Monday, August 03, 2009

Hmm....How do I say this?

So far, homeschooling with this program (K12) is H.A.R.D.!!!!! I think the cause is multi-faceted in our case. Just to give you a bit of background, with this "public school at home" program we are supposed to be doing school 6.5 hours a day. That includes lunch, recess time, and P.E. so it's not 6.5 hours of actual work time, but it's still more rigorous than a lot of other programs. Also, it is a program where I need to be actively teaching the children much of the time. It becomes much more about independent learning in the older grades, but in 2nd and 3rd I would estimate I am actually teaching them 60-70% of their total school time. Add to that, it's not a multi-age program, so what I am teaching Samren in no way "goes" with what I'm teaching Taevy. Once we're in full swing I figure I will be actually teaching the kids about 4-5 hours of my day--that's actually "talk and teach" time--not counting when they are completing activities on their own. I know, I know (all you experienced homeschoolers) is way more time than is typical.

I've started REALLY slow, just trying to get our feet wet with the program. We've been messing around with it since July 27th. I started out doing 1 lesson a day with each of the kids, then today I did two lessons with Taevy. We've done 1 lesson each of Math, Language Arts, Science and History.

Samren--Samren and I, so far, have a pretty good dynamic going. Samren struggles, and is used to working hard. It is slow going with him, but his attitude is decent and he's eager to learn. I'm pretty optimistic about mine and Samren's teamwork with school this year, and it's been great to identify issues he has that I really didn't know about before (odd reading patterns, etc.).

Taevy--this is the challenge. There are lots of issues at play that are making it all very difficult. First, Taevy has always been "top of her class" at her elementary school. Everything has come easy to her. She's never had to work hard at anything. She's spent a lot of her school day in the past "helping" other kids with their work. Second, Taevy has this weird behavior thing. At brick and mortor school, church, etc., she appears to be the model young lady--excellent behavior, studious, conscientious, "perfect." However at home, Taevy acts very much like a child with ADHD. She is impulsive, cannot focus, is in constant motion, and is our "wild child." [Not that we don't love her!] Third, Taevy is actually BEHIND where she should be according to state standards! We thought she was ahead and doing great, but the fact is that the school wasn't able (with a very large immigrant population) to teach up to the state standards for her classes.

What do all of these issues look like when you put them together? I've got a 3rd grade child who cannot focus on schoolwork (at home), is used to getting perfect scores (because the standards were too low), and has no idea how to handle a program that is challenging to her. Honestly, her work is sloppy and lazy. She CAN write beautifully, but she's giving me her crappy writing. She is paying no attention to capitalization and spellings (even when she's copying words from a book). Her brain is absolutely unfocused to the point that she won't remember a topic (at all) that we just talked about 3 minutes before. She's trying to put everything into (very) short term memory to get by. And all of this frustrates me to no end!! LOL!

I think that Taevy has decided that if she doesn't work hard I will give up and send he back to her old school. [Hmm...this is all sort of mirroring attachment issues, isn't it?] I can't say that won't ever happen, but I have no plans for it to happen this year. I'm more convinced than ever that she wasn't getting the education she deserved at the old school. The problem is, with the way things are now I don't know that I can give her the education she deserves at home either. Something has GOT to change with the ADHD behaviors or she literally will not be able to learn. And of course all of these struggles during her lessons are causing us to spend WAY more time on each lesson than they were designed to take (think 3 hours instead of 60 minutes).

I was really discouraged today after working with Taevy. But (at this point at least!) I am resolved not to give up on this. My child has learned some very bad "getting by" habits at her old elementary school. She's got to learn that it's okay to be challenged and not get everything right the first time. She's got to learn how to be focused at home during school time. She's got to learn that she has a role in the responsibility for her education.

Next week we'll be starting school full days. I think for our own sanity we're going to have to focus less on getting done with each day's lesson plan (the lesson plan is given to you each day). I think we'll set a time limit and if we're not done, we're not done. If that means the kids don't get done with the year's lessons, then maybe they will need to repeat a year. So be it. I just know that being stressed isn't going to help any of us. Putting pressures on my kids to HURRY HURRY HURRY isn't going to work. We just have to take this at our own pace, trying our hardest each day.

If you're still reading this and are a homeschooling mommy, I do have a question for you. If Taevy were your child would you be more inclined to be very tough right now in order tolay down expectations, or would you be more inclined to take it easy right now, so that we can focus more on being "happy" during our schooling time? I know it sounds nice to focus on the happy, but is it really happiness if she's unfocused and unable to learn??? Look forward to your thoughts!

