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Posts posted by lewelma

  1. For my grains, I cook wild rice and keep it in my freezer.

    I also cook masa cakes every morning to use as my bread throughout the day. They are super yummy fresh and if you cut them in half you can freeze them and they are good toasted too.

    I went on the FODMAP diet for 6 weeks, which is crazy restrictive. You are wise to come up with your meal plans now.  I ended up basically eating mince and peas for 6 weeks and lost a ton of weight.  

  2. My sister is an engineering professor at a VA community college. She has worked hard for many years to make her classes compatible/comparable with UVA and thus transferable. So the CC route for the students choosing to defer could give an equally good education depending on which CC you go to.

    My nephew has just finished his freshman year at VT, and he had a hell of a time getting classes last year.  My sister and he spent days and days trying to come up with plans A, B, and C depending on what classes filled up and if he got the lottery to get in or not.  With some courses having prereqs he wasn't sure he could get into, and then some classes meeting at the same time, one lost class meant his entire schedule would have to change. And if he delayed registering for a class, hoping to get into another one and then didn't get in, it might be too late to get into the second choice as it was already full.  It was quite a thing.

    I say use the wait list.  Why not? Isn't this exact problem that it is designed to avoid?

    • Like 5

  3. 1 hour ago, kiwik said:

    It is quite a lot less though and have you heard the worry (paranoia?) Of some of the older homeschoolers when asking for an increase after 30 years being the same is mentioned? 

    But yes, taking money from the government need not mean surrendering control.

    Yes, definitely heard the angst. But we are tied to the Correspondence School supervisors' allowance. So when they get an increase, we demand the same. No reason to rock the boat without them. 

  4. 1 hour ago, HomeForNow said:

    We are ultimately hoping DS could get into MIT or CalTech, maybe a longshot of course, or else some other very STEM-focused (minimal humanities) college, with good needs-based or merit-based pricing (so a lot of colleges are excluded for economic reasons).

    Just an FYI, my ds has noticed that most students at MIT have reached national level in something - math, physics, music, robotics etc. He has friends who have won national cello championships, been on a robotic team that went to nationals, taken the USAMO, been to the national physics or chemistry or computing camps, etc.  I obviously don't know how admissions chooses kids, but in ds's opinion, focusing on one thing to a very high level seems to be an important piece of gaining entry for many kids.  

  5. We also toured CMU and really liked it.  It has a merit leadership scholarship which is full tuition (not full ride). Once again, high end school so could be nerdy, but I don't personally know about nerd culture or bio focus.  Just another one to consider. 


    • Like 1

  6. Duke has the merit full-ride Robinson scholarship for leadership, which your dd has in spades. Don't know about nerd culture, but being a very academic school, it very well could.  The bio department is strong, but I'm not sure about your dd's specific field of interest. 

    • Like 1

  7. As for high level math, my older ds ran into trouble because the local university's classes were too easy and getting over there was too time consuming for a daily commute.  So after taking 2 classes and earning 100% when the Mean and Median were 60%, he chose to self study mathematics at home. He could go faster and deeper on his own.  But there was definitely a down side, MIT did not give him credit for this self-study but would have if he had taken the same courses at the Uni even though they were easier.  This means he will have to overload for 2 semesters to get his double major.

    So as a Freshman, DS just finished a grad level math classes at MIT, but he only has credit for 2 undergrad classes.  MIT is nice that they didn't require ds to have officially taken the prereqs to take a class, but not all universities would allow this.  He just took the 5th course in a sequence of 5 with none of the prereqs. I'm not sure that I would change his path if I had to do it again because self-studying was wonderful for him, but there were ramifications for both the dual enrollment path (travel and too easy) and the self study (no official credit). A lot really depends on the policies of the universities and if they allow you to jump courses. Just a couple of things to think about.

