Thursday, March 17, 2011

Changes...Again

I started this homeschooling venture because I felt Mikaela would be underserved by the public school system.  She was reading second grade chapter books easily before she was even scheduled to begin kindergarten.  In math, she was learning to add and subtract multiple digits with regrouping.  It just didn't seem right to send off to school to "learn" her letters and numbers.  The school told me "the best you can hope for" is that the teacher will monitor her for the first month and decide what to do from there.  That didn't give me a lot of hope, so I kept her home with me.

Despite the fact that I had accelerated her a year, it didn't take long for her to start complaining about school.  It was boring.  She already knew the work.  Did she have to do this?  Thinking I was doing the right thing, I forced her to continue with the work I had planned...because it is taught at a higher level as last year.  It wasn't until the end of second grade that an adaptive assessment test allowed me to see the problem.  She was YEARS ahead of the curriculum I was forcing her to complete.  No wonder she hated school.

Knowing that her complaints were valid, I scrapped all of my plans and started over with new curriculum the following year.  It helped some.  The complaining decreased but the joy of learning did not return.

Meanwhile, I thought I was doing well with Samuel because I had learned from my previous mistakes.  I allowed him to zoom through his math as fast as he wanted.  With some of the material that I was sure he already knew, I allowed him to prove mastery before starting the lesson.  He started our new "gifted" language arts curriculum a year earlier than planned.  He was the model student; he loved school.

But then he started getting angry and depressed.  His smile went away.  He treated his brother poorly.  He had all of these "issues" that we just couldn't figure out.  We thought it might be Asperger's and headed off to the doctor.  Our pediatrician didn't feel he had Asperger's but was willing to refer to testing if I could provide the name of a doctor I wanted him to see (because I wouldn't take him to the local specialist).  Our pediatrician that the problem was more anxiety and depression and prescribed Zoloft.

Samuel is doing much better with the Zoloft.  He's nice to his little brother.  He's not as sullen, quiet, and sad.  He smiles.  He is just so much happier.  Now, it's my job to find out why and how to help him be happy without the medication.

The math salon held a big piece of the puzzle.  I have never seem him so social and so happy.  Another mom had a similar thing happen with her son; he, too, was depressed.  She provided me with some things to think about.  Others gave me some suggested reading.  I've held a math salon of my own; it was a great success, and Sam is looking forward to both the Seattle one and our own future ones.

So, I'm revamping our schooling.  Compacting it.  Differentiating it.  Making it more meaningful, more challenging, more flexible, more independent.  The kids are liking the changes so far.  I'm crossing my fingers that it works. 

So far, I've changed our spelling, vocabulary, grammar, math, history, and science.  They like the new way of doing things.  My opinion: it's too early to say if it will work.  I'm still figuring out what I want to do with writing.  They want it changed, but I really want to work with the curriculum.  I need the structure it provides.  My plan for the next few days/weeks is to share what we are doing with each of these subjects in the event someone out there is struggling with the same issues.  Perhaps the way we are changing things around will be of use to others.

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3 Comments:

Khadija said...

Change can be exciting and just the thing to perk up drooping students! I can't wait to hear what new things you are trying. Hope it continues to work.

Don't know if your kids like electronics, but we just started a FABULOUS on-line electronics class called "The Edison Project" that has given our homeschool new life! Information is at http://www.quickstudylabs.com/ It uses snap circuits, but takes everything a step further and is the real deal for learning electronics. I signed up my 6 and 8 year old boys for it and they are eating it up! Might be something that your Sam would enjoy at some point.

Good luck!

Linda said...

I can empathize with your situation with your daughter. We had a similar situation, in that my child had already completed the school work for 1st grade long before she got there. She didn't like school because it was boring. She decided that the school thought she was the stupidest kid on the planet. When I asked her why, she said, "Because the make me repeat, and repeat, and repeat spelling for 4 days before they will let me test on it, how many times do they think I need to see this to learn it? They think I'm stupid." From there her self esteem fell, to dangerous levels, and with that came behaviour issues. The school tested her for gifted, at my request, and said they would put her in the gifted program, (45 minutes a WEEK of enrichment--listen to classical music while doing "art") The behavior led the school to say they could suspend her, or paddle her. That was October. By November we had decided we were done, but left her in school to have the fun of the Christmas parties and a field trip. I had seen friends "curriculum hop" searching for something that would work for their child, only to have to change after a couple of months. I couldn't afford to do that. We started with Time4Learning 2nd grade in January of that school year. It was meant to engage her while I found the curriculum we would use. After much searching I discovered two very important things. My child loved it, and so did I. Within weeks my child was better, happier, less depressed, more willing to engage in learning. We discovered that
T4L moved at her pace, was colorful, intelligent, interactive. As a new homeschooling mom, the program kept my records and planned lessons. We have never looked back. Granted, we do suppliment when necessary, or when desired, but T4L works great for us. I wish you luck in changing your curricula, finding the thing that works best for your children may be a challenge, but in the end it is entirely worth it!
Linda
Homeschooling 1 child for 4 years with Time4Learning!

Diane said...

Looking forward to your future posts to hear what specific changes you have made and how they are working.
Blessings
Diane