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#1 blue daisy

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 10:38 PM

We can't seem to find our flow this school year.  We are getting to the basics - math, reading/language arts, writing and Latin.  We are struggling to fit anything else in.  It's partly due to our hectic schedule (which is not going to change) and I think I just picked overwhelming curriculum.  I'm not so concerned about my elementary kids but I am not getting to history or science with my seventh grader and it's making me panic because high school is just around the corner and I feel this pressure to make sure he is "keeping up."  He is on the mild end of the autism spectrum, and he can be very pokey in general, so school work just takes him much longer than I think it "should."

 

This is his workload:

Math is done at a local program for accelerated middle school kids.  He's taking Geometry (and they're using AOPS).  It's intense and definitely his most time consuming subject every week.  The class meets once a week for 2 hours and he usually goes to a homework help session once a week for 2 hours.

 

BraveWriter co-op with local friends - meets once a week and they cover literature (Pouch of Boomerangs), Faltering Ownership writing, poetry and current events. Definitely don't want to give this up - we like the teacher, the group and the opportunity to discuss the topics with peers.  He likes the literature and poetry.  He gets stressed by the creative writing but I think it's good for him. :)

 

IEW on our own, 1-2 lessons a month.  He really likes this program because it's more structured which is how his brain works. :) 

 

Latin for Children, we fit in as we can. One unit every 1-2 weeks

 

We started some light Spanish last year, and I've had him keep up with Duolingo in case that's the foreign language he wants to pursue in high school.  (I didn't intend to do Latin and a foreign language at the same time, I just feel like I've done everything backwards with him since we only started homeschooling last year.)

 

History Odyssey - We're supposed to cover 3-4 lessons a week to complete in a year.  We average 1 lesson a week.

 

RSO Biology - We haven't even finished the first lesson.  It's not getting done.  On the other hand, I spent a small fortune between the curriculum and a microscope, so....

 

I have all the kids doing a daily binder thing which is supposed to take 15ish minutes.  His binder includes Evan Moor geography and Fix It grammar (1 sentence a day) and I have him copy the sentence in cursive for practice.  He easily spends 30 min on this every day.

 

Extracurriculars - He takes piano and cello and needs to practice these throughout the week.  I'm thinking we need to cut back.  He is a Boy Scout and sometimes has things to do for badges.  He loves Scouts, so that's not going anywhere.

 

Did I mention he's pokey and easily distracted?  He's very bright but it can easily take him 2-3 times as long as I think it should to get through anything.  (He has been on ADHD meds before and I'm not opposed to using them again, but I'm not sure that's the answer here and I want to explore other options.)

 

So that's a lot and if you read this far, thank you.  If you were in our shoes, what would you do?  Should I cut back?  Find a creative way to fit the content subjects in?  (Cover them over the summer while taking a break from other subjects?)  I'm at a loss and feeling stressed. I'd love some advice. Thanks!



#2 Arcadia

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 10:55 PM

For history, I’ll do audiobooks or download podcasts and listen during car rides or watch documentaries as a family. We watch many documentaries because my kids get bored easily with history. Sometimes I make them write a summary in point form of the documentary they watch on for example the industrial revolution.

For biology, my DS11 just did labs from a lab kit (because I am lazy to DIY) and read the Miller Levine book. Both my kids are so far disinterested in biology so I aim for a basic foundation and lots of hands on because DS11 loves hands on. In your case, I would just do the RSO biology as and when I can and let it spillover to summer holidays to finish.

How much time does piano and cello take daily? My DS12 spent 30 mins/day for cello practice when he was supposed to spend longer but 30mins was his limit. My kids DIY for piano as a hobby so there is no fixed practice time. I won’t cut back if your son enjoys both piano and cello. My friend’s daughter practice both violin and piano but the violin went from primary instrument to hobby level when she started piano as a second instrument. So you can always adjust when it comes to music practice and the commitment to each instrument. I’m assuming your son is not in an ensemble or youth orchestra.