    Ruth in NZ

  8. I think that following a prescribed common core path on at an accelerated rate is not a particularly good plan.  Most primary school/middle school standards are about facts, details, memorizing, and basic comprehension.  This is not how to give a gifted homeschooled student an advantage or an edge or to somehow get them ready to take high school classes early. My ds has just finished his freshman year at MIT, and has earned the highest grade in the class for two semesters in a row in honors physics (his major). This is what we did:

    Grades 1-4: we got piles of books out of the children's section in the library. We did a rotation through Biology, Earth science, Chemistry, and Physics over 4 years.  We did 4 terms per year and covered 4 topics. So for earth science it was geology, astronomy, oceanography, and climatology. We also did 4 science fair projects on each topic that took us about 10 weeks each. During this time, we covered scientific method, experimental design, and how to write up scientific reports. He also watched a documentary every day on the topics we were covering. We had a ton of fun with interest led science that was structured with a bit of a backbone.

    Grades 5-8: we got out more books from the library, but now they were from the coffee table book section in the adult part of the library.  DK Oceanography, The Way Things Work, etc.  He read them cover to cover to get a complete picture of the field.  We did more science fair projects, this time entering the regional fair, and winning awards. He also started reading Scientific American, and continued to watch documentaries every day through 7th grade.  We figured by the end of 7th grade, he had watched more than 2000 documentaries in science and history (8years x 300days). By the end of 8th grade, he had a huge storehouse of knowledge about science.

    Grades 9-12: we did the NZ national exams, which are like APs but the entire thing is essay based writing so lots of science writing, which he spent a lot of time mastering. At this point he self studied with university level textbooks. We continued with large scale projects for our lab component rather than weekly labs.  My sons' biology lab on the population dynamics of the rocky intertidal was a massive statistical analysis and 20 page write up with references. His physics lab built up to analyzing a nonlinear relationship with a broken pendulum using a bendable rod which acted as a spring.  He also read Scientific American cover to cover every month.  And kept up with other science news through the science section in the Economist. By the end of high school, his scientific reading comprehension was high, his scientific writing skills were well developed, and his core content knowledge was excellent. On top of this, his math was world class.

    This approach prepared him well for the rigors of MIT's science, and allowed him both to have passion for science and scientific inquiry and to have breadth of knowledge.  

    If you are interested, I have written extensively about our science fair projects that you can find in this summary thread: 



    Good luck to you, and welcome to the board.

    Ruth in NZ

    • Like 4

  9. you and your son have put in tremendous effort to achieve these targets in a positive way. Whenever I make any such effort to remediate my son's (9 year old) skills, I face huge protests from him. He would gladly work on it for the first few days or weeks. Gradually he throws tantrums and arguments. He finishes the task with a lot of complaints or bad behaviour that I eventually give up. As you mentioned, it is hard work for both teacher and student. Have you faced any such troubles with your DS while continuing with a task for over several years? How do you maintain your student's motivation and attention for such long periods of time. Most importantly, how do you not lose your patience and up your motivation levels? Can you please share some of your strategies?


    X-Post #2: 

    Yes, I have definitely struggled with motivation and with being very discouraged, and yes, I so has my ds. But I think in the end we feel like we are in this together, and we remind each other that bad attitude is not ok. He reminds me as much as I remind him. 

    The most important thing I think I did was to let his strengths run.  This approach convinced him that he had skills and talent. So all the stuff I talked about in my previous post was only a small part of his day.  We did high-end math orally; he read difficult science books every day; he learned to play the violin; I scribed for him his amazing stories; and his dad read and discussed complex books on numerous topics.  Most days he felt like a smart, accomplished kid who had the world in front of him.  

    For the remediation part, I did everything I could to make him feel empowered. I found techniques to try, but I encouraged him to decide what was working and what was not. We focused on metacognition - how does he learn, how can he use his skills to shore up his weaknesses, how long should he work, when can he identify that he is becoming less effective, how can he use the Charlotte Mason habit of "The Way of the Will" - if you don't like a thought, then change it. He was empowered. Everyday. And on days that he could just not do something, we just didn't do it. But we always made a plan to do it later.  When he mentioned his older brother and wondered why he had things so good, we would discuss the idea that you cannot be some hybrid person - the best of you and the best of him.  You are either ALL your brother or you are yourself.  Do you really want all the negatives that your brother has in order to get the positives? The answer was always no. So we focused on him being him.  We celebrated what he offered the world that others can't.  He has so much charisma that I made sure that he was in lots of activities with lots of positive interactions every day, just check out my siggy.  And these activities were not in academics, so he was focusing on *life* not academics, focusing on what he was good at.  Basically, I've made sure that his life is 90% positive and uplifting, and 10% remediation and long, difficult, sometimes discouraging work.

