Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's like looking into the future...if I had a daughter

I've been "tutoring" (and I use that term loosely) our neighbor-girl in math. When I was her age, I hated math. Now? I love it. It's fun to me (my how things have changed). But her? She LOATHES it (notice the capital, bold AND italic letters). But she likes me and I think she likes spending time with me so I think that helps her get through the couple of hours we spend on her homework a couple nights a week. I have dreams of grandeur of turning her attitude about math around and helping her become a whiz at math. However, I'm beginning to doubt that I'll even be able to get her tolerate it long enough to have a working knowledge of the facts and the whys.

So at the end of the evenings that we work, I think she starts to wonder why she liked me to begin with. I don't let her get away with "winging" it. I don't let her pout or slouch or whine. I don't let her move on from a mistake unless she understands why she made the mistake and why it was wrong. I make her do a problem over and over till she gets it right (although, the third time or so, I'll look over her shoulder to help her correct her mistakes immediately to avoid doing the whole thing wrong again). That's about the time that she starts looking at me like I think my own 11 year old daughter would look at me...probably the way all 11 year old girls look at their mother at some point or another. The look that says that she wishes that the floor would open up and swallow one of us. But I want her to understand it. I want it to click for her and I want her to be proud of herself when it does. And above all I want her to not hate it so much. I'm just not sure that's possible.

And this whole experience has solidified in my mind that I don't want my kids to go to public school. At least not until they have learned HOW TO LEARN on their own. She comes home with this homework that takes 2 hours to do and she says that the teacher hasn't gone over how to do any of it. Or the teacher explained it in such a way that completely baffles my neighbor-girl. But then I've had a hard time figuring out how she learns so that I can teach her in a way that she understands.

I love this girl....but I'm going to need lots of patience and prayer to get the both of us through this.


K in the Mirror said...

How cool to have that kind of experience and not have to use your own kids as the guinea pigs. :)

There's a new book out called Math Doesn't Suck by Danica McKellar that's supposed to be really good. Maybe the library would have it?

k said...

And what a blessing this girl has that you love her and want to help her! What you are doing with her is the sort of thing people talk about later in their lives as being one of their clearest, life-changing defining moments. You are impacting SO much more than math as you teach her the concepts of perseverance and not "winging it", and even seeking help from and dealing with her mistakes head-on. And even in receiving help from unexpected sources :-) (And she can't hate it that much or she wouldn't be coming back.) God bless you!!

Kate said...

I wish that I could have had you as a math teacher and not the mean lady who said she hoped we had a bad weekend. Truly. In fairness, I had some great teachers later on.

She probably loves you BECAUSE you don't let her take the easy way out. From my experience, kids that age and older love the attention and someone holding them to a higher standard and believing that they can attain it. Now, that doesn't mean they'll stop giving you that LOOK. ;)

I agree. This is probably already an experience that is changing this girl for the better. She is so fortunate to have you!