Thursday, September 29, 2011

Time 4 Learning?

After several recommendations, i'm working on giving this curriculum a shot!

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

What's extra cool is that i will have 4 children trying it, in different schooling situations, so the review might be a book :) I'll work on my brevity skills :)


Sunday, September 25, 2011

I guess we aren't very good public schoolers!

Wow, this last month has been one trial after another. The whole thing has left me confused and wondering if I am even capable of hearing God correctly... When dh and I both felt strongly that putting the kiddos in school was what we were supposed to do, we did. I trusted that it would work out, that they would be protected and that we'd adapt. And for the most part that has happened.

What is curious though, is that I discovered that the things I feared about public school didn't actually come to pass, and things I DIDN'T even think would be an issue, really started to be a big problem. Here's what's been going on

  • I anticipated having less time with the children- Of course I saw that coming, BUT I didn't anticipate having virtually NO time with them. Since we started school, homework, dinner, dinner clean up and getting ready for bed has been pretty much all that happens in the evenings :(
  • Its been disheartening having other authorities over my children. One night I asked Chloe to switch the laundry, and she glibly replied "I can't. I have to read an hour a night, my teacher said so!" That prompted a long talk about who her primary authority was. But it really got me thinking, public school families give up SO MUCH.
  • Leif is a very young 5yo, and the only kindergarten the local school offers is full day. Lately he's been super super clingy, is having a hard time separating from me during the weekend, and has been complaining that he misses me. In addition, he has a full day of school, and then comes home and has to do homework! Which seems entirely crazy to me, WHY on earth would a full day kindergartener need homework. Its not a LOT but since he's a BOY and is 5, his motor skills aren't great, so his handwriting takes a long time.
  • On nights like Monday (our church's community group night, at least till it turns to friday in a few weeks) and Wednesday, youth group night, we are super busy and homework doesn't get done.
  • Someone else's expectations suddenly become a big deal. My daughter Annabeth is 7, she reads minimally. She knows all the letters and most of the sounds, and reads short vowel words well, but is stuck on diagraphs and beyond. This isn't a problem for me. Well, let me rephrase that. I know she has learning issues, and we are working to uncover the cause, so THAT is a problem but the fact she doesn't read at 7 is not a problem for me. However, in a classroom full of kids that have been taught to read (or memorize sight words so it looks like they are reading) that's unacceptable.
So these are my observations. I'm finding the whole experience disheartening. Bible study isn't happening in the morning, devotions aren't happening in the evening, we have NO family time during the week. And this is NOT ok with me. I am amazed that so many people ARE ok with this plan, but then again, one of the things about large families is that it takes forever to do stuff so eating dinner, for example and cleaning it up, is a huge endeavor.

Further, we feel so much like we are in jail. If something happens in the news we can no longer google the topic, read about it, do an art project etc. We also can't just pack up and go to the zoo. We can't decide to just skip school if its a beautiful day. We can't stay up late to watch a movie or everyone will be like zombies in the morning! I find myself just biding the time, waiting for the weekend.

The next thing that's been going on in our lives is the massive surge of testing going on. When the kiddos had their summer physical, my dr. recommended we take Chloe to the neurology department and have her tested for Aspergers. While we did sort of see it coming: She didn't talk till she was 5, a friend pointed out to me recently that she doesn't make eye contact and walks funny, she has strange muscle problems, she's really sensitive to touch, she doesn't get jokes, etc. It was still a shock when the doctor explained that to qualify as an aspie they had to meet a few of these criteria and a few of some of these, and chloe met most of them. She was a cut and dried case. It freaked me out. I don't know why, but i've been feeling so sad lately for her. She's not any different, but as a girl, it just feels different to me. And with her adding to the Aspie club already existing in our family of Alex and Asher (probably) i am boggled by the prospect of having 3 children on the spectrum.

While all this was going on, we were discovering that Annabeth was having some major problems in school. We had been recommended to go to a developmental optometrist last year and didn't get to it, so that's our next step. NO clue if insurance will cover it, and no clue what we will do if it doesn't! but that's step one. Also we'll be taking her to the neurologist also to rule out auditory processing issues which I think is quite likely, and dyslexia, which i think is less likely but wouldn't hurt to rule it out. We plan to keep her in school if things stay the same because right now she's being one on one tutored by the awesome learning coach at her school, and also is in math intervention (because she's an "at risk" child, dontcha know) so with the one on one tutoring, we are thinking she's in pretty good shape. HOPEFULLY. we also realized we need to get Alex properly diagnosed medically (he was diagnosed through the school district, but for proper accommodations at college, he totally needs a medical documentation, AAK! hoping its not going to be too late for this quarter and hoping he doesn't bomb.

Overall, the whole school thing has left Andrew and I disheartened. We don't WANT to adapt to not being around our children much. We don't feel the need to subject our 5yo to constant academics. We want him to be a kid!! We don't want Nik to never have time to work on his book! (He's working on writing a novel, but never has time!) We are just plain not cut out for this public school business. At least not in this setting. We decided to pull them out one at a time, with the exception of annabeth and possibly Chloe, depending on how it goes. We are starting with Nikolas, and I'm feverishly working on his learning plan and hope to get him enrolled in MP3 which will open up much to us in the way of resources. Next, once we get Nikolas settled will be Leif. Oh will I be so glad to have my sweet sunshine home again... I miss him so much.

The girls, i'm torn about. Annabeth, as long as the tutoring is going well we probalbly should keep in, for at least half the year, possibly all. Ugg. I don't like it though. Chloe we could go either way. Its nice having her there with Annabeth, sort of, they can walk to school together, etc. Plus as an aspie the social benefit should be pretty good for her. So in that, we are still undecided, but i'm very much looking forward to bringing my boys HOME!