#3 MerryAtHope

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 12:31 AM

I think I would do this:

 

Make a list of your daily "absolute must-do" subjects. When I read your list, I see that you have two writing programs, two foreign languages, and two instruments, plus math is probably close to double as well since he's so advanced and since he leaves the house to do parts of it. There's nothing wrong with all of this, but you do have to realize that you are probably making some choices when you decide these are priorities. And one of those choices is that you might not have time to get to everything else you might like to do.

 

With that said...since he's doing two writing programs, does he really *need* to do Fix-it and copywork? Can you drop one or both to make something else more doable, or are those higher priorities to you than science/history?

 

Can you drop geography in favor of history--or again, is that a higher priority? 

 

Again, there's not necessarily a right or wrong--just realize that every choice to do something is probably a choice not to do something else, and decide whether you are okay with that.

 

I would put all subjects that are not your daily must-do's on a "loop" (including the scouting stuff, though due to timing you may have to move it up at times and bump something else to get badge-work in on time). Get your "must-do's" done first, and then start your loop. Let's say there are 6 things on your loop. Maybe on Mondays you can do 3 loop subjects but Tuesdays are busy and you can only do 1--that's okay. You just keep going through the loop. Monday might be subjects 1-3, Tuesdays #4, Wednesdays 5-6 plus 1, Thursdays 2-3...and so on. 

 

Or you can block them out. Days you are home do more subjects. Other days do fewer. 

 

Since your son does tend to be pokey, you may want to decide whether that's something you can work on this year and next in preparation for high school--is it feasible to try to help him tighten up his timeframes? Workboxes really helped my kids with learning to stay on track better, so that's one strategy you could try. 

 

HTH help some as you decide how to work things!

 

 


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#4 Momto5inIN

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 07:12 AM

Merry said pretty much everything I was going to say :)


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#5 Another Lynn

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 07:33 AM

You have two "classes" of writing going, but it sounds like they're both very good for him.  He has a heavy math load which also sounds like a good fit for him.  He is doing two instruments which is fine.  At some point, something has to give.  If science and history need a lighter touch this year as a result, I don't think that's terrible.  You also mention two languages - this is where I would cut one or the other.  jmho.  


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#6 RootAnn

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 03:29 PM

Echoing previous posters. DD#1 has done two languages every year since, um, 4th? 5th? grade. It is time-consuming. Drop to one. The Latin will help his Spanish later or just switch over to Spanish & drop Latin (depending on what is easier for you as The Mom).

 

I wouldn't freak out about Science or History, either. IMO, just do history the rest of the year. Use your RSO Biology next year. You can choose to have him just check out science books at the library, watch science videos, etc. Or, not. Next year, you can choose to have it be a light history year (listen in the car like another poster suggested) or just do History Through Movies or skip history next year.

 

Loop schedules can be complete sanity savers, too. If Merry's explanation wasn't clear and you want to try it, there are past threads with more info that we can link to.

 

I made several compromises this year with what my kids are assigned because there just isn't enough time (and energy) in the day for *me*. Homeschooling as an ideal doesn't always match reality. Homeschooling with a three year old is pretty tough, but it doesn't last forever. (Although, some of us have three year olds every year or every other year for what seems like forever.)

 

One year, I dedicated one (school) day per week to traveling to spend time with my dad. I fit in an art class for my two oldest that they wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. I ended up only having to do that for one year because my dad died right before school started up the next year. It was a tough year in many ways, but I wouldn't change it if I could go back & have a do-over.