P.S. I KNOW the program we've chosen is not the route most homeschoolers go. I love your comments but please don't preach to me about the choice we've made. It's what we're trying for now, with the full knowledge that if it doesn't work for us we can "drop out" and do traditional homeschooling at any time.


whenpigsfly 10:15 PM  

MOST parents who take children from a public or private school setting into home schooling have an adjsutment period where the children have to learn to accept mommy as teacher, and it can be pretty rough.
I'd say give it some time.Its all really new, and the structure of the curric. you've chosen is going to make you feel stressed because it is school at home and not home school, where the idea is to custom design your program to your children's needs. Best advice? Play it a bit loose as you adjust to your school and as your students do too. As you have seen, large clases lose kids in the cracks, and can not address the needs of the children as can small classes or home schools. This too is a common issue to address and work through for outside school -to-home schooling families. Maybe some orientation time at Gillispie School is in order too. Time to explain that this IS for real school, it counts, and the obey rules hold whether mom is teacher or mom.Talk about the Rules of the School as you expect them to be followed. I don't know if your curric allows kids to work ahead if they are done more quickly, but for Taevy who was class helper before, that bonus might be a motivator to stay focused, or that IF IF IF she has her own assignments done, she MAY help you help Samren. 6.5 hours a day of home school for lower grade level chidlren is just plain too much time IMHO! Part of that length of a public school day is frankly there for crowd control, and for making sure that as many of the X# of students "get" what the days' lessons are, going student to student, explaining multiple times , etc. With two students even if they are not doing any overlapping curric, should still not take 6.5 hours. Do you have a lot of papers and things that yo uas teacher have to send in to this curric company/amnager to"prove" you are schooling and is a moment by moment schedule required, and if so, how closely must you REALLY follow it? The point of home schooling is for learning to take place, not placating a beauracracy. I guess my question is, since this is your chosen curric, which is your right most definitely, and not to be picked upon by others, (Personally , I get a bit irked when the "We ONLY use" ..OK I'll name a name, "SAXON MATH" in a tone of voice which indicates that non-users are just "poor unenlightened souls" so I 'm not going in that direction with you for sure!!!) but I digress, how much real LATITUDE do you have to use this curric and customize it to your children's levels and learning styles?
If you are locked into a set schedule etc etc, maybe a timer for Taevy so she knows how much time she is actually using or wasting, an extra bit of a chore assigned if she blows her time and an extra bit of fun time if she beats the timer and does her work well? Hang in there Anita, you are jsut starting a whole new thing and every new thing takes some time to work the kinks out!!

Joy 11:25 PM  

I'm right there with you!

I pulled my daughter out of a specialized therapeutic preschool last year to home school her. They had never met anyone like her and they are set up for special needs kids. She has attachment challenges, to put it mildly. ;-)

Anyway, fast forward to now and we've added to our family so this fall I'll be teaching kindergarten to our 14 year old, who has only been learning English for six months.

My original student will do first grade and I'm sending my four year old to MDO three days a week just to handle the other two at home. Don't worry, she wants to go. :-)

I was strict on my six year old at first because I didn't have the time or patience to play games with her. If she didn't do what I said as her teacher, she was welcome to go back to school. I've only had to remind her of that twice, and that would be her worst nightmare. We used A Beka for her kindergarten. It was just okay. I've switched to Calvert School for first grade.

I think our new teen really wants an education, as she recieved no education in China, so I don't expect any problems from her. We just received her Rosetta Stone English (American) materials today and that will be part of her kindergarten.

Regarding your cirriculum, I am not familiar with the K12 stuff. I will say though, that it sounds like a lot of work for you. Are you required to do it the whole year? Do you have a completion deadline?

Hang in there! I know it is hard work! And, it will be worth it in the long run (so I've been told ;-)


At the Foot of the Cross 7:12 AM  

In your free moments do a little more reading on ADHD and executive function. If she is truly dealing with attention type issues, often the normal way of modifying behavior doesn't work.

We had Alex evaluated as a first grader and he is on medication. It definitely helps him, but it's also not a magic pill. I've been reading more and more about executive function and how that impacts 'school' no matter where school is conducted.

Be patient -- there is definitely a transition factor. You will discover what Taevey's strengths and weaknesses are more clearly.

