Adjusting…

Life sure is different with my son in school, instead of homeschooling.

I have changed my work schedule, so that I can be home when he is dropped off by the bus. I had to give up my unpaid lunch in order to make it happen. I tried my new schedule Thursday and Friday. I didn’t really miss the break at all. I just had a larger snack on my first break, to satisfy me longer. I then took my second break about an hour after I would have normally taken my lunch. The 20 minute break is plenty of time to eat my lunch and call hubby to check in on him and the little ones. Both days I made it home before the bus, but if there wasn’t construction traffic slowing down the bus I may not have. I need to make sure I am ready to leave at 2, instead of 2:05.

Some people might think negatively of me for thinking it is so important for me to be home before the bus. I just want to hear how my son’s day went right away, as my husband hears about it too. I don’t want my son to have to tell the same stories twice. I realize that at some point he won’t be so eager to share how his day went, but I will always have questions for him. “Normal” ones, like do you have homework, and others that relate to his adjusting to the school environment and socialization.

So far, my husband and I aren’t impressed with the amount of work he is getting done. For example: he hasn’t done any real math in his math class after 6 days of school. They have been working on an ISN, or interactive student notebook. All this has shown hubby and I, is that the teacher has control issues. She has the students tape handouts into the notebook, and doesn’t want to see any “guts” or parts of the papers sticking out. She had them decorate the covers, and is covering them with packing tape. Being organized is great, but forcing everyone to take notes exactly the same way, and on the same page/side of a page in a notebook seems like a bit much to me. My son is also in a class that doesn’t really have a title. It seems like a study hall to me, but the teacher asks random questions in it, or shows slides with a projector. It just doesn’t appear to be an actual class. A lot of what he explains about his day seems to be a huge waste of time….which is one of the reasons we homeschooled for 6 years. If he hadn’t had such a rough time this summer, I wouldn’t have put him in public school.

I haven’t asked him about his thoughts at school, and he hasn’t shared any negative ones. I plan on gently asking today or tomorrow. I don’t want to cause thoughts to arise by my questioning, but I also want him to know he can share them with me so he doesn’t feel like he has to hide them or struggle through them alone. Part of his uncomfortableness sharing them is thinking about what others think of him for having “bad” thoughts. So far, he has been told his thoughts are completely normal ones.

We are all getting used to new sleep schedules. This Monday will be my first day being alone to make sure he is up and on the bus on time. My husband basically slept through my actual first day getting my son out for school last Tuesday. I will be here 3 days this week, and I am guessing I will be the one to get up when the alarm sounds. I have an extra day off this week for my Baby’s First Birthday! It will be sad having my twelve year old at school, rather than home to celebrate with us. We don’t really celebrate birthdays, but we could have taken a day trip somewhere. We’ll have some sort of cake, and that will be after my son is home from school. It’ll just be strange not doing our normal type of celebration. The freedom of homeschooling is very much missed. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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7th grade registration is done.

Yesterday we met with the guidance counsellor of my son’s school, and took a tour. She was pleasant, and my son didn’t seem stressed out. He was happy to see the computer lab.

I don’t feel good about sending him at all. I realize the school was being cleaned, but besides the clutter and smells it felt like a dungeon. The school seems pretty run down, and outdated. ๐Ÿ˜ž

My son will have access to decent technology, but overall I am not impressed. Hopefully his teachers will impress me more than the environment. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Shortly after meeting we found out they had set my son up as if he were starting 6th grade. That was changed by crossing his name off of one list, and adding it to another. I didn’t mention the misspelling of his name when she re-wrote it though. ๐Ÿ˜› She asked us about how he was doing in math, because they did have pre-algebra as an option for 7th grade. We chose to put him in it. After a month, if he and the teacher feel he’d be better off in the standard 7th grade class he can move down. I am pretty confident that he’ll do fine.