#7 Bocky

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 04:13 PM

It sounds like he could use some help with staying on track while working. Two things have helped here in that regard, having a consistent routine and making a daily checklist. Having a consistent routine for us is having a standard flow to school days. DD 13 likes to start her day with CNN 10 over breakfast then do her reading (typically 4 books at a time: history spine, historical fiction or non-fiction, literature, living science). After reading we sit together and make up the checklist for the day, then do math. We also have had seasons where we are out of the house a lot for activities that were valuable to us, as it sounds like your outside activities are. On a busy day, reading and math might be the only subjects completed at home. Since you have out-sourced math (I am deeply envious J) and literature with writing, your top two (or however many) things that you want to do at home every day might be different from ours. Don’t stress about covering everything on busy days though. MerryAtHope’s loop suggestion is a good way to bring in subjects that aren’t covered daily. One other suggestion for helping your ds stay on track: have him use a timer for the binder.

Looking at your line-up, you have language arts and math well covered. He has two foreign languages. Latin and Spanish. If he likes one and is doing it with one or more of your other kids, I would keep it at the pace that is currently working for you, and drop the other. Is either language easier for you to teach? For me that would be Latin, so I would keep Latin, and plan to begin a modern foreign language in 9th grade. Also, it seems like your ds is a musical kid. You mentioned that maybe he should focus on one instrument for now, and that would be a good way to help lighten his load. But if he wants to continue with both instruments, consider dropping both foreign languages this year.

For history you are using History Odyssey. I must say I want to love History Odyssey, but I find it really difficult to get done. I love how they have taken SWB’s vision for integrated history, geography, and literature studies and spelled it all out. But it did not work in my house to have so many different pieces to work on each day. There were reading excerpts from the history spine. There was the literature. There was the timeline. There was map work. There was outlining, summarizing, and essays, quite a lot of writing, I thought. Some assignments were short and some involved a huge amount of reading or writing. Even with their checklist, my 7th grader hated keeping track of so many different things, so I had to do it for her. (I hated doing it too. I found I much preferred to put it all together myself.) Your ds is already doing literature with writing and current events with your Bravewriter coop, and non-fiction writing with IEW. He is already doing geography with your daily binder. All you need for history is a spine to read, and to continue making a timeline if that is something he enjoys. You have The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and Van Loon, The Story of Mankind for HO, so you could go with one of them. (Here my dd prefers more modern narrative spines. We use K12’s Human Odyssey and Hakim’s History of US.) So have ds read a history spine, and once a week, discuss it with him. Boom – history is done.

Okay, science. I love RSO Biology 2, and am using it with my 8th grader this year. She needs me to scaffold it heavily for her. We have to go over the reading together and I am right there for all the labs. The content of the course is nicely challenging for middle school in my opinion. It is very comparable to the class my dd15 took at high school last year. This is a great curriculum but it needs a lot of my time as well as hers. It might be good to find another time slot for science, like evenings, weekends, or summer; or to find an easier curriculum.

Hope this helps.


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#8 Ausmumof3

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 04:37 PM

Can you do one of the iew themed units that covers some history? That way you are getting history with your writing even if you aren't getting to the other.

I also find when my kids are being dawdly it helps to schedule And what they don't get done in the allotted time doesn't get done. They don't like not finishing so they tend to speed up.
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#9 Hunter

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 06:12 PM

No matter how bright they are, some spectrum kids are not going to absorb and produce large amounts of material. Not in preparation for adulthood/college, and not when arriving at that stage of life. Can/do – I had to stop thinking that way and realize he wasn't going to do in volume. Period. It didn't matter whether theoretically he could.

 

Each child is unique and follows their own path. These unique paths really have to be acknowledge for some when they hit middle school.

 

Good luck!  :grouphug:


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#10 Hunter

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 06:14 PM

And also, PHYSICAL work, not school work is the way to teach boys to work. If you set them to hard manual labor, you will almost always see an improvement in their school work.


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#11 blue daisy

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 07:26 PM

Thank you everyone for  your advice.  I really needed to step back and look at this from afar and you really helped me do that.  I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head right now so bear with me as I reread, process and respond.  :)


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#12 blue daisy

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 07:28 PM

No matter how bright they are, some spectrum kids are not going to absorb and produce large amounts of material. Not in preparation for adulthood/college, and not when arriving at that stage of life. Can/do – I had to stop thinking that way and realize he wasn't going to do in volume. Period. It didn't matter whether theoretically he could.

