Monday, September 8, 2008

Justification-Part 1

As if I have to justify my decisions regarding my kids' lives and well being...but I'm going to do it anyway because I'm hurt and extremely pissed off. Grab a snack and a drink...this could be long and/or take several posts to get through.

I did not make the decision to school my children at home overnight, in fact it took months. As a former public and private school teacher, it was not my concern that I could teach or knowing how to teach various subjects, but more that I was doing the right thing by yanking my child (then both children) out of a school system with friends, rules and order, and all activities relating to "school." Also, as a teacher, I had seen way too many examples of "homeschooled" children being thrown into my classes mid-year, grossly unprepared and many levels behind their peers. Having taught K-5 through 5th grades, I knew that I would not do that to my children. I know what kids should be learning in math at each level and how to figure out my child's reading level or know what spelling rules and words are appropriate by that reading level. I know how to integrate history and science into reading as well as art and music back into those, but what about the other stuff?? Being in a classroom. Having that group of friends for recess and after-school functions. Playing in band or singing in chorus. Field day--I love field day! How could I deny my kids that??

My initial reason for even thinking about homeschooling was solely for academics. I had to make that priority over the other "stuff." It began with the horrible math program EveryDay Math. Groan with me. My last year teaching in SC we piloted that horrid waste of time and money. Ok-yes it does have some good points, EDM is an awesome tool for kids to learn problem-solving strategies and for those kids who don't 'get' math the traditional way, but it should be used as such...a TOOL. Not the main curriculum. Also Miss B started K-5 with EDM and completed 2nd grade with it. The local school here adopted it after we'd moved, coming from a district in SC that had BEEN using it (with much frustration). When B started 3rd grade locally, her math skills other than problem solving had not improved from K-5 level. Truly. Though by EDM standards, her scores were all As or checks (local school stopped using letter grades that same year) and the school, school board and curriculum director all assured me she was doing fine. Well yes, according to EDM she is-- though most of that is her ability to problem solve which integrates reading and comprehension which she does very well. My fuss was that third graders take achievement tests in MATH. Fourth graders take state proficiency tests in MATH which are not based on EDM style. Those tests check all aspects of math learning- knowing facts and working with large numbers included. EDM does not teach math facts. No practice of multiplication tables or division. Practice is sporadic through other problems, such as finding how many pints are in six quarts. You multiply right? Not if you don't know 6x2 off the top of your head you don't. You have to draw a diagram to figure it out. No such thing as , "Let's practice your 6 facts today." I know memorization is not everything or even learning truly, but there are some things you just have to know, to build other concepts from. Then one day when the whole multiplication "clicks" OMG- I know WHY 5x7=35! the child has the facts tucked in their brains already. But if that 4th grade child does not have that knowledge and takes four minutes of a timed test to draw pictures of seven groups and five sticks in each group then counts them all to add them up to figure out the above problem (which is a good early strategy to learn why/how for multiplication, don't get me wrong), that child's chance of finishing that 90-question timed test is slim to not happenin'. Especially if they have to do that for every single problem, not just the word problems because that child does not KNOW the facts because that child has not been allowed to practice those facts. Same goes for addition and subtraction. No facts practice- you end up with third graders counting 8+4 on their fingers or drawing sticks to add up. Not even touch counting is allowed. See my frustration??

As a teacher who made sure her third graders (and above of course) knew their facts so we could work with other math concepts, this system just frustrates me. My kids (class) could do conversions of weights and measures like nothing else. Fractions?? Oh yeah, my kids smoked fractions on state tests. Try to reduce fractions or make common denominators without knowing your multiplication facts?? Skills which are expected for fourth grade and definitely in fifth grade. Found out this local school touting EDM and arguing with me that it is "the best" does not use EDM for grades 5 and up. What?? So you take them from this lack of fact-learning system and toss them in the pre-algebra math REQUIRING facts mastery?? Oh, THAT makes sense. About as much sense as TP holder mounted in the hallway. Sorry, I'm done. My child had been a guinea pig for EDM across two states for three years and I'd had enough. No more. Good luck with these kids when they all bomb the proficiency test and require tutors for middle school math. Mine will not. I'll find somewhere with a better math program. That's exactly what I told the curriculum director for the local school. And that's exactly what I did.

1 comment:

  1. You do what's best for your children, Ang...

    In which it sounds like you did exactly that.

    You're shouldn't have to defend yourself on the decisions you make that are in the best interest of the kiddos


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