7 yr old ds unhappy in HS but we don't like the PS - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds1 is 7 and went to PS for K and part of 1st grade.  We took him out after Xmas break b/c we were very unhappy with the curriculum.  He has never been tested and is a different type of gifted from me, so it is hard for me to guess what level gifted he is, but as an example, he taught himself to read during K and within 1 year, was reading at a 4th grade level.  I really disliked his 1st grade teacher as she seemed to think that "all the other kids would catch up and he wouldn't be ahead by 3rd grade."  :-(  The only enrichment that they do before 3rd grade is to have a pullout class with some different activities (which he said were too easy), but overall, the whole curriculum just goes too slow for him and I feel that it is a waste of time.  On top of that, they assigned a ton of busywork homework that took a long time, not b/c it was hard, but b/c he balked at it and dragged it out.  It was just HW for us to get him to do it.

 

Well, HS has been just okay.  My business and family life is suffering b/c of the extra demands on my time.  Ds1 and I do not have personalities that mesh very well.  Were I him, I would have been thrilled to stay home and be able to read whatever I wanted all day and do lots of math.  This does not interest him, and he told me today that the work we do in HS is "too hard."  Now, he finishes the work I give him in 5 minutes with no errors, so I know it is not too hard.  If anything, it is too easy.  At school,  he would only have to practice writing the alphabet, instead of writing whole paragraphs like with me.  I have scaled back the writing b/c he complains so much, and we do more history and science reading, which he loves, but still, he complains.  Then it came out that he would prefer to be in school with his friends, and so he could do easier work.

 

Part of me would like to say, "Fine, go back to school!" and have my days back.  I do not want to be frustrated and irritated all the time, but I also don't want him sitting there all day in school, not learning, and just being happy being social and learning dirty rhymes.  Not that being social is bad, but it can't be the most important thing.

 

I don't know what to do.  We can't afford private schools so that is not an option.  My only thought is to have him tested and demand they accommodate him with grade advancement or something.  Any ideas?


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#2 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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You should post in the homeschooling forum. Did you take time to deschool? How much time do you spend doing school stuff each day. Can you change how you're teaching. Everyone learns differently, maybe it's the style he's not taking to?

I don't know what your approach is but homeschooling doesn't have to be school at home. It can be different. The great thing about homeschooling is the ability to change things that aren't working.
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#3 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 12:59 PM
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 Not that being social is bad, but it can't be the most important thing

 


Maybe at age 7 it is more important than you think. Maybe for your son it's more important. Is he an extrovert? If you do get him tested they will have to accommodate him. Since he has same age friends letting him do work that is at his level in class would probably be best. At least he wouldn't have to do the homework worksheets because they aren't at an appropriate level.

 

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#4 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 01:09 PM
 
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What about finding a local homeschool group so he can have more social time?    Here they have homeschool science club, swim team, PE classes, spanish classes.... and all kinds of other stuff.  Its all mixed age so kids can work to their ability, but gives them the chance to be with other children.  

 

 

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#5 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You should post in the homeschooling forum. Did you take time to deschool? How much time do you spend doing school stuff each day. Can you change how you're teaching. Everyone learns differently, maybe it's the style he's not taking to?

I don't know what your approach is but homeschooling doesn't have to be school at home. It can be different. The great thing about homeschooling is the ability to change things that aren't working.


I am trying to follow his lead by focusing on history and science which he likes, but I do make him do Singapore Math.  We are mismatched bc he likes all the "enrichment" stuff, which I always hated and found to be a waste of time. Everyone likes the field trips, but we don't have time for that everyday.  We only do school for 30-60 minutes, and he still complains.  I did not deschool bc it was not his choice to leave school, nor did he have bad experiences.

 



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If you do get him tested they will have to accommodate him.

 


What do you mean?  Is this a law?

 



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What about finding a local homeschool group so he can have more social time?    Here they have homeschool science club, swim team, PE classes, spanish classes.... and all kinds of other stuff.  Its all mixed age so kids can work to their ability, but gives them the chance to be with other children.  

