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Monday, June 8, 2015

A Covert Fifth Grade Math Challenge

We always speak at the beginning of each summer about spending some time working on not only reading but also some "school" type work so that it will be easier in the fall to start our next levels. Zachary has always loved "workbooks". We get the one for the next grade level and spend time doing pages in them.

I would say last summer was the first real challenge for me. I wanted to get him to stop fixating on video games all day while home for the summer and in instead, spend time on reading and "seat work" for a very SMALL amount of a summer day. I admit, it was exasperating and I pretty much gave up on it early on. I was not feeling that well on a daily basis and the struggle was taking too much of my energy.

Not so this summer. So today after they played their morning 30 minutes of video game time and spent the rest of the morning in front of their favorite Netflix show, I told them no, just because they had lunch didn't mean that they could play their afternoon 30 minutes since they had spent the whole morning in front of the television. They argued that it wasn't the WHOLE morning until I made my point by asking them what ELSE they had done today and they couldn't come up with anything.

Zachary did his typical belly-aching and settled for some time at the table with Play-doh. I pulled out some "workbooks" from the cabinet and went through to figure out which ones were still usable. (I really don't have pre school or kindergarten kids anymore - SIGH) 

I happened upon a hard back fifth grade math text book that I had acquired from the old "school room" upstairs at my grandpa's house. That is a story for a different blog, but I have a few readers and other school books from that special place from my growing up years.

Sitting next to Zachary at the table (who was squishing Play-doh between his fingers), I shared with him how when I was growing up I remember looking forward to third grade when we would get "hard" books. Back in the old days a hardback textbook was kind of a rite of passage when you hit third grade. I remember Mrs. Jurgens teaching us how to do math "without writing in the book". We had to copy our problems onto our loose leaf filler paper with our name clearly in the top right hand corner. We had definitely arrived...given up our "workbooks" from 2nd grade and graduated to filler paper and textbooks in third!

Not so much today and this seemed to intrigue Zachary so I continued my story. I picked an "assignment" grabbed a piece of paper and showed him how I would put my name on the top and "do it like this". Then I started doing problem #1 of the assignment on my paper and he listened and watched. I also mumbled as I went along, "Oh, I forgot, this is a fifth grade book, you probably don't know how to do this kind of math yet."

That is all it took. (Actually, that is all it ever takes for that boy. Just a little challenge put in front of him). He was showing me his stuff and before we knew it, he had "completed" a fifth grade math assignment while Mom tried to "trick" him the whole way. I told him I am going to find something in the fifth grade book that will stump him before the summer is over and he has taken the challenge. Meanwhile, we did 30 minutes of math on this summer day and he still doesn't even know it!

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