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About myfantasticfour

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  1. My DD12 is heading to public junior high for 8th grade. Not because homeschooling didn't work well for her, or because of anything negative. She shadowed a student for a day and that went reasonably well, and if she ends up hating school after a fair trial next year, she can always come back to homeschooling, though finding her a social life will be very hard because her best friend from homeschooling is going to public school also and definitely to public high school, and her other best friend is moving away, and local homeschooling groups seem no longer to exist. Any advice on how best to prepare, from others who have sent always-homeschooled kids to public school around 8th grade? Any pointers on making sure she's covered all the scope-and-sequence so it will be a smooth transition? She already knows how to put her name and date on papers, how to do math homework neatly and show all steps, etc. but I was warned by the guidance counselor that they do most everything online on their laptops so that textbook work was not likely to be something she'd encounter. Would love to hear from those who have done this, any do's and dont's, and also from those who have taught or are teaching junior high. Thanks!
  2. I picked up a Scotch one I lucked into at Goodwill, a few years ago, and it works fine, as do just about any laminating pouches (lucked into some packs of those at Goodwill over the years, too). However, I have had to check myself a few times, and ask "Does this REALLY need laminating?" because having a laminator is like having a hammer in your hand: everything starts looking like a nail. So I stopped using it just to use it, because most things for our purposes that go on a wall, do not need to be hermetically sealed in non-biodegradable plastic just because it's so spiffy-looking. I don't laminate kids' art, but take a photo and store it on a share site for eventual inclusing in a year-in-review photo book. That said, I did find a neat excuse to use it, recently: laminating the multiplication tables/ chart to hang with poster putty on the bathtub wall. It's waterproof and it's there, staring at us. Not sure if it's working, though.
  3. If you haven't yet checked it out, there are at least two websites for support for gifted and twice-exceptional kids (2E) who are often mislabeled because most people have a certain image of what giftedness looks like, that is not at all what the reality is particularly the farther the person gets from the norm. Think Hermione Granger versus Luna Lovegood. Most people would assume Hermione to be the poster child for giftedness, and dismiss Luna as just plain weird. At any rate, hoagies and gifted homeschoolers forum are two search terms that can help you see whether you might want to look further into something, that often co-occurs with many of the problems you listed.
  4. I have an oldest DD and 3 younger boys (DD12, DS9, DS6, and DS2) and could almost say your DD and mine were twins, and DH has had to be reminded when growling that DS9 needs medication, that DD12, at that age, was also distracted to the point of lunacy, and such a space cadet that he was sure something was wrong with her. She is now competing prominently in martial arts, and doing amazing things in academics, though she still has "ditzy" spells now and then that flabbergast me (can't put a hairbrush down in the bathroom, but has to carry it to another room and then lay it down randomly, for instance, and also cannot seem to stop dropping clothing on the floor). When DS9 followed in her footsteps a bit earlier than she did (he was an early bloomer, hormonally) we didn't freak out quite so much when he became a basket-case right about the time he started getting armpit odor. Not saying your child doesn't have a problem, but hoping to reveal what I went through, in searching about the issue, which was that everyone I consulted in homeschooling circles and out, confirmed that their child on the threshold of adolescence (age range 8 to 13!) was so sloppy, careless, inattentive, irresponsible, and spacey, that they all thought at the time there must be something wrong with them. Some quoted Maria Montessori (I think it was) that the peri-adolescent period was wasted time, and that they should even cease academics and focus on handicrafts instead, until it passed. hehe. Being perimenopausal now myself, I can believe it. If this is going through puberty in reverse, it stinks. I sat there waiting at 3 green lights yesterday. Seriously. The rowdy little brothers are definitely a problem for my DD. I have offered to have her go to the library for some peace and quiet, or to her room (which is the only room in the house from which household noise can't be heard) but she doesn't like that much quiet, so I still don't have a solution. For my DD12, martial arts competitions are an outlet, plus knowing that she's on the waiting list for an arts-based charter high school year after next. If the local school weren't such a dismal social environment (among the worst in our state) I would have sent her to school for her