I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. Not since virtual non-reader, 8 year old Fran suddenly picked up a Rainbow Fairy book and launched into fully fledged literacy, has being a home educator felt quite so good. The honey, all of it, is not in the achievement, but in the path to the achievement.
And it happened, of course, in one of those ‘I’ll die before I…” home ed moments. One of those “I’;ll never camp, never eat vegetables, never breastfeed longer than 6 months…” ooops, look at me moments. Sometimes things taste best when you can poke yourself with a self-deprecating finger end and snort derisively at how far you’ve fallen. 😆
Over the last year, we’ve done very little maths. The girls have all dipped in and out of Mathletics but their text books have taken a big back seat. We’ve concentrated on writing and art, on expressive stuff, on making stories and using language and picking up a pen and making it do what you want. I’ve never particularly worried about maths, none of them are the dunces I was, but it felt like we needed to concentrate more on other things. That’s how home ed tends to work around here; not terribly balanced if you think in a timetable sort of way, more chunks of things done to death and then moved on from.
I have to admit that when it comes to maths, I’m not totally comfortable with that approach; I struggled terribly with the subject at school, had no vision of what I was up to and tended to forget what I was doing from lesson to lesson. But the girls, if anything, are worse when they do concentrated blocks of stuff in a book and move on and I think over the last little while I’ve stopped forcing them because I know it bores them and doesn’t really suit them. But I’ve not been feeling any good about being so slack and making sure we do mental maths and tables hasn’t felt quite enough.
Things tend to take a while to filter through my brain, but it suddenly occurred to me that the big three could perfectly well do the same maths and it would make it easier for us to plug any gaps and holes; Fran is okay but disinterested, Maddy seems okay and Amelie is pretty quick for her age so they are of a similar level. So I thought I’d pull out an easy-ish KS3 SAT paper, see what they knew and didn’t know – and go from there. I told them that, in the time honoured supposed nature of SATs, I genuinely wanted to know what I’d failed to teach them, not that they could ‘fail’ in anyway.
To my surprise, they did really well. In fact, for the record, Amelie got enough to be more than passable if she was 2 years older than she was (on a KS2, not KS3 paper) and Fran scored 125/150, admittedly on the lowest tier paper, but still one aimed at lower ability children who’ve had a good 18 more months than she has yet. Maddy scored 131/150.
To be honest, I was gobsmacked. I was gobsmacked on all sorts of levels. How come minimal effort and very little (if I’m brutally honest!) in the way of *yawn* numeracy can mean 2 home ed kids can do so well they’d be well inside the top of of their class? How come if they can achieve that with no formal maths lessons and no qualified maths teacher, schools are turning out children who can’t count? While it was by no means the top end of what I’d hope Fran would be able manage, it was a good basis to start from and for Maddy, it was excellent.
And how has a maths education that essentially relates everything to cakes on plates worked so well? And never mind all that HOW, HOW HOW do I have children who said “can we do a harder maths test tomorrow so we can see if we can still get really good marks?”
However, since they asked, and as it making me feel much better to know they have in fact learned to count, we may be doing some harder maths tests over the coming weeks to see how hard it gets before they can’t score 30 marks above the top threshold 🙂
This blog post is brought to you partly by a Proud Mummy Moment and partly to encourage anyone who thinks “I’ll never manage to teach them maths…”