Saturday, September 12, 2015

Oh Goodness, an Alien Invasion

S in her closet sitting on a bin of stuffed animals playing her flute.

I think there was a summer alien that came and landed on our roof and in the middle of the night it decided to take my children's brains back home with it to the far reaches of the galaxy and left them with only Jello up there in the empty space above their eyes.

To all who think that we do a lot, that I really know what I am doing, and that my children are always well behaved, and I am always calm, cool and collected, well, that is a completely false. 

We are in the throws of a MAJOR review session. No one under the age of 9 remembers what a noun is. No one remembers what 2x5 is. And no one remembers what we had for dinner yesterday. So for now, we are spending time, lots and lots of time, revisiting works we already did. 

The other day T didn't remember how to decompose his multiplicand. He did this work for a number of months this spring. Does this mean he needs to continue to do this work long after he is bored with it? Does this mean that we need to have a "review" slot in our work plan and actually re-learn-review, and revisit works that we already put away a couple months back? I am not a huge fan of this game plan since it means MORE time added to our classroom day. If more time is what the children need to retain what they did three weeks ago maybe ongoing review is the only way to get their brains back from those aliens.

I seriously don't know how other teachers do this. I see this as one of the huge pitfalls of homeschooling using Montessori. In a regular Montessori school, this brain evaporation might not happen, or at least not as much. 

If T was in a lower el class of 25 children, after he finished with the bank game, he'd see Sam using the bank game for a week, and then Alice using the bank game with Samantha. Maybe a week later, Mark would have a question for T about the bank game because he knew that T had moved passed that work. In this manner, T would be brought back around for continual review long after he had mastered the activity card set. And maybe after three months he wouldn't forget absolutely everything he did using the bank game. 

Here at home, when he puts the bank game back on the shelf, he has to wait for a year before S gets to it. There is no continual review. He "gets it" very quickly, and doesn't like to dwell in topics that are "easy," and so moves on only to forget it all just a few months later.

I don't even think that long problem sets, or thick decks of task cards would help much either. T's done a number of long sets of problem cards for a number of different works, like the checkerboard, the LBF, fraction operations, and grammar cards and he doesn't remember those concepts either.  I think that long task card sets keep the child in the material, but there is no review, just continual work, which unfortunately T doesn't like. How long does the child need to continue doing problem cards for a typical work to have all of the concepts "sink-in" fairly permanently? Long card sets don't encourage teaching someone else what you know or seeing the work worked later over and over again, and so there is little-to-no retention.

I also don't feel that there is enough repetition in the key lessons that a single child can adequately revisit basic concepts like decomposing the multiplicand. (There very well could be enough repetition among the key lessons and it could be that I don't know well enough how to overlap the different subjects so that the children revisit the same concepts enough that they actually retain them.) We have seen geometric multiplication a bunch, but beyond that, there I don't see a comprehensive continuation of the many threads we are working through now in Elementary. 

Right this moment, T and S are working on nouns. They've both had this key presentation, twice. They've both worked through all of the noun grammar boxes, and S did the noun task cards we have. They've written nouns in sentences and symbolized hundreds of nouns. They both read tons and tons of books of varying difficulty levels. But neither of them could tell me what a noun is. Ugh. Back to square one. Literally.

I don't know how long this review session will last.  Maybe we can let up when those summer aliens decide to let my children have their brains back. Until then...*sigh*.


  1. I don't know about math, but I do know the key presentations for each part of speech are to be given, normal :)

  2. It IS harder to review in homeschool - it has to be more conscious. This is an area I have not yet worked out a good solution for.

    In our home, we have visitors who use the materials - more-so in the near future.

    We also utilize Life of Fred, Key To workbooks, Challenge Math, and other random math resources, so the *skills* are being used. I worry less about remembering how to use the material, since at some point the material gets in the way of truly mastering the concept.

    Just keep USING the skill/concept in one way or another - using the language in day to day life (language of math as well as talking about the parts of speech, etc). It just has to be so conscious.

    At least - that is far as I have figured out to cover that lack of 25-40 other students ;)