Sometimes a conversation will occur during the course of a homeschool morning that just makes me laugh. If you could eavesdrop on some of the conversations at our house, I have a feeling you'd chuckle too, though some of these conversations are not the kind you'll find in magazine articles about the joy of teaching and learning.
Because let's face it -- real kids and real teachers sometimes get cranky. They get bored. They get frustrated. They miss the point. Real learning, and real teaching, is full of ups and downs and moments that look anything but graceful. And sometimes they're just downright funny.
Take today's math lesson. The sweet girl has been swimming in the land of fractions for a few weeks now. Although we've moved on to ratios, fractions still loom everywhere, and today the book had the audacity to present not one, not two, but three sections of dividing fractions.
Now...the sweet girl is good at dividing fractions. She totally gets the concept, and she does them well. But frankly, she's bored. Now sometimes when a student is bored, it's OK to say "go ahead, skip that, and go on to something else." But she's been struggling a good bit lately with keeping a good attitude and persevering on things she doesn't really feel like doing, and today I decided to die on that hill. So I told her she needed to soldier through.
"But I know how to do these," she said (okay, whined might be more accurate). "They're easy and I know how to do them and I don't want to do..." she paused and counted..."26 dividing fraction problems."
"Well," I encouraged, "break them up. Do one section and then go on to something else. Then come back and do another section."
Often this works. She's found it a helpful strategy in the past, to break up doing several sections in a row of the same thing. Today she sighed. "But the only other section left is the one on equations," she said in a aggrieved voice. "You know I don't enjoy equations. Especially when I have to check them. Checking them is such a pain because if I don't know for sure that it's right, then I actually have to go back over and do the math to figure out if they're correct."
I was in the kitchen cutting up veggies for the crockpot when she said this, and for some reason, it totally tickled my funny bone. Although I try hard not to give into sarcasm very often (knowing how much it bothers my daughter) a snarky little elf seemed to be giggling right next to me. Without thinking I said, "Imagine that! Having to do math in a math lesson! What could they have been thinking?" As the snarky elf continued to giggle madly, I added, "I mean, you might think they could have come up with something a little more creative! They could have asked you to do science...or yoga...or cooking. But no, they asked you to do math!"
Lest you think the snark elf masquerading as mom went too far, I am pleased to report that I suddenly heard snickering from the dining room. Once the giggles subsided, she did the rest of the math with nary a complaint. OK, maybe one or two small ones.