 

Each child is unique and follows their own path. These unique paths really have to be acknowledge for some when they hit middle school.

 

Good luck!  :grouphug:

 

Wow, I think I need to be hit over the head with that a few times.  :)  I've struggled to "let go" of my expectations for what I think he should be able to do, but that is unfair to him.


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#13 RootAnn

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 07:44 PM

I've had two different kids go through History Odyssey Level 2 (Ancients, specifically).

 

The first one was writing-phobic and also a huge procrastinator. She was a great reader, though! It took her all year and into the summer to finish the assignments in Ancients. (They've revised it since she did it, but I'd already tweaked it quite a bit anyway.)

 

The second kid has a lot of experience writing outlines & summaries. She's a good reader and will sit down & spend 45 minutes or more reading & summarizing from two or three different resources without complaining. She finished all of the lessons for Ancients in just over a semester.

 

What a HUGE difference the kid makes!! (How good (fast) of a reader & how much the kid doesn't mind writing make this curriculum so different in practice.) There is a lot of writing in HO. If he's already writing in other subjects, I'd cut the writing in this one way down.

 


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#14 blue daisy

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 09:11 PM

OK, coming back to this to reply more.  I sincerely appreciate all the advice.  This is only our second year and I still feel like a total beginner trying to figure it all out.  With him being the oldest and so close to high school, I'm afraid of screwing up.

 

He definitely needs a lot of structure and support and I mostly have this built in.  His assignments are in a planner (I think I'm going to start writing the order to complete them), materials are on the table or easily accessible and I generally have him work in the same room as me.  His siblings can be a distraction but if I'm not around him he totally spaces out and forgets to work.

 

I'm going to cut out Spanish for now.  I feel like Latin is more of a benefit (and younger siblings are learning Latin too).  I'm going to keep IEW but slow down the pace, maybe be do every other week.  I can cut down on the daily binder work too.  He's good at grammar so maybe he doesn't need a sentence a day.  One or two a week is fine and I can cut down/out that copywork.  I definitely adjust the workload for History Odyssey but I'm realizing how much more we could do orally or just have him read and not write about things. I'm also going to skip and choose what I think is most important for the time period and not get stuck in the mindset of having to complete every lesson.  I think I will take the advice to shelf RSO for now, maybe pull it out from time to time and catch up in the summer.  I'm going to search around for some fun history and science videos and go that route for much of this year (for the youngers too, they aren't getting much history or science either.)

The three (almost four) year old makes things interesting for sure but she's definitely the last three year old so I know things will get easier.  Hopefully next year we can streamline activities a bit more and not be running around so much. (Is that a reasonable goal with 4 kids? lol)  Thanks everyone for giving me ideas to make this year run more smoothly. :)

 

 


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#15 Hunter

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 03:25 PM

Society NEEDS spectrum people for the EXACT reasons they cannot/do not follow the norm. Our species will go extinct without them. But when you are a homeschool mom, with a middle school boy, no one is thinking that. All they see is what he is not doing, instead of his potential to save our species from our stupid sheep mentality.


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#16 Carol in Cal.

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 04:07 PM

I like your plan, particularly the part about doing the history with less writing.

I planned to come here and say that one of the great things about homeschooling middle school is that you can collapse subjects together.  For instance, you teach writing, and you use your history or literature reading and discussion as the basis for writing assignments.  That teaches writing but it also teaches content-oriented non-fiction writing, which is the key writing skill in high school and college.  If you can't do that because you are not controlling enough of his writing curriculum, I encourage you to spread out the writing assignments from IEW and Bravewriter to enable you to assign subject area writing (as described in WTM) in literature and/or history at least once per month.  I don't know what the quality of the writing assignments in HO is, so I can't say whether to use those or not, but you can easily make up your own really good ones using the WTM guidelines if selecting some from the HO ones is unsatisfactory. 