 

 



I have tried... to be honest, I am so busy with 4 kids and the business and my own self-care (basically just going to the gym 3 days a week for an hour) that I could not add anything else.  As it is, my husband is already asking me for more help with the business.  It makes me want to give up and send him to school to "socialize" so that I can go to work, and oh well if he doesn't learn and is never challenged.  But that's not okay either.  :-(


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#6 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 07:48 PM
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If a child has special needs a school district has to accommodate him. It's a federal law to provide the most appropriate education possible. Now the specific rights of gifted students differ from state to state. So you should look up your state's regulations. If you have him tested the teacher probably would not be able to downplay his advanced reading. Since people are developmentally ready to read at different ages, most 1st graders who can't read at all at that age do catch up by 3rd or 4th grade. Your son would have to stay at his current level with no progress at all, which is a really silly idea. If you had a diagnosis of some kind you could ask for an IEP meeting or at least a 504 plan. Then again it depends on whether your state treats gifted as special ed students. Google "rights of gifted students in yourstate" . If your state has strong regulations about gifted education but has a later grade they usually test during, it's ok to wait as long as your son is happy with school and not acting up because he's bored. Waiting until 2nd or 3rd grade to start having accelerated material is not the same as he will never have appropriate material or learn new things.

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#7 of 24 Old 03-04-2011, 09:24 PM
 
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ds1 loves school because of his friends. He has no idea what the teachers are teaching or what instructions have been given because he spaces out, and he has become increasingly scatter-brained since he started school. I think spacing out has become a way of life. It's very frustrating. But he IS very social, he loves to people watch, he knows what everyone else is doing and who is allergic to what. He just doesn't know what the teachers are teaching for that day. I can't drop everything and homeschool him, and I find the socialising part of homeschooling tricky - you've got to deal with the various parents as well as other kids. So he stays in school, and we try to do what we can learning wise at home.

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#8 of 24 Old 03-05-2011, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ds1 loves school because of his friends. He has no idea what the teachers are teaching or what instructions have been given because he spaces out, and he has become increasingly scatter-brained since he started school. I think spacing out has become a way of life. It's very frustrating. But he IS very social, he loves to people watch, he knows what everyone else is doing and who is allergic to what. He just doesn't know what the teachers are teaching for that day. I can't drop everything and homeschool him, and I find the socialising part of homeschooling tricky - you've got to deal with the various parents as well as other kids. So he stays in school, and we try to do what we can learning wise at home.



This is very like my child.  I found his report card from the fall - he had all "Satisfactory" or "Extending" [above Satisfactory] except in things like "paying attention, " "keeping his hands to himself," and "finishing on time."  I am so frustrated.  He could learn way quicker, but does not seem to be interested.


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#9 of 24 Old 03-05-2011, 08:10 AM
 
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I have tried... to be honest, I am so busy with 4 kids and the business and my own self-care (basically just going to the gym 3 days a week for an hour) that I could not add anything else.  As it is, my husband is already asking me for more help with the business.  It makes me want to give up and send him to school to "socialize" so that I can go to work, and oh well if he doesn't learn and is never challenged.  But that's not okay either.  :-(


Check with your local Y and see if they have a homeschool Swim and Gym program.  Ours does.  Community Rec centers have them sometimes, also.  It's a one day a week drop off thing for a few hours so wouldn't take up anymore time than taking him to school, theoretically.  Have you searched for local yahoo homeschool groups?  That's how people seem to network around here.  Museums frequently have homeschool programs, too.  Anyway, getting together with peers is the most important thing to my ds so we prioritize meeting others at a park once a week.  It can be time consuming finding out what's available but the yahoo groups are useful because everyone posts things that they hear about or that they organize.

 


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#10 of 24 Old 03-05-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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Federal law does not require accommodations for giftedness, only disabilities. If a child is getting accommodations from  a school, it's because of school policy or state law. It varies from place to place.