    I also followed his lead on what he needed, and in the end he needed *me*. For a long time, he could not do *anything* on his own. I think there just was a fear of failure, but also simply the inability to write. So for all remediation work, we did it together.  I never assigned him something to do on his own that would be hard, because he just wouldn't do it, or couldn't do it. He could write his math, but I had to sit with him. He could read his books, but I had to sit with him.  I had to do the dictation, I had to scribe, I had to help him outline. I had to hold his hand all the time.  I read posts from people saying 'what can your 9 year do independently?'  And I laugh, because only at 13 could my ds play the violin and read his science independently, every single other thing he needed me for.  Luckily for me, I only had two children.  So I worked 4 hours with my younger before doing 3 hours with my older, then tutoring for 2 hours. If I had had many kids, I'm not sure how this would have played out. People talk about helicopter parenting, and doing too much for a child so they don't become independent. But I have decided those people can just stick their comments where the sun don't shine, because they don't know me and they don't know my kid. 

    As for me, I very much have felt that every day I have to put on my big-girl panties and get the job done.  I have found the last 4 years very difficult and draining. But when I signed up to homeschool, I signed up to work. I despised tying-dictation as much as he loved it. And every morning, I would get my cup of tea and my chocolate, and find it in myself to tolerate 30 minutes of correcting word for word his spelling. I just did it because I had to, and I put a smile on my face and joy in my voice no matter what I was feeling inside.  And luckily for me I read posts early on from some of the old timers on this board who discussed how kids pick up speed in high school, and how a 13 year old is a very different learner from a 17 year old, which helped me trust that he would pick up speed as he matured. I focused on keeping track of the very small improvements that I saw over the months.  It is easy to lose track of incremental change when you have a project that you have broken down into 1000 pieces for 1000 days. Can you actually see 1/1000th of an improvement each day?  Well, I tried to. And whatever I saw that was positive step forward each day, I would tell my ds to let him see his improvement, to help him believe in himself and in the work we were doing. I kept a journal with ideas and success stories, reviewed every term what we had accomplished, and then made a plan for the next term to build on our successes. Once a year, I would make a huge list of everything we had done, so although the daily improvements were small and often hard to see, the annual improvements were huge.  When I got blue, I would remember how far we had come the previous year, and trust that my incremental daily program would produce similar results in the current year. Some days, I kept myself going by thinking about the boy my son would have been had he attended school. The boy who would have failed everything, who would think he was stupid, who likely would have dropped out by now. This is the alternative reality that existed for my son, and I remind myself that it is through my hard work and dedication that it is a fate he avoided. 

    Ruth in NZ

    • Like 2

  10. I wrote this book of a post on the learning challenges board a couple of months ago. My younger son has dysgraphia so has always found writing to be crazy hard. This description of our journey covers all aspects of writing, not just the composition.  I am in no way saying your child has dysgraphia, as I agree with the previous posters that 9 is very young, but you asked for success stories.  🙂  I have also copied my follow-up post, answering the question of how we kept our motivation up while remediating the dysgraphia for 4 years. Clearly, I had a lot of time that day to write! 


    I did not know that younger ds had dysgraphia until about the age of 11. Before that I think I was just scaffolding so much that I simply couldn't see it. I finally had him tested at age 12. His dysgraphia falls into 5 categories:

    1) Spelling: When ds was first learning to spell in primary school, I didn't realize he had dysgraphia. Because I had already used SWR with my older, I used it with my younger to made sure that his phonological skills were excellent, that he knew every single letter combination, that he knew every single rule for adding endings.  All of this was like the back of his hand. SWR is a powerful program.  But younger ds could still not spell.  What was lacking was automation. So after 3 years of SWR, we tried 7 other spelling programs!  Clearly, my head was end the sand, as I never even considered getting him tested. At the age of 12, he was still sounding every single word out. The problem was automation. I think 'cat' and write 'cat' without thinking, this was not true for him for any word except 'the.'  And while sounding out every single word, he would completely loose what he was trying to say in his writing.  He would also spell the same word three different ways in the same paragraph, all of which followed the rules he had learned so were valid combinations. And he still struggled with recognizing that words he was using in speech were a base word with an ending. So "hiding" was just one thing, not the word 'hide' with the ending 'ing' that he would know the rules for.  So if you asked him to add an ending to a word, he could, but if you spoke a word that already had an ending, he would not know how to spell it because he could not see that there was a base word inside it.