 

Also, if he is getting his literature from the weekly BW class, the literature aspect of HO might be way too overwhelming on top of everything else, because it sounds like the curriculum is written under the assumption that it will provide all of the literature, history, and writing that the student will have.  No wonder he's not completing all those lessons!  Looking at your *next* year, I would set a very high priority on finding another history program or approach to use.  Spielvogel is a pretty good 'history only' textbook for that level, and for this year I would look for a cheap used copy of it, assign readings, have a weekly discussion, and assign a monthly history paper and call it good.  I would also hunt up some living history opportunities for the whole family to visit on field trips.  History museums, historical 'living history' towns, and Renaissance Faires can be pretty intensely educational, and give all of your kids 'pegs' to hang their history studies on.

 

I'd drop both languages for now.  Maybe send him to Concordia Villages for a week of Spanish camp next summer.  But right now, this foreign language study is crowding out science, and that's not good.

 

For science, I think I would have an intense science half day each week, with reading, experiments, writeups, and discussion.  If you have a good children's science museum nearby you can do field trips there monthly, making that your half day for that week.  But at this age, he really needs to be getting exposed to the basics of a wide range of science topics, not in depth but at an 'understanding' level, and that should be a higher priority than the language study.  You can let the other kids tag along for this, but the teaching should be at his level.  Lots of students take high school biology in 8th grade, but I wouldn't recommend that for him unless he gets a really good grounding in basic science this year; and that means at least some exposure to earth science, chemistry, physics, and biology.  I would suggest also looking for good science camps in your area for the summer--that's a great way to have a kid do focussed learning in one discipline of science or tech in just a week.  Around here we have quite a variety of those--zoology, marine biology, robotics, etc.  


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#17 blue daisy

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 09:25 PM

I like your plan, particularly the part about doing the history with less writing.

I planned to come here and say that one of the great things about homeschooling middle school is that you can collapse subjects together.  For instance, you teach writing, and you use your history or literature reading and discussion as the basis for writing assignments.  That teaches writing but it also teaches content-oriented non-fiction writing, which is the key writing skill in high school and college.  If you can't do that because you are not controlling enough of his writing curriculum, I encourage you to spread out the writing assignments from IEW and Bravewriter to enable you to assign subject area writing (as described in WTM) in literature and/or history at least once per month.  I don't know what the quality of the writing assignments in HO is, so I can't say whether to use those or not, but you can easily make up your own really good ones using the WTM guidelines if selecting some from the HO ones is unsatisfactory. 

 

Also, if he is getting his literature from the weekly BW class, the literature aspect of HO might be way too overwhelming on top of everything else, because it sounds like the curriculum is written under the assumption that it will provide all of the literature, history, and writing that the student will have.  No wonder he's not completing all those lessons!  Looking at your *next* year, I would set a very high priority on finding another history program or approach to use.  Spielvogel is a pretty good 'history only' textbook for that level, and for this year I would look for a cheap used copy of it, assign readings, have a weekly discussion, and assign a monthly history paper and call it good.  I would also hunt up some living history opportunities for the whole family to visit on field trips.  History museums, historical 'living history' towns, and Renaissance Faires can be pretty intensely educational, and give all of your kids 'pegs' to hang their history studies on.

 

I'd drop both languages for now.  Maybe send him to Concordia Villages for a week of Spanish camp next summer.  But right now, this foreign language study is crowding out science, and that's not good.

