Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Starts - Here's to the 2012-13 School Year

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I took the summer off – well, sort of. We did school work all summer long, but at a more relaxed pace.

But it’s the beginning of a new year, and I’m starting it with enthusiasm, good intentions and a hope that we will get more done this year than last. 
August is like Mondays. I love Mondays! Each Monday it’s like you are given a clean slate for accomplishing things. It doesn’t matter how much or little was done last week, it’s Monday and it all starts at 0 again.

A new school year is like that. New resolutions. New ideas. New homeschool friends. And new books.

Update on the kids:

Jojo is still doing traditional homeschooling, or at least traditional “relaxed” homeschooling, which isn’t traditional, I guess. Are you confused? She isn’t under any outside obligations or authority at least.

She decides some things. Other things, like what books she reads, she has some say-so, but the book has to meet with my approval. I tried the let her pick her own books, but she refused to read anything but fluff, and not even good fluff.  Right now she’s reading the Sherlock Holmes compendium.

A few weeks ago, she and I both came to the conclusion that she needs some outside help. I’ve looked into the local community college, and she can actually take courses despite being only 16. Math seemed like a good start for her. I’m really good at math, but the explanations I come up with just don’t seem to sink in with her. Having someone other than Mom teach her is a good thing.

Speaking of which, it’s the second year that our homeschool group’s co-op is up and running. I’m excited about it. For years and years I tried (half-heartedly, I admit) to get a weekly cooperative learning group together. It’s a bunch of families where different parents teach different things to kids that aren’t theirs. I think it’s really important for kids to have someone else teaching them every now and then.
Last year, I taught drama the first semester and hands-on history the second. I’m switching gears here by hoping to teach yoga this semester. Then I won’t have any excuse not to do yoga at least once a week.

Now for Meme. I can’t remember if I said anything, but our plan from the get-go last year was to have her stay in eighth grade for 2 years. She was a bit behind on a few subjects, and pushing her to do more work than she is capable of would be more than frustrating. It could damage her desire to learn.

She worked all summer, mostly on Study Island. Study Island is a 3rd party service that K12 uses to help kids fill in the gaps for different subject areas by teaching them mini-lessons and having them practice with games. I love it. It allows the student to sort through different grade levels to find the bits and pieces that may be missing from their learning and practice them.

I’m more comfortable with her math skills than I’ve ever been. She doesn’t like math, but, other than myself, I don’t know many people who do. For a long while, she stubbornly refused to learn even basic math concepts, like the multiplication tables. It was not for lack of assignments. At one point (during a fit of frustration on my part), she was doing 10 pages, front and back, of math facts. She still did not retain them.

Our goal this year is to finish the eighth grade, obviously, and be prepared for high school. I’m hoping the high school K12 issues will be worked out. It’s a good program, but it can go very wrong if they let it.

Meme took the leap test at the end of this year, and we will practice that sucker all year long. Last year, in language arts and history, she did awesome. Not so well in math and science.  At least the test pointed out specific areas that she’s weak in so that we can build up those skills.

Bobo is doing fine. Like with Meme, we went in to the second grade with the intent of taking two years to finish it – at least two years at the longest.  He wasn’t behind per se. His birthday falls in September, which would in general make him the youngest kid of his class. So instead of being immature for his grade level, we started kindergarten work when he was 5 about to turn 6 rather than 4 about to turn 5.So he never did first grade.

Again with all the state rigmarole, he was placed in second grade instead of first. If it had been this year, it would have been fixed. But being K12’s first year in Louisiana, it wasn’t allowed. Last year, we took our time, going in to each lesson with the idea that we wouldn’t come out until it was learned. In language arts, that hasn’t been hard. He still isn’t reading fluently, but most boys that I know from my years of homeschooling didn’t read fluently until they were eight. 

He is, however, reading well enough that he can read what I’m googling for. Internet shopping for his birthday gifts can now only take place at night. When you think you’re going to surprise them . . .
Here’s to a new school year!! May it be full of diligence, industriousness, good learning and good friends!