Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Decisions, decisions

I wish decisions came easier to me. I wish I could just look at the facts and make a choice and not look back. I realize that sometimes I will make the wrong decision. I know that's inevitable. I just wish I wasn't plagued by self-doubt immediately after making a decision.

We finished our school year about 2 weeks ago. I had made some decisions for our curriculum for next fall. (I think I love this time of year, by the way. I love being close to finishing up one year of school and getting a break and playing outside and having lots of time to read and finding new things to use for the next year that will make it even better than this year.) There were still one thing I wasn't sure about - what math to use for Tori next year. She'll be entering third grade. She's made a lot of progress this year in many areas. She aced almost all her spelling tests. She's picking up books, regular chapter books, and reading them on her own. And laughing out loud to herself, which makes me smile every single time. But math is still not her strong suit.

So I researched some curriculums and looked up samples on-line and looked at their diagnostic tests to see where she'd place. According to these tests, she needs to do 2nd grade math. This took awhile for me to accept. If I'm homeschooling my children and my daughter is a grade behind in math, doesn't that mean I'm failing? Some of you might see it that way. I think I would be failing if I moved her to 3rd grade math when she still hadn't grasped some 2nd grade concepts. It is more important to me that she understands the basics of math before moving on.

Once I accepted the idea that she would be working on 2nd grade math, then I had to decide what math curriculum to get. We had been using Math-U-See. It was good for 1st grade for her but last year I noticed that Tori was becoming dependent on using the blocks. It also wasn't enough review. She was forgetting addition after working on subtraction. I was looking at Saxon Math, A Beka, Horizons, Christian Light, . . . there are so many choices out there! I looked at some sample lessons and was drawn to Christian Light. It's a workbook format - no writing out the problems. (Hmm, I should look into this for Brendan - that might take care of a lot of grumbling!) It uses a step-by-step spiral approach, which means a new lesson is introduced, with some practice problems and then review problems. There isn't much teacher preparation required - very important to me. It's moderately priced.

As I was looking at it, I realized that it might be the kind of thing where Tori could work on it this summer. Maybe she could start their 2nd grade math now and work through the summer. We might be able to skip some lessons or combine a couple even. I talk to Tori about it and she likes the idea of having a little workbook to work on this summer. It sounds like a plan!

I go to order it . . . and become paralyzed. I don't know, maybe I should pick a different math program. Maybe I should just get the workbook from Sam's Club for this summer and work with her myself and then just move on to 3rd grade. Maybe I should just give her the summer off and work on flash cards and do 2nd grade math this fall. On a whim, I google "Best math curriculum for homeschoolers" and find a website article called "Choosing a homeschool math curriculum". This article was written with me in mind, there is just no other explanation for it.

One of the first sentences I read said that as long as the curriculum was of decent quality, the teacher was more important than the book. Hmph. So, it's up to me. Not to make sure I choose the right one, but to use whatever I choose in a way that works for us and that makes sense to Tori. Well, I can do that. And that is one of the reasons I love homeschooling. I love the freedom to try new things, to create our own schedule, to find what works for us. The books are ordered and we'll be starting our math summer school session as soon as they arrive.


Ashley Fick said...

I know that you are ok with the whole math thing with tori now but I wanted to write what I thought. What I believe to be the biggest flaw in public schooling is the lack of time teachers have with individual students and the fact that they just push students through subjects just so they can "keep up". All students learn at different speeds. Kids excel in some subjects and dont do so great in others. The beauty in home schooling is that you are flexible with how your children learn. You know that Tori needs extra help in math so you can give that to her, unlike a public school teacher would. I see this situation as a reminder that what you are doing is the right choice.

Angie said...

Thanks, Ashley. :) It's nice to hear some affirmation!