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lewelma

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lewelma last won the day on April 8 2014

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About lewelma

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    New Zealand
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  1. Thanks for your kind words. I think that we all do the best we can for our kids. It is very very hard to balance many different goals when our child is constantly growing and changing. Unfortunately, we never have the full picture and are constantly wandering in the dark. Good luck to you and your dd. Ruth in NZ
  2. I will try to come back tomorrow and write about how I have used the same approach with my younger boy who has dysgraphia. I have had similar success with him. They key for *him* is his extracurricular activities -- just look at my siggy! His goal is to develop leadership skills and he purposely uses his extracurriculars to do this.
  3. I've come to believe that courses organized and dictated by adults are far inferior than independent study self-directed by kids. Said another way, my two boys have learned way more by following their interests and having 'courses' created after the fact, than by any course created by me or by a textbook. The sole exception being AoPS. I used to pull my hair out about my older boy being unwilling and unable to write. In the end, writing math proofs taught him to write English papers. He wrote so very little up until his senior year in highschool. And in that year, he had to pull off top marks on the SAT essay and the NZ national English exams, and he had to write and rewrite a bazillion university application essays. By my count, it was about 60 essays for those three goals. Before that I could count on one hand papers he had written in high school. Now, at MIT he has had 3 humanities professors shower him with praise for his writing, one going so far as to say that his term paper "was the best student paper she had read in numerous years." So *how* did he learn to write?!?!? He read. He read 2-3 hours per night for 5 years year round. The Economist, Scientific American, National Geographic, and literature. Lots and lots of high end literature like War and Peace and 100 Years of Solitude. This was his time, and his choice. I was asleep. The rule was no screens after 9, and he liked to go to bed at 1 or even 2am. So there was basically nothing else to do in a 600 sq ft apartment than read or learn to play the piano (electronic with head phones) . The key was that NO book was ever assigned. I would do research and just buy books to have sitting around. He had *time* to be, time to think, time to read. And it was this deep and prolonged reading that has made him a humanities star at MIT. I will let you know next month if he gets the humanities scholarship that he is applying for. His humanities professor said that he was "perfect" for the program, and that she would write an "enthusiastic" recommendation. This success was because of a LACK of requirements for humanities and social science in my homeschool. I have come to believe that depth comes from personal interest and involvement. I could have used an AP prep program, or a great books program, or any other sort of humanities/social sciences program, and the results would NOT have been the same. DS had the *time* to have the energy to read. And this has become very clear as his reading has tanked during his senior year in high school when things got so crazy and during his first 1.5 years at MIT. Without *time*, there is no initiative to better oneself. To dig deep into what it is to be human. To dig deep into who you want to be. *Time* is the key. The problem with giving *time* to kids is that they seem to squander it. I had many many sleepless nights thinking that there was so much that *I* could have made sure that he did. Books to read, conversations to have, ideas to cover. But these would have been top down. The problem, however, with giving *time* is that it seems inefficient. What exactly is being covered? Anything useful? Should I step in? Should I check up? What about kids who seem to "waste" it? It just seems so much less assured. But depth requires time. Filling the day with work means by definition that deep thinking can't happen -- kids get into the box ticking mode, and box ticking definitely does not equate to deep learning and thinking. It was only when I went to write the transcript and course descriptions did I realize how much had been accomplished when ds was doing nothing. Nothing was the key to his education. Without screens, there was nothing else to do than think deeply and sleep. What more do teens actually need to grow? I think, however, that I did a good job celebrating his learning. When he would start reading a book, I used that as motivation to go get it on audio and try to keep up. He loved being ahead of me, and he loved discussing the ideas. I also embraced deep thinking about world problems. We had Nuanced discussions about complex ideas with no clear solution. Basically, I supported his independent learning by being engaged but not in any fashion directing or controlling. I think he came to believe that he led me, which in may respects he did. So although he was in charge, I was in the background supporting his efforts through very subtle encouragement and by embracing a life-long learning approach. So I did drive this education in a way, but clearly so did he. Personal connection to his learning was key. Programs for us (except AoPS & science) were a complete fail. Ruth in NZ
