Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grade 4, Lesson 4, Day 2 ~ Muddling Through

J-Baby vomited up his breakfast before we ever got started this morning; I delayed lessons with the idea that we might not get to them at all. But then he wanted to do lessons ~ beats napping, I guess. If you're 9. Mama would have opted for the nap.

Still, it wasn't the best of mornings. T-Guy was in tears over division until I brought down the Cuisinaire rods and showed him once again how to use them to solve his problems. I swear this child confuses himself so completely that he forgets how to do anything. He will toss guesses left and right and just hope that one of them is correct. He needs help slowing down so that he can see that he has the tools to get the answers ~ and to me, knowing how to get answers is more important than having them.

J-Baby decided to play stubborn on me and when I decided that I wouldn't have it we got into a power struggle. I hate power struggles ~ I can win easily but I hate when it comes to that. J-Baby is incredibly bright. Last night he told us that he figured that adults just set aside books that they don't like and so he thought he shouldn't have to read The Search For Delicious. I giggled inwardly but of course even adults occasionally have to read things they might not want to read. Textbooks. Books written by your mother's friend. 401K statements.

The thing is, I think J-Baby knows when he has entered into a power struggle and he is desperate to win even if he ends up realizing that he is wrong. When he realizes that it is futile (ie. Mama's not going to back down) he will turn on the tears and sighs. He will outright ask why he couldn't just have had his way. This is a child who will tell you he'd rather have you let him win a game than have to lose it fairly. He hates losing that much.

And just what were we struggling over today? Saying the equation when one is reciting multiplication tables or playing the multiplication game with playing cards. I know, I know ... it isn't something we do once we know our multiplication facts. But in many ways it is the same as "showing your work" ~ it helps the teacher know that you understand the question. If I throw down a 7 and an 8 and J-Baby's answer is 63 I don't know if he doesn't know the answer or if he simply saw a card wrong. Also, saying the equation slows the boys down so that they think about the answer rather than just guessing. When they know their multiplication facts forward and backward we'll dispense with having to say the equation out loud.

I tried to stop the power struggle; I recognized that J-Baby was tired and not feeling well and I suggested that we put it all away and that he go lay down for awhile. His answer? No. He said that he didn't want to not do the lesson; he just wanted to do it his way.

Anyway, we got past that. The boys did their copy work and then I read The Search For Delicious to them. They are capable of reading it themselves and a few questions asked this morning let me know that they are comprehending the story, but I wanted to offer something to change the tone of the day and I knew that J-Baby really wasn't feeling well.

The boys did their art assignment and then we moved on to language arts. Somehow, this is where the morning turned around. We made color-coded noun, verb, adjective, and adverb cards, plus helpers. The nouns were local animals as well as places they might be. The verbs were things the animals might do (at least some of them). Adjectives and adverbs modified those nouns and verbs. They made sentences together, giggled, laughed, and had lots of fun, especially when they made silly sentences. They are clearly understanding the parts of speech as well as how they work in sentences.

Now (after lunch and quiet time) they are doing their guitar lesson. They didn't want a pass on it, even though J-Baby isn't well.

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