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LAmom

HELP. My 9yo failed this school year...

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Okay, I know grades (grade 3) don't matter necessarily--though they have to at some point if your kid needs to get through highschool and work on getting the proper credits, etc.-- but my 3rd grader ds, now just turned 9yo, has officially failed this school year in my opinion.  He did not do well on his end-of-year math test (math mammoth), he has no idea how to do his English, meaning he still can't figure out how to diagram, tell me what an adjective or adverb is, confuses nouns, verbs, etc.  He is not a very good reader (and does not like to read in his free time), his handwriting looks worse than my 1st graders, etc., etc., etc.  CAP Fable is a HUGE challenge.  He spelled these words today:  drew as drue, grabbed as craded, yelled as yould.  So, yes, he can't spell well either.  :(  I think if I would have given those words as a spelling test he may have thought harder vs these being words he wrote on his English test and did not think phonetically before writing them.

 

I can go on and on, and I am sorry this seems so negative.  I have tried hard to work with him 1:1 all year.  It seems as though we should do 3rd grade work all over again.  He just doesn't like school.  I don't think there is a learning disability, though maybe?  It just seems like he is constantly distracted and uninterested.  But, he has great focus when it is something he wants to do!  He is a hard worker in other areas.  

 

My husband thinks he should redo 3rd grade.  If the forum doesn't recommend this, how do you then keep a kid on track to finish things like math and english in time for high school?  I know I can't keep just plowing him through and he needs to master these basics.  

 

OH, I'm so frustrated.  We are on vacation for the next week so school is on break.  We have been behind and that is why we are still schooling in July (as we normally take summer breaks).

 

I can't fathom spending any energy on TOG history, literature, and then science next year if these things don't improve first.  I don't think I can explain to him the subject and predicate of a sentence ONE MORE TIME.  Ugh. 

 

Thanks for listening to my ramble.  I am so disappointed in this school year.  :(

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Okay, I know grades (grade 3) don't matter necessarily--though they have to at some point if your kid needs to get through highschool and work on getting the proper credits, etc.-- but my 3rd grader ds, now just turned 9yo, has officially failed this school year in my opinion.  He did not do well on his end-of-year math test (math mammoth), he has no idea how to do his English, meaning he still can't figure out how to diagram, tell me what an adjective or adverb is, confuses nouns, verbs, etc.  He is not a very good reader (and does not like to read in his free time), his handwriting looks worse than my 1st graders, etc., etc., etc.  CAP Fable is a HUGE challenge.  He spelled these words today:  drew as drue, grabbed as craded, yelled as yould.  So, yes, he can't spell well either.   :(  I think if I would have given those words as a spelling test he may have thought harder vs these being words he wrote on his English test and did not think phonetically before writing them.

 

I can go on and on, and I am sorry this seems so negative.  I have tried hard to work with him 1:1 all year.  It seems as though we should do 3rd grade work all over again.  He just doesn't like school.  I don't think there is a learning disability, though maybe?  It just seems like he is constantly distracted and uninterested.  But, he has great focus when it is something he wants to do!  He is a hard worker in other areas.  

 

My husband thinks he should redo 3rd grade.  If the forum doesn't recommend this, how do you then keep a kid on track to finish things like math and english in time for high school?  I know I can't keep just plowing him through and he needs to master these basics.  

 

OH, I'm so frustrated.  We are on vacation for the next week so school is on break.  We have been behind and that is why we are still schooling in July (as we normally take summer breaks).

 

I can't fathom spending any energy on TOG history, literature, and then science next year if these things don't improve first.  I don't think I can explain to him the subject and predicate of a sentence ONE MORE TIME.  Ugh. 

 

Thanks for listening to my ramble.  I am so disappointed in this school year.   :(

 

Under no circumstances would I recommend making your dc "repeat" 3rd grade. Next year you work on the things he needs to improve, but you do NOT make him "redo 3rd grade."

 

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How do you work on things he hasn't done well with and keep up with the new stuff?  What is the reason for not redoing 3rd grade?  Just curious.  

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What we are saying is next year call him 4th grade. But use materials that meet him where he is at. 

 

Also, a big flag for me was that he might need a spiral curriculum instead of mastery. My son would do great on each individual math mammoth lesson, but would fail the tests because he had forgotten everything by then. Switching to a program that kept him reviewing every day made ALL the difference. (CLE would be my reccomendation). Also, keep in mind that most/all 3rd graders in public school have never even been taught what a noun is, so he certainly wouldn't fail the year for that!  Again, constant review helps. Do the placement tests at CLE. And absolutely feel free to drop the bulk of the content subjects to work on the 3 Rs. You should keep up with the idea of content, because having that kind of cultural literacy will help his reading and writing, but it can be simple stuff like reading books to him from the library, documentaries on netflix, etc. 

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Lots of people don't even start grammar until fourth grade, so to them he wouldn't be "behind" for not knowing his parts of speech.

 

Spelling -- he wouldn't be held back for that in ps, either. Sometimes we set the bar so high as homeschoolers, because so many of our kids can easily hurdle; we start to forget what the word "average" means and we want to hold kids back for not being above average.

 

What if you lower the bar? Is it possible your son is an entirely average learner with no disabilities (as you suspect) and you are just giving him work that is too advanced?

 

We can help you sort this with some more info about curriculum choices. What have you done for phonics and spelling? How did you teach grammar?

Another thought from a mother of four sons -- it never, ever worked for me to hold back on history and science until their 3R's were more solid. The history, science, and lit were the subjects my sons loved AND why they were willing to "do school" in the first place. I always think it's a mistake to take away everything interesting until it's earned (?) by getting the drudge work down first. That backfires.

 

Edited to add: Although about that, I agree 100% with Katie, posting above me, that those content subjects can be covered lots of fun and effective ways, and not just more highly academic work that will make him balk because it's too hard.

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How do you work on things he hasn't done well with and keep up with the new stuff?  What is the reason for not redoing 3rd grade?  Just curious.  

 

My daughter will be in "6th grade."  She works almost across the board at a 4th grade level.   Or, in other words, her 6th grade looks a lot like other kids' 4th grade.  One advantage of homeschooling is being able to customize what each school year ("grade") looks like.   I'm not teaching to a test or a set of standards, I'm teaching to *my child.*

 

The only time grade level ever comes up for us is in terms of social activities like youth group and sports. We have no testing or oversight requirements in California.  If we did, I would probably list her as her academic grade level (4th) on official forms so she could take the appropriate level tests - but still maintain her age-based grade level for social stuff.