    2) Punctuation: In addition, at the age of 12, he still had no sense of what a sentence was so was completely unable to add periods let alone commas.  We had done grammar with MCT and another program whose name I forget, but he still could not identify a subject or even a verb unless it was an exercise in a textbook.  And his language was so complex that it was not easy to show him in his own writing, but practicing punctuating simpler writing never translated into his own because his structure was way more advanced.  

    3) Physical handwriting: Even today at age 15, he can write numbers, but cannot write words. Basically, his brain is not automating the creation of letters.  So an 'o' is an a-stop as he calls it.  A's are automated, so to make an 'o' he has to make an a, and then remember to stop the motion to make an 'o'. But interestingly, his brain is fine to make a zero, it is not an a-stop, even though it is the same exact shape. Most of his letters are a combination of 2 strokes that he must recall.  Once again, nothing is automated.  This means that to physically write a word, not only must he sound it out, he also must recall how to form each letter. Currently at the age of 15.5 he can write very legible handwriting at a top speed of 9 words per minute.

    4) Organizing ideas: He has always had beautiful adult-level creative writing, but his report and argumentation writing was impossibly difficult for him.  We used IEW for a while, hoping that it would help him with the basics of structure, but he just couldn't implement any system. He couldn't seem to get his thoughts into a set structure. He couldn't remember that he needed an intro sentence and then supporting points and then a conclusion.  It wasn't that sentences were jumbled or unclear -- as I said, he has adult-level style with participle phrases, clauses, noun absolutes, advanced vocabulary etc.  And if he was on a 'roll', he could produce amazing non-fiction writing.  But if ever he was uncertain what to write, he had nothing to fall back on.  He could not get anything down.  The web of ideas could not be structured into linear form through intellectual effort or outlining.  Either he had intuition and flow, or he could write absolutely nothing.  There was nothing in the middle.

    5) coding mental math into written form: explained in previous post.   

    My solutions:

    1) At the age of 11, we decided to do a big push with handwritten work for a full year.  The goal was to increase speed. I dictated to him sentences that he had written in previous work.  We set timers, we charted progress, we celebrated every small success.....  This was an absolute waste of time.  He never picked up speed, there was no way to rush him, his spelling did not improve, and all it did was create stress.  At the age of 12, we decided to abandon handwriting with the exception of math, and I only wished I had done it sooner. During that year, he had concurrently learned to touch type, but because he could not spell any of the words, he could not go faster than 10 words per minute.  People would tell me that spell check would be his friend, but he still had to get the general idea of spelling 'helicopter' for spell check to recognize it.  He still had to sound out every. single. word.  Words like cat, with, boy... let alone all the big words. He could type 30 words a minute if he was copying, but only 10 if he was having to spell the words.

    2) At the age of 12, we abandoned all spelling programs (we had tried about 8 by that time) and switched to typing dictation.  I had considered Speech to Text at that point, but my ds and I decided together that we were not ready to go that way as a permanent solution.  The goal of typing dictation (as we called it) was to automate the basic words.  This dictation was not SWB's dictation where the kid is supposed to hold the sentence in her head; nor was is studied dictation like Spelling Wisdom (which we also tried). The goal of our dictation was automation of spelling.  We started to 'Cat in the Hat' because he still could not spell the top 100 words. I would dictate a phrase of like 3-5 words, (I kept to the language groupings to help him begin to hear them), and as he typed I would correct word for word.  During this time, I taught him 'think-to-spell' where you purposely mispronounce a word so that the spelling becomes regular (he knew all the rules); we created sounds for all schwas in words; I would help with spelling by simply breaking the words into syllables; I would remind him of basic ending rules, etc.  Not a lecture, just as we went with a few words as possible so I didn't break the flow.  We worked like this for 30 minutes per day 5 days a week, 45 weeks a year, for 3 years. He loved it.  Go figure. Basically, I came to believe that he just needed to put spelling in context of writing, and that he needed immediate feedback when the word was spelling wrong, and that he just needed to do this for many many sentences.  Over the years, we slowly moved up the book level to Frog and Toad, then older readers, then Narnia, then other fantasy novels he liked.  By the second year, I started punctuation study.  I would tell him after a clause "add a comma because its an introductory clause."  I would use official grammar words, and not make a lecture, just something quick. But over and over and over. What had been lacking in spelling was automation, and what had been lacking in punctuation was both real world application and drill drill drill. This process worked!  It worked beyond all my expectations.  And best of all, he loved it.  