  4. Wow! You remember well. Yes, that is exactly what we did.
  5. Sorry to Corraleno and LSB for not adding my 2 cents worth. I've had a crazy busy day. I think that some people on this thread need to walk in the shoes of the parent of a 2E child. My ds took GRAUDATE-level classes in math at MIT as a freshman last year while not realizing that he could turn the heat on in his room with the thermostat until MID-JANUARY in BOSTON! My ds got the TOP mark in honors physics at MIT for 2 classes in a row while concurrently not knowing he needed to check his mailbox. To suggest that my incredibly gifted son should be at a neurotypical level in all things is to suggest that asynchrony does not exist. Which is false. Just false. To suggest that I should have held my ds here at home to help him shore up these deficits, would be a disservice to him and his strengths. I have always allowed my ds's strengths to run, while shoring up his weaknesses. But he actually needed to get away from me and our home to find where his weaknesses were. He needed to get in over his head for me to be able to help guide him to learn what he needed to learn. He needed to struggle to be willing to work on these deficits. There was no struggle here. I could not provide it - not for a child of his level. DS is one of TWO international homeschoolers to make it into MIT his year, and only ONE american homeschooler got in. To suggest that helping him was inappropriate is nuts in my mind. He only took 2 outside courses in his homeschooling career and both were at the local university and were ridiculously easy for *him.* Clearly not for others as that mean and median were 60% for a sophmore class, and my ds scored 100% at the age of 15. As in there was *nothing* he could not do that was thrown at him in a class 4 years advanced. Should I have held him at home and had him continue with these classes? Taught him to be more independent, taught him to have better EF skills? Sure I could have, but it also would have taught him 1) that he was better than everyone else, and 2) that he did not have to try hard to succeed. Sometimes there are multiple lessons being learned. He could have improved his EF skills and become arrogant at the same time. To give you a feel for the EF challenges he has faced while in university: 1) Without parent support, at age 17 he could not rent a hotel room when his flight was delayed for 36 hours in Houston. 2) Without parent support, he would be without a passport. With an birth abroad, his passport renewal required us to be present in the USA (we live in NZ) to swear he was our son. So we had to organize for him to get it renewed in NZ during the 10 days he was here. 3) Without a parent with an American bank account, he cannot get a USA credit card or even something as easy as Venmo. 4) Without a parent to organize his travel back to NZ (ELEVEN and a HALF months in advance), he would be unable to come home at Christmas as ALL the flights out of Boston were booked up. And I very much doubt most 18 year olds would be buying tickets home 11.5 months ahead. 5) Without a parent to realize that his new 10K violin was uninsured, and to know that USAA was an option for foreign-resident parents with grandparents as US veterans, his violin would be uninsured because NZ insurance won't cover violins for residents overseas. 6) Without an American born parent to help him with American etiquette, he would have made a fool of himself over and over with professors and students at MIT. 7) Without a parent to help him organize for a hell NINE DAYS, ds would have failed many assessments. In NINE days he had to: study for a chemistry test, study for a biology test, write a wikipedia article, write a book chapter from a lecture (his grad class on content never published before), prepare for a trio concert, prepare for a private scholarship concert, write an ethics paper, and complete a physics p-set -- a single 9 day period of time would have destroyed his GPA. 8.) Without a parent to help him decide if he could work for Fermi labs in Chicago with funding from said parents and without a licence to drive a car let alone a car, he could not make a rational decision. I could just go on and on. Why 18? Why?!?! Life for my ds is complicated. He is an international teenager at an Elite university with a background of homegrown courses. He is doing an amazing job, but honestly he needs what in the 1970s was called a secretary. Does he actually do LESS than my FIL did in his career as a middle manager at Chevrolet? My FIL had a secretary to help with these things. I believe in my heart of hearts, that my ds will tell me when he no longer needs my help. It is less and less each month. To suggest that I should have stalled his forward movement until all pieces of his brain caught up, is to suggest that people need to be equally capable at all things, that they need to be generalists. It is to suggest that I should have held his math and physics hostage to his organizational skills. I do not believe that this is fair. My kid is spiky. He is not a mooch. He is not lazy. He just has EF issues that are slowly but surely improving with *teaching* by me. Ruth in NZ
  6. We did large scale scientific investigations when my kids were K-7th grade. I designed them to last about 8 weeks and integrate english, maths, science, history, and basically all other things into the project. I've written up a few over the years as we did them (so week by week), so you can see in detail how they work.