own sanity, by now. On the other side of the coin, one of mine might actually be what you'd call dysgraphic. DS9 has always been very gross-motor oriented, was talented at kicking a ball, running, balancing on one leg at a young age, but fine motor really lags for him, and at 7, his handwriting was really poor, more like toddler scrawl. I also haven't been the most consistent teacher, with a toddler and a preschooler meanwhile, but finally at 9.5, he is learning cursive, in large form, using Peterson Directed Handwriting's Rhythmic Motion Method, with chants, and not going small until large-form gross motor patterns are internalized. It's finally working. He may actually be writing in large, but legible, form, by 10. I just couldn't prioritize that as a hill to die on, at any point in the last few years, and since his keyboarding was good, and his speaking/reading/typewriting ability were great, I let it go, even though I think handwriting is important at some point. For him, it had to be later rather than sooner. Practice makes progress, and perfection isn't required. Hope you don't think I am belittling your situation with your daughter, because I don't pretend to know the intimate details. Just sharing some baseline similarities, saying I feel your pain in certain areas, and giving some perspective. I now fully expect DS6 to go spacey in 2 to 3 years, and stay that way for a few. Other moms assure me that it passes, and that our kids aren't crazy, and that a glass of wine in time, saves nine lives or something to that effect. hehe. <hugs>
  5. Mice are the worst! You have my sympathy! We had a mouse problem a couple of years ago, and I never knew I would be the kind of woman up on a chair shrieking for my husband (he's smaller than I am) until the darned things invaded, then started chasing us around! I was wishing for a carver's knife. Mice seemed cute to me, before that event, but never again. Growing mint around the foundation helps. They hate it, and it can deter them from entering, but it won't do a thing if they are already inside. Having cats helps also, but I'm too allergic. If you can stand them as pets, pet rats will keep mice away, as rats are predators who mice wisely fear. Likewise snakes (if you can stand them, again).
  6. There have been times over the past 8 homeschooling years in which we had "family closing procedure" and DH would take certain kid(s) in one direction and I take certain other(s) in another, and one of us would herd them in helping (at their level) to pick up and sweep the living rm/dng/rm/study and the other team would do the kitchen. Then we could enjoy a happy evening together, somehow, between kid bedtimes and late-night Star Trek or something. But that was only those rare "sweet spot" years when we didn't happen to be going through the toddler years of one of our more difficult children. Of which we have a 50% success rate at having. Currently, Difficult Child #2 is in the toddler phase, and my oldest is 12, and I clean my kitchen when it stinks and the floor is crunchy, or when DH has the day off and I can muster the will. Seriously. But I know that this too shall pass and one of these days our home will be more like a home again and less like a hovel. For now we have 4 kids, two of whom are in the throes of early adolescence, and the other two are Littles. And 3 are boys. Right now I am having a hard time, with perimenopausal midcycle mood swings and hot flashes into the mix. My kitchen is pretty gross, but on weekends I blare the classic rock in the kitchen, settle the kids with popcorn and a cartoon movie, and finally see clean surfaces and get laundry put away, and if I'm lucky, I pour a boiling kettle over the worst spots and get it all mopped. It stays clean for 12 hours or so. Hope that helps.
  7. Since we have used Math Mammoth as well as other things, thought I would share our mileage: Math Mammoth is something I am now looking into again, after doing it for 5th grade and 2nd grade. My daughter benefited the most from the incremental nature of it, and the detailed explanations of the conceptual. My son, who was quicker to intuit arithmetic abstracts, found it tedious. We have also used Khan Academy for years now, and my daughter went through several stages of love/hate with it...specifically, in order to learn long division, she really did need to do it at a chalkboard. Something about doing it large, with her whole arm, going in that triangle shape, cemented the algorithm for her in ways a computer screen could not. She also sometimes listens to Salman Khan's friendly digital blackboard-style lectures and goes glaze-eyed, if the concept isn't easy for her. His words turn to gobbledegook. My son actually prefers listening to Khan lecture, than to me explain, even when it's something I am itching to explain to him in far fewer words than Khan's video. My daughter now, at 12, enjoys Khan Academy, but found out it wasn't enough, when she was over halfway through Khan's pre-algebra, but fell on her face trying to do the Bridge activities in Life of Fred: Fractions. She was appalled and embarrassed, but has embraced Life of Fred as a supplement to Khan. On Khan, all her progress is saved, and