    During these years of typing dictation, we also trialed every possible combination to help him organize his ideas (#4 above).  We tried a dictaphone, mind-mapping, list making, speech-to-text. We tried me scribing; we tried me scribing only every other paragraph; we tried him verbally saying what he wanted to say 3 times before writing; we tried funny speed games "why is this item the 'best'"; we tried easy topics; we tried hard topics; we tried research;  we tried studying other writing;  we tried outlining other writing; we tried Ben Franklin's approach of rewrites. We we tried Every. Single. Thing. I could think of.  And I just felt like we got nowhere.  It was very discouraging for me, although I was very encouraging to him and he never knew that I thought we were spinning our wheels. We were making progress, but it was very very slow. 

    3) At the age of 15, we quit the typing dictation because I felt that we had made very good progress. He was typing now at about 25 words a minute, he was spelling 80% of words correctly even in difficult books, and could mostly punctuate complex sentences. This was huge given where we started from!! And best of all, ds was feeling good about himself and the progress he had made.  Thus, we moved full focus into writing his own content. We started this new focus 6 months ago. Because he is interested in being a geographer and studying complex issues, he wants to be able to research and write up creative solutions to complex problems.  He has a goal, and this has been very motivating. We decided to go after deep complex topics with high interest and work with engaging questions which required research and processing and organizing.  This seems like a backwards approach, going for difficult writing projects when we had had little success with organizing ideas, but the high interest was the key to the motivation.  I figured we would get further with lots of scaffolding for hard projects, than focusing on independence for easy projects. I will admit, however, that I was nervous about taking this approach, because I knew it would be difficult to tell how much of the work was his work vs mine.

    Now 6 months later, he has written 3 research papers: 1) The causes and consequences of the 2004 Tsunami in Ache Indonesia from a cultural and environmental point of view. 2) An analysis of why the population demographic transitions of Maori vs Europeans in NZ were so different over the past 180 years. 3) the cultural and environmental causes and consequences of the 55-year Wataki Dam Scheme in the South Island. It is hard for me to overstate the success we have had with these 3 projects.  Massive massive success.  It is as if the three years from 12-15 where we separated out all the skills and worked on them individually, have all come together in a cohesive whole. All those years of working on organizing his ideas that felt like a waste of time, were not.  It was seeping in, just not showing up because he could not yet write it all down.  I am still scaffolding, and I still have to sit next to him sometimes when he writes, and I have scribed for him a few paragraphs in these reports when he is just too tired but wants to keep the momentum up. However, the scaffolding required for the last paper has been way less than the first paper.  And with 2.5 years to go until graduation, I feel that we are finally on track.  I will still be remediating and accomodating, but now we are doing this *at level* rather than years behind. 

    4) The future: we will continue with these large-scale, high-interest projects.  I will continue to be highly involved with the research, outlining, writing, and editing -- strongly scaffolding where needed, but slowly ever so slowly backing off and encouraging independence.  At this point, we are going to start 2 new ventures into the world of dysgraphia: 1) trying to write up chemistry and physics explanations which he will need to do for his national exams.  Scientific explanations are a different type of writing, with different language that he has to learn, but I think he is ready. 2) We are going to actually try to get him to physically write again.  He has been writing his math all this time, so his hand is reasonably strong.  We are going to start by drilling letters (we did this the other day with lots of giggles given he is 15), and we are going to see if he can write a sentence each day, and see where this leads us.  No pressure, but he wants to try.

