Win Some, Lose Some

December 6, 2016

  1. We completed Horizon Reading to Learn program and Saxon Math 4 curriculum. We did that almost two weeks ago.  Of course, this is not exactly true.  Yes, we read all the stories, solved all the problems and answered all the questions.  BUT not even once Robert completed just one of the tests included in those two programs.  Moreover, I didn’t ask him to do so.  Although, he answered many questions correctly, he did that only when I was sitting next to him.  I knew that repeating each unit many times would not necessary lead to mastering the test.  So I had a dilemma.  Should I spent more time teaching many things over and over maybe even applying many other methods hoping to build strong foundations or go forward unit by unit and expose Robert to many concepts that might widen his horizons?  I use different approach.  I repeated first two parts of both curricula a few times, from beginning to end.  I am not sure if that was the right approach, but…
  2. With Daily Geography 3 I proceed differently.  I repeat the same unit three times  hoping that Robert would answer the questions independently without my presence.  It has been hard as I discover so many obstacles.  My very absence causes Robert to stop working all together.  He would sit and wait for my return. From the doorway, I try to encourage Robert to go on his own.  Instead, he answers aloud and observes my reaction.  For reasons I still don’t grasp, my reaction gives him cues about correctness of his answer.  I don’t want to allow that so instead I back off to another room only to notice lately that Robert didn’t write the answer but sad and lonely waits again for my return.  So I do return.  We again look at the map, we underline important words in questions.  Are we looking for name of the state or the river or the ocean?  Are we looking for direction?  We make separate banks of words naming states or lakes to choose from.  We draw arrows leading from one word in the question to another word.  For the question, “What interstate highway passes through Concord, NH?”, the arrows goes from the word ” Concord”  to the words “highway”.  “First we find Concord then we will see a highway”  I explain.  We go over four questions, then I leave again.  I see Robert writing answers on his own. Two are correct, one is partially correct, one is wrong. The problems Robert has with answering those seemingly easy questions allowed me to understand the nature of difficulties Robert has in dealing with words that rely on each other to make sense.
  3. Finally, Robert can do something much easier for him.  He doesn’t have to read anything, just add fractions.  finding common denominator, simplifying, changing improper fraction into mixed fraction are not a problem.  Robert follows an algorithm which directs him to do one operation after another.  Finally, I can leave him to solve all those problems on his own.