she can do Mastery Challenges. Life of Fred is helping her fill in conceptual holes she didn't know she had until she attempted Life of Fred. She was too used to just performing the calculations, and not enough used to flexing her mental muscle to use math as a tool when presented with outside-the-box challenges such as Life of Fred presents. We have Life of Fred: Decimals on its way through interlibrary loan, and I am looking again into Math Mammoth for its very thorough 7th Grade/Prealgebra curriculum, because once a kid masters that, they are fully ready for high school algebra, no need to do an 8th grade intermediary step such as "basic algebra" or "8th grade prealgebra". I think we will always use Khan along with whatever else, but she needs more practice and review than Khan alone supplies. Khan has improved dramatically since we started, and there is now the choice to view a grade level of math curriculum as a series of instructional/tutorial videos, with sets of practice exercises to follow, more like being in a virtual classroom or attending distance learning. That is helping my son, because it presents 3rd grade math with a sensible flow of topics made up of lectures, followed by "try it" exercises. I don't think I ever found anything to beat Khan Academy for times when I needed to put homeschooling "on life support" while I was having a complicated pregnancy, or during the newborn phase, or during several weeks of round-and-round winter colds and flu. Even if nothing else gets done and the laundry is piled up and dishes are in wash-in-order-to-eat mode, my older two (9 and 12) can get on Khan, fulfill my minimum requirement of any and all mastery challenges plus 3-5 new topics to practice (or else in the more classroom model, watch the instructional videos and practice the problems for 2 new things), and make positive forward progress that adds up, with reports available for Daddy to see, without my doing a thing. To add to the benefit, Khan now has added a lot of history, science, and last I heard, also adding Grammar offerings in the forms of videos, and that progress is also listed in each kid's record, for us to see or show to Daddy. So if I needed to, I could assign my older daughter to use Khan as fully automated educational life support, and she'd still come out better than her public-schooled counterparts. it's not the best I could do under good circumstances, but it is good enough, if it needs to be. I have a child who just turned 6, and a toddler as well, and my mother is in seriously failiing health and we are trying to get the renovation done for a bed/bath for her to move into by the end of the month, so I am now just doing handwriting with DS9 and DS6, doing read-aloud/snuggle with DS2 and DS6, and setting my daughter her choice of LoF or Khan for math, and finishing out her LA textbook because she can open-and-go without my help, and overseeing DS9 on Khan for math, and the rest is Curiosity Stream documentaries on the sofa, and audiobooks. Curiosity Stream has so much for science, history, the arts, and even math appreciation, that it has been a major benefit to us, and it's only $3 a month. Sorry for rambling reply, but hope any of this helps.
  8. Wow, thank you, all of you! So many helpful tips, and especially the video.
  9. You and I have that in common. I learned to write cursive backwards, mirror-script, in high school as well, and for me it was partly boredom, and partly being tired of always having my hand resting on the spiral, or the rings of a notebook, and feeling irritated, wishing I could just write the way others do, in the same position and direction. I quit after a while because no one else could read it, and because reading my own mirror writing started messing with my head once I did it enough to get comfortable with it. I started forgetting which way was left and which was right, and even my gait started to be affected, like if I started thinking about left vs. right while walking, I could stumble. Really bizarre, isn't it? ;)
  10. Visiting the classroom, if the teacher/school will permit it, sounds like a good idea in any case. As for fifth grade having a lot of downtime, that is absolutely not true in our area. Recess in 5th grade is 20 minutes (as is lunch) and stops being offered after 5th grade. Then in 6th grade, a friend of my daughter's, came to an extracurricular activity they both attend, starving, one evening, because she had not eaten any lunch. Why? Because the school had cut lunch down to 13 minutes, most of which got used up in getting to the lunchroom and through the line, so the poor girl had no chance to eat lest she be late getting back to class. Maybe she could have crammed some food in her mouth if she hadn't also had to use the restroom before heading to the lunchline...but 13 minutes is not enough to go to the bathroom (first chance since leaving home that morning), get to through the lunchline, and eat. Happily, enough parents seem to have complained, that the school increased the lunch period to either 18 or 20 minutes. But that's certainly not enough to both eat, and have a conversation, and it's not enough downtime in a day. So practices vary widely, apparently.
