Homeschool progress and commentary (My, what a catchy title!)
- If we continue at our current pace, we’ll be finished with school on May 21. That will be the first time, I believe, that we’ll be done in May. Arizona used to require homeschooling parents to commit to 35 weeks per year. Though they no longer require that, saying that instead, we can just stop when we feel like we’re done (!), I think 35 weeks is a reasonable requirement. Last year, though, I stopped after 34 weeks. Or was it 33? I can’t remember now. It was the third week of June, and I was DONE, even though we weren’t really done, which felt like cheating, even though I was within my authority to stop.
- As read-alouds take up a vast amount of time, I have decided that my older boys, who are working their way through Sonlight’s Core 4, will likely read the rest of the year’s read alouds on their own. ~sigh~ This is a bit of a defeat for me, because I so enjoy reading good literature with them, and the discussions that inevitably arise. However, for them, we’re on week 24 of school, and have only made our way through about 12 weeks of material. Ack. I’m not a total box-checker, but that is just way too slow. I am still reading history stuff aloud, and science. And, I’m still doing the read-alouds with Wesley, who is in Core 2.
- Though we have progressed frustratingly slowly in Core 4, I personally have learned WAY more about the Civil War than I ever previously knew, and I am very thankful for that.
- Teaching Textbooks Math 7 has turned out to be a great choice for Ethan (in 7th grade) and Grant (in 5th), but for different reasons. For Ethan, it has shored up some skills that he was not solid in, and increased his confidence, which was necessary, as math had become a struggle. He has gotten 100% on most assignments and quizzes. Grant hasn’t done nearly so well; he averages around 85%. His not doing as well as Ethan has been a blow to his completely overwrought ego, and I am fine with that.
- A local 5th grade boy was recently suspended for eleven days (nine at home, and two in-school) for bringing a 2″ penknife to school. ELEVEN DAYS!!! The “big” news last night was that the school authorities decided not to expel him. I don’t know what made me more troubled: the complete lack of common-sense judgment by school officials, or the fact that his mother was so relieved that her son would no longer be serving his suspension in her home office. Ugh. This and the recent Lego gun suspension incident serve as reminders of why we homeschool. In related news: My 12yo son wears his knife (I think it’s a 3″ blade) at all times, clipped onto/in the change pocket of his jeans, completely visible. He brings it to all of our homeschool outings, and he has yet to be reported or suspended. 😉 (He has also carved for me a very nice walking stick.)
- We attend a “park day” most Tuesdays. It’s a laid-back collection of about 6-12 homeschooling parents and their accompanying broods. So, each Tuesday, there is a group of 10-20 boys and girls, ages 6-13 who happily play together. The moms typically sit and talk about school and parenting, and watch the younger kids on the playground structures while the kids are (usually) off in the surrounding desert scrub and little ravines. The kids organize themselves. Usually, they play a surprisingly-highly-structured wargames scenario. They have teams, ranks, rules, and even hold court martials. Yesterday, though, a truce was called for a special Homeschool Olympics organized and run, yet again, completely by the kids. They only finished the footraces and Nerf gun shooting events, and all agreed to continue next time, as they ran out of time for the basketball shooting and football throwing contests.
- My 8yo son Wesley is finally showing progress in spelling and writing. Even though we’ve twice had him professionally evaluated, and everyone has said that he’s within “normal” range for his age, I have been incredibly concerned. No matter what the norms say, it’s NOT normal for an 8yo to spell so poorly that he literally cannot remember how to spell his own name, nor regularly misspell three- and four-letter words: gat for get, rin for run, sed for see, fads for fast, henf for help, wotk for work, etc. And, no, I am not exaggerating his struggles. We have been working on the SAME LIST of 100 simple high-frequency words all year. This year, and in years past, I have tried just about every approach I can think of: phonics, memorization, writing, oral drill, putting sound families in “word houses” on his wall, multi-sensory memory exercises (like writing in shaving cream or cornmeal)… The good news is that, because he’s such a good reader, 95% of the time, when he spells a word wrong, he recognizes that it is wrong. But even for extremely easy words, like 3-4 letter words which break no simple phonics rules, he has been unable to figure out which sounds match with which letters in order to write the word correctly. Indeed, even identifying individual sounds within words has been nigh impossible; he hears words as WHOLES, rather than as combinations of sounds. However, just in the past few weeks, he’s really had some breakthrough in that area, and has demonstrated “sounding out” on his own. Just today, as he was trying to figure out how to spell soon, he muttered, “sssssss… oooooooo… nnnnnnnnuh.” Now, it took me a LONG TIME to get him to understand/believe me that there is no “nuh” sound on the end of soon: it is “sss-oooo-nnnn.” Still. Just the fact that, on his own, he tried to decode the word encouraged me greatly. I am more convinced than ever that he has some sort of auditory processing disorder, and will try to get him evaluated (again) this summer. Another homeschooling mom told me about a semi-nearby professional group that has expertise in both developmental disorders and speech. (At six years, Wesley was evaluated by a “normal” developmental pediatrician and by a speech pathologist at seven. Both found problems, but placed him within a normal range.)
- I think that’s it for now!!