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If he dislikes TOG, I wouldn't worry that much about it. In my opinion, I would save your energy for the subjects where it *really* matters, which at his age would be reading, penmanship, and math. Of course, if he *likes* it, I would continue, but it doesn't sound like he does.

 

Evaluate what went wrong. For example, with math, was he doing well all along and just did not do well on the end-of-year test? Then maybe you need to add some more cumulative review. In this case, I would review more and retest, and consider switching to a curriculum which incorporates continual review, such as Saxon or CLE. If he was NOT doing well all along, then I think this is a problem -- if he isn't understanding, you need to stop and camp out.

 

With penmanship, is he practicing every single day?

 

With reading, is there anything he's more interested in that you could find books about?

 

I wouldn't worry as much about formal grammar with a student who is not reading well, and I think CAP Fable was probably more than he was ready for.

 

In all subjects, I would NOT worry about marrying what he is doing to the grade level he is recorded as. He needs to be instructed at HIS level, and if that means he's not at the same grade in all subjects, then that's fine. That's why we homeschool.

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It just seems like he is constantly distracted and uninterested. But, he has great focus when it is something he wants to do! He is a hard worker in other areas.

For math, do a review for 3rd grade and work at his pace for 4th.

What interest your son? I'll play to his interest/passion to work on his weaker areas.

For example if he like robots, I'll get him library books on robots for his reading.

For grammar review, my kids find the schoolhouse rocks youtube videos fun. My 4th grader did better at diagramming this year, last year was touch and go.

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If he struggles in multiple language areas, and you can get him evaluated for a learning issue, I would do so. Just knowing there is or isn't one is a major help in the frustration department. It helps me when my hFA son struggles to express something in descriptive language when I remember that one of his major weaknesses is expressing himself in that manner, and that for him, building his stock of strongly descriptive nouns and verbs is something I've always got to work on. It helps me to remember that he is likely to always go for the non-fiction over the fiction reading, and that when I pick fiction for him, it is my job to find things that will help build the language that is likely to be helpful for him and for the way he writes.

 

There may not be one, but if you have a willing, hard working kid who is floundering where you think he should be, it makes sense to me to figure out if there is something getting in the way there.

 

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You can re-do third grade level work (or heck, even back up to second grade work) without officially holding him back in third grade.

 

I wouldn't make a decision to formally hold back a grade until late middle school, when courses can affect transcripts in the looming high school years, SAT scores, etc and a child simply needs more time; I also believe that by this time a parent knows at about what pace their child learns. We are holding our eldest back a year, formally, this year (another grade 7), as she is pretty sure she wants to try the local Catholic high school for high school, and she definitely needs another year before she's capable of high school level language arts across the curriculum (dyslexic).

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Also, like a previous poster mentioned, check out spiral programs. Try CLE for math and language arts (placement test this - they can be considered ahead of other programs) - even my mathy, but dyslexic with working memory issues, kiddo floundered with Math Mammoth (not enough review). For spelling try Apples and Pears.

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I, too, wouldn't hold him back but would meet him where he is at.  Like others have mentioned, I would evaluate why things didn't work well and think about what kind of learner he is.

 

Switching my DD to a spiral math has been very beneficial for her retention.  There are many options, with CLE or Saxon or Horizons.  How are spelling and grammar approached?  For a child slow at reading, these skills often lag.  I think most kids don't retain grammar at this age.  It takes the repetition of many years before they are able to reliably apply it.  Instead of a history and science cycle, you could cover topics that he is interested in.  Let him pick books he is interested in as well. 

 

My DD is also not very interested in school.  I have learned that short lessons help her tremendously.

 

Above all, don't compare.  My older DS is an ideal student.  He does his work, memorizes with ease, and will tackle anything you throw at him.  My DD is not the same.  She does have learning disabilities, but, nevertheless, I always have to remind myself that she is a different type of learner.  Everything takes more repetition, time, and effort.  I just have to challenge them differently from one another.

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To answer some questions:

 

We used Rod and Staff 3 for English and some of Rod and Staff 2/3 for Spelling.  We did try AAS 1, 2, and 3 but it really was time consuming for us and expensive.  Maybe I need to go back to it...

 

As I stated, I used Math Mammoth for math.  The updated MM has more review, cumulative tests, etc.  I did those through the year, though not consistently.  He seemed to be doing well all year long with mistakes here and there, but overall showed understanding.  He actually seems to like math.  The end of year test--I don't know what happened.  He had silly mistakes.  I also saw some areas he just doesn't get (order of operations).  After he failed the test, the next day I had him do some tests from the year and he also did not do well on those.  :(  

 

He likes cars.  A LOT.  Anything cars.  I get him books from the library to read about cars.  They are heavy pictures books but he still seems to read some of it.  Not any good boy series on cars that I can find (chapter books).

 

I don't want to drop the bar.  I am trying to work with him where I think he should be at, being relaxed in some areas.  I understand he may be slower to read, etc.  I know he is a different learner than my 5th grader and 1st grader.  I really don't care what public schools do or what level he would be at there.  They pass kids on through high school that can't read all the time.  I want to hold my son to classical private school standards!  I don't send him to public schools for a reason.  I want high standards.  I don't want to aim low.  So, I am trying to find balance there, with realistic standards.

 

I wouldn't even consider TOG if it weren't for my 6th grader.  Now I'm wondering if I should just forget it all together and do SOTW or MOH instead for all of them.  I want to keep the kids doing the same history.  History does not interest him (unless the history of cars!).  

 

I don't know how to force him to write neatly.  Just keep doing daily writing and correct letters that are wrong?  It is so SLOPPY!  

 

 

 

 

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Get an OT evaluation for the handwriting. I have awful handwriting. I would get straight A's in school and a C in handwriting, every year. I promise, it wan't an issue of lack of practice or lack of desire to improve. Those C's were humiliating. But I never got any better. I wish I'd seen an OT to fix the problem, or at least diagnose it. 

 

For math, he really sounds like he needs a spiral program. It will make all the difference. Rod and Staff is also mastery, switching to a spiral grammar program might help. CLE includes spelling as well, in the language arts. Do take the placement test, it is really pretty advanced. Better to go back, get it right, and then move ahead quickly.