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If a child has special needs a school district has to accommodate him. It's a federal law to provide the most appropriate education possible. Now the specific rights of gifted students differ from state to state. So you should look up your state's regulations. If you have him tested the teacher probably would not be able to downplay his advanced reading. Since people are developmentally ready to read at different ages, most 1st graders who can't read at all at that age do catch up by 3rd or 4th grade. Your son would have to stay at his current level with no progress at all, which is a really silly idea. If you had a diagnosis of some kind you could ask for an IEP meeting or at least a 504 plan. Then again it depends on whether your state treats gifted as special ed students. Google "rights of gifted students in yourstate" . If your state has strong regulations about gifted education but has a later grade they usually test during, it's ok to wait as long as your son is happy with school and not acting up because he's bored. Waiting until 2nd or 3rd grade to start having accelerated material is not the same as he will never have appropriate material or learn new things.



 

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#11 of 24 Old 03-05-2011, 09:41 PM
 
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i would send him back to his school. see what you can do to get accelerations or even grade jumps in subject.

 

and do afterschool things with him at home. basically a scaled back hs. 

 

its been a heartbreak for me trying to figure out dd's education. she is the coop hs child which unfortunately we dont have here. 

 

she tolerates school - the academic part - only coz she has to. but still she chooses to go because of her friends. she right now has a new teacher she doesnt like - and i offered her options but seh wants to go be with her friends. 

 

the thing is we stuck out K. dd got above av. for all her stuff except behaviour and turning in hw on time. however her teacher worked with us on this. 

 

her most important discovery was that life sometimes sucks. that there are parts and pieces you can like and parts and pieces you hate. and it sucks making a decision. 

 

she told her K teacher she goes to school to party, and comes home to study. dd is in gate and STILL bored. yet she'd rather be bored and in school rather than not. having the option of studying new stuff at home is what keeps her going. however i think in her case if 3rd grade did subjects like in 4th grade she would not be bored. she is extremely tired of the way math and english are taught to her. 

 

and i also discovered that K is a much harder class for the teacher to accomodate than the other classes. at K the children are too all over the place. 

 

and yes btw writing doesnt really take off in kids till 2nd or even 3rd grade. dd didnt start writing till 3rd grade. before that she did the basic minimum. 

 

so yes. i would say send him back to school. let him get exposed to stuff. and you can flesh out all the things the teacher is not doing. probably would help you out too. 

 

and yes they DO learn at school. at first grade dd wasnt happy with the amount of stuff they covered for MLK. she wanted to do more at home. so we read up and did research at home and she also interviewed her gpa and his friends who have lived thru those times. 

 

dd has needs that no school is going to fulfill. or hs for that matter. however i wont say dd is not learning anything. she is getting seeds planted in her head which she is exploring at home. her knowledge of certain things are way into college level coz i have helped her with it. 

 

for my dd friends are more important than academics. and i will say friends make her happy enough to want to pursue learning. 3 hours of school is fun- enough fun that she will tolerate the 2 to 3 hours of boredom. 

 

you are under a lot of stress. it seems from your OP that your ds was happy at school - not liking the hw and bored but still willing to go to school. you didnt like what they offered him. with your present situation it seems it would be less stressful for your whole family to send him to school rather than trying to find another alternative since hs is causing even more stress. 


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#12 of 24 Old 03-06-2011, 12:13 AM
 
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It sounds like you're doing a sort of school at home thing. I wonder if that's the best homeschooling approach for your kid. My kids have excelled in math but we didn't start anything structured until the 3rd grade level, and even then it was only ever at their request. I have a 2003 baby who is at a 6th grade level in most areas and she loves workbooks, but still we do maybe 20 minutes of bookwork two or three times a week, and only when she asks. The work is challenging her at her level and she loves it because she can tell she is learning new things. But mostly she plays, talks, cooks, visits, explores, plays, crafts, reads, invents, then talks and plays some more. That's her homeschooling... mostly unstructured, with tiny snatches of very efficient, meaningful learning led by her.