  7. I work 25 hours a week as a tutor from my home. I see kids during after school hours so 330-7pm Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday. I have found that trying to have my kids do any work while I'm working causes me a lot of stress. So they do their work when I am available, and then read or play outside when I am working. Ruth in NZ
  8. My ds is also a sophomore in college, and I still help at times too. My younger is finishing 10th grade, and he does basically *nothing* on his own. He has dysgraphia which means that all academic subjects are quite tricky -- so I scaffold and sit with him. He will make it, but not yet. Kids with differences need extra help.
  9. I wrote a massive post on this topic many years ago back when I was researching writing programs. My kids were older than yours, but I'm not clear by how much. There were lots of contributors and I kept adding to the thread over many years. Mostly targets 5th through 12th grade. Ruth in NZ
  10. It was Regentrude that convinced me that my older ds was doing way more work than I thought. I was only counting seat time - so 3 hours on all core classes 5 days a week (no weekends) and 2 hours of competition math. I would mention the hours of reading he did at night, but I never counted them in his 'hours.' Regentrude helped me to see that there was a lot of learning happening in his reading, and in the end I created courses for his transcript out of these hours - Contemporary World Problems, Philosophy, Economics of Inequality, American History in a worldwide context, Paleontology, Russian literature, and Postmodern literature. Basically, I came to believe that he was schooly in his STEM courses and unschooly in his humanities/Social Sciences courses. So when people are talking 2 hours a day and then saying but we do this this and this. It might be that their kids do much more but are only counting the school-type work. Work dictated and organized by adults.
  11. As I said above, I find that some of the deepest conversations that I have in real life are with homeschoolers with kids with learning disabilities. I have come to believe that this is because the standard programs don't work for their kids. That they have to think deeply about how their ideal education or even an average education has to be altered to be implemented. They have to make the hard choices. They have to weigh the benefits of certain ideals with possible negative consequences. They have to decide how resilient their kids are to working a way that their brain is not designed to work. They have to balance shoring up weaknesses with letting strengths run. These choices are incredibly difficult to make, and it is very easy to second guess your self as you wander in the dark. No one can actually tell you what the ideal education is for your unique child, and that has been more scary to me than empowering.
  12. I am a big fan of open ended questions. Science is about investigation. Investigation is about the thrill of discovering something you cannot look up, that no one else has ever done. We really enjoyed figuring out how the different types of water supported different communities of critters. And the more you study, the more questions you have. You could study puddles in sunny areas vs shady areas. You could study water from different frog tanks in different peoples homes. You could study water from different locations in a stream - fast moving, slow moving, deep, shallow, muddy, clear. You could make a grid and try to figure out why each is the way it is. You can even get into experimental design if you want and try for replication of pools, replication of samples, etc. This is basically a community ecology study on a micro-organism scale.
