November updates - How was the start of school (for those who school)? How's fall going? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 11-05-2013, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I posted a short update saying that first quarter was really successful for DS. He moved to middle school. He's under challenged and we are working on some of that. But overall the transition to a new learning environment has been really good for him. He's decided to try basketball again this winter. He did it when he was younger but didn't particularly enjoy it. His sister is really athletic and watching her play has motivated him to give sports another try. I can see that if he keeps doing basketball it will really be good for his attention to the world around him. He can wonder around oblivious and in his own head far too often.

 

I had an appointment today to visit with some people at the local university and set up testing for both my kids. We never really got a full scale ability test done for DS just a brief assessment back when we were making some pretty big educational decisions. I'd like to get more information from a full scale test. 

 

We'll be testing my youngest as well. She's had speech therapy and is behind in learning to read so I really don't know what the testing will reveal for her. She has always had excellent reasoning and problem solving abilities. It will be interesting to see what her testing says.


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#2 of 10 Old 11-05-2013, 10:56 PM
 
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My eldest dd is in 2nd year at college, third year living on her own studying with her violin teacher, and is in a perfect groove. Doing well. I never hear from her; she's busy gigging on weekends, rehearsing her fingers off with her quartet, and also balancing it all with other pursuits: running, learning some basic Norwegian and Finnish (no idea why), socializing. She is waiting to hear on a sweet (and lucrative) cruise ship job next summer through an arts entertainment agency.

 

My middle two are 17 and 14 and have had a bit of a bumpy ride this fall. Their K-12 public school is tiny, with only 42 students in the high school end, no gifted program of course, and with only four part-time high school teachers allocated, they've moved to a experimental self-paced "independent directed learning" model this year with occasional [optional] week-long intensive electives and an outdoor education focus. They start every day with outdoor PE -- which is pretty hard-core here, since we're already getting snow and sleet. And then they have three hour-long blocks of what is essentially study hall, and one hour of "seminar" which is a multi-grade project or group tutorial in one academic subject, and then an hour of an elective course -- either in-school or elsewhere. They're getting almost no traditional classroom style learning. All of which is fine. My kids love self-paced learning, and hate waiting for the rest of the class to get stuff. They like being able to find a quiet corner and do a blitz on math for three hours or as long as their focus lasts, rather than having to repeatedly switch tasks. 

 

But ... the school has not done a good job of giving the students support and feedback on their pacing through the courses. My kids have big serious course-loads this year and were working like maniacs, constantly worried they might be getting behind. Apparently, we found out a couple of weeks ago, the kids who were falling behind were being warned, but no one told the rest of the kids that no news was good news. Mine were opting out of electives, part-time work shifts, music gigs and social time for fear of getting behind. I think we've now got through to the teachers and principal: there are now recommended weekly checkpoints laid out. Phew! The way they're being communicated and documented is unwieldy but at least we're getting somewhere. The upshot of all their anxiety over lack of feedback is that they're way ahead, and excelling. They should be able to relax this term. They are both pulling straight A's. They love their teachers. They're turning out some amazing work. They're being granted time off and credit for their youth choir involvement in another community. There's some really good stuff happening. 

 

But the other bumpy part is that the social milieu at the school has really unravelled this year. It seems to be rolling off my kids' backs; they're not playing games or getting wrapped up in it, but they find it really tiring and depressing to have to spend their days amongst the school's dominant group of devious and catty 14-year-olds. With such a small student body, a group of 8 or 10 can really poison the atmosphere, even if they're not being nasty to you in particular. The lack of maturity and empathy is appalling: I've witnessed some stuff first-hand that has left my jaw hanging open.

 

So, yeah. There it is. 

 

Ds is in the throes of trying to sort out his post-secondary path. His talents and interests straddle the arts vs. STEM divide (music and computer programming, visual design and pre-med). He's going to spend a week next month auditing pre-med and digital media design classes at a nearby college. Maybe that'll give him a nudge one way or the other. He has the ability to do almost anything, but decisions are not his strong suit.

