Saturday, September 17, 2016

Homeschool Update: How Teaching Textbooks Changed Us

So....we're like a month into the new school year here. Kinda. I mean, I can't say that we've been hard-core schooling all that time. This year we've done what I'd call a soft-launch. Also known as the "Mom can't handle everything all at once so she's starting off slow" launch. Whatever works, man.

Anyhoo, we're off and running now. And honestly, this may be the best year yet. "What makes this such a great year?" you ask. To sum it up in a word: outsourcing. That's right, my friends, this homeschool momma has started out Year 8 by NOT teaching every single thing myself. It's blissful.

The very best thing I have ever done was switch our math curriculum from Saxon to Teaching Textbooks. Don't get me wrong. Saxon is a FABULOUS, hard-core, tried-and-true way to teach math. Kids who go all the way through it are math phenoms. But you guys, it is SOOOOOOO time intensive. I'm talking hours and hours and hours of math every. single. day. Teaching, working and grading three levels of it pretty much killed me last year. In fact, I would say that it sucked the joy out of many a day in our little home. The kids would groan and moan when I said it was time to do math. There was much, much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Thanks to the power of the internets, I found a Facebook group of homeschool parents. A few kept talking about this new fangled math system they called "TT." For over a year, I watched, listened, and researched to see if this was something that would work for us. Last spring, when we got our tax return I talked Vance into biting the bullet, spent almost $600 and bought three brand new levels of Teaching Textbooks for my kids. Honestly, we should have started that very day. But alas, I waited for the new year to start this fall. Rookie mistake.

For those of you unfamiliar with the power of TT, let me give you the basics. TT is a CD based program that works with our iMac. (It can also work on a Windows based machine just as well.) After the initial download, the kids put in their CD, click the icon and put on their headphones. The program gives a lecture, practice problems, and regular problems. The kids have two chances to get it right and get immediate feedback on each problem. TT has a grade book built in, so the kids and I can go anytime and see how they've done on each assignment and test. The problems are fun and even with only one kid able to work at a time, they take WAY less time than how we were doing math before. Did I mention that I don't have to grade anything? Nada. That is by far my favorite part.

Remember how I said that last year there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth? Well, we still have that. Every time I mention cleaning a toilet or giving me a kiss in public, that's the case. But math time? Not so much. In fact, not at all. One kid is often done with math before I even get breakfast. The others smile and go to the computer with absolutely no fussing when I mention that they need to do their math. More than once, a kid has even ASKED to do MORE THAN ONE ASSIGNMENT a day. This. is. unheard. of. Can I get a "Hallelujah" here? Because this change really deserves one. I can honestly say that TT has changed our homeschool for the better. We have more time and even more importantly, we have more peace in our home. *Insert contented sigh here.*

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