  13. Farrar, I think the thing you are missing is how students can acquire transferable skills. My older ds did not write a single paper in 8th or 9th grade, not for English or History. He was a poor writer at the beginning of 8th grade (at least a year or 2 behind), but basically refused to write because there was MATH to do. I was pulling my hair out, and had many conversations with my dh about what to do, and in the end we did not feel it was worth it to destroy my relationship with ds to pull a luke warm paper out of him. He was still reading hours of high level literature, so we decided to ignore his poor writing skills for those years. So you can imagine my surprise to find that when he was assessed in 10th grade for the National NZ English Exam, he was an advanced writer for English - top 10% for 11th graders and he was in 10th grade. Um, like how do you advance 5 years in 2 when you are not writing at all?!?!?! But yet he was. He was writing math proofs. Piles and piles of them for AoPS. These were page long, logically organized, properly spelled and punctuated math proofs graded with feedback by mathematicians. Writing math proofs directly translated into writing literary analysis. So, for my ds he saved a ton of time by basically doing two things at once - doing his Math was also doing his English.
  14. I will take this one on as my shorter post might have been interpreted that way. I think that we as high school educators need to evaluate each of our children as individuals and ask what they need to move to the next level. Sometimes a kid needs external requirements to learn independence, sometimes a kid needs deep time-consuming discussions about literature, sometimes a kid needs detailed careful commentary about their work, and sometimes a kid needs more freedom to find their own path. Each choice we make should be made for a reason, and although occasionally that reason can be easy for parent or get-it-done course for a child, that should NOT be the overriding approach of a rigorous homeschool highschool program. Some examples: My older boy needed outside math courses as he got to a higher and higher level, so we outsourced with AoPS and then later to the university. Outsourcing was wonderful for him and for me, because I just could NOT keep up with the speed of his learning. But when we found the courses were WAY too easy, he quit taking them. They taught him time management and meeting external requirements, but they also taught him that outsourcing for his best thing was a waste of time. At that point he needed to do courses on his own, and my role was to find 2 things 1) resources, and 2) people to answer his questions. I also had to do 2 more things to support this independent work 1) set a reasonable but flexible schedule, and 2) check up on his progress on a daily or alternating day basis. The Point of this example: every experience was chosen for a reason and then we adapted as he needed different things. We didn't say, oh well, the university courses are too easy, but that is the best we can do so we will make do. That might have been ok for something he didn't care so much about, but it was NOT ok for his best thing. Example 2: my younger boy has dysgraphia. There was no text-based or online that could have accomplished what I have accomplished through LONG diligent face-to-face work with him. 2 hours per day teaching, mentoring, struggling for years and years. Sure I could have said "oh, my boy has dysgraphia" and just accepted it. But through long persistent work, *together* we have dug him out of a deep hole that was impacting every aspect of his education. Have I gotten everything right? HELL NO. I have written about all my failures on the learning challenges board. But the point is that *I* am the educator, *I* make the choices. But the other thing to know is that because he works so hard on his *worst* thing, I let him take an easy-pass on other subjects. The goal is balance. For Literature, he is doing a survey of the different types of fantasy. Certainly not the War and Peace that my older boy was reading at this age. But for my younger boy, he needs to do something easy after doing all the hard work on writing. But here is the thing, I am *choosing*. I am not just letting marketing ploys of 'oh we can fix it' or 'oh, homeschooling is easy', or 'just buy this program and your kid can be independent.' What does he need that is NOT taught by me? He needs courses that drive him to succeed in things that don't require writing. Violin so that he can learn to meet other's expectations and know that it is not just his mother with high expectations, and drama because he needs to learn to talk in public, to be a leader, to work in a group. I choose to outsource for this child what he needs outsourced. He cannot write, so outsourcing courses with a written component would never work, but yet he still needs the experience of outsourcing because he tends to want to slide by. So for every kid there is a balance. Some stuff should be as challenging as they can handle, which clearly depends on the child. And some stuff should be easy so that a child can build independence and confidence. You use outsourcing to meet specific goals you have for your child. But the entire program must be planned holistically, and carefully adjusted as a child grows and learns. That is how you make a great education. Ruth in NZ
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