoming Jeff home. They are really looking forward to tomorrow. And so am I!

Jason gets ready to go down the hill in our back yard.

Kyle takes a break

I love our yard when it snows! This picture is taken looking towards the back of the house. We are lucky to have so many trees.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The benefits of having two kids with different learning styles...

This past week Kyle was digging through a box and came across our Cuisenaire Rods and Math Wrap-ups. He loves them! I had bought them years ago thinking that Jason would like them. But Jason had other ideas and never showed any interest.

I was actually able to find the Cuisenaire workbooks and Kyle has been having a blast working through the problems. I carry the Math Wrap-Ups in my purse in case we need something to pass the time.

I find it fascinating that the things that they enjoy doing correspond to their learning styles (ok…this really should not surprise me, but I still find it really cool!) Jason does not learn by memorization and hates repetition. He is a whole to part learner…needs the big picture before he can break it down and understand the parts. Jason understands complex concepts well, but struggles with the easy skills. Kyle definitely learns by repetition and actually enjoys “practicing” and flash cards. He is a sequential learner and needs to learn the details in order to move from easy to hard material.

So now I need to go dig through my stuff and find all the things that Jason showed no interest in…more then likely Kyle will love them!