He’ll be starting in 3 weeks. It will be so strange not homeschooling him. Last year he pretty much did everything on his own, since it was computer based learning, but he was here. We had so much freedom, and now we will have to conform to the school schedule. ๐Ÿ˜›

I am feeling anxious about having all of his schol supplies ready, worrying that he might get lost trying to find his classes, worrying he might get picked on or ignored. I can’t let him see my anxiety, or it will only cause him to worry. Part of me wants the next 3 weeks to drag, so we can just have our normal lives and part of me wants to speed time up so he can start…and hopefully adjust well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Ready For School

We have been out school clothes/shoe shopping over the past couple of days. It’s so strange to be doing this for the first time in 6-7 years. We had planned on unschooling this year, but my son’s medical condition changed our plans.

Hypothyroidism doesn’t always lead to the mental conditions my son developed, but since it’s what we’re dealing with we have had to make some big changes. My son really craves socialization, and with two brothers so much younger than him it can be tricky to find opportunities that work for our family’s needs. School will give him an opportunity to be around kids his own age, and give him a break from the babies.

My husband and I feel that he has a good grasp of our family values and beliefs. We hope he won’t just go along with the crowd when he is surrounded by beliefs that go against ours. He has been given the opportunity to know about other beliefs and make his own decisions about what he personally feels. We’ll see what actual exposure to other’s beliefs/teachings will do.

We meet with his guidance counselor on August 8th, and we’ll go on a tour of the school then. I am thankful that my son has an appointment with his mental health counselor later that day. I don’t want to anticipate there being concerns, but in case there are he can tackle them right away. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had planned on his last session actually being his last, but the morning of his appointment he had some troubling thoughts. In that session we also realized that he’s counting “normal” thoughts of frustration as “bad thoughts”, so his idea of having a bad day may not be as bad as we think. For example, if he has a “what the #@$%” thought, he counts that as a bad thought. I explained that it is unfortunate that swear words have become part of everyday language for many people, but having that frustrated thought is totally normal. We want to avoid saying and thinking the swear words, and try to work through frustrations in a better way but that’s all. We can’t eliminate thoughts of frustration over things such as people doing things in a way that cause us inconvenience, or other irritations but we can work on having them affect our moods and behaviors less.

I do worry that he will have issues in the classroom. I worry he will interrupt his teacher or classmates, get annoyed if they teach things he already knows, and get frustrated if he has questions that can’t be answered when he wants them to be. I know there are many more possible situations that could arise and lead to stress on my son, but I have to think positively and not bring up potential problems in front of my son. He will stress himself out over those possibilities and not even think about the potential good experiences. Right now he is looking forward to going to school. Hopefully the good will outweigh the bad. None of us are looking forward to new sleep habits, but I know we’ll get used to it. We’ll see how bad homework is….he’s never had to do school plus more.

The End of 6th Grade

April 23rd, and the school year is done! Well, sort of. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My son used Switched-On Schoolhouse this year, and he has completed his work. My husband and I still need to go in and grade a few things, and adjust some grades where the program didn’t grade correctly. That was my son’s biggest problem with the program. He knew he gave the correct answer, but the program would mark a problem wrong. My husband and I would go over the problem with him to find he was right. After reading some reviews on the program that was a common complaint.

We have been discussing unschooling, and we plan on heading a bit more in that direction. We have some state requirements to meet for homeschooling, so we will still have a bit of a curriculum to follow. We basically want to work on life skills, and what is practical/useful. My son (The only one of 3 who is schoolaged) has been interested in the medical field for career options, so if he continues on that path we will have to make sure he meets the requirements to enroll in college courses for those options. He has been interested in phlebotomy, and radiology over the years. Most recently he has been less interested in college, and more interested in working in fields that only require on the job training. 

