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@lewelma  this is a spin off from the rigor thread started by Æthelthryth the Texan.  I really appreciated you sharing how you do things with your son.  You spoke specifically about the collaborative aspect of his studies - how you work together and go in depth in fewer subjects. I've been following your posts for awhile, so I know your son has dysgraphia.

(I didn't want to derail the original thread by taking a tangent to focus on 2E kids)

DS10 has just been diagnosed as 2e, with severe dysgraphia (8th percentile?) and moderately severe ADHD. I'm still processing this - we just met with the psychologist a few days ago.  The combo really feels like a double whammy (triple whammy if you add in the social skills stuff, but they declined to give a formal diagnosis on that as they could not complete the assessment due to COVID restrictions-- they said it would be mild if there was anything at all).  I am struggling because DS requires so much direct 1:1 attention, and DD12 tends to get short-changed. I love the idea of collaboration and working together, and it is how our homeschool already operates, but I wonder if you have any advice for 1) how to do in a sustainable way (for the parent) for the long haul, 2) how to balance the needs of the other child. For instance, DD12 loves math, but I just don't have time to really sit and figure out AOPS because all my time and energy gets sucked into DS.  So she's been doing the AOPS online classes 99.9% on her own. I feel guilty about that.  I will say that I try to work with DS mainly in the morning, and shift to work with DD in the afternoon, but I'm often pretty tired from working with DS and then I don't have my best self for DD.

I'm also struggling with how to define mastery for my 2E child. He's very bright but hates math because he thinks he's bad at it. He thinks he's bad at it because of the dysgraphia and inattention / impulsivity.  (This is the child who could not write a 3 digit # because he'd write 1 digit, then invent a new font for the 2nd digit and then forget he was writing a number and not inventing a font.  IT's not so bad now, but it's still pretty rough).  He can understand mathematical concepts but has a very hard time executing his thought process in an accurate way. I sit with him, step by step, we use graph paper, I've been working with him on EF / organization, sometimes I scribe for him...  But though he understands the concepts, if I were to give him a test (and let him do it himself), he'd miss half the problems because he can't keep track of his calculations, (mental or on paper), etc. So I don't know whether to say he's mastered a concept and just move him on, or to keep working until he achieves a consistent degree of accuracy. ( The psychologist suggested just letting him use a calculator, but DH and I don't think that's a good idea yet at his age.)

I'm writing this is the middle of prepping for a cross country move, so apologies in advance if I don't reply right away!

 

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I'll see if I have some time today to write up some of my thoughts.  Here is the post that I wrote in the other thread so others can see what JHLWTM was responding to.

x-post

My younger boy is quite bright but has struggled with dysgraphia for years, he was also not a lover of school work until just the past year (age 15 he woke up to how fun it could be). So I am very sensitive to your concern of wanting to help him reach his potential and give him a rigorous education which opens up options for him, but I don't want to burn him out or have him lose his own passions.  Unfortunately for him, his passions don't align easily with high school course work or grades, but he has doggedly pursued them even before I realized what he was doing and started to support him.  He is very interested in leadership and the study of human interaction, and is currently interested in being either a professional mediator or the mayor.  He *needs* the time to be with people to figure out how they work.  Just look at his siggy and you will see that he transports himself to tons of activities. In swimming and gymnastics, he coaches and plays with the younger crowd.  At the gym, he works with adults. At drama, he learns how to put on personas and drop his fear of making public mistakes.  In his D&D group he works to influence and collaborate with peers.  He actually chose these activities for these purposes before I knew his purpose, and before he could articulate it.  This is not just socializing, this is learning and is critical for what he wants to do in life. 

So then the question becomes, how do I create a rigorous education while still leaving time and energy for these endeavors that are critically important to him and to his future.  Passions that I cannot easily make into acceptable, gradable classes (although I could if he wanted to go to college in the USA and needed me to make a transcript). First, I have reduced the number of courses that we do in depth - English/Geography, Chemistry, Math - only 3 subjects per year with English and Geography alternating.  For English and Geography, we focus on nuance and insight.  For Chem and Calc we focus on abstraction and generalization. The goal is to find what each subject considers *high* level thinking, because it varies by subject and by unit within a subject. We do a standard 1 year course load over 2 years so there is time to do it at the highest level possible.  I find difficult, really difficult questions and we work collaboratively to solve them. We are unwilling to just do a good enough job, we go further in these subjects.  Second, we have then figured out exactly what else he needs to have general knowledge of to do well in his chosen field in university - Geography.  He needs a general understanding of the Maori language to work on difficult national problems here, and he needs general knowledge of Economics, Law, and Physics.  These subjects we just dabble in. No tests, to real goals, just general knowledge and embracing the idea that filling holes in your knowledge base is fun!

So getting to the quote from above:  I think that the key for developing deep, insightful, nuanced thinking is to work collaboratively.  We do a LOT together.  We sit on the sofa side by side and figure stuff out.  We also spend a LOT of time working through other people's works.  We find examples of deep thinking, and study exactly what they say and do. We make explicit what deep thinking looks like. So for example in English just yesterday we realized that we needed to differentiate between the impact of Austen on contemporaneous readers vs modern readers. How does she speak to the two groups differently? what about our current society means that we read Austen differently than the women of the era?  This is a new idea for us and can lead to very nuanced ideas and thinking. So we will be both trying to verbalize our ideas and studying other analytical works about Austen.  We need to build on the backs of giants in the field.  We need to see *how* others fight with difficult ideas before trying to do it on our own.  We need to make insightful thinking explicit for each field.  What makes you a deep thinker?  What?  Once we know what it is, we might be able to do some of it.  And because we do it together, it is super fun, and we feel so proud when we figure it out. I don't *teacher* him these things, we learn together as a team.  And it is the fight for this deep thinking that is critical.  I do not believe it can be handed to you on a silver platter.  So by not being a top down teacher, I think he learns less *content* but more depth of insight.

So in general I would say our approach is definitely multum non multa. It is also all about collaboration to develop depth of thinking.

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On 7/25/2020 at 5:04 PM, lewelma said:

So then the question becomes, how do I create a rigorous education while still leaving time and energy for these endeavors that are critically important to him and to his future.

You decide how much time you want to spend on his formal education, and you prioritize the various aspects of that education.  Then you provide an education that keeps him on the leading edge of his zone of proximal development with those aspects of his education that you have determined are most critical, and these may change over time.  For the rest of it you keep him in his ZPD, but not as strenuously.  You then work for as much time as you have determined is appropriate each day and stop.

Edited by EKS
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On 7/26/2020 at 10:07 PM, kiwik said:

Could you spend an hour with your daughter first while you are fresh the a 10 minute review with a hot drink at the end of the day.  I understand that exhaustion.

ThankYou for the suggestion!  I did try that and it kind of fell by the wayside. I could  try that again and see if I can make the rhythm work for the flow of our day. 

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On 7/26/2020 at 10:37 AM, JHLWTM said:

I love the idea of collaboration and working together, and it is how our homeschool already operates, but I wonder if you have any advice for 1) how to do in a sustainable way (for the parent) for the long haul, 2) how to balance the needs of the other child. For instance, DD12 loves math, but I just don't have time to really sit and figure out AOPS because all my time and energy gets sucked into DS.  So she's been doing the AOPS online classes 99.9% on her own. I feel guilty about that.  I will say that I try to work with DS mainly in the morning, and shift to work with DD in the afternoon, but I'm often pretty tired from working with DS and then I don't have my best self for DD.

 

I'm back from skiing!  Let me start with this first half. From my perspective, there is no way that homeschooling has ever been anything but hard for me.  By the end of the day I'm exhausted (and now I tutor on top of homeschooling). Every morning, I put my big girl panties on and get the job done. And, yes, there are times that I am not my best self, but I have come to believe that it is good for my kids to see the whole of human emotion and how I can come back from behind.  There are also some days, when my younger boy will tell me that I have an attitude problem, and I better fix it.  We are in this together, and both of us know we must come to the table willing and able to work AND with a good attitude.  He models for me and I model for him.  We keep each other honest. Good attitudes breed a beauty to the day.  We work hard, but with good attitudes we can embrace the learning and the effort and feel like we have done a good job. 

So the nuts and bolts. 

1) Taking care of myself: I go for an hour walk every lunch to get away from my 'job'. I listen to podcasts and don't think about school issues. I also eat well, sleep a lot (often 9 hours a night), and drink a glass of wine after a difficult day. I generally don't 'play' with my kids at night or on the weekends, and leave that to my dh.  I spend time by myself to recharge.

2) Finding energy during the day:  Splitting the day into two 3 hour chunks helps me, as does having clear cut goals to accomplish. When my older was home, I did exactly as you suggested 3 hours in the morning with one and 3 hours in the afternoon with the other.  Then independent work for each while I was with the other. All I can say is that it is good that I did not have more kids! And I will say again, that sleep is key.  I cannot do a full day if I am low on sleep. I also drink a LOT of hot tea as I find it is calming and helps me to relax!

3) Guilt.  Ah, guilt.  Yes, I used to have so much of it.  But I have come to believe that there is definitely more than one good path.  If I do less collaboration with math for example, my kid will learn less content, but will learn to be more independent.  There are trade-offs and I have come to embrace both sides of the equation as a way of stopping the guilt.  For years my standards have been too high, so I work to better align what I expect to people here on the board who I respect.  Also, my younger has stated very strict rules for how many hours he is willing to work, so I have to make choices as to what we can accomplish in limited time.  This also reduces guilt, because I know that I can't do everything, so I am *choosing* to leave behind some things. 

Well, off to start the day.  I'll try to answer the other half of your question later today.

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Hi, OP. I have a very similar 2E kid, same diagnoses plus anxiety. I started to write a much longer message and continue if you think details would help.

But to your question--I did not and would not define mastery the same way. There is a such a delicate balance here: between making progress and managing frustration, between the need for repetition and the need for novelty, between mastery and boredom. I think it is so important for these kids, at least for my son, to gain confidence in themselves and rediscover the love of learning. He needs to be challenged in order to be engaged. However, he needed a lot of support in order to accomplish the simplest tasks. My son needed some years to find his strengths, allow them to develop, and feel good about them. For my son, who is exceptionally strong in math and truly did not need as much practice as my other kids, I certainly moved on and made no issue about careless mistakes. (Or rather, I tried to work on attention to detail separately, but I didn't hold him back on concepts because of it.) If I saw that he understood a concept and could do it correctly, I continued to practice but moved on. I also used a lot of math games to practice speed, computations, mental math in a varying, fun context. We did Singapore, we did Beast Academy, worked with manipulatives--a lot of variety.

I worried about how much support was okay, and when to remove myself, for years. For example, I largely scribed for son for years in every subject, but there came a time when I decided that independence was the biggest goal. For us it was 8th grade but it was less about the age than about where he was emotionally and academically. I knew that he was "ahead" in all the subjects--and I knew that he was confident about his abilities--so we sent him back to a school. For us, the return to school was all about him learning to work completely on his own, without support. Even learning how to advocate for himself. I was happy to have him repeat Algebra, for example, if it meant he learned how to work through, relay, express everything on his own. But I couldn't have done this before 8th grade because he just wasn't emotionally ready for all the change and all the challenges... he had to be mentally ready to handle the little failures of life.

As for the balance with other kids--I don't have a good answer. I try so hard to meet my kids where they are and support them when and where they  need it. It definitely is not an equitable distribution, and it can be exhausting, but there are only so many hours in the day.  

I am happy to discuss more if you would like.

 

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On 8/2/2020 at 3:34 PM, lewelma said:

From my perspective, there is no way that homeschooling has ever been anything but hard for me.  By the end of the day I'm exhausted (and now I tutor on top of homeschooling). Every morning, I put my big girl panties on and get the job done. And, yes, there are times that I am not my best self, but I have come to believe that it is good for my kids to see the whole of human emotion and how I can come back from behind.  There are also some days, when my younger boy will tell me that I have an attitude problem, and I better fix it.  We are in this together, and both of us know we must come to the table willing and able to work AND with a good attitude.  He models for me and I model for him.  We keep each other honest. Good attitudes breed a beauty to the day.  We work hard, but with good attitudes we can embrace the learning and the effort and feel like we have done a good job. 

So the nuts and bolts. 

1) Taking care of myself: I go for an hour walk every lunch to get away from my 'job'. I listen to podcasts and don't think about school issues. I also eat well, sleep a lot (often 9 hours a night), and drink a glass of wine after a difficult day. I generally don't 'play' with my kids at night or on the weekends, and leave that to my dh.  I spend time by myself to recharge.

2) Finding energy during the day:  Splitting the day into two 3 hour chunks helps me, as does having clear cut goals to accomplish. When my older was home