Monthly Archives: April 2017


Years ago, one of my children attended a charter school where she received lots of special education.  After the first year there, summer was a welcome relief from the early morning drive to school and I was thrilled to have my baby home all day!

At the end of the second year of school, I met with her teachers.  They wanted my daughter to attend summer school so that the gains made during the school year would not be lost.  I mentioned that my daughter had not attended summer school the previous year and did just fine.  One of the teachers looked through the child’s records and saw that test scores indicated that the child had made progress over the previous summer.  A wave of disbelief washed through the room. Then one of the teachers mentioned my background as an educator and everyone assumed I had taught my daughter all summer.  At that point, I decided to keep quiet and not reveal that our summer had been completely aimless and recreational.

Besides my own daughter’s gains over a lazy summer, many of my math students have made similar gains.  Over and over again I’ve seen students struggle with math concepts in the spring, avoid math all summer, and suddenly grasp concepts in the fall.  I think of summer as a time to digest learning.  All year we fill our students’ brains.  In the summer their brains sort, store, and process the information they’ve had poured into them for months.

Some years I have looked at June, July, and August as a perfect chance to get some academic work done.  My children were behind, so I thought they should catch up. Now I’m older, and maybe wiser. For some students, sometimes, summer is a good time for formal learning, but I believe summer can be put to better use.

Summer is a great time for field trips, travel, and lazy afternoons at the swimming pool.  Long conversations, reading to each other, and good movies can all be enjoyed any time.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and home organization can be explored at a leisurely pace during the long days of summer.  I think I’ve just written my family’s plan for the summer!

Homework Due 4/18 and 4/19

If you haven’t scheduled your annual testing, consider the Peabody Individual Achievement Test.  It is administered individually, takes about an hour, and scores are available immediately after testing. Contact WEST for scheduling at WEST.  If testing at WEST doesn’t work for you, let me know and we can schedule outside of WEST.

If you need to turn in work after April 19, here are some options:
I’ll be at WEST Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, April 25-27.  Drop off your work then.  Look for a box in the hall with my name on it. You may also scan and email, or snail mail your work to me.  No work will be accepted after May 31.

In math classes on 4/18 and 4/19, each class will have a final exam. It’s part trivia and fun, part spelling (math words), and part math.


Math for the Middle Grades – In class we played with polygons, protractors, and patterns!  Try to finish lesson 88.  That’s it.

Math 76 – lesson 116.  Any problems in that are from lesson 115 are optional.  Continue working on tests.

Algebra 1/2 – lessons 121-123 and tests.

Algebra 1 – lessons 118-120, tests.

Algebra 2 – lesson 122, tests.

Personal Finance – review!  We’ll have a final exam in class on Wednesday.  Your activities for chapter 12 have been emailed. Another option for chapter 12 homework is to listen to a series of messages by Andy Stanley. Click here to access the messages:  Your Move.  Or download the Your Move app and listen on your phone or tablet.  Pick any series, or single message, that has something to do with money, listen, write at least half a page of response.  Be sure to include the name of the message or series.  Some suggestions: “What Makes You Happy”, “See the World”, “Crazy Like Us”, and “Breathing Room”.

Homework Due 4/11 and 4/12

Planning for fall?  Let me know if you would like my input on which math class might be a good fit for your child for next year.  Also, if Personal Finance and/or Geometry are in your plans for 2017-18, it’s a good time to buy the books.  Both classes use consumable worktexts.  Here are the links:

Geometry:  This link is to the 10 Lifepac set plus teacher’s guide.  The teacher’s guide is required for the class.

If you already have the teacher’s guide, here’s the link to the set of 10 Lifepacs:

Personal Finance:

Next, this week’s homework:

Math for the Middle Grades – Lesson 90 and Homework 28.

Math 76 – Lesson 112, all the problems.  Be sure to complete the next test this week.

Algebra 1/2 – Lessons 118-120.  Tests 24, 26, and 28 are due by 4/18.

Algebra 1 – Lessons 113-115 practice and odds.  Lesson 119:12-14. Work each problem twice, once using the quadratic formula and once by completing the square.  Keep working on tests.

Algebra 2 – Lesson 120 practice and odds, read Lessons 123 –  128. Keep working on tests.

Personal Finance – Your activities have been emailed.  Also, begin a list of your achievements, at least one per year for the past four or five years, as part of preparing to make a résumé.


When my first son was born we lived in a townhouse. It seemed easy to keep track of my son as he scooted around the tiny house.

One day when the baby was five months old he was playing happily with some toys and my husband and I were talking not far away. It was a lovely, peaceful scene. The quiet moment was interrupted by a loud pounding sound. It sounded like the neighbors in the adjoining unit were pounding on an upstairs wall. My husband and I looked around and were surprised to see the baby was gone.

We ran up the stairs toward the pounding. Upstairs we found the baby standing next to the toilet pounding on the lid.  Once the shock wore off we quickly completed all the baby-proofing projects we thought we had months to complete.

On the flip side, only one of our six children lost baby teeth at about the times doctors say it should happen.  The rest of the children had baby teeth well into their teens.  And why are they called twelve-year molars when they don’t show up until you’re fifteen years old?

We accept differences in child development.  Everyone is one his or her own schedule.  That is until the child turns five.  Then it becomes ultimately important to be on track with the academic schedule of the school.  Great harm can be done when skills and knowledge are taught according to the age of the child, and not the child’s development.

I’ve seen this over and over in math.  Students who were expected to understand and apply principles of math before they were ready can end up believing they are something less than smart, or that math is just too hard.  Even students who are old enough to understand algebra and are unable to get past the emotions surrounding earlier failure in math.  These failures were not caused by the child’s lack of effort, but by teachers trying to make them do something they were developmentally unable to do.

I could go on and on about the hazards of early formal instruction, but I’ll give my solution:  wait.  Wait until the student asks for instruction.  Wait until learning is a treat, not torture.  And when the student gets stuck it’s time for a break.  It could be a day, a week, or a few months before the student is ready to begin again.  In the meantime, do what’s productive.  Learn what the student is ready to learn.  If we wait and take breaks, and if we work on what students are developmentally ready for,  learning can take much less time and effort.