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What we're telling you is that the numbers of the grade levels don't have anything to do with whether he hits those dream classical standards by graduation or not. We're telling you he is more likely to do it if you fit his needs, including lowering the bar so he can get over it, so he can then successfully build on truly-earned skills and then soar, probably even higher than you're hoping for. BTDT. It's true.

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What we're telling you is that the numbers of the grade levels don't have anything to do with whether he hits those dream classical standards by graduation or not. We're telling you he is more likely to do it if you fit his needs, including lowering the bar so he can get over it, so he can then successfully build on truly-earned skills and then soar, probably even higher than you're hoping for. BTDT. It's true.

 

Yup. He's young. My son at that age was behind in reading and had never heard of a noun. 9 months later he was reading at a 9th grade reading level. Go figure. 

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What we're telling you is that the numbers of the grade levels don't have anything to do with whether he hits those dream classical standards by graduation or not. We're telling you he is more likely to do it if you fit his needs, including lowering the bar so he can get over it, so he can then successfully build on truly-earned skills and then soar, probably even higher than you're hoping for. BTDT. It's true.

 

:iagree:

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Keep working where he is. It's ok. Don't buy curriculum with grade levels in mind. Buy with your son in mind.

 

FWIW, I'm another one who has a dyslexic/dysgraphic child who was not successful with MM but has been wildly successful (with daily, hard work) with CLE. I'd also recommend AAS and some copy work, even a simple handwriting book. Try cursive, you might be surprised.

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Okay, thank you for the encouragement.  It is so frustrating.  I will look at CLE math and even the language arts.  I hate jumping around in curricula because I feel like that puts us more behind (in my world of where he should be at...).  I will also check out Apples to Pears.  I'm just not 100% convinced changing is the solution vs more review??

 

Maybe I should ditch CAP fable for now and do WWE3?  Daily copywork, math facts, etc.  

 

I'm having trouble knowing how to have the balance of working at his speed and then ends up doing a 3rd grade math book in 5th grade kind of thing.  Doesn't that catch up to them?  All of a sudden they are in 8th grade and not ready for Algebra or any kind of high school testing, etc.  Same with an 8th grader who can't spell or really even write a decent paragraph.

 

I also have hesitated with heavy history in his future (TOG--for D stage when he gets there; even R)--because I have a feeling he will be more math, science vs history/lit.  In one way that is where CC was nice for him.  He did great at memorizing so I knew at least he was getting some history!

 

 

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As I stated, I used Math Mammoth for math.  The updated MM has more review, cumulative tests, etc.  I did those through the year, though not consistently.  He seemed to be doing well all year long with mistakes here and there, but overall showed understanding.  He actually seems to like math.  The end of year test--I don't know what happened.  He had silly mistakes.  I also saw some areas he just doesn't get (order of operations).  After he failed the test, the next day I had him do some tests from the year and he also did not do well on those.   :(

 

I would consider the lack of consistency to be a problem. Please understand that I'm NOT lecturing you -- I fully understand how the year can get away from you -- but you need to honestly evaluate what went wrong.

 

I think -- if you had him do some tests and he didn't do well -- I would go ahead and repeat the math, but with a different program. I think doing the SAME program over again is very demoralizing. I'd look into spiral programs -- my first thought would be Saxon or CLE. Saxon's placement test is free -- CLE's costs $2, unless there's a free one somewhere I missed.

 

With respect to reading -- The Mouse and the Motorcycle/Ralph S. Mouse are a little high (4.1) but he may find the subject matter interesting enough to really push through the difficulty.

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To answer some questions:

 

We used Rod and Staff 3 for English and some of Rod and Staff 2/3 for Spelling.  We did try AAS 1, 2, and 3 but it really was time consuming for us and expensive.  Maybe I need to go back to it...

 

As I stated, I used Math Mammoth for math.  The updated MM has more review, cumulative tests, etc.  I did those through the year, though not consistently.  He seemed to be doing well all year long with mistakes here and there, but overall showed understanding.  He actually seems to like math.  The end of year test--I don't know what happened.  He had silly mistakes.  I also saw some areas he just doesn't get (order of operations).  After he failed the test, the next day I had him do some tests from the year and he also did not do well on those.   :(

 

He likes cars.  A LOT.  Anything cars.  I get him books from the library to read about cars.  They are heavy pictures books but he still seems to read some of it.  Not any good boy series on cars that I can find (chapter books).

 

I don't want to drop the bar.  I am trying to work with him where I think he should be at, being relaxed in some areas.  I understand he may be slower to read, etc.  I know he is a different learner than my 5th grader and 1st grader.  I really don't care what public schools do or what level he would be at there.  They pass kids on through high school that can't read all the time.  I want to hold my son to classical private school standards!  I don't send him to public schools for a reason.  I want high standards.  I don't want to aim low.  So, I am trying to find balance there, with realistic standards.

 

I wouldn't even consider TOG if it weren't for my 6th grader.  Now I'm wondering if I should just forget it all together and do SOTW or MOH instead for all of them.  I want to keep the kids doing the same history.  History does not interest him (unless the history of cars!).  

 

I don't know how to force him to write neatly.  Just keep doing daily writing and correct letters that are wrong?  It is so SLOPPY!  

 

I think you've gotten some great advice from the group so far.  I have the updated MM and it did not work for my son.  He could do it but his retention wasn't good. CLE (spiral) works wonderfully and my son has excelled.   It may be time to reconsider your Math program.

 

Re: " I don't want to drop the bar." & "I am trying to work with him where I think he should be at."

I say this gently...You aren't dropping the bar as though you dc has failed or hasn't measured up.  Measured up to what?  What are you basing your ideas on to know what level he should be at?  Even in public school you'll have a wide range of skills/performance.  As others have pointed out your son wouldn't be held back for the performance that you noted.   Kids will have times they are sailing along and times they stall with learning, that's normal.   I wouldn't look at any of the struggles you noted as deal breakers that your child should be held back.  Instead I'd use them as clues.  It seems as though you like MM but if your dc doesn't retain it-it's time to look at something else.  I do think if you dc is demonstrating long term comprehension issues he needs you to be consistent with whatever program you choose making sure your doing plenty of review.

