Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Greater Joy...

I was thinking of this verse today as I was teaching math...

Now, I know it wasn't exactly meant for this situation, but still. "I have no greater joy than to hear of my children walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4) This year, I have a graphic example of that verse almost daily, and it brings a smile to my face.

I've been faithfully teaching Kayla for almost three years now. Day after day we slogged through math. Day after day through the same basics, over and over. Trying to simplify math...

"Kayla, there are only four ways to solve a problem - you can add, subtract, multiply, or divide. All you need to do is figure out which one."

"So, are you talking about parts and wholes here or about groups? Every question will talk about one of those two. Start there: Parts and wholes? Or groups?"

Over and over the basics we went. She made progress, but it was slow and tedious. We learned fractions, measurements, and geometry also, but still slogged daily through the basics.

Then came this year. This year, we did some review without a calculator in the beginning. (We had decided last year that if she was competent to figure out WHAT she was supposed to be doing with a word problem, we had no problem with her using the calculator to get the right answer. More important was her understanding how you found the answer - not the actual calculation with paper and pencil.)

But this year, I decided we would do the basic review without a calculator. She should learn how to do simple multiplication and division without a calculator. I grit my teeth and settled down for a very long and tedious week going over the basics yet again. And I gave her a problem like this:


Then set about it. She multiplied the four times the 345 without difficulty, and then began on the 2, but I stopped her and asked, "What do you have to do first?" She paused and said, "Oh wait! I think I know! Don't tell me, don't tell me!... umm.... um... OH! I have to add a zero first!"

I was amazed, and said, "Yes! Do you know why?" Then my mouth fell open in shock even more when she said, "Oh, oh, because I am multiplying by 20 and not by 2, so it is a tens place!" You could have almost picked me up off the floor when the next question I gave her was multiplying 532 x 285 and she said when she got to multiplying the 2, "Ok, now I have to add two zeros since I am multiplying by a hundred."

You seriously could have scraped me off the floor with a spatula at that point! If you knew how many times we went over these basic ideas with no comprehension for two years, and then she waltzes in at the beginning of this year and just says, "Oh! Oh! I think I know!"

We went on to long division - which she hated, like all kids, but she managed. Now we are finding the greatest common factor and simplifying fractions before multiplying them together, and she is going on. When I began teaching her two and a half years ago, she was at least three years behind. Now she is neck and neck with her sister who is one year behind her, and I would almost say she is catching on faster than her sister.

I stand back in awe. And I come away smiling, tears of joy in my eyes. She is doing well! After all that work, she is doing well! (I don't claim the credit for it, no more than just for sticking to it - I think this year her brain has begun to grow and she is more capable than she ever was. I saw that in my oldest and his spelling ability at that age.) So I am full of hope for her. And joy. It is a delight to watch her work.

And every day, when I walk away from teaching with a great sense of joy, I think of this verse... "I have no greater joy than to hear of my children walking in the truth."

Imagine if God thinks this way of us. Instead of looking at us and thinking, "How many times have I told you that, and you are just beginning to get it! What is wrong with you?!" He thinks, "I am delighted. It was worth it all."

In all honesty, Kayla is still behind. Realistically, she should never become a math scholar. There are days her mind still goes blank and we are back at asking, "Is it talking about parts and wholes or groups?" But she IS learning, and she IS getting it. And that thrills me.

Maybe God is so thrilled with me. Even when I am slow.

I have no greater joy than to hear of my children walking in the truth.

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