    Now, I know I have written a book here.  I have done it for two reasons.  1) once I got going I really wanted to document our path as I have never written it all out before. 2) I am hoping to give you a realistic vision of what remediating dysgraphia looks like over the long haul. There is no way around it, dysgraphia is a bitch and impacts all aspects of a child's education. Remediating it is long hard work for both teacher and student, but it can be done in a way that is positive and good for a child's self-esteem.  I have never regretted the time and effort I have put into this project.  And I had a friend just yesterday say to me that it is amazing that ds is so proud of himself, that he doesn't feel stupid, and that I never discuss him in a negative way.  DS does not mind me talking about his dysgraphia because he feels it is a part of who he is, and overcoming its is a testament to his hard persistent work over many many years. I also want you to know that you will likely make many wrong turns, and that you will be wandering in the dark, wondering if your approach is the most optimal.  This is just the nature of the beast. As I tried to show, there were things that I did that I shouldn't have done, and there were things that at the time seemed to make no difference, but then later were shown to be incredibly helpful. 

    Good luck to you and your dd. Slow and steady wins the race. 

    Ruth in NZ

    • Like 2

  11. I wrote the main transcript for all 4 years that included homeschooled classes and standard school classes. We sent the school transcript separately, and he applied with a homeschool application.  But in contrast to your situation, his standard school classes were through an online school (but in NZ there is NO difference because all exams for all schools are the same, online school included), and he did the online school only for half time for 3 years.  So not quite the same as you are talking about, but similar. 

    Ruth in NZ

    • Like 1

  12. 3 hours ago, maize said:

    I suppose there are significant differences between homeschooled kids who attend an elite university and homeschooled kids who attend the local community college, just as the comparison populations of students at those schools are going to be quite different.

     Sorry to confuse the issue, definitely not my intent.  I was not comparing homeschool kids at elites vs at CC at all.  Rather, I was pondering the differences between homeschooled kids vs school kids at elites, as I actually didn't expect a difference when he went last year. But he definitely has seen differences.  He is better at some skills and worse at others.  It is not like he is either all better or all worse, so that homeschooling is some utopia. But it does seem somewhat consistent to him across the board with all his school friends and the other homeschooler in his dorm.  Just something I found interesting.

    It also suggests to me that while homeschooling let my son run in his strengths, it did not allow him to develop good executive function skills.  Perhaps CC draws a wider distribution of skill level in both groups (from very high to very low), so that trends are not noticeable. But it seems curious to me that most of the freshman school kids in my ds's dorm are less mature in his opinion.  I wonder if a kid chooses to do a ton of work in high school so they can get into an elite, maybe you have no time to develop your inner self.  Just pondering.  My ds's experience this year has been profound, so it is on my mind as he finishes up finals week.  

    • Like 6

  13. I am old enough to have had my maternal great grandfather tell me stories about travelling to Oklahoma by covered wagon because his father had been in the Oklahoma land rush. 

    I am old enough to have had my paternal grandmother tell me stories about how her grandfather lived with them when she was a girl, and how he would meet up with the other civil war vets on their front porch. She could never understand them because they were speaking German! 

  14. My older son has found he is ....

    Better than brick and mortar students in:

           1) Using a textbook to learn independently

           2) Content knowledge in his field of speciality

           3) Maturity and confidence and sense of self

    Worse than brick and mortar students in:

           1) Figuring out what will be on a test and making sure to study that stuff

           2) Organizing his study when there are multiple competing deadlines

    Sounds like this is not what you have seen. 

    Ruth in NZ whose son is studying in the USA

    • Like 6

  15. On 5/8/2019 at 12:12 AM, square_25 said:

    Any examples?

    Well, using the pronoun 'they' as singular is both common and accepted here as a way to avoid referring to gender.

    That vs which vs who is kind of a nonevent here.

    Essential and nonessential clauses and comma requirements would be laughed at.

    Definitely the idiomatic phrasal verbs. If it sounds right here, it is right.  She has no interest in memorizing how to match prepositions to verbs from an American English point of view. 

    Stuff like that. It is definitely an American English test, and she knows New Zealand English.

  16. 8 hours ago, kiana said:

    I think part of it is that tests in quantitative subjects, or subjects where there is a clear "wrong", are intrinsically more easy and rapid to grade.

     Well, I'm going to tell my dad that he is super special.  He taught in Public Health and had students write three 15-page papers each term.  They were due on Monday and he returned them on Wednesday with feedback.  He did this for a decade.  He worked at UK, and I don't remember why, but I know the student evaluations were important to him/the school.  Good incentive to be efficient in grading, and plan to get papers back promptly.  

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