 

For science, I think I would have an intense science half day each week, with reading, experiments, writeups, and discussion.  If you have a good children's science museum nearby you can do field trips there monthly, making that your half day for that week.  But at this age, he really needs to be getting exposed to the basics of a wide range of science topics, not in depth but at an 'understanding' level, and that should be a higher priority than the language study.  You can let the other kids tag along for this, but the teaching should be at his level.  Lots of students take high school biology in 8th grade, but I wouldn't recommend that for him unless he gets a really good grounding in basic science this year; and that means at least some exposure to earth science, chemistry, physics, and biology.  I would suggest also looking for good science camps in your area for the summer--that's a great way to have a kid do focussed learning in one discipline of science or tech in just a week.  Around here we have quite a variety of those--zoology, marine biology, robotics, etc.  

 

So much good advice here - thank you!  It really helps to run things by the BTDT parents.

 

My three year old attends preschool 2 mornings a week.  I can use one of those to really dig into science for a couple of hours and know she's out of our hair while we're doing it.  We're getting a science museum membership soon. And my good friend and very science-minded friend runs science events for homeschoolers every once in a while so we attend those if we can.  So even if we don't get through all of Bio this year, I can feel comfortable knowing he's getting lots of different exposures.

 

I feel like I can use what he's learning from IEW and have him write about his history reading once a week or so and kill two birds with one stone there.  The literature portion is not too intense, but even so, I can be more selective about what I think he really needs to read.  We do the discussion questions for those orally once he's finished the books (and he's a good reader so these are really not too time consuming.)
 

 

Again, thank you for taking the time to give me ideas.  I am feeling a lot better about where to go from here.  :)


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#18 boscopup

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 07:13 AM

I also have 4 kids, and the youngest will be 3 in January. She's getting better, but the last year has been, "Ahhhhh!" :lol: I have my 8th grader completely outsourced to virtual school this year because of the toddler. And my 5th grader is high functioning autistic. So I can commiserate.

For history and science, if you're not getting to them, try doing them first thing of the day. If you need to rotate which subjects to do first, that's fine too. This year, I'm kind of alternating weeks with history and science, so I'm not doing them both in the same week. I just started RSO Astronomy 2 with my 5th grader, and while it's a semester course, we'll likely spend the rest of the year on it, just not doing it every single week.

It's ok to rotate focus as needed, when you notice a subject not getting the attention it needs.

My autistic kid may even start high school a year later than his age based grade. I haven't decided that for sure, but it's certainly on the table. We'll see how middle school goes for him. I already know that we'll not be working at a middle school level across the board in 6th. I am planning to do HO Early Modern level 2 with my oldest for 9th grade (adding in a high school level textbook), and I know I won't be able to combine him with my 6th grader, because level 2 will be over his head when it comes to the amount of reading and writing.

Thankfully, kids do grow a lot in the middle school years. My 8th grader struggled with paragraphs in 6th, and now he's writing essays and getting excellent grades on them. His science teacher says he writes better than most of his high school students! So huge growth for him the last couple years. I'm feeling more confident about him and high school (until we start high school next year and I freak out :lol:). He just needed more handholding at first, and now I'm starting to be able to let go.
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#19 blue daisy

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 05:38 PM

I just wanted to pop back in and update.  We made some changes based on suggestions here and things are going better!  We dropped Spanish and cut his daily binder work in half.  We are being more proactive about setting goals for his math work so he doesn't get behind.  (And he usually does a little more than his goal each day so his assignment has been getting done early, giving him a breather.)  I've cut out some of the history work and had him use what he learned in IEW to write outlines and paragraphs for history instead of the outlining method that HO taught, which was a struggle for him.  We have set aside Thursday mornings while my youngest is as PS and worked through a whole chapter of RSO Biology each time.  Now it's actually getting done!  I did ask DS if there were any activities he wants to cut and he said if he had to choose something it would be cello.  That would be my first choice too, as it just doesn't seem to be something he's strongly interested in.  He has a mini recital coming up in a month, so we agreed to revisit that idea after that date.  I'd be perfectly happy with one activity off our plate.

 

Thank you everyone for your suggestions.  It was a huge help!


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