I wonder if everyone in the greater Pacific Northwest could hear my sigh of relief on Friday when both Gage and Cooper completed their required state testing. I wasn’t nearly as worked up about it this go around as I was when Gage took it in the 3rd Grade, though. This time, we knew a bit more of what to expect, they both handled their practice tests well and both were pretty excited about the process.
More than that though, I knew the tests would tell me what we need to work on academically, but I already knew were we were in other areas and I was encouraged. Mostly, I was encouraged by what I witnessed in Cooper as he neared his test. It isn’t a secret that this boy’s mind is geared toward words, emotions, connection, and thought. Not math. 😉 I will not say it is a weakness but I will say it doesn’t come as naturally to him as other areas. All through the year we trudged along, some days better and brighter than others when it came to his math lessons, math comprehension and retention of what we’d covered.
Then it came time to really master the times tables. I battled with myself about this: he understood how they work … do I really need to make him memorize them? So many homeschoolers would say no, don’t push it! It is the understanding that needs to be there and the memorization will come. But I had it in my mind that this was going to be about so much more than just memorizing math facts. This was going to be about this boy’s determination and belief that if he worked at it day after day, he could get it. I knew this was an opportunity for this lesson to be very obvious and tangible. That, yes… this looked like a daunting task but day by day, times table by times table, he’d get there. He needed to see that this dedication makes a difference. And after one morning after going over the 3’s, there was a glimmer of hope.
So we continued that way. Each morning while I got ready for the day, he’d join me in the bathroom and we’d go over the times tables, one multiple at a time. Again, he already understood what they mean; that 4×4 is the same as 4 + 4 + 4 + 4, but committing the answer to memory was the challenge. For words and meanings and morals of the story, this boy is a master! Numbers present a little more of an obstacle.
I just felt so sure that if we stuck at it, though, it would come. THAT was going to be the moral of this story…. sure, the times tables would be memorized but the accomplishment, thanks to sticking with it each day, would be so much greater!
It was difficult. Somedays it just wouldn’t jive. Other days, he’d ask me several times to quiz him. And each time he’d respond with an accurate answer I could see his confidence in himself and in the process grow. I’ve told him and his brothers countless times that their worth is not based on their accomplishments but I just so badly wanted him to see that he could do this. With focus, and work, and repetition he could achieve what he’d previously thought was so.incredibly.hard.
And he did. By the time his testing rolled around he felt good with his times tables. Honestly, I was even more thrilled when he couldn’t immediately remember an answer but would then use one he did know to help him get there. For instance, he knew 6×7=42, and would add another 7 to get 7×7. THAT was exciting for me.
So he took his test on Friday, and all the kiddos finished quickly and confidently.
He’d been afraid of the times tables. He’d been afraid of the test. But in the end we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was done. And then quickly followed it up with discussions about what we learned. Not what academic lessons we learned like what an antecedent or preposition is … but what we learned about trying hard, focusing, and trusting that Jesus will help us when we are anxious about our situation. Challenges build character, we are told, and I watched this boy’s character grow immensely in this process. We haven’t gotten their test scores back yet but what really matters won’t be evaluated on it anyway. ♥
Now, we’re into summer. In the past, I’ve planned out lessons/reviews for the summer but for right now, we’re just going to let it be. This post on Simple Homeschool really struck a cord with me and at least for the month of July I’m going to let our summer break replenish and restore us. We’re finishing up baseball this week and then are looking into a fun-filled July involving lots of family and hopefully lots of sun, play, and outdoor time. Definitely with lots of rest, reading, and rejuvenating.
Happy Summer, all … enjoy! ♥
If you’re a homeschooler and have questions about testing, our preparation, or anything else, please let me know! I’m happy to help in anyway I can!
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