August 2012

In a School Daze

by Caroline on August 30, 2012

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Thursday, 9:43 am

We started school August 20. Ever since, I’ve had numerous ideas for blog posts. I write them in my head, but they never make it to the computer, because I have no time. None. Even though this year’s start of our virtual school was much easier because we already knew how it all worked, I still have had barely half an hour to myself. I’m reminded anew how much help my girls need with school. I’m walking around in a school daze because of it.

I’m guessing that a majority of parents whose children attend a virtual school supervise to make sure the lessons are actually being done. If a particular lesson is giving trouble, the parent will help, but otherwise, there’s not much interaction between parent and student. Not so at our house. Not when we have ADHD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and other learning issues going on.

Oh, hold on while I go read about early North American culture groups (read: Native American Indians) with Bubbles. She doesn’t really learn social studies or science material by trying to read it herself. We read it aloud.

11:17 am

OK, I’m back. We got all the way through the Spanish conquistadors. Here’s a picture of our not-so-accurate pictorial re-enactment of Columbus thinking he’d sail to the Indies, and landing in Bermuda instead.

We did this lesson twice. The first time, even though I read it to her, she got a 60% on the quiz. Any grade 60% or lower means you have to do the lesson again. The second time, I helped her take notes. I don’t see how they expect kids to remember all of these little details. The lesson covered a ton of explorers, and even with our notes, it didn’t help. The second time she got a 40%. So we’ll do it again, adding more details to our notes, next time. We spent so long on it, we don’t have time for science today, so we’ll do double science lessons tomorrow. Good grief.

I made her write her notes in cursive. She obviously didn’t like it.

Time for lunch!

12:10 pm

Had lunch early today because the girls were really hungry; they didn’t eat a very good breakfast. They were too busy talking and laughing.

Oh, hold on a minute. I need to get them both working on their Math-U-See for the day.

1:13 pm

Ok, that’s done. Both girls are at least one grade behind in math, so as I mentioned earlier this summer, I’m using Math-U-See curriculum as supplemental math material. I took them both backward quite a bit, because if you don’t have your early math facts mastered, you really can’t move on. So M-bug is reworking addition, and Bubbles is in division.

Now it’s time for M-bug’s science. I read science and social studies to her, too.

2:08 pm

I’m giving us all a little break. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have an “average” child to compare to, but it seems like this science and social studies curriculum is too hard. I asked the teachers about it, and was told that it’s because our state is switching to the CORE standards and there are a million things the kids are supposed to have been exposed to. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ve actually learned anything.

Look at this picture. This is one “page” of a 3rd grade science lesson. M-bug is in 4th grade (and old enough to be in 5th), but those are way too hard for her. As it is, she doesn’t do the tests, but emails her teacher a couple of facts she learns in each lesson. I still think this is above a 3rd grade reading level.

2:23 pm

Ok. Break time is over. Now M-bug and I are learning about the Alaska Inuits. The main ideas she’s taking from the lesson are that they live where it’s cold, and that they sometimes eat seal and whale meat. Raw. Ew.

2:46 pm

Bubbles wants me to do her language arts with her. As with social studies, she’s already done the lessons and quiz for this chapter and bombed them, so this is round 2.

4:11 pm

Holy cow, I can see why. It’s (in my own opinion) way too much info for one lesson. Well, it’s split into two parts, but the two parts cover:

Pronoun Collage

  • Pronouns
  • Antecedents
  • Subjective Pronouns
  • Objective Pronouns
  • Understood ‘You’
  • Predicate Nominatives

When we talk it all through, she understands it much better. I’m finally understanding that I essentially have to be my kids’ own educational aide. But … it’s literally a full time job. I don’t clean my house, I don’t do laundry, I don’t run errands, I don’t balance my checkbook, I don’t work on my blog. I help my kids with school. And it takes waaaaaay longer than it would if we were doing “traditional” homeschool. It takes way longer than even their school suggests. But I want them to learn, darn it. Not just whip through something to be able to say, “yes, they were introduced to this material.” I want them to learn it, and understand it, and be able to use it.

Yes, having no time for anything is frustrating. And the only way my house is staying clean is because I’m like a five-star general before school starts, directing my two little troops in warfare against the clutter that keeps advancing against the home front. But for now, it’s good enough. In ten years I’m not going to be lamenting time not spent doing laundry, but I would lament not helping my kids work through their learning difficulties to succeed to the best of their ability.

I have no idea how I’m going to cope once M-bug starts her educational therapy next week. Right now, I’m going through the beginning of the school year in a daze. Hopefully I’ll wake up before we get to Thanksgiving.  Confused smile



Time for Summer Decluttering

by Caroline August 3, 2012
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Every summer Bubbles and M-bug spend several weeks at Decoder Man’s parents’ home in Seattle. It’s great for several reasons. First, they get to see their grandparents and lots of other extended family that we don’t see the rest of the year. Second, they get to go to the beach (which I’ve only done once […]

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