 

 

 

I think deschooling is important whether or not a school experience was negative. It's not necessarily a matter of "detoxifying" from negative emotional baggage: it's a case of questioning your assumptions about learning, re-awakening a sense of personal autonomy over the pace, direction and motivation for your learning, re-discovering the joy of driving your own learning. No matter what the child's feelings about school were, he experienced learning that was directed by authority-figure adults in a group-based system where motivation came in large part from comparisons/competition, a desire for approval and a need to fit in. Those motivations don't work in a homeschooling environment: kids know their parents will love them whether they compliantly do a handwriting worksheet or not, and there are no peers to out-perform or win respect from or blend in with. Finding one's own personal motivation for learning outside of that context is a very different thing -- and it takes time. 

 

It sounds like you've only been homeschooling a few months. I wouldn't sell it short, not unless the issues that led you to homeschooling in the first place have been fully resolved. Most people don't hit their stride with homeschooling for a year or more. It takes a lot of trial and error for most families.

 

Miranda

 

 


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#13 of 24 Old 03-06-2011, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful replies.

 

I did talk directly to ds1 yesterday about our concerns with school.  I have to get ready for church now, though, so will have to come back later!


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#14 of 24 Old 03-06-2011, 02:53 PM
 
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I hear everyone say that 1st grade is the worst year in terms of getting appropriate accommodations, and that things get better in later grades.  It's already March, so there isn't much left in this year anyway.  Next September he will be ready for 2nd grade.  It will be a whole new teacher for 2nd.

 

I would just agree to send him to 2nd grade in the fall.  The school might even do an evaluation/testing when he reenters to determine grade level (I hear that many districts do it for all former home-schoolers.)  


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#15 of 24 Old 03-06-2011, 03:17 PM
 
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If you haven't already, do post in the homeschooling forum.  :)

 

This is exactly true:

 

 

 

Quote:

I think deschooling is important whether or not a school experience was negative. It's not necessarily a matter of "detoxifying" from negative emotional baggage: it's a case of questioning your assumptions about learning, re-awakening a sense of personal autonomy over the pace, direction and motivation for your learning, re-discovering the joy of driving your own learning. No matter what the child's feelings about school were, he experienced learning that was directed by authority-figure adults in a group-based system where motivation came in large part from comparisons/competition, a desire for approval and a need to fit in. Those motivations don't work in a homeschooling environment: kids know their parents will love them whether they compliantly do a handwriting worksheet or not, and there are no peers to out-perform or win respect from or blend in with. Finding one's own personal motivation for learning outside of that context is a very different thing -- and it takes time. 

 

It sounds like you've only been homeschooling a few months. I wouldn't sell it short, not unless the issues that led you to homeschooling in the first place have been fully resolved. Most people don't hit their stride with homeschooling for a year or more. It takes a lot of trial and error for most families.

 

There are so very, very many different ways to homeschool that it can be frustrating and difficult if you don't hit on the magic button right away.  Most of us never get it perfect -- but even with the problems we have, it's still better than the problems we would have with regular school.  If your son is complaining that he's bored at home -- and assuming you're trying to give him material that is an appropriate challenge for him, not just grade-level stuff that he can do without even trying -- then how much more bored would he be at school?  You might end up with more free time for yourself, but having to deal with an extra-grumpy kid the rest of the time.

 

Deschooling is just as much about learning about each other, you learning about what makes him tick, both of you learning how to get along ;)   Like moominmama said, it's not just to detox from bad experiences.  It's to detox from the public school experience as a whole, and to relax and find yourselves, with NO particular academic pressures, assumptions, or expectations.

 

It's so totally normal for it to take awhile to find the right approach for everybody, the right materials -- you say you "make him" do Singapore math.  Does he enjoy it?  If not, if you're going to require math, does it have to be Singapore?  There are sooooo many fantastic options for homeschool math.

 

The socializing thing can be tricky to deal with.  Especially kids who have already been in school, they think that being with a large crowd of peers for hours every day is the biological norm -- but it isn't.  Yes, socializing is important, but not necessarily THAT KIND of socializing.  Kids don't know any better, they see all their friends going to school, and they're not, and they assume they're missing out on something big.  If you need some reassurance about this aspect of things, I highly recommend the book "Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers."  It's not even a homeschooling book, it's about the psychological development of children and their attachment orientation and the risks of them becoming too oriented to peer attachment.  It's fascinating!!!