 

You can't "force" a child to write neatly.  You can come along side them and provide them with the daily practice they need to improve that skills.  It's not uncommon for a 3rd grade boy to have poor handwriting.  He just finished third grade there is still hope for him, I promise!

 

Take some deep breaths and meet him where he is at-no matter what grade level that is.  Adjust your curriculum based on his learning style and needs and I bet things will turn around for him. 

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A lot of those spelling mistakes actually DO make sense from a phonetic standpoint. My middle brother is like that. He is an ATROCIOUS speller, but all his mistakes make phonetic sense. He's constantly choosing the wrong vowel or vowel team, missing silent or doubled letters, and so on. I suspect he has a very weak visual memory for how words should be spelled. He might spell the same word 3 different ways in the course of a paragraph and not even realize it.

 

AVKO Sequential Spelling might be a program to look into if your current program isn't working.

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I'm having trouble knowing how to have the balance of working at his speed and then ends up doing a 3rd grade math book in 5th grade kind of thing.  Doesn't that catch up to them?  All of a sudden they are in 8th grade and not ready for Algebra or any kind of high school testing, etc.  Same with an 8th grader who can't spell or really even write a decent paragraph.

 

 

 

I DO understand your perspective but if I can just encourage you that it us highly unlikely unless something else comes into play such as an LD that he will never catch up!

 

I pulled my oldest (4th grade then) from PS last November.  He was behind in math and getting pull out services to try to bring him up to speed.  We did three different math programs before we found a good fit for him.  So math was inconsistent and we jumped around until March of this year!   From March-June he flew through CLE math and did awesome.  My guy has ADHD and we just had a Neuro-Psych eval done and they fully tested him for any math disabilities since he was so behind in public school.  Ya know what, he scored perfectly average for kids his exact age an month.  What's so amazing about that is the fact he had only done 3 months of consistent math at home and he wasn't even half way through the 4th grade CLE program yet his scores were consistent with having finished 4th grade.  We found a program that worked for him and he took off & I hope it's the same case for you dc.  I don't automatically assume curriculum hoping is the best choice but at times it's needed.

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The difference between, say, CLE, and "adding in more review" is huge. With CLE, or Saxon, you will cover a topic that day, do 6 problems on that topic, then all the rest of the problems are on topics already covered. So MOST of the work is review, with just a few new things, ever day. It works SO well for some kids, mine included. And it helps with confidence. You can always do math year round, to "catch up". 

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With respect to dropping the bar:

 

Suppose that we have decided that high jump is essential to education. We have decided that 3rd graders should be able to jump over 4 feet by the end of 3rd grade. However, Jenny is struggling. Jenny is a foot shorter than all the other students in her class, and every time Jenny tries to jump over 4 feet, she hits the bar and falls down. Jenny is unhappy and hates high jumping class. 

 

We can leave the bar at 4 feet, and tell Jenny "your grade can do this. Jump! Jump! Keep jumping!" The odds are, here, that Jenny will continue to hate high jumping class, and that she will never learn to jump properly, because the bar is set too high for someone of her height and current ability.

 

Or we can lower the bar to something Jenny CAN clear with some effort. As she becomes better, we can gradually raise the bar. Jenny may never hit the achievement level of the other students in her age group (although you never know, she may experience a growth spurt), but she will experience continual growth. She will also be succeeding at something instead of failing, which will do wonders for her attitude towards practicing jumping.

 

For some reason, it seems so obvious in athletic terms -- but the same thing applies to academics.

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This is straight up honestly how I would tackle the dilemma.  I would talk with my husband more as I value our goals for our children's education first and foremost.  Homeschooling and your personal goals are subjective.  I would probably look at his learning style and probably change the curricula that I felt did not fit his learning style.  Not all children will do well in the classical school model.  Trying to keep the kids together in history may hinder him bridging gaps in the subjects he struggles in right now.  I would not worry over history right now at all.  You may have to step back and insert some other stuff to gain interest.  Timberdoodle has lots of historic graphic novels that my ds would devour anytime over a schoolish looking history book.  

I will tell you that 3rd-4th grade is the prime time to discover issues.  My ds has dysgraphia/dyslexia.   It is painful to watch him write and even more painful to try to read it sometimes.  His spelling was atrocious.  We pursued an eval beginning in 4th grade even though he reads like a champ.  BTW, his reading turned the corner dramatically over night it seemed after 3rd grade.  They were pretty amazed he read so well and definitely said if he hadn't been homeschooled that would probably not have been the case.  So I 2nd the evaluation suggestion.  Poor reading, poor spelling, and poor writing after finishing 3rd grade are huge red flags.

I would not look at it as failing ever.  I don't feel my ds has failed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade even though he did not complete all his curricula during those years or do so hot on the parts that he completed.  His standardized tests were abysmal those years as well.  Every year we moved up to the next age appropriate grade level even if he was not using that grade level material.  Normally he was just a grade level below here and there in certain subjects.  It is finally starting to level out this year.  He is pretty much working approaching grade level or grade level across the board.  I look at it as I met him where he was each year.  I gave him the gift of time to even out on some things and it gave us the gift of time to figure out what actually worked for him in the long run.  

I could have wrote your post 2 years ago.  I worried so much about ds and his "grade" level and what to do and if to keep moving him forward grade level wise as his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade looked nothing like my 2 older daughters.  I would encourage you to talk to your husband and your pediatrician.  Take in samples of his writing and spelling.  It could be something more than just him being disinterested.  

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I'm going to suggest a few things from the reading angle. If you think his problem is that he can read (reads well) but doesn't like it, stay with the non-fiction picture books he likes, but try to upgrade the reading content. A way I've done this with my hFA son is to head for the coffee table books. They are huge, beautiful pictures, and what do you know? The text is at a higher level. He has eclectic tastes (windmills, power lines--not electricity, the lines themselves) and currently he's into gears and circuits. It is very difficult to get him to read fiction of any kind, but you can work with the cars. Picking books that deal with one particular car at a time. Engine manuals. The manual for your car. And like I said, look at the coffee table books.

 

For handwriting, if the sloppiness reflects lack of interest in the topics, pick sentences from the above mentioned books on cars. I noticed that when my boys picked their own copywork books (I chose the length, mind!) their attention to detail increased dramatically. Somehow they don't want to misspell their precious dinosaurs or the names of various gears.

