Welcoming August

July was rough.  I am so glad for August to be here, just for a chance for improvement.  It’s not going to get any cooler weather-wise for at least another two or three months, but it has been dry.  Thinking back through July, it was a month of desperately trying to get too much done despite the crazy climbing toddler, fighting daily with the elements, our goat Nougat being very ill with a really worrisome case of mastitis, one pool party after the next all scheduled during peak sunlight hours where my children were tempted to eat very sweet things and acted like monsters afterwards, feeling like drowning in vegetables, ripping off half my toenail, suffering from a scorpion sting (same foot!!), and financial worries. 

Yuck.  No wonder I didn’t have much fun!  August, I hope you will be kinder to me!

I am also getting ready to start homeschooling again in September.  I wanted to be really prepared this year, so I started planning in June.  Now I have forgotten everything I planned and have to go back over my notes and remember what I wrote.  And apparently I’m not the only one with summer brain fog.  I had a little unschooling moment one day in the truck on the way to the farm when I was designing a knitted wrist cuff for Mirin’s archery.  There was so much good math involved I couldn’t help asking Mirin some of the math questions I was having to figure out.  His response was to reply in surly grunts and hem and haw over even the really easy math questions (like 10-4).  Rose, the first grader, surprised me by answering before he did.  So we’ve got lots of reviewing to do!

I have been seriously mathematically inspired lately – so funny for me, because I am a total brick over math.  My public school math education was horribly fragmented, due to switching schools from a very poor-side-of-town school to a “good” school.  I have never been presented with much beyond Algebra, it being the darling of the public school system, and I had to take Algebra from 6th grade until I graduated, except for one year of super easy bone-head Geometry in 11th grade – a class I spent most of the time trading novels with my one friend in the class.  That was how I discovered great writers like Kalil Gibran and Steinbeck – in math.  We only did this after finishing all our class work and homework assignments and the lecture was over, but it annoyed the teacher so much that we could finish her assignments so quickly, she ended up separating us and forbidding us to have a book out.  Too bad she never noticed the creepy boys masturbating in the back of the classroom a few rows over (Seriously! This is one of the reasons I am homeschooling!).  I guess they weren’t doing anything subversive, like reading in math class!

Earlier in the summer a friend lent me a copy of “A Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockheart, and it has been changing how I see math.  I’m finding I have a serious mental block about math, all from a super traumatic incident in first grade where I didn’t hear the math problem the teacher asked, but raised my hand anyway because EVERYONE else was.  Of course I was the kid the teacher called on and had to quickly make up an answer – which was wrong, by the way.  The whole class laughed and laughed at me.  It was awful.  I’m noticing that just looking at a math problem I start feeling panicky that I won’t be able to find the answer.  I also picked up a copy of Number Sense and Nonsense by Claudia Saslavsky.  I love this book!  I’m only about halfway through and have been enchanted by the games, puzzles and stories in it.  I’ve been learning things from it!  I am hoping to use this book a lot for both kids.

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