 

It's also especially common for homeschooled kids -- even ones who have NEVER been in a classroom, like my son -- to think they want to go to school, and it seems to be most predominant in the age 7-9 range.  They're most susceptible to society's expectations at that age, I think, and less able to truly think independently (and rationally) about it.  After that age, most come to realize the immense advantages to homeschooling that they get to have.  Even if you do end up deciding that going back to school is the right choice for your family, there are lots of things you can do to try to improve the home situation first, give it some more time.  He's young, he'll still recover from whatever happens.  ;)


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#16 of 24 Old 03-07-2011, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The other day I did explain to ds1 why we had concerns: that he would be bored, and that as he got older, that being bored could turn into anger, bad behavior, etc.  Also that he would never learn how to learn and overcome difficult challenges, and I gave the example of video games (that a new level seems impossible and he wants to give up, but it is fun, and he keeps trying, and he figures it out, and the sense of accomplishment is so wonderful) and how I wanted him to have that in his education, too.

 

I talked about it with dh last night, and he thinks that we took him out of the PS for good reasons, and those reasons have not been resolved, and that perhaps I was giving up too easily, and that maybe he (dh) would be the better person to teach ds1, as he actually enjoys enrichment-y stuff.  But we didn't have very much time to talk about it.  We did talk about potentially having him evaluated by a professional psychologist to help us make the decision.  If we did that, how could we find a good school psychologist that has experience with gifted children?  (PA requires school psychologists if we want them to use our evaluation for anything school-related.)


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#17 of 24 Old 03-07-2011, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And no, I am not giving him stuff that is appropriate for him - I think that is the problem.  His PS was using Everyday Math irked.gif, so as of January, they were still just reading clocks.  I chose Singapore Math b/c of its logical sequence and emphasis on mental math and the fact that it quickly gets into multiplication, etc.  But, since he had learned nothing at the PS, I had to start with 1A to just get through basic addition and subtraction.  Now we will start 1B this week and get into multiplication, which he doesn't yet know.  But I dunno, maybe it would just be better if I just taught him the four calculation skills myself in two minutes and called it a day.

 

We have been doing Spelling Workout, half to have a little bit of handwriting practice, and half for the spelling, but it is only level B, and I think it is too easy.  Should I buy a higher level or just ignore spelling for now?

 

Finally, on the reading.  This frustrates me, as I would read 24 hours a day if I could.  Anyway, he can read at a 4th-grade level by himself (this is the level readers he was doing at PS) and he can read newspapers and magazines if I help him, so I bought him some of the best kids' books at that level (Roald Dahl, Konigsberg, etc.) and he says they are too hard.  I know that they are not so I don't know what is going on there.  If he showed an interest in reading, I would toss everything except the math and just let him read all day, but he doesn't.


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#18 of 24 Old 03-07-2011, 07:59 AM
 
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On the reading, I would try to find something that interests him regardless of level/"best" status--preferably a series that he can speed through and build confidence with. The level they can read at is not necessarily the one they enjoy reading at, especially if the material does not motivate them. My DD likes Dahl but I have not given her Konigsberg because it's probably a bit too subtle for her still. I would also befriend your children's librarian. Maybe he is more of a nonfiction guy? My DD is going through a phase of reading nothing but nonfiction in her area of obsession (birds) and vintage Nancy Drew books (which I personally detest, but oh well).

Do you have virtual online school available to you? I know DD and I would not do well homeschooling due to our own personality conflicts, but that is my backup plan.

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#19 of 24 Old 03-07-2011, 04:08 PM
 
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Finally, on the reading.  This frustrates me, as I would read 24 hours a day if I could.  Anyway, he can read at a 4th-grade level by himself (this is the level readers he was doing at PS) and he can read newspapers and magazines if I help him, so I bought him some of the best kids' books at that level (Roald Dahl, Konigsberg, etc.) and he says they are too hard.  I know that they are not so I don't know what is going on there.  If he showed an interest in reading, I would toss everything except the math and just let him read all day, but he doesn't.