 

Dd10 has a 98% in 9th grade math. She goes to school only for math and occasional electives, being otherwise unschooled. She's the youngest kid by 14 months in the Grade 7/8/9 combined math seminar, is the most advanced in the curriculum, and has the highest grade. And it seems she's carrying it off without inviting bad feelings from other students. She's helpful when asked, she makes little self-deprecating jokes that help ease awkward situations, she's low-key about her precocity, and seems to be the sort of kid people have a hard time disliking. So it's working really well. Her unschooling continues to percolate along; no real changes there.

 

Sorry so long. My excuse is that I have four kids.

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#3 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 04:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

My middle two are 17 and 14 and have had a bit of a bumpy ride this fall. Their K-12 public school is tiny, with only 42 students in the high school end, no gifted program of course, and with only four part-time high school teachers allocated, they've moved to a experimental self-paced "independent directed learning" model this year with occasional [optional] week-long intensive electives and an outdoor education focus. They start every day with outdoor PE -- which is pretty hard-core here, since we're already getting snow and sleet. And then they have three hour-long blocks of what is essentially study hall, and one hour of "seminar" which is a multi-grade project or group tutorial in one academic subject, and then an hour of an elective course -- either in-school or elsewhere. They're getting almost no traditional classroom style learning. All of which is fine. My kids love self-paced learning, and hate waiting for the rest of the class to get stuff. They like being able to find a quiet corner and do a blitz on math for three hours or as long as their focus lasts, rather than having to repeatedly switch tasks. 

 

One of our local high schools has switched to a model. Since I'm in a graduate school teacher's program this year I've managed to get some observation time in the program. I think it has amazing potential. Right now our local program has some serious kinks to work our. They actually have some pretty good checklists and rubrics to show progress. This schools main issue is what to do with students who aren't keeping up (or really doing any work). There is help for students who need it built into the system, but it seems that there does need to be some sort of consequences put into place or more ways to keep students accountable. I observed around homecoming and am hoping to go back around Christmas to see how the program has changed and evolved. I understand that one of the program's Math students has already completed the 1st year of Math and moving on to second. So it is working really well for some kids. 


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#4 of 10 Old 11-07-2013, 02:04 PM
 
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Dd (4.5) is enjoying her preschool. At home she is beginning (reluctantly) to read. It is somewhat amusing to see her switch back and forth between proudly and loudly claiming that she can read books that she clearly can't but has memorized and insisting that she can't sound out simple CVC words that I know she can. I am having to start looking at kindergartens for her for next year and am dreading it.

DD (2) is extremely verbal - like her sister. In fact, She often tells her sister, "Stop talking. It's my turn to talk to mommy." She likes to tell jokes and play 'I Spy.' She also has begun memorizing/reciting books - and claiming she can read them. Unlike her sister she is timid around people outside our family and has some unusual anxiety/fears. She freaks out about dogs - even blocks away that she can't see, toys that make noise, but also random small figures and stuffed toys (eg sister's baby seal stuffed animal). She's also recently decided that playground equipment is scary and will not climb on it despite the fact that she did so independently and with confidence months ago. I'm a bit concerned about her motor development given how she avoids climbing (and walking, running, crawling if there is anyone around). We have not had her 2 year well child visit yet so - I'm looking forward to hearing what her ped has to say.
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#5 of 10 Old 11-08-2013, 10:41 AM
 
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Well, we're moving schools mid year, so not so well. My DS's teacher took his words "I'm bored" for code that he lacks basic comprehension skills. She decelerated him in math and has been assigning extra book reports. Apparently, the 99th percentile on the standardized testing wasn't convincing that gee, perhaps, he's bored.
We're going with a school that provides Singapore math, differentiated instruction, and better supports. We're lucky to have choices.
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#6 of 10 Old 11-11-2013, 05:35 PM
 
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Dd9 is very happy with school. She loves her new teacher and especially loves the reading and social studies programs, which are combined, and her Mandarin class. She has been accelerated in math and the fit seems good - she could probably benefit from more challenge, but this is a good place for her emotionally. The one issue left to tackle is science. For some reason science is suddenly boring and her teacher doesn't let the kids do experiments themselves, according to her, because a few boys are too immature to be safe. So there's a conference coming to figure out what's going on there. We had a couple bumps in the road at the beginning of the year regarding homework and time management and boy/girl gym issues, but all that is working well now. She'd like more challenging spelling words and more hands-on science, but those are her only complaints. Friendships are going well. She's on a leadership team. Overall very good. She and her best friend are planning to do an act for the talent show.