 

I also wouldn't fret the grammar. You'd be surprised just how much you have to drill that stuff to get it to stick, and even then, don't count on it carrying over into application! Ask me how I know. :rolleyes:

 

I'd second looking at a spiral math program, but don't get rid of your MM! It makes a nice addition to a spiral curriculum. You will likely find times when you need to stay on one concept for a while, and times when it is good to move on and hit it again later. MM is perfect for times when you need to hammer home a concept for a while.

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I also highly recommend CLE. Placement tests can be found here. Click on 'see a sample' and it will open a pdf of the entire placement test.

 

I third (or whatever, lol) the recommendation to consider an evaluation. Both the handwriting and the spelling could be red flags. It is something to at least keep in mind.

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To answer some questions:

 

We used Rod and Staff 3 for English and some of Rod and Staff 2/3 for Spelling.  We did try AAS 1, 2, and 3 but it really was time consuming for us and expensive.  Maybe I need to go back to it...

 

As I stated, I used Math Mammoth for math.  The updated MM has more review, cumulative tests, etc.  I did those through the year, though not consistently.  He seemed to be doing well all year long with mistakes here and there, but overall showed understanding.  He actually seems to like math.  The end of year test--I don't know what happened.  He had silly mistakes.  I also saw some areas he just doesn't get (order of operations).  After he failed the test, the next day I had him do some tests from the year and he also did not do well on those.   :(

 

He likes cars.  A LOT.  Anything cars.  I get him books from the library to read about cars.  They are heavy pictures books but he still seems to read some of it.  Not any good boy series on cars that I can find (chapter books).

 

I don't want to drop the bar.  I am trying to work with him where I think he should be at, being relaxed in some areas.  I understand he may be slower to read, etc.  I know he is a different learner than my 5th grader and 1st grader.  I really don't care what public schools do or what level he would be at there.  They pass kids on through high school that can't read all the time.  I want to hold my son to classical private school standards!  I don't send him to public schools for a reason.  I want high standards.  I don't want to aim low.  So, I am trying to find balance there, with realistic standards.

 

I wouldn't even consider TOG if it weren't for my 6th grader.  Now I'm wondering if I should just forget it all together and do SOTW or MOH instead for all of them.  I want to keep the kids doing the same history.  History does not interest him (unless the history of cars!).  

 

I don't know how to force him to write neatly.  Just keep doing daily writing and correct letters that are wrong?  It is so SLOPPY!  

 

Classical private school standards ≠ realistic standards. Classical private schools do not, for the most part, accept all students; they only accept the highest performing students. If your son (I am being real here) would not be accepted at that type of school, why would you hold him to the performance standards of the students that do go to that type of school? I understand wanting the best for your child, and wanting your child to excel in his studies, I really do. I have a child that works below grade level almost across the board. She passed R&S Grammar and Spelling for the first time in 4th grade, and she has been using them since 2nd grade. It just took that long for the basics to stick. Plus, with the grammar, some of the lack of understanding is normal; that is why they start over from the beginning in R&S every year through 5th grade...either the kids didn't get it the previous year, or they forgot it over the summer.

 

It does not matter how high I set the bar for my daughter, though, she can only perform at the level that she is capable of performing. I want the best for her; I want her to be smart, and capable, and full of wisdom, and to outshine her peers. But if I held her to classical private school standards, that would not be teaching the child that is sitting in front of me. That doesn't mean that I am reaching for mediocre with her; it means that I am teaching her to be the best that <daughter's name> can be, not the best that a group of students that have higher than average achievement scores can be.

 

As far as the handwriting, I have the same issue in my house with (not coincidentally) the same child I mentioned above. My standard is that if I can't read it, it is wrong; I erase it and hand it back to be done again neatly and legibly. I have grown quite impervious to tears and wailing. :tongue_smilie:

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I second a lot of the good advice above.  Particularly about how you're not lowering the bar, you're pushing him to work to his highest potential.  When you remove all your preconceived notions of where the bar "should" be (whether they're public school or private or WTM or whatever) and just focus on the child you have and helping that child reach his fullest potential in as many ways as possible as efficiently and positively as possible, then you're left with a kid who needs to just work more on this stuff.  And that's okay.  That's not lowering your standards.  One of the things public schools do that fail so many kids is continuing to expect higher and higher levels of work when kids haven't mastered those basics first.  They can't not fall further and further behind.  This is one of the benefits of homeschooling.  You're going to push him and eventually he may catch up to the bar you wanted...  or not.  But so what if he's reading "tenth grade" books as a high school senior?  You'll do the work that's at the best of his ability and keep re-evaluating that.

 

The thing you said that I really noticed was that you dropped AAS because of the one on one time commitment.  And I think, honestly, you have a big clue there.  Some kids just whiz through stuff but most of them need that time in some form or another so I would look at that and about how you can structure your day differently.

 

Also, Tibbie said this above, but I wanted to say it again that it doesn't work for many kids and for many homeschools as well to drop the science, history, geography, art, music, etc. stuff.  Yes, the basic skills are more important, but without the fun stuff to grease the wheels, school can become dry.  I mean, let's be honest, spelling is dry.  Basic arithmetic is dry.  The other stuff is a lot less dry.  So just think about that when you look at next year.  Sometimes it's good to pare down to the basics and really focus, but sometimes it's better to double down and do more school all around, including a lot more "enrichment" stuff.

 

Since you need to practice a lot of the same skills, I would really urge you, and I think you're doing this anyway, to pick new programs.  Programs that aren't by grade level can be even better sometimes.  Or programs like Teaching Textbooks that are a little behind grade level can also be a good way to do things.  And if TOG isn't exciting or fun for your ds, maybe think about what else might be.

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i just scanned through the replies but The Sentence Family really helped my ds get the parts of speech down.  My younger ds became enamored with it so we moved at a slower pace than I would have liked but I still think it was great!

 

Not full LA mind you, but good for that :-)

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Spalding with him. That will do the job for his spelling, reading, and penmanship. And it's ungraded--all children start at the same place.

 

Easy Grammar for grammar. There are only 8 parts of speech and some thingummies such as gerunds and phrases. How many years do native speakers of English need to study their own language?

 

Writing Strands, Level 3, for writing. WS is experience levels, not grade levels, so he'd be on par with writing. Do one level per year.