 

Leveled readers are usually sorted based solely on vocabulary and decoding.  Leveled readers rarely take into consideration other aspects of reading level, such as endurance.  Though a book by Roald Dahl may have a similar vocabulary and decoding level, they are also much much longer than any leveled readers and require greater endurance, retaining the information from reading session to reading session.  

 

They also may just not be appropriate yet in terms of being too scary and sophisticated.  Being so much younger than the character in the book, he may have a hard time relating to them.  It's hard to read books you just aren't understanding or getting into.

 

We are at a point with DS, where he isn't advancing in reading level b/c he isn't ready for the content of books that would more difficult than what he already reads.  DS mostly reads picture books and leveled readers, b/c they aren't too long and are appropriate content wise.  he has declared both The Grinch Stole Christmas and The Littles to be too scary after a few pages.

 

Reading level is a complex multifaceted thing, and most tests of it focus solely on one or two aspects.


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#20 of 24 Old 03-08-2011, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Leveled readers are usually sorted based solely on vocabulary and decoding.  Leveled readers rarely take into consideration other aspects of reading level, such as endurance.  Though a book by Roald Dahl may have a similar vocabulary and decoding level, they are also much much longer than any leveled readers and require greater endurance, retaining the information from reading session to reading session.  

 

They also may just not be appropriate yet in terms of being too scary and sophisticated.  Being so much younger than the character in the book, he may have a hard time relating to them.  It's hard to read books you just aren't understanding or getting into.

 

We are at a point with DS, where he isn't advancing in reading level b/c he isn't ready for the content of books that would more difficult than what he already reads.  DS mostly reads picture books and leveled readers, b/c they aren't too long and are appropriate content wise.  he has declared both The Grinch Stole Christmas and The Littles to be too scary after a few pages.

 

Reading level is a complex multifaceted thing, and most tests of it focus solely on one or two aspects.


Thank you for this explanation.

 


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#21 of 24 Old 03-09-2011, 02:00 PM
 
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Just a total side thought, but have you had his vision tested recently?  My daughter's complaints about work being 'too hard' have largely been linked to her vision being uncorrected.  I noticed the last few months she has been whiney about workbooks, which she has loved in the past, and sure enough, she desperately needs new glasses.  In fact, "too hard" was exactly the phrase she used during her eye test when presented with letters that were too small for her to make out.

 

Also, what sort of social activities is he involved in?  Does your school district offer any homescholing-cooperative programs?  What about clubs/groups like Boy Scouts, 4-H, or sports?  (In my area there are a bunch of 4-H clubs for homeschooling kids, and they make the program part of their schooling.)


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I did have his vision tested and he was fine.  He really wants to do 4H but is not old enough.


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#23 of 24 Old 03-10-2011, 06:02 AM
 
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I know you mentioned that you can't afford private school.  Have you thought about applying to one along with financial aid? Especially if your son is gifted, they might let him in.

 

Honestly, it sounds a lot like my son.  The thing that made the difference was the teacher he got this year.  She had just come off teaching third grade so she had a whole slew of lesson plans, etc.  Basically, she gives my son separate work to do from her third grade stuff to challenge him.  It's made a gigantic difference in behavior and happiness.


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I know you mentioned that you can't afford private school.  Have you thought about applying to one along with financial aid? Especially if your son is gifted, they might let him in.

 

Honestly, it sounds a lot like my son.  The thing that made the difference was the teacher he got this year.  She had just come off teaching third grade so she had a whole slew of lesson plans, etc.  Basically, she gives my son separate work to do from her third grade stuff to challenge him.  It's made a gigantic difference in behavior and happiness.



That's what his old preschool teacher suggested.  I taught her son at the private school I attended and taught at, and it is a good school, but it is $17K!  She said, "Why not try the finaid process?"


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