 

Dd6 is much happier this year. She's in a 1st/2nd combo. as a 1st-grader, but doing 2nd-grade work. I have a conference coming up to see what her teacher thinks about skipping her next year. She is getting along really well with a few 2nd-graders and seems generally happy. She loves her Spanish class, her art class and her music class, and she adores her homeroom teacher, who has been great about letting her do the 2nd-grade work. We had been concerned about the social issues involved in grade-skipping for her, but since she seems to be accepted into a circle of 2nd-grade friends right now, we are no longer concerned about that. It may not be the best choice, but at least we're no longer super concerned about the social aspect. She just enjoyed a role in a mini play.

 

Lots of good stuff, really.

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#7 of 10 Old 11-11-2013, 07:33 PM
 
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My son is in third grade. This is the first year they have Spanish and swimming, and the first year of one teacher for math and reading and a different teacher for science and social studies, but the same students are together all day. It all seems to be going pretty well. The kids are divided into classes that have 2 or 3 different ability groups in them, of the 5 groups within their grade, so they aren't just with their own level but the teacher isn't having to teach all the levels at once. My son is in the gifted program; he goes to the gifted room 2 periods per 6 days (school is on a 6-day schedule, rather than certain things on Monday, etc.; it's weird, but it works okay) and the gifted teacher comes to his class 2 periods and works with the gifted kids while the regular teacher and student teacher work with the others. For each reading and math unit, if he scores well on the pre-test he gets to do a more challenging version. In the gifted room he is in a mini-course about architecture and engineering; his group built a geodesic dome out of nothing but newspapers that was really awesome!

His grades are near perfect on the stuff with clear answers, like math and multiple choice and spelling tests. At the parent-teacher conference we learned that he is being stubbornly "creative" with the instructions for essay questions, though. Like it says, "Use examples from the story" but he just makes stuff up, none of it implausible but ideas that were not in the story and formed into rhyming slogans and such. When they are doing a second draft, and his first draft has notes from the teacher spelling out what he needs to do, it's clear he does his best to avoid doing it. Frustrating! I have tried to tell him that learning to write to specifications is a fascinating challenge, but he just rolls his eyes.

I don't understand why he is so good at spelling tests yet spells words--often the same words!--so strangely and inconsistently in all his other written work. His dad and I both caught on to spelling very early and easily and felt pride in getting it right.

He is interested in learning cursive. They have a giant packet of cursive practice sheets to do gradually and turn in next month, and he actually has been working on it bit by bit without being nagged, which is refreshing since the rest of his homework seems to require regular reminders.

He did a big project on insects and another on owls (entitled "Owls Rock!") with presentations in front of the class, and both went well. Also got a perfect score on a book report. It is hard for me to believe he read an entire Boxcar Children book and (judging by the report) understood and enjoyed it, because we rarely get him to read anything at all at home. I don't get it--at his age I loved reading and did it for hours every day!

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#8 of 10 Old 11-12-2013, 10:03 AM
 
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Dd2 (4th grade) has a great teacher, Mr Little. Dd1 also had him when she was in 5th grade. He's doing a 4th/5th split again this year. His strengths are hands-on science and math. I'm really glad she has him for math because she says she doesn't really like math, but I think she has the potential to enjoy it. Dd1 really does not like math (unfortunately she went to a different teacher in 5th for math) and I really think it is just not her thing at all (not a puzzley/gamey kid). Her brain just doesn't seem to work that way naturally, but dd2 is more interested in puzzles and games (not necessarily her favorite things, but she has some interest unlike dd1 who has almost zero interest in anything like that). I think dd2 has the potential to learn to like math, especially if she has Mr Little for math, and her sister's attitude doesn't rub off on her. In her school the grades are on a 1-4 pt scale (1 being insufficient mastery, 2 inconsistent, 3 consistent mastery, 4 superior) and she finally got a teacher who will give out 4s, which she got pretty much across the board. (For whatever reason last year her teacher did not give out 4s.) She's doing the advanced math work (with some grumbling) and working with the gifted specialists in English.