I explained to my son, that with unschooling there may be schoolwork over the summer. When the weather is nice we have more opportunities for field trips, and lessons in the garden. Obviously I want him to enjoy his summer, and part of unschooling is for the child the choose what they want to learn about. I hope that he will choose to learn over the summer. ๐Ÿ™‚ I told him that we might look into buying a new tree for our yard, so I might request that he research the soil type, or amount of sun that tree needs to thrive. He thinks that would be easy, so he’s willing to do it as long as there isn’t a report involved. His father and I appreciate nature, and like improving our property.  I see the tree project as a practical/useful lesson, but maybe he’ll be a city dweller with no garden to tend when he leaves home. Will it be a waste of his time to do such a project? I know he has a curiosity about plants, because right now he is trying to grow some acorns that he collected in our yard. In years past he has had his own row or two in our vegetable garden to grow his own plants too.

I don’t want to force my interests on him. I want him to develop his own personality/interests. Right now he is reading the Harry Potter series for enjoyment, so I don’t want to push him to take on more reading.  I plan on having him use our local library to borrow several books on a subject that interests him and see what he gains by doing so. If he likes the subject he will have no problem sharing what he learns verbally, but I wonder if I should require anything in writing to keep a record of his “schoolwork”. I also plan on having him be more involved with meal planning. I want to make sure that he won’t rely on take out, or convenience foods when he moves out on his own. I’ve had him help find a new recipe to try, and he made the meal with only a little guidance from me. I think he enjoyed cooking, and since he’s a picky eater being part of the planning meant he was willing to try it. ๐Ÿ™‚  

He is a very curious child, and likes to learn. He enjoys sharing what he learns too. (Sometimes while I am trying to read, blog or nurse the baby) ;P

I think I’ll give him at least a couple of weeks off before I start requesting “work” from him. He did work hard to earn his time off by doing extra work daily in subjects as others were completed.

Sick Kiddos :(

I have 3 sick kids. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

My 11 year old son had an outing planned with his friend last week. His mother let me know the day before, that her son was getting over a cold. She said he only had a lingering cough, and no longer had a fever. Since this outing had already been post poned multiple times I went against my gut instinct to keep my son home and allowed him to go.  I warned him not to get too close, and to make sure he washed his hands often. So, he was picked up around 10:30 am, and his father and I picked him up at 4:00 that day. How many times did he wash his hands in that time? ZERO! He was at a NERF club too.  Who knows how many of those kids were also sick, or getting over an illness? 

I asked, “Didn’t you wash your hands before you ate lunch?” Of course not, he’s 11 and didn’t think to. (Even though I told him to before he left.) To make matters worse he tells me that his friend’s older sister was sick and miserable laying around on the couch while he was there. His mother didn’t mention that her daughter was in the middle of this illness. She did however tell my son that her daughter didn’t have a fever, therefore was not contagious. He knew better, and assumed she was contagious. It didn’t keep him from being infected though. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ He has since spread the illness to his brothers. His dad seems to have it a bit too. So far I appear to be healthy, but I have sneezed a few times.

I ALWAYS tell her if my kids, or anyone in my family is sick before we have the boys get together. I want her to be able to make an informed decision about what risks she is willing to take. It infuriates me when she does not give me that same opportunity. If her son was not my son’s best friend I would have ended this relationship long ago. I really have trouble expressing my feelings. I don’t know how to get her to respect my need to make informed decisions, and keep my son’s friendship intact. My son said he would have skipped NERF club to keep his 6 month old brother healthy. He feels so bad that he is so congested and miserable. (He also can’t stand his inconsolable crying fits.)

She also questions my son about our homeschooling curriculum. She homeschools also, and apparently doesn’t like how we do it. She doesn’t say it to us though. So, when my son tells us about how he is being grilled by her we don’t hold back on how we don’t do things her way either. Unfortunately our lack of filter (mostly mine) leads to him jumping in, and going on and on about all of the “crazy” rules she has for her family that he doesn’t agree with. I do tell him that it is her right to raise her family how she sees fit, and he needs to respect her rules when he is there.

I really don’t want to confront her, because we differ on many areas of life. I really don’t want to blow up in her face. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have trouble bottling up my emotions. 

