Thursday, January 12, 2012

Victory is Sweeter for the Struggle-I think

In this, our fourth year of homeschooling, I'm realizing that I may be a little dense in the head. Things that should've been obvious to me have taken me much longer than necessary to actually sink in. Like the fact that we have cycles, or patterns to our moods and attitudes toward schooling, and that nothing is really gonna stay the same way forever. This fact is sometimes good- like when I need to remember that the difficult things will someday not be so difficult- and sometimes bad- like when I realize that what worked yesterday isn't working at all today.
Spelling was a huge struggle for my eldest and we have a spelling program that we really like, but his attitude was one of defeat toward many areas of school. According to our spelling book, Spelling Power, he wasn't able to spell words on his grade level. He would get very upset about any spelling mistake he made. Then we didn't "do" spelling for a while. My excuse at the time was that life kept interfering, but I think I just didn't have the strength to fight that battle! So he read. All the time. About all I can take credit for is pushing him to read things that were in an area of interest for him that were a little above his "reading level" (I don't really know a number for his reading level or a specific definition, but trial and error got us to the books that had a few words he didn't know, or at least didn't use regularly.)  This year we did the placement tests again and he tested at his grade level. I probably shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. We had tried learning spelling rules, but that just didn't work for him. His maturity had caught up with where he "should" be (rejecting the the "should be" is a subject for another post entirely) and his love of reading had helped him along. As he read and encountered new words he was motivated to understand and remember them for the sake of the story and didn't even realize that he was gaining vocabulary that would ultimately help him remember how the words were spelled. I think that now, if we discussed them, he would have a deeper understanding of the spelling rules because of the words he read.
This victory is something I need to remember in the midst of the struggles now. My daughter is in fourth grade and has, until now, been my can-we-please-do-school-on-a-Saturday student. Her main struggle now is long division and oh! the conflicts we have over this! I remember hating long division. She can do it; she all but refuses.  I know there will be a light someday at the end of this hating math tunnel. I tell myself it can't go on forever. But then I've been at odds with math for much of my life :) I'd kind of hoped that they would be math geniuses and I wouldn't have to do much- that they'd just be born knowing the intricacies of the subject I like least! One plus is that this struggle, though still not completely resolved, has been helped tremendously by a sight my son loves called Khan Academy, with videos to explain concepts and a way to practice online. At least they are not both hating math with equal vigor right now!
At the beginning of the year I felt that our theme for the year was going to be learning to yield, a very difficult lesson to be sure! I feel the spotlight of God's conviction so keenly in this area and yet, though I know that is the focus of the season God has me in, I fight against it! I wish to yield yet pride raises its ugly head again and again. I do know that on the day when Christ brings me to my eternal home, the freedom from this struggle against self will be the sweet.

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