 

At home dd2 is continuing to work on her writing. She's written several short stories and almost novellas (40-50 pages). She types them up on the computer and we're working on getting one self-published since we learned our local library will carry self-published books for others to check out. I found that Blurb.com has some affordable options so I hope the quality is good. 

 

Dd1's interests are art and science (not math). She is literally almost never without her sketchbook, sleeping with it under her pillow. She's really quite good and way better than I was at her age. She's got a great eye and has developed a pretty solid manga style. She loves her science teacher who is also very hands-on and she has a lot of opportunities to combine art and science in his class. She's just finishing up a project on creating her own one-celled organism and she greatly enjoyed drawing it out (it's a type of euglena) and labeling all the different organelles and describing all the behaviors she created for it. She earned an A+ in science (the only one he gave out). She and her science teacher really seem to be on the same wavelength and just "get" each other. Unfortunately a lot of the other kids don't like him so there is some tension in the class. I think he's great. Not so much her math teacher, but that's another story. She did make the Honor Role this year although she didn't put much stock in it. She's a great kid, but very quirky and sees things through a pretty different lens than most of her peers even at the quirky charter school. 


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#9 of 10 Old 11-19-2013, 12:27 PM
 
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DS6 just made it into the top 100 chess players in the US for ages 7 and under. That puts him #18 in the state of Texas. He is currently #82, but this ranking is based on his USCF rating from last month. His rating has since gone up significantly, so he will probably remain on the list and go up in ranking next month. Schooling (homeschool) is going fine; he is wrapping up fourth grade math this semester, enjoying his new third grade English/composition curriculum, learning typing, etc. Kinda being lax about schooling lately as I am a few weeks away from birthing our 4th child. He is spending a lot of time playing with his siblings which I love. He needs that creative outlet as he is not that creative in other ways. 

 

DD3 will be turning four this week. She is loving ballet classes and although the youngest in there, is very concentrated and has great form. She taught herself to swim about 5-6 feet underwater breaststroke this October which was so exciting. She is doing well in learning reading and in handwriting with homeschool, reading CVC words and has learned to write over half of the capital letters. Math is on hold for now as she isn't into it yet. She has been begging to learn chess so she has lessons with my DH a few times a week and will be surprised with her own hot pink/silver set on her birthday. 

 

DS23 months will be turning two at the end of November. He racks us up daily with his sentences and antics. He is a real comedian. He loves to sing dance, and is about as obsessed with letters as his older brother was at that age. He has known all the phonetic sounds since he was 20 months and will point them out in public on signs. He loves counting things too... though not always in the correct order. He knows a lot of his colors and shapes, too. He is potty trained as of 22 months which is just amazing to us. He is a huge joy to have around. 


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#10 of 10 Old 11-27-2013, 11:41 AM
 
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DS(14) switched cello teachers and is practicing more and better. His technique and intonation are both improving, and he is learning a lot of new repertoire. He performed the entire 4 cello suite after 3 weeks of working on it. School-wise, things are going well for him too--he is taking a third year course in Spanish on culture and history of Latin America, and a philosophy and film course at the state university, in addition to the typical high school courses through his distance high school.

 

DD(almost 12) is a bit bored in middle school. She enjoys the math olympiad enrichment program and playing in the band. We are trying to encourage her to do more studying outside of school but she is more interested in shopping....:(

 

DS(8) has had another disastrous year in public school. We are definitely planning to pull him out.... he hates going to school, hates feeling inadequate because writing is so difficult for him, and hates that this one boy has been bullying him since first grade and the school has not been able to address it properly... It has been a very rough patch! The school is not even following his 504, giving him weekly timed math tests that he "fails" due to being unable to complete them in 1.5 minutes. We will pursue more testing early next year (we are very certain he is dyslexic--it runs in the family)--the previous neuropsych evaluation focused on his giftedness and anxiety, ignoring the fact that the anxiety is secondary to learning difficulties. On a positive note, he is completing the last song in Suzuki 1 on the double bass, and had finally figured out how to read music!:) He also tested and got his orange belt in Aikido and moved up a level in swimming. And most importantly, he is almost done with 20 weeks of vision therapy that have helped him read faster and have improved his overall executive function!

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