My baby is miserable, my 2 year old was coughing so hard he threw up last night and my 11 year old has been sick for days. We do go out into the world and come into contact with germs we aren’t aware of, but I try to avoid known germs whenever possible. I could have avoided all of this by trusting my gut. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ   

Encouraging Early Learning

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My little guy who is two, just loves Mickey Mouse right now. My husband found some Mickey related items while shopping at the dollar store recently, and they just happen to be learning tools too. He found a numbers and counting workbook, a box of shape/color flash cards and a puzzle. When my son was first given the workbook, he was excited to see Mickey, but that was all he was interested in. Then he decided to rip apart the cover of the book, but he kept the inner pages intact. ย He spent some time flipping through the pages, talking about the characters in it, or the different items pictured. Finally tonight he has shown some interest to write in it, scribble really.๐Ÿ˜‰ He has been “counting” ย for a while now, so I was able to show him pictures of the numbers that he likes to say. He really likes saying one and two. Sometimes he will even count backwards like a countdown. It’s so cute. For some reason he likes the number six. He calls it sick though. He’ll often say “one, two, sick “.

It’s great to have so many products availableย to teach young children, that are designed with themes that capture their attention. If I had to capture his attention with my own artistic abilities he would never pay attention. ๐Ÿ˜‰

He loved the flash cards too. It took him about twenty seconds to rip open the package and spread the cards all over our livingroom. He will show me a card, so I can tell him the shape and color. I don’t want to pressure him to learn too much, but I am happy to answer his questions. I want him to enjoy the learning process and I want to teach him from observations I make of his interests.

Big Changes For 2017

If you’ve followed my blog, or even been here before you probably know that I homeschool my 11-year-old son. We have tried different curriculums, and this year we are using a computer based program rather than books. We just aren’t happy with the material. We are seriously considering unschooling. I think it will be a blend of homeschooling and unschooling that we finally settle upon. I can’t completely trust that my son will learn everything he needs without any direction. It is just so hard to sit back and allow my son to be miserable studying things that I know he will never use in this life beyond the testing for this course. When my son gets upset with himself for doing poorly on a test, and then it changes his mood for the rest of the day I want to tell him not to worry since the test he took was quite honestly a waste of his time since he’ll never use the information in life. If that’s how I feel, why am I forcing him to suffer through the course?

I see value in the lessons, but what I see is simply reading comprehension and retention of information. It could be any material used to acquire those skills, so why not use material he is actually interested in learning? When my son does poorly on a test, he says he studied what he felt were the most important parts of the lesson. I appreciate that he can recognize that there are parts of a lesson that don’t have as much impact on the overall outcome of a situation. When we review the questions he missed, they often are what I would consider fluff or filler information.

Because we homeschool, we choose to have himย take a CAT test yearly to comply with state regulations. He tests well above average, and even at college level in some sections. I am confident that he is better prepared than the students who are going to our local public school. Even though we all feel what we are doing is not working, it clearly is at some levels. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My son LOVES to read, and often times will pick up a book when he has free time. He also LOVES his video games, especially Minecraft. I am very impressed with his creativity, but when he tries to explain in detail how he builds machines he loses my interest. I will admit that I do not always encourage him, and even disappoint him with my lack of interest in what he is so passionate to discuss.

We know he is intelligent, but he is lacking common sense. He is not very driven, but that could be partially due to the materials being offered to him. He has a tendency to be lazy, and has a good enough attitude. He has not learned that behavior from my husband and I. We need to be giving him a more practical education, and prepare him more for real life experiences. We don’t want his schooling to be time filler, to keep him busy and out of our hair. We want him to be a well-rounded individual, and happy. I want him to set goals, and achieve them. Right now he seems to be just doing enough to get through his day. When his grades show that, he ย feels awful for disappointing us. Maybe it’s just an act, but we stress honesty in this family and his emotions appear genuine.