 

Saxon for math. Have him do the placement test, but probably he'd start at Math 54. Even if he takes two years to do it, he'll still be where he "should" be.

 

History and science...whatever is fun and enjoyable. History and science don't have grade levels. :-)

 

 

 

 

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I'm having trouble knowing how to have the balance of working at his speed and then ends up doing a 3rd grade math book in 5th grade kind of thing.  Doesn't that catch up to them?  All of a sudden they are in 8th grade and not ready for Algebra or any kind of high school testing, etc.  Same with an 8th grader who can't spell or really even write a decent paragraph.

 

But if that is the student you have, then that is the student you have. I have a student who will be starting 5th grade and is still in her 3rd grade math book. That is the best she can do. I can't jump her ahead in books or she will miss foundational material. I can't rush her through it or she will not grasp the concepts or practice enough to cement them in her head. I can't change her, I can't make her accelerated like her siblings. I can only teach her at the level that she is learning, period. No, she probably will not get past algebra 2 in high school (I am open to miracles, though, lol). But I would rather her go on to college (or whatever she wants to do) with a solid foundation in math up through algebra 2 than to have floundered through and not understood a thing from 3rd grade onward. The goal is yearly progress, not the completion of a specific level of study before graduation...if it is, then I, at least, have the wrong kid for that!

 

There is nothing wrong with working behind grade level. The only thing it might hurt (speaking from experience here) is your pride.

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I'm not using CAP, but I am using CW with my hFA boy. It's not to his strong point, and it is pretty rigorous, and from my understanding CAP is also a strong and good writing program. I wouldn't ditch it. I know what it is to let something go for the sake of working on something else, and it really killed us with writing this last year!

 

Just go slower. Take your time. There is nobody to tell you complete this lesson in x number of days or else!

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Or we can lower the bar to something Jenny CAN clear with some effort. As she becomes better, we can gradually raise the bar. Jenny may never hit the achievement level of the other students in her age group (although you never know, she may experience a growth spurt), but she will experience continual growth. She will also be succeeding at something instead of failing, which will do wonders for her attitude towards practicing jumping.

 

For some reason, it seems so obvious in athletic terms -- but the same thing applies to academics.

 

I would like to start by encouraging you to get your son evaluated. Being highly attentive, maybe even obsessive on things he likes and inattentive on other things is a red flag and it is one of several you mentioned. It may be there are no LDs or developmental concerns, and then you'll know that for sure. It may be that there are issues that you don't realize you are dealing with.

 

That said, what Kiana is trying to tell you is so true. Let me tell you the same thing from the perspective of my ds. He has multiple LDs. We pulled him out of public school when he was 11. He was an A/B student there, with some accommodations in place. When we got him home, I realized he was WAY behind in math, and there were other issues as well. We started where he was, not where I wanted him to be. We moved forward when he understood and mastered information, not when curriculum said go on to another topic. Today he is a 17 year old going into his senior year. His ACT scores will give him the highest level of academic scholarship available from the college of his choice (a competitive private LAC). He has done dual enrollment at the local state U and is taking multiple APs and will start college with over 30 hours of credit. He didn't get there because I kept the bar so high he couldn't jump it. He got there because I put the bar right at his level and kept moving it just enough to keep him challenged.

 

Some of the things you are giving of examples of your son's failures are very questionably age appropriate. Public schools here (very highly rated) begin grammar instruction in 4th grade. Order of operations wouldn't be introduced until 5th grade. The fact he is having trouble with some of these things may just be that he is a typical kid using curriculum that is asking him to do too much too soon. R&S is known as very rigorous grammar. Maybe that isn't where he needs to be right now or maybe he should be doing it a year behind. I haven't used MM, but if he didn't learn or retain concepts through the year, you may need to look for a math program that includes more review. I hate spirals - they were total failures for my kids who needed to completely understand a concept before leaving it. However, you need to decide if you can build in enough review with a mastery program or if a spiral might be the answer. Also, does he needs to redo the whole year of math or re-cover some selected topics and then proceed on. Then do you want to proceed with MM or with something else. 

 

When our kids don't thrive it is frustrating, but break it down. Did he really fail at everything this year? Does he really need to do it all over? If so, start over with all different 3rd grade materials and let him do it all over. I'd still call it 4th grade. He'll probably move through it quickly and you'll find yourself buying 4th grade by Christmas. If he really didn't fail at everything, figure out what exactly it is he needs to redo, and work on just those things until he is ready to move on. It is ok to delay starting 4th grade math. It is ok to delay starting 4th grade LA. Go ahead with history and science, but don't let them eat up your day. 

 

He is 9. The world hasn't ended yet. I'm not a delayed academics kinda gal, but really, he has plenty of time. Teach him where he is. Don't make him feel like a failure by telling him he is repeating a grade, just work with him where he is until he is and move at his pace. When he is ready for 4th grade - buy the new stuff :)

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Oh I'd make him redo the level of subject matter, but under no circumstances would I tell *him* that. He doesn't need to know, that's need to know only ;)

 

I'd say "okay! Here is what we are working on today" and set forth new curricula at a slower pace. Progress and work until he knows the material and toss grade level expectations put the window. He's an individual, not a common core average standard.

 

If it were me I'd be working basic arithmetic with manipulatives, if need be, until his math facts were down cold for that age level. Maybe money/clock work Mondays, Tuesdays/Thursdays for addition/subtraction fun with manipulatives and software or worksheets, Wednesdays for a math game, and let him pick what he want to review Friday, or use that as a catch all for temperature, weight, days of week/months of year.

 

I'd pick a solid progressive phonics program with spelling and grammar wrapped in. I'm a huge fan of LoE Essentials right now with my oldest, but there are literally dozens of basic and comprehensive programs to work on. I'd keep specific grammar and sentence diagramming to an absolute minimum, that's far less important that phoneme identification and fluid reading.

 

Reading would be simple, interesting books of his choice, and a progressive reader. I'd probably pick McGuffey or Climbing Higher, but again, there are dozens of selections in here. This might be a good time for Tom Swift, if he likes them. Anything to get him reading more, which will help his grammar and spelling passively.

 

Don't get discouraged, I know that is SO hard and I say that as someone who blew it screaming twice during schooltime today (a head cold, plus pregnancy hormones, and sub par handwriting? Apparently that's a recipe for a mommy volcano). But truly, don't lose the forest for the trees. He just needs more time and practice, probably with different materials if those just aren't working for you. And most of all, he needs encouragement and not discouragement. Lots and lots of it. And maybe some breaks between subjects to get his wiggles out and help him refocus on task.

 

I'm no expert, but that's my advice.

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I say this gently.

Forcing my eldest into my classical private school standard model was a disaster; academically and for our relationship. Not all children thrive on a classical model.

 

ETA: a new catholic, classical school opened this year and I spoke to the headmaster, who told me (frankly, but kindly) that this school probably wasn't the place for a child who struggles with reading and writing - it would only be frustrating for her to be pushed into such a model. I try to remember that when planning her homeschool.

To answer some questions:

 

We used Rod and Staff 3 for English and some of Rod and Staff 2/3 for Spelling.  We did try AAS 1, 2, and 3 but it really was time consuming for us and expensive.  Maybe I need to go back to it...

 

As I stated, I used Math Mammoth for math.  The updated MM has more review, cumulative tests, etc.  I did those through the year, though not consistently.  He seemed to be doing well all year long with mistakes here and there, but overall showed understanding.  He actually seems to like math.  The end of year test--I don't know what happened.  He had silly mistakes.  I also saw some areas he just doesn't get (order of operations).  After he failed the test, the next day I had him do some tests from the year and he also did not do well on those.   :(

 

He likes cars.  A LOT.  Anything cars.  I get him books from the library to read about cars.  They are heavy pictures books but he still seems to read some of it.  Not any good boy series on cars that I can find (chapter books).

 

I don't want to drop the bar.  I am trying to work with him where I think he should be at, being relaxed in some areas.  I understand he may be slower to read, etc.  I know he is a different learner than my 5th grader and 1st grader.  I really don't care what public schools do or what level he would be at there.  They pass kids on through high school that can't read all the time.  I want to hold my son to classical private school standards!  I don't send him to public schools for a reason.  I want high standards.  I don't want to aim low.  So, I am trying to find balance there, with realistic standards.

 

I wouldn't even consider TOG if it weren't for my 6th grader.  Now I'm wondering if I should just forget it all together and do SOTW or MOH instead for all of them.  I want to keep the kids doing the same history.  History does not interest him (unless the history of cars!).  

 

I don't know how to force him to write neatly.  Just keep doing daily writing and correct letters that are wrong?  It is so SLOPPY!  

 

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Where would I get him evaluated?  I have no idea how to go about that!

 

A neuro psych or educational psych. I'm not going to lie - it isn't cheap (around here, low COL area, you would be looking at around $1500 for a full eval), but it's worth it and insurance doesn't generally cover it.

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Specifically about R&S English -- it does work out if you re-do 3rd (or do a comparative program like CLE for fourth, and then return to R&S for fifth unless you love CLE or whatever else you choose). You don't have to do every year. The odd years are more instructional and the in-betweens are more review, plus the series only goes through 10th grade anyway.

So if you have to repeat some concepts or take a break, you could still easily do R&S grades 5-7 or 8 and select composition lessons from the 9/10 books in just four or five years, and still learn more grammar than any human really needs. Once you add Latin grammar, these 4-5 years of R&S are ever so much more than enough.

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He likes cars. A LOT. Anything cars. I get him books from the library to read about cars. They are heavy pictures books but he still seems to read some of it. Not any good boy series on cars that I can find (chapter books).

My 8 year old boy is a car lover. Some books he has liked:

DK Eyewitness books cars

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0756613841

Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0756627338

Pinewood Derby Design and Patterns

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1565233417

 

He also reads books on NASCAR and Formula One racing. We treat the Pinewood Derby books as science and bought a pinewood derby kit from Michaels for my boys to experiment.

 

It is not about lowering the bar, it is about your child meeting the bar some earlier and some later than what you originally planned. My boys are around your boy's age. It's a marathon, not a sprint :)

 

ETA:

Another car book he likes

How Things Work Cars Bikes Trains and other Land Machines

http://www.amazon.com/Cars-Bikes-Trains-Machines-Things/dp/1856978710

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My DD HATED reading.  I.mean.hated.  She is an active child - always moving.  The idea of having to sit still in order to read was torture for her.  I tried everything, but nothing motivated her.  Until....I sat her down and explained that reading was like taking a trip to a magical world where she could be in the story as one of the characters.  I saw a light enter her eyes for the first time.  She actually started trying to read. 

 

That was 3 years ago.  DD is a rising 6th grader and is now an advanced reader.  She is constantly reading.  She read 64 books this last school year.  She's reading 2 separate books at the same time right now.

 

What I'm saying is don't sweat the reading.  It will come. You just have to find what motivates your son.  Read to him a lot.  Ask him to imagine he's one of the characters.  After reading, ask him what he would have done differently from the original character.  Try something like this: http://smile.amazon.com/Reading-Adventures-Cars-level-Boxed/dp/1423169808/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404938048&sr=1-2&keywords=cars .  For science you could try Car Science by Richard Hammond (Amazon) and How Cars Work by Nick Arnold (Amazon)  Study poetry with Poem-mobiles by J. Patrick Lewis (Amazon).  History could look like this: Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Cars by Mark Weston and How Does a Car Work by Sandra Eason (Talks about the history of the automobile) all from Amazon. Work on fine motor skills with Draw Cars by Doug DuBosque. For grammar, you could get on YouTube to access the Schoolhouse Rock videos.  My DD still likes those.  Sometimes, just to break things up and add some fun, I'll just do Mad Libs as a review of the parts of speech, something like LEGO Star Wars Mad Libs might be fun.

 

We break up the monotony of spelling by doing Kidsspell or Spelling City using DD's word list at least once a week.  Take a car story he really loves and write sentences from it on the board.  Ask him to find the nouns or verbs in the sentence.  Then ask him to change the nouns and verbs to something else and see how it changes the sentence.  Misspell some words in the sentence and ask him to find what's wrong.  Anything to make the lesson more fun for him.  Grammar actually didn't start to make sense to my DD until she started Latin this year.  She told me the grammar light bulb blinked on because of Latin  -- she just finished 5th grade!

 

The point is every child learns at a different rate and there are many creative ways to target your son's interests in each subject area to help him switch that light bulb on.  Find out what else he's interested in and concentrate lessons within those areas. 

 

Science is our major bugaboo here.  DD always seemed like she liked science, but each curriculum we've used has fallen flat.  I'm going with interest-led science for the middle school years.  To find out what DD was interested in learning, I handed her the Home Science Tools catalog we got in the mail and asked her to highlight anything she might be interested in.  Holy smoke!  I never realized how much DD likes Chemistry and Physics...not to mention Forensics!  We just did Chemistry this past year, but the labs were dull and actually lame.  Now I have all the activities I need highlighted right in a magazine.  I now know what to concentrate on.  I'm hoping next year's science will be a revelation to us.

 

 

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Children do well if they can.

 

Something is missing here - possibly an LD, possibly opposing learning and teaching styles. Possibly a very frustrated guy who hasn't had enough successes to feel its worth trying. That's not a criticism of you as parent/teacher. This is about him. I would look into LDs with goal of getting him all the help he needs. But, it very well may not be an LD.

 

Holding him back by numerical grade makes no sense in homeschool, IMO. It will, however, seem punitive or a sign of failure for most kids. What's a grade level anyway? He is who he is, and given the chance he (we ALL) will do well. Keep teaching him what he needs right now (even if the book says level 2, 8-9year olds, or 3rd grade or 1st grade), and being steady and consistent. It's still called 4th grade for him though - if you call it 3rd grade work he will just add insecurity to the struggle he's already having with learning . Slow and steady wins the race.

 

BTW, my 9 yo (going into 4th) boy is about to start CAP's Fable this Fall. Slowly. Gently. Because writing, in all facets, is frustrating for him and he feels unsuccessful. We used 2nd grade materials last year - so what, he's making progress!

 

Don't let anyone's private school web pages, forum brags, signatures, or other opportunities to show their best side make you or DH or DS feel he is inadequate.

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I think I'll add one more thing. If you are frustrated, I can guarantee he is frustrated too. And not having your perspective, it may be that he thinks he does nothing well. I think I ought to write on my hand every morning: Praise, praise, praise! I don't tie the praise to performance as much as I tie it to hard work, diligence, the expression of beauty--be that the child's choice of a verb in a story or a great drawing of yet another circuit board.

It's not a curriculum choice recommendation, but sometimes it helps both of my boys to know that I value them for the who they are and who they are becoming, and not because they happen to be at one place or other in their education at the moment.

 

 

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I'm having trouble knowing how to have the balance of working at his speed and then ends up doing a 3rd grade math book in 5th grade kind of thing. Doesn't that catch up to them? All of a sudden they are in 8th grade and not ready for Algebra or any kind of high school testing, etc. Same with an 8th grader who can't spell or really even write a decent paragraph.

First, the reason that 8th grader can't spell it write a decent paragraph is because they were drug along to the "next grade level" of work and never got additional teaching in the earlier work they needed. No one here is saying moving on to the next level! We are all saying repeat work/level whatever he needs BUT don't tell the poor kid he's held back or doing 3rd grade work again.

 

Second, here's a story. Oldest was HSed for K, then did public 1st-3rd. Came home for 4th hating math and not knowing her basic facts, making lots of careless mistakes, HORRIBLe handwriting, poor/inconsistent spelling, and no organization of thought. Trying to narrate was a tear-jerking nightmare. We started with HWT, and Singapore PM 3A, and AAS 1. Her handwriting improved while doing the HWT workbook but did not translate across the board. 5th grade got OT, doing better, still prefers to type. But, it's legible.

 

Math took us 3/4 of the year to finish 3A/3B. We worked really hard here on mental math, math facts, neatly writing work, including work (so much in her head). Still had careless mistakes. Turns out it was ADD. Got working on that and saw huge improvement in the simple mistakes problem. We ordered 4A/B and started. Then I looked at scope and sequence of 5, and realized that now we were over her hurdles we could skip 4. She did 5 in 5th and then completed AoPS PreA in 6th (on her own!).

 

Spelling - AAS does take forever. But it was helping! So much so I got to the point it moved too slow and we needed to change to LOE. She still isn't an excellent speller (I never was) but she's doing OK and, she's confident which makes all the difference in the world.

 

She wasn't behind forever, but she couldn't move on without sorting out the problems first.

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A neuro psych or educational psych. I'm not going to lie - it isn't cheap (around here, low COL area, you would be looking at around $1500 for a full eval), but it's worth it and insurance doesn't generally cover it.

 

 

Realistically, that will not happen.  No way can we afford that.  That is my only option for testing?  I am in Los Angeles.  Maybe I will ask the local homeschool group what they recommend.

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A neuro psych or educational psych. I'm not going to lie - it isn't cheap (around here, low COL area, you would be looking at around $1500 for a full eval), but it's worth it and insurance doesn't generally cover it.

 

Insurance might pick up some of the tab for a neuropsych eval if you express concerns about symptoms that fall under a medical diagnosis like AD(H)D, autism or Asperger's, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, etc. That really depends on your insurance policy, however. PPO's are more likely to cover some of the testing than an HMO.

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Our insurance covered testing for our child.  He was referred to a educational psychologist by our pediatrician.  In addition, our state law requires the public school system to provide evaluations for all students in the district (I think there is some kind of exception for private school students).  So if I were not able to get an evaluation via insurance, I could ask our school system to do so. 

 

I would highly recommend that you get to know how your child learns, how he responds to your teaching and the teaching materials and then decide what curricula to use.  Don't try to wrap your child's mind around the instruction, wrap the instruction around his mind. 

 

For various reasons, I am doing detailed grammar for the first time with all my students this year.  My oldest picks up what he needs very quickly and moves forward.  Not knowing subject/predicate in 3rd grade is not the end the world.  My kids' Pre-Algebra course reviewed order of operations.  Lots of these materials are intentionally revisited over the years of study.  Only one of my children enjoys reading.  One reads very well when assigned to do so and two are still learning.  It comes when it comes. 

 

I wouldn't sweat the small stuff. But, if I suspected ADHD or other issues and wasn't sure how to manage them, I would get an evaluation.   Knowing what the child's weaknesses are better enables you to help him.   

 

ETA:  My 8 y.o. who struggles with reading, can understand high school level science materials.  I wouldn't keep him from learning about all the fascinating things in the world over a few misspelled words. KWIM? 

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