Three weeks into the new school year and I’m kinda hoping for the Zombie Apocalypse to begin sooner rather than later so I don’t have to worry about educating The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ anymore. Writing and fractions and learning something when it’s something you don’t already know kinda take a back seat to fire building and straight shooting and running like hell because BRRAAAAIINNNSSS!!!!

You could say the bloom has not only left the homeschooling rose, but ran away screaming, taking the delightful fragrance with it as well.

I exaggerate for effect, but only slightly. Fractions are going well, we haven’t begun the writing portion of this nightmare the year (that starts at coop today, with an online class of Druidawn with Miriam Darnell…I’m so excited/nervous I could wriggle like a toddler on Christmas Eve, and you really don’t want me to wriggle), but the whole “ya gotta learn things you don’t already know, dude” is going to be the death of me. I wrote an article for the current issue of Understanding Our Gifted (summer 2012 issue on homeschooling) about how I am a StealthSchooler. That I need to sneak in a whole bunch of pre-learning so that the actual learning goes smoothly. And that’s all well and good, but I’m one person with eleventy billion other responsibilities (yes, really, I counted) and sometimes you just have to move ahead with a lesson.

My son is 11 5/12 years old (yay! I’m learning fractions! Again!*) and I still have no idea how he learns. I do know he needs additional time to accommodate slower processing speed and to allow for more deep reflection, balanced with oh my God will you please focus for the love of all things holy one page of math should not take 2 1/2 hours!, but other than that he’s a mystery. I have 2 1/5 shelves (yay fractions!**) full of books on giftedness/twice-exceptionality/executive function/ADHD/how boys learn, but when lessons take as long as they have been there is no time (or mental stamina) to read and figure out how to fix it. I’ve finally had to resort to time limits, which he hates and over which he tends to obsess. But it’s my hope that he’ll eventually learn that one hour means one hour and then we go on. If that means that he’s stuck on the same lesson for a couple weeks because he’s staring off into space and picking his toes for 7/8ths of that time (um, yay fractions?***), hopefully he’ll eventually catch on that focusing won’t cause brain damage and we can move forward. Because I’d rather he learn that lesson than I get brain damage from trying to get him to focus. I have a hard enough time getting me to focus, thankyouverymuch Adult-Onset Child-Induced ADD.

So we’re struggling, but I hope it’s just a temporary struggle as we ease into our new normal. Homeschooling this kid has to work, we have no Plan B. Seriously, there is no backup plan. Private schools are prohibitively expensive and he would suffer badly at the local middle school. He turns pale at the mere thought. So I muddle through and hope for the best. But I really should figure out the physical education segment of homeschooling; when the zombies come he’ll need to run pretty fast.

*Maybe this time I’ll understand them.
**Fractions were my bugaboo in middle school, and where began my gradual slide from upper levels of math to end up in “math for music majors” in college and now just pray I can find I can find an online tutor or class to take my son past pre-Algebra.
***I really hate fractions. And yes, I know musical notation is nothing but fractions, but I’m not multiplying eighth notes by thirty-second notes as I’m playing. Thhhppp fractions.

Jen writes over at Laughing at Chaos, where eventually she’ll have book reviews of the titles currently sitting on her shelves mocking her. She may even pair them with wine recommendations. She’s also the author of If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional, published by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press in August 2012.


6 thoughts on “Is this the new normal or are we just struggling?

  1. My son just turned 11 and 1/3 this week. He wondered if, since you have a “half birthday” at 11 1/2, if this one should be called his “third birthday” and if so, did he have to celebrate with Bob the Builder all over again.

    Our boys would enjoy each other.

    So, how about changing every noun in every word problem to “zombies”? Then he could calculate what fraction of zombies were needed to attack the city, etc. If you have 1/2 of the zombies and his dad has 1/3 of the zombies, how many can he have? See? Zombie Math.

    Now, give me a three paragraph essay on how to avoid a zombie apocalypse.

  2. For me it helps to remind myself that with the ADHD, DS literally cannot focus on things he finds uninteresting. It’s not that he wants to look at dust motes, or is being obnoxious and trying to do annoy the crap out of me. He just can’t.

    Are you asking him to do all the questions? Can he get the concept with less repetition? I usually just rewrite out some of the important questions, Looking a page of questions totally freaks him out, so I just give him a few at a time. And redirect. And repeat…and repeat!

  3. My daughter will be exactly 11.5 on the 23rd of this month. And I hate fractions too, but I love decimals! While my daughter has not yet surpassed my actual math education since she is in pre-algebra this year, she has surpassed my accessible memory of my math education.

  4. Oh please don’t worry so much about the little things, and yes, these are the little things! Are you new to HSing? Did you do deschooling first? I hate to read how frazzled you both sound already.

    PLEASE don’t try to replicate school. Have you read up about unschooling? Montessori? Waldorf? We use a little bit of all of it in our eclectic HS and it keeps all of us so much happier.

    I want to post 30 articles for you to read to help reassure you and give you ideas because I hate to read how stressful this is on both of you. I *love* Montessori approaches for the middle school years ( and that worked/works very well for my oldest kids.

    For math, we seek out fun apps and nontraditional ways of learning. For instance, I taught my kids short division instead of traditional long division and my 12 y/o has done it for FUN ever since ( We changed this little rhyme to remember how to add/subtract/multiply/divide fractions recently: ( and here’s another fun fraction activity: I pin good math ideas on Pinterest here:

    Honestly, there are so many wonderful ways to learn that if your child is hating what you’re doing, I really suggest switching it up. My oldest child (9th grade) is GT and math phobic and I have had to be very sneaky over the years. She will tell you she doesn’t do math at all but she’s still above grade level in every category on standardized tests (including the math ones). She also likes it when we do math together with me using a sense of humor and snarkiness (she loves snark) so we sit on the couch and I ramble on with sarcastic stories as we do the math and I write them out and tell another story and then have her do one… this happens irregularly but it really helps because then it all seeps in when she’s not in full math-panic mode with her invisible math-blocking panic walls up. 😉

    And just a couple more links to help if you’re still reading…. how to school less but teach more: and how to put more joy in your HSing day: for when you’re feeling discouraged.

    Oh, and one more thing— I got a Google Nexus 7 for HSing recently and it’s really been wonderful. It’s $200 and is a good tablet computer with lots of free educational apps available. I have a free Zoodles app where I can put just the apps I want in each child’s account and they can’t access the rest of the computer without a code. They sit and do math games, brain teasers, drawing programs, etc. and they love it. You might want to look into fraction games for your iPhone, tablet, whatever and see if that helps too. We use iPods and laptops for educational games and activities too, but the Nexus has been especially helpful (it’s the perfect size for free Kindle books too).

    Hang in there! It will get better. 🙂

  5. Wow!!! Braaaaaaiiiiinnnnnnnsssss! Awesome, I totally laughed out loud a few times. I’m 2-E ADD not hyperactive. Wow what did we Do before computers! I have 5 windows open right now, :D. Anyhow. yeah they’re right I does get easier kindof, and then before you know it she’s graduated. I felt like a newbie each year, cause each year was different. Now that I’ve gotten through it, its not that bad. My lovely eldest is on the floor right now after her job cleaning at church, taking off shoes and socks contemplating shopping, so I gotta go. But yeah it gets better.
    Sincerely, Anna

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