Math, Breathing, and Why I can't be an Unschooler

After 12 weeks of school, we are resting on week 13. The last four were of less intensity with my husband constant visits to doctors. I found about something called THE LINDEN METHOD, I purchased it for my
husband, and he told me it's been a life saver for him. He had high levels of stress that were turning into ugly anxiety. This method has stopped that in just a few days. He still has acupuncture and goes to an alternative doctor who is helping him much. I guess we have fully joined the weirdo category of homeschoolers that are also into 'alternative' things, and organic foods (my husband, plain and at the antipodes of any liberal stuff - and any green thing is included there - assures me he can even taste the hormones in the chicken.) I don't cook from scratch always, and I don't wear jumper suits, but maybe I'm also getting sloppier, since I do not color my hair anymore... who knows? I surely think I ain't no granola mom, but maybe my husband is turning into muffin man, or something. If anyone has noticed anything different, they are not telling. But mind you we have always been the strange couple that eats capers and rabbit.

Back to my husband, if not fully recovered, you can say he is much better. His sleep is still not great, it has ups and downs, but he refuses to take the sleeping pill any more because after 2 or 3 weeks it starts to have, as all medicines pretty much, side effects. But good things come from trials, sometimes... This is our case. We are more in love than ever before, and we are determined to make family changes that will hopefully have a positive impact in our life, such as going camping.

My husband is even teaching me relaxation and breathing techniques as he learns them in the course. He is also reconnecting with old hobbies, such as playing base, and he is considering some community college courses.

How am I? These last four weeks, I've been kind of unmotivated and bored, cooking because I had to, doing things with the girls because it's the next thing to do, as Pam says, but my heart wasn't there. But slowly I'm back to be present, and I have done more I even thought, like planning and regrouping for next term, and reconsidering math. I'm a repented perfectionist and always too hard on myself. So yesterday as I had sometime to myself, I went to a make up store to get my husband cloth gloves for a treatment at his alternative doctor, and I bought myself what I hadn't eaten in years, a dollar Wendy hamburger with dollar fries and a dollar iced tea. At the supermarket, while I got a few things, I also bought a chocolate doughnut. We eat as healthy as we can, and there are exceptions. But I truly think we are weird because I did not know what that cheese in a spray is, I've never bought it or eaten it, and other than the two tacos for 99 cents that Taco Bell has, which we had six years ago for the last time, we were amused at the fact that my husband and I have never eaten at Connie Island, or Dairy Queen (just once though, in 15 and 13 years in the States), and we don't frequent fast food places with the exception of a very rare Whataburger. Do you wonder how they have been able to keep the 99 cents price for two tacos without going up in 15 years? If they are still making profit with that today, with the economy as it is, how much profit did they use to make on those crunchy tacos more than a decade ago?

So this break week we kept up with our free readings, which Blue Heart loves, and I'm rethinking our math. Actually Blue Heart did math this morning with the new plan and it went well. For those with children who do not seem too inclined to math, please, do not change curriculum. Simply make a pause and do something fun. Games, math picture books, but do not buy another program, just handle it differently. Unless it is true martyrdom.

I do not dislike math, but liking it now much more than as a child and youngster doesn't make me very knowledgeable. I realize I did not fully know my oldest daughter. It happens that the books I thought would be boring she loves. I even felt guilty about reading them, because somehow I have the dream that, like in Ann Botsford Comstok's book, children shouldn't be talked about animals, but see them in real life. But hey, we see urban animals. We observe crows and blackbirds, honeybees, we saw an possum blasted on the road. I even had an incredible view of a hawk while driving to pick the girls from a friend's house, on the opposite side of the road, just a few feet from me. My small camera broke and I definitely need a replacement soon. I could have taken a neat picture of that thing eating lunch without scrupulous. I almost stopped the car, fascinated by the scene. So it seems that my daughter loves to hear about animals. We are reading these free books that I see cheap all the time, that have intriguing information about raccoons, rabbits, weasels, beavers, etc.

But I do know her with math. Her reasoning is great, but worksheets tire her. We use Math Mammoth worksheets and I'm back to the booklet 1b from MEP. In the right measure she does fine with it, so I'm thinking we may continue with MEP which I already have printed. But this next term I need to do what I wanted to do this year and never got to much, keep up the games and living math part. Reading math books, and using books I have such as Mathemagic (Childcraft -- The How and Why Library, 13), as well as these few I got yesterday for cheap at our used book store. Brown Paper School book: I Hate Mathematics! by Marilyn Burns. We did some of the activities from this book on our kitchen floor, and it's quite amazing how well she responds to this.

So, what do we do with math?, or how do we do math First I do know that my children will be fine because we, or some of us, who homeschool, or maybe who don't, worry much at times, and it is not that big of a deal. Neither reading, or history, or anything academic. But I will spell the details, because maybe one person may want to hear about it.

I keep reading Dr. Wright's Kitchen Table Math: Book 1, (and what's wrong with math books and curriculum titles? Teaching Textbooks, Kitchen Table Math, Math U See, The I Hate Math Book. They are not very poetic titles or names, but it may be that math people are, like Charlotte Mason in the City says, down to earth, without the pomp but with the food goodies.Why are they so watered down when the content is great). One may think this is a cutesy book with kitchen table activities, but to me this book is to math what Comstock's book is to science. I read to know, to become passionate about it, to understand and love what I'm learning. Then I pick and choose from Math Mammoth or MEP now as I said. Since our last weeks were about money, and I found these books, we read about money. At times, we take a bit of a break and we do LIVING MATH, and play games, or read from books like the other unfortunate title, I Hate Math Book, and do their suggested activities. What I love is that these books open up our math views and make us visit fields of math that are usually neglected. I also drool over the Life of Fred 4-Book Elementary Set # 1 : Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, but then I know that they don't need those books to love math and to have a good mathematical reasoning.