We are Grateful!!! 11:34 AM  

I know you want to give this curriculum a try and you should. Can you take yourself out of the mindset that you have to stick with the 6.5 hours a day? I personally feel a 3.0 or 3.5 day of school work is an outstanding day (at least 1-3 grade). We cover a lot on those days!) Then expect to add 15 minutes per year following. Keep in mind, that is school time (with lunch in the middle and maybe a little break for a quick physical activity that helps). Piano, dance, gym and other are extra activities during the day (add more time for those). We schedule two days per week that we go out after school time and do the extra activities. If we did that daily, it is too difficult on achieving the "great school days".
We year round (with doing a summer lite agenda) so we don't go by anyone's schedule for us to get it all done in 9 months with two weeks off at Christmas and one week at Spring Break. We don't have to hurry through a workbook, textbook or whatever we are using. We can complete it at the pace that makes it more fun to learn. Also, most teachers will tell you that they don't finish a complete textbook in the 9 months they are given. There is a lot of skipping around and missed material.
I am not sure about ADHD. I do know mine likes to day I spend a lot of time on "focus". If I leave the room or get on the phone or computer, she will take advantage. Then I lose her.
I found that with math, setting a timer helps. She seems to step up to the challenge. Those times or the independant learning times are when I can quick go do something that needs to be done. But she is told the expectation first.
There will be great days, so so days and not so great days. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy all the stages of learning. Hopefully the material is interesting for you too. If it is not, they probably won't find it interesting either.
I'll send you a daily homeschool devotional that I read each day. It is really helpful to keep my focus.
:) Tami

Jennifer 11:41 AM  

Something we are trying this year is "minutes" the kids have to earn their computer time?

Is there something she could earn. Good day get this, bad day get this taken away???

It does take some adjusting for everyone. And as far as the curriculum choice.....ya don't know until you give it a fair shot.
NO 2 home schools look the same!

Heather A. 1:41 PM  

If Taevy were a newly adopted child, I'd say give it some time and go easy on her. But she isn't. Even though she may have some attachment issues, she also knows how to work mom. She and Sophia just sound so much alike on this issue.

With that, I agree that it's probably best not to stress out over the schedule. I've tried forcing a schedule and it just doesn't work for for us. I can't even imagine trying to do 6.5 hours with 2 kids each day! I type up a schedule for the week on outlook and put it on the fridge and we check things off as we go. That way the girls know what's left and so do I. It gives us something visual to help us keep the eye on the ball. That might help Taevy to know what's expected of her.

Hang in there. It's tough and we all have those days (and weeks) (sometimes months :) ).

mary grace 2:37 PM  

Children who have been in classroom setting generally need what is called "deschooling" time. (

I don't know how long that kind of thing takes, but it seems like an important step in making homeschooling a success for kids who are used to other environments.

And I'm so excited to hear that you've taken the plunge. Praying that this is a beautiful, binding experience of love for your family!

Kait 6:03 PM  

I don't know a ton about homeschooling but I would agree with several of the other ladies that it seems like the logical thing to do would be expect a little of this adjustment period. She's been in public school and learned how all that works, so now she needs to unlearn those coping skills and learn how to function in homeschool.

Good luck!

darci 7:33 PM  

hi :) My inclination would be to have fun with Taevy right now. It is only the beginning of the year, and I have always found with my kids that they learn well when they're ready. I think it's a great idea to make 'school' fun for her. Good luck. darci (hs'ing for 5 years)

Awo 7:48 AM  

I can't offer any homeschooling advice at all, except to say hats off to you for trying this. What a wonderful opportunity for your kids! I do have alot of experience with bright public school kids who are coasting by and getting straight As because the school's curriculum is inadequate. I was one myself :). Taevy probably has build up alot of pride as the star pupil and is probaly frsutrated to find that she doesn't know as much as she thought she knew. Wounded pride can probably also exacerbate some of what you refer to as her ADHD behaviors. I once FAILED a regular math class because I felt like I should be in the gifted math program. Oh, pride, pride, pride! Maybe you can use her pride to your advantage, and let her help you with Samren's lessons when she's through with hers. Or give her something to do with Bright if you really need to focus on your time with Samren. Or maybe show her the work that's a step or two ahead of where she is and tell her that she can move forward to the challenging work if she shows that she can handle the "easier"" work. And let her participate in other activities she's food at so she still feels like the star student. It can be hard to learn that you're not "all that" like you thought you were :)