Thursday, September 29, 2011

Be Encouraged--- It Takes Years!

I probably spend the most time with Sveta and Anastasia doing homeschool.  It's just that they need a lot of explaining when it comes to their work.  Everyday I suggest that they read the directions before jumping into their work, but it's me who ends up doing the reading.  I surprised them today when I told them and meant
it-- "That is something you have to read on your own and follow the directions all by yourself!"

This morning we were doing math-- Third grade Saxon-- the new homeschool edition.  It is fantastic-- excellent-- perfect for them in that each lesson goes through review all the way back to the first lesson. 

For Sveta this works because she learns through repetition.  If she doesn't do things over and over-- she forgets.  Period.  And this morning, she kept drawing blanks which she does every so often.  And this frustrated her.  Years ago, an episode like this drove me insane, but I now know that Sveta is not doing it on purpose.  In fact, I can see how irritated she was getting with herself-- and so I helped her with many clues.  These pockets of forgetfulness are a result of  FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome).  But what is awesome is that we are both learning to rise above these challenges.  Years ago things would have gone down hill very quickly because both of us would get frustrated and allow our stubbornness to keep us from working together to quickly find a solution.  This morning I gave her two choices when she was being obstinate telling me how dumb this work was when in reality she had forgotten how to do it. 
"Sveta you'll remember when you do such and such."
She stayed frozen refusing to do what I asked.
"Sveta, you can do what I say which I know will help you remember or you can choose to sit there frozen which will make me send you to bed.  A smart girl wouldn't mind counting by twos if it helped her answer her problem.  A not so smart girl would sit there angry and grumpy without trying to figure out a way to solve her problem."
She thought for a moment and slowly inched her pencil up to her paper to begin counting on the number line.  Her obedience was slow coming but I have learned to allow it to a certain extent because this is her way of showing that she is listening to me while still winning in her mind.
This is where we meet each other in the road almost everyday.
It's not perfect, but at least we are respecting each other through a problem.

For Anastasia, Saxon is perfect for her because she doesn't have a solid foundation which to build upon yet.  With Saxon, she is learning things she should have learned in kindergarten-- but at a more appropriate level.  As she learns the months of the years, she also learns how many days are in a year and what month it was three months ago if you count back from February.  She is learning terms like-- before, after, sum, in all, the difference, greater than, half past, and subtract.   These words take years for English Language Learners no matter how easy they might seem to us.  They might know the word, but to understand the concept is totally different.  She is learning to recognize what is on each coin and their size so that she can figure out the value. She still gets quarters and nickels mixed up but is learning how to tell the difference. She is learning that you can exchange ten pennies for one dime or two nickels.

Yes, Saxon math is perfect for both of them.

So perfect that I changed Annalyn over to Saxon Algebra 1 and Galina over to Saxon Algebra 1/2.  I know, I know-- I heard Saxon doesn't teach 100 % of the state standards for the higher grades-- but not every child needs to know every single one.  Other text books are written in such a way that makes math seem confusing, and overwhelming, but not Saxon.  For children that need lots of review with gradual introductions to new concepts-- Saxon is really a great choice.

Can you tell that I really like Saxon??
Today the girls found a gopher in the trap!  That little bugger had been tearing up our hill.  "Ewwwe, ants are crawling all over it!" they screamed.  "Well leave it alone till Dad gets home!"  Laughing to self-- guys get the fun jobs.


  1. It's great that you've found a math program that meets so many of your needs and it's even better that you and Sveta are finding ways to work together so that you both get what you need! You are such a great mom!

  2. Math is such a bugger to nail down with some kids.I'm glad Saxon is a good fit for your kids. I'm still having trouble with my Jonathan. He strugggles and struggles, but the number line has been great for him with addition and subraction. He hates using it, but it works.

  3. It is really helpful to get the DIVE cd to go along with the Saxon. It very helpful in teaching the lesson. The kids take notes as they watch it and can refer back if they have questons. You can buy it through

  4. Not sure if it always works or not, but I was able to vote twice on the same computer just now. Once on IE and once on Firefox! Good luck!

  5. Oh sometimes working with children that learn differently or just a bit behind can be a challenge, but when something works stick with it!!!

    You know sometimes we worry so much about being perfect, when we should be worried about getting the end result that helps everyone! :)

  6. It's always interesting to hear people talk about Saxon, they either love it or don't like it at all. I had such a hard time with it! I'm pickier than the kids, I founded I wanted colors and pictures, :) along with strong math, of course, so I went with Abeka for lower grades.

    Thanks for sharing the journey you went through in learning to teach Sveta. Many parents have also learned that what they first thought was rebellion, was a learning disability or a plain lack of understanding.

    I find it slightly amusing when I look back to those early years of homeschooling, because I used to think it was only about ME teaching THEM. Like you, I have learned much on the journey. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you have gained.

  7. I don't normally comment, but this reminded me of something i did in gradeschool. We had an assignment of about 100 questions. Just silly things like How many brothers do you have, or how many pets. Simple things that don't require a lot of outside knowledge. the teacher said make sure you read teh directions ( which was a pretty long and daunting paragraph for a young kid) and the first person done gets a great prize. Most of us just started answering the questions because it seemed self explanatory. But the directions said you only had to answer questions 5, 12, 45, 66, and 72 ( guessing on the numbers).

    It's just something that has ALWAYS stayed with me as an adult, that directions are important. Might be worth a try to get them to understand the importance.

  8. I have been using Saxon for 20 years. They DID revamp the upper grade books and I REALLY like what I see. Even with the old style our boys did great on the SAT.... Saxon is really a fabulous program. We use the DIVE CD's too. I wouldn't use anything else, once we start SAxon. I have looked at several things. We don't start Saxon till the 54 book. The girls are in the 76 book now. They are almost done and will change soon.
    Alli is using Rod and Staff which is also fabulous. She is in book 4. And then we'll switch to Saxon 65.

  9. This is why I originally started reading your blog...details on raising an FAS child! We learned our referral from Azerbaijan had FAS midway through. Sadly, we were never able to complete her adoption due to suspension of adoptions. We ended up adopting 2 from Lithuania, and b/c of the research we were OK with FAS. Both of them have it, ages 6 years old adopted 6 months ago. I always look forward to posts with Sveta in them! Thanks,

  10. I used saxon before we had kids when I taught at a catholic school. I loved it, not only did it improve the kids basic math skills and keep them sharp but I found myself improving as well! Cara


I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.