  11. I sympathize with your sense of wrongness about who owns your son's work. The school may own the textbooks and therefore be in their rights to keep them at school, but what about his original work? I think the last person, who mentioned that parents really don't often realize the extent of what happens when you send them to school, explained it best. Someone I know was outraged when she found out that her daughter had been traumatized by bullying from other girls in 4th grade, and the school had been involved, and had numerous meetings between the girls and had even sent the affected girl to counseling...and no one felt it was necessary to inform the parents. The mother only found out far too late to become involved, once her daughter was safely past the events enough, to confide it all to her mother. After the fact. There really is this embedded idea that school is not the parent's business, even though they all say they want parental involvement. I suppose parental involvement is for fundraisers and volunteering in specific ways, and that is it. But I homeschool, and so my first reaction to your description of the situation, other than sympathy with the cause of your outrage (it's the principle of the thing! It's like a doctor's office keeping your own medical records from you!), is to think that if you want ownership of his education for him, as proctored by you, you need to consider homeschooling, because that is about the only way to accomplish that.
  12. Thank you for the updated recommendations! What progression might be recommended for a 12-year-old (grade 7) who has never done narration, copywork, or dictation before? Should I start her with WWS, or should I go back to Level One of WWE and hope to hurry through all that, first? Start with Level 2 of WWE? I tried her on the Level 4 dictation work in WWE and could see that that is a skill that must be built up more slowly, but I don't have time to take her through several years of narration, dictation, and copywork. How does one get a student this age ready for WWS, when they have never done any WWE? Thanks for any pointers.
  13. I am a lefty, and trying to write with my arm and paper positioned as a mirror-image to a right-hander never worked well for me, because the strokes are all pushed instead of pulled, in that position, and it was awkward. Using tripod grip, my writing would always seem to be trying to lean backwards. If right-handers could experience writing backwards (from right to left) while holding their pencil and paper in the exact same position they normally use to write forwards, they would know how it feels for lefties to do the same. However, the grip I developed as a way to use the pencil or pen to pivot in my hand, so as to form cursive and handwriting that looked like normal, was this elaborate grip whereby the point of the pencil came out at the bottom of my hand, and instead of using my arm, I used the muscles of my hand to pivot the pencil in the proper direction (forward and to the right, or down/back and to the left) like this: / But in my forties, I find this grip makes writing by hand painful. I wish I had been taught the "downstroke" mentioned in Peterson Directed Handwriting as the optimal way to teach a lefty, so that ink never gets smeared, the cursive is pretty, and the hand doesn't wear out...but it involves writing vertically, downward toward one's body, with the paper turned a full 90 degrees, such that the long edge of the paper is parallel with the desk, and the top of the paper is nearest the right hand. I'm hoping to teach that to my lefty son, who is now 6, but maybe HWT is better for lefties? I don't like the look of HWT, but looks are secondary to efficacy and ergonomics, and it that makes more sense than the complicated "downstroke" method, I'm open to it. As for stroke order, I learned just how important that is, when learning Japanese. Trying to "draw" representations of characters any old way, makes them look bizarre to anyone else, and the same tends to be true in English once the writer goes more quickly.
  14. wow, thank you all! You really helped me, and now I know exactly where to go and what to look at, too (thanks for the links, AttachedMama)! I now feel confident to go forth, use the placement tests, get manipulatives, and get going!
  15. My daughter is 12, and I am having a hard time figuring out where to start with her in SWB's methods described in TWTM 4th edition, as well as Write With Ease that I got for our younger sons. I can see that the ability to do dictation is not something to jump into at the fourth grade level, for someone who has never done it before, even if she is 12. But what then? Start at second level dictation and hope to go through it all a lot faster? Skip dictation and get Writing With Skill? I think copywork would even do her some good at this point, as her mechanics and grammar leave much to be desired. Apparently the Houghton-Mifflin Spelling and Vocabulary books weren't as useful as they seemed, for learning and retention of their content, because they also contain a writing component with punctuation, light grammar, etc, but in attempting dictation, I see she has no intuitive grasp of mechanics, and even her spelling is weak. How can I get her up to speed for 8th grade, in such a short time? Is there a way to "fast-track" dictation and copywork in the remaining months til 8th grade, so that we can start diagramming and formal grammar? Also, when doing dictation, I still don't get how it is to be done: Does one read entire sentences at a time, but slowly, pausing to let the student's writing speed catch up, or is the student expected not to write anything until the reading is done, and then write the entire dictation from memory? Hoping anyone can help me sort all this out.
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