And now to the reason why I not only follow the Living Math approach or why we can't be unschoolers. To me unschooling strikes different cords. I used to have a very negative concept about those who called themselves such because to many it means plain nothing, or just go with the children whims, or have them in front of the screen all day long... But true unschoolers, as Kelly knows, are constantly providing a very rich environment to their children. I don't know if this is a excuse or a valid reason, for there may be unschoolers living in suburbia or urban areas like we do. But it's not just that I can blame it to our place for not inspiring us enough, it is also a personality thing. If I don't write plans, constantly educate myself as what path to take and prepare to my best abilities a feast for them which also means allocate some time every morning to do our 'school', I will feel neglectful and a failure. It also works, maybe 'I' make it work, but school doesn't feel like 'school', it gets blurred in every day life. We've just made room for the habit of a devotional, reading aloud, narrating, and asking for some writing and math regularly, and all the other things CM'ers do (not all at once or with the same mastery), and we, or I, feel safe in those relaxed routines.

Some parents are very involved in trades or activities, or like to participate in many events in their communities. And I don't mean this as an insult, but we simply can't afford some of the things that one group  of mainly unschoolers in our area do. By personal decision also, I prefer to participate in a few things the other group we are part of offers, and even so, we leave many that involve money out. We go to game dates, play dates, park dates, library, nature walks, and occasionally a field trip, and that to me it's not enough to have an optimums unschooling atmosphere. And probably down there, to be bleeding honest, I believe in guidance on my side, if not as the modern school type of teacher, as the educator Charlotte Mason advocates, and I can't do it otherwise than having a regimen of studies, short lessons, plans, a curriculum, even if those get ingrained in our life, and if they are initially gentle, and I'm eager to read more about that art of gentle learning. I need the accountability that following for example Math Mammoth or MEP gives me in regards to math. I also like the inspiration and knowledge that following the Ambleside readings gives us, without forgetting to get as close to our Charlotte Mason ideal as we can.

If I lived in the country, will I be an unschooler? I'm not sure even if this is a 'dream' of us anymore. We always want more nature, yes, but being honest, I don't know if I'll be capable of tending to goats and animals with a good heart. Maybe I could grow into it, but for now, it's very unlikely we move to a place with some farm elements.

I admire much the families with several children, but we are who we are. I also admire the families that have these rich and inspiring life who unschool... but I live the only life I have and the best way I know how to live it. I will never be _____________. I can fill the blank with so many names, but it is useless. My girls watch more shows that I'd like to admit (Pink Panther, Madeline the cartoons, Smurfs...) I still don't know much about plants or flowers, or nature in general, we are not always buzzing with activity here, we eat out more than I'd like to admit too, but we have strengths, I know, and we are very blessed.

If not unschoolers, we are definitely tidal schoolers. In summer I get very discouraged. I forget that summer is Texan winter. Since we haven't been as clever as my friend who bought an RV three years ago, and camp her summer away, sigh, (breathing exercises here), we've been very much locked. But it's already September? Yes, we have been blessed with some cooler days in the nineties instead of the hundreds, which we've used to eat al fresco, and go outside, etc. Our rehab after the summer has commenced, and it coincided with the relaxed week that is about to end. Lord willing, next week, we start our second term off with nature walk at a sanctuary near by, and more park days and outdoors hours for our favorite season.

8 opinion(s):

Pam... said...

Silvia, darling. Take a breath!! LOl! You are just so full of life and words and thoughts. It is awesome!

I love your rambles. They are brainstorming on a page. You cover every topic one sentence..(teasing). Seriously, we all ponder such things and we all try to figure out who we are and what we are about.

Glad your hubby feels better. Take care word girl. Love it! I really do.

Silvia said...

Pam, we have a BAAAAD case of burn out at home. Husband and myself! But it will all come at its time.

I'm a bit of a tornado, hyper everything, like hyper talkative, etc. I need to slow down, you are always so able to read between the lines and know what your friends need.

I wish you were closer. I'll be your eating healthy couch, and everything in my silly being I could be for you.

Silvia said...

I mean the peace and recovery! :)

lisa said...

So glad there's been some improvement with your husband. Enjoy your down time. You deserve it. :)
Blessings and ((hugs)),

Willa said...

I liked those rambles, too! Also glad that your husband feels a little better, and even though we live in the country, I share some of your difficulties with unschooling. I think that homeschooling should be a path to abundance (though not every minute of every day, life always has its down times) and when the method seems to be boxing you in rather than putting your feet in a wide room, then there is a problem. I find that I need to plan, study and even assign sometimes to keep things lively in our house, but too much of either structure or freedom seems to stress us out.

Kim said...

You and the girls need a nature walk!!! :) Come on out and enjoy on Monday! See you soon!!

...they call me mommy... said...

Neat post, Silvia!! All we are doing for Math right now is using glass gems from the Dollar Store and doing adding & subtracting - I make up a word problem like, "Sam, you went to the bakery and bought 10 donuts (he then grins and grabs 10 gems) and then on your way home you ate 6 :) how many do you have left?

They seem to LOVE it!!! They also love addition & subtraction flashcards and learning about time on our clock with their dad. :)

Silvia said...

Amy, you do GREAT. I need to learn much from you and your relaxed approach.

I have one who would grin if told she bought 10 doughnuts, even I would!


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