until we officially started homeschooling today. :(
They're in 5th and 7th grades. We're using the Oak Meadow curriculums for each grade.
They are bright, intelligent, good-natured, compassionate kids. I'm just shocked at how little they are used to doing and how low their expectations were.
They've always gone to small rural schools that focused on bringing all of the kids to the standards, but now I'm seeing that means bringing all kids to the minimum, not above.
They seem to have learned factual info but not critical thought and analysis and definitely not how to communicate critical thought. So they are fine in the math, but not in the english/social studies/science, as it's approached in Oak Meadow. They can identify facts and answer questions, but not put together the info into a short essay. (I'm not even talking about a polished essay. I just don't see the thought coming together.)
The Oak Meadow materials are asking for one or two page essays in the 5th grade curriculum. My daughter is having trouble coming up with a half page and doesn't understand how to organize the paragraphs. She tends to pick 5 facts and write them that way instead of coming up with a few facts on each subtopic (who, what, where, when) and then organizing them into paragraphs.
I know they'll adjust, but I'm frustrated seeing how much they have not learned in school, which they will have to learn now. I feel like the public schools' basic standards approach has failed the kids. What good is knowledge without analysis and communication? I wish I would have had them in a private Waldorf school or had homeschooled from the start.
It's as if their goal is to do the minimum to get the good grade. The minimum standard was never very high in their schools and it's showing to me now.
It always takes a little time to get used to a new curriculum and expectations. My guess is that before you know it, they'll rise to the occasion, since you are holding them to a higher standard.
I'm a recently liberated public school teacher who quit because of what you are noticing with your kids, among other things. Good for your for taking charge of their education.
To be a good writer, you have to write (obviously - ), but one suggestion I have is to set up some non-curriculum writing spaces. Journals, blogs, contributing to a wiki, letter writing to companies to get free stuff....whatever their interest is, see if you can get them to write outside of the Oak Meadow stuff on a regular basis, daily if possible. Maybe you sit down together and you engage in some kind of writing as well. Daily free writing practice, especially if they are readers, is a great way to improve "paragraph building" without resorting to formulaic methods.
And if none of that works, we found the Student Writing Intensive to be great. Video teaching, basic assignments. . . and it really seemed to help with the writing process.
Thanks for the advice. I think a daily journal would be great and would benefit me as well. I'll wait a week or two before I throw that into the mix.
I'll also take a look at the Student Writing Intensive, especially if I feel like we really need something to jump start the kids.
Much of the reluctance with writing is staring at the paper. If you can get them talking, and show them that writing (even an essay) is just like talking about it, that can help.
Sometimes I wonder is some of us who have an easier time writing don't use out brains differently for this task than those who struggle. For me, it is very much like simple dictation. I speak the words in my head--I can almost hear them! And I just follow along and jot down what they say. OK, now I'm analyzing it this is a really strange experience......
So, inexperience, and possibly a different way of approaching pen and paper that tends to freeze up the brain.
Good luck with this and all the rest.
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."