I’m Celebrating!

I’m going to break one of my personal rules, and write about one of my kids. My eleven year old is not on social media. And none of his friends are on social media. And I’m saying nice things for the most part. And if he discovers this somehow in a couple years, I don’t think it’s too embarrassing, and I’m not betraying any confidences…Ok, now that I’ve justified this to myself, I will continue…

So, this particular child has always struggled with education. I homeschooled him for three years. Two of those years was just doing kindergarten. Twice. Because he hated it and wouldn’t do it. And no matter how I tried, I could not convince him that school was something worth putting any effort into. 

This child was actually a big part of why I put my kids in public school. We did three years of school and he still couldn’t read. I didn’t have the energy to solve this problem. Enter Public School, stage right. 

When I enrolled him I explained that he was significantly behind his peers. They said, don’t worry, we will help him. And they did. They put him in an intervention program. We had a couple meetings with administrators who all assured me they had the problem under control. 

By the end of our first year of public school, he was reading! Yay! All of his teachers loved him. He always worked hard, was kind to others, participated. ( Apparently working hard for teachers and working hard for mom are two very different things.)

I would get reports every couple months telling me about his progress. Lots of charts with little dots. Your child is here: dot. The rest of the class is here: dot. This is how far we are hoping to move his dot in the next couple months: dot. 

I attended all the parent teacher conferences and all his teachers assured me that he was working hard, giving his best, and they were all pleased with his progress. And so, we did three years of intensive intervention.

Last night I was going through his school folder and found a stapled pack of papers addressed to me. The front page was a letter addressed to all parents of 5th grade students. In the letter the teachers explained that, as a result of school getting out in March, our students were struggling with a bigger than normal gap. They were also having a harder time adjusting back to a school routine. No one’s fault. We just have to face these challenges head on. Etc etc. 

I went to flip to the next page, and I was fully expecting it to be an Intervention report where they would tell me that my child qualified for the intervention program, and these were his test results, and these were the steps they were going to take to help him. This was what I was expecting to see. 

Instead it was just two pages of test results from their beginning-of-the-year testing.  

The first page had a chart and then explanations of the chart. I glanced at the chart, was confused, so I read all the fine print. My child scored in the 80th percentile for reading for his grade. He was labeled “above average” for his reading skills. I flipped the page. Math. He was in the 76th percentile. Also above average. What? 

Somehow this child managed to bridge the gap and then leap forward. 

I have been giddy with pride and happiness for him. 

So, forgive me about gushing about my kid. But, I think it’s good to celebrate when someone has overcome such a big challenge! 

Corona-schooling

You all might be wondering how school is going in my household of 10 students in this time of pandemic and school closures. Well, it’s interesting.

 

We’ve got all kinds of personalities going on here. The highschooler symbolically slammed her books shut and declared the year over. Even though the school has made review work available for her. I can see her point of view. They aren’t offering any new material and, in typical teenager short-sightedness, she can see no reason to review for classes that she’s just going to be handed a grade for and to which she won’t be returning. 

 

The 8th grader, the one who marches to the beat of a different drum, is attacking Khan Academy, trying to teach herself the rest of her Algebra 1 class so that she’ll be prepared for the next math class she takes in High School. She’s also looking up the state standards that weren’t covered because of school closure and researching them, trying to teach them to herself. (I told my husband this, and he expressed my thoughts, “Who does that??”) 

 

The 6th, 5th, 4th, (2) 3rdgraders, 1st grader, kindergartner, and preschooler are all under my jurisdiction. I set up a chart. Every day they have to watch two of the school videos that are available on our School District’s website, read a book for 30 mins, read one chapter of the Bible (We’re all reading Mark), and practice 1 of their times tables. If they do all of that, they can play MINECRAFT for 30 mins. Since we have never had any kind of video/online/computer games available, this has been a big motivator. I’ve got kids crashing into my room at 7:30am, when I am only slightly awake and demanding that I help them get started on school. Minecraft is apparently a powerful tool. (In the afternoons, if they clean their zone, their bedrooms, and deep clean one item on my list, they get another 30 mins. My house is looking a lot cleaner!)

 

Despite how organized this all sounds, it gets pretty chaotic. 

 

So, today I was sitting on the end of my bed (my bedroom has somehow become the school room, not sure why) helping my preschooler do his reading lesson. (I’ve got the preschooler and kindergartner doing my old homeschool curriculum for kindergarten since they need one-on-one help.) He had a short little paragraph to read and I was pointing, one word a time as he made his way through the story, stopping to ask questions after each sentence. He was reading pretty slowly, so when the nine year old popped in front of me and told me she was ready to go over her times table with me, I nodded in agreement. Sure I can listen to two kids at the same time. 

 

So, here I am, pointing at the book, Here David, what’s this word…D..O…G.. Dog, that’s right, keep going..Ok, Nomi, 7×9…No, not 62, you’re really close….yes 63. So, David, what is the dog doing? Uh huh. 7×2. Yep. 14, 7×8? Here David, you’re reading right here. Not, BBB, it’s DDDD. Ok. That’s right, DOT good job! No, 7×8 is not 63, that’s what 7×9 is. No, not 49. No. Not 52. Right here David, stop getting distracted, what’s this word? No, Nomi, it’s not 54. If 7×9 is 63 what can you do to figure out 7×8!!! That’s right, start counting backwards. Yes.56. Ok David, so The Dog did not eat a fish…What do you think he’s going to eat? Let’s keep reading and find out! YES! 56!! That is correct! 7×3? Yep, you got it, 7×7? No, not 62. THINK!! 

(Just then, the other nine year old approaches and says he’s ready for me to listen to him read, a practice I’ve had to undertake to help keep him honest.) Not now sweetie, I can’t listen to you right now. You’ll have to wait. 7×7. 49 You got it. Here David, L…O…G… Log. Yes! The dog did not eat a log! Good job. No, I’ve already told you I can’t listen to you read, dear nine year old, go do something else!! 

 

ACCK!! (At this point the 3 year old did a somersault on the bed and hit me square in the back.) I turn around. Both the three and six year olds have burrowed under my covers and are proceeding to hit both me and David in the back (remember, we’re sitting on the end of the bed) and are stripping my bed of all it’s covers. STOP STOP STOP!! OFF MY BED!!! GO PLAY SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!!

 

7×4. Yes. 28, 7×6.. David, keep reading! What did the dog eat?? No, 7×6 is not 49, that’s 7×7. Will the dog eat a pot of tar? What do you think? Yeah, I think so too. Let’s keep reading and see what he eats…7×5. No. I didn’t already ask you this. And even if I did, just answer it and keep moving.  Oh look David, the sentence says, “the dog will eat his car..” huh. Well, that’s pretty silly. I uncover the picture that is supposed to stay hidden till the end of the story. Sure enough, there is a dog eating a car. Weird. David starts laughing hysterically. Apparently this reading book understood it’s target audience. 7×6..Oh, yeah, you’re right. I already did that. Ok quick, lets go over the ones you didn’t know. David, you’re done reading. Other nine year old, I’m ready to hear you read! 

 

And that is a glimpse into what corona-schooling a whole bunch of kids at the same time kind of looks like. At least over at my house.

Everyone Needs a Manifesto

Today I have been focusing on piano. Piano teaching to be exact. In the fall I will be teaching piano lessons at our church’s homeschooling co-op which meets once a week. I will have four students this year. I had two students last year. I am slowly sticking my toe into the waters of Piano Teaching. My end goal is to teach lessons from my home when all my kids are in school, hopefully focusing on the home school crowd who have the flexibility to take lessons during the day instead of during after-school hours. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime I am slowly feeling my way forward in the realm of teaching. I have been looking at all kinds of different piano teaching curriculum. Reading reviews. Watching tutorials. I am also brushing off my own piano books, starting to set some goals for myself in learning new pieces and brushing up on my music theory. 

As I’ve been doing all of this, it occurred to me that I should write a Piano Teacher’s Manifesto. Kind of a written statement of what my goals are for teaching piano. I’ve been jotting down different ideas today, trying to figure out what is important to me and what isn’t important to me. I think I can boil down my ideas into two key points. 1. I want to share the joy of music: expose kids to all kinds of music and hopefully pass on the wonder and delight I feel when I listen to music. 2. I want to make music accessible to them: give them the skills they need so that they can participate in music and also let them realize they can enjoy and participate in music no matter what skill level they are at. 

Once I have a manifesto then I have a measuring stick. When I consider different curriculum I can ask the question, Will this curriculum enable me to fulfill the goals of my manifesto? When I plan out my lessons and recitals I can always be making sure my methods line up with my goals. A manifesto is a very useful tool. 

It occurs to me that I should have manifestos for other areas in my life. Like parenting. What are my goals for parenting? Teach my children to know and love the God of the Bible.  Teach my children how to love and respect the people around them. Teach my children how to become responsible citizens. All the parenting methods I use, all the decisions I make should be lining up with those goals. 

How about a manifesto for my online presence? Something to regulate how I act on Facebook and my blog and anywhere else I might show up. How about: Be respectful and kind at all times, reflect character that is pleasing to God. If I was tech-savvy, I could somehow make a little window pop up every time I’m about to hit POST or COMMENT…Is this content Respectful and Kind and Pleasing to God? I would have to hit the YES button on the window before I could go ahead and hit enter. 

Ok, I’m on a roll now…How about a manifesto for my marriage? Let’s see. All my words and actions should have the purpose of encouraging and building up my spouse and promoting unity between us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little voice reminding you of that manifesto every time you opened your mouth to speak..”Is this going to encourage him? Is this going to promote unity?” 

Anyway, I’m having fun with the whole idea of writing down my goals so that I have some direction when I need to make decisions. Maybe I’ll expand this to a House Cleaning Manifesto, Money Spending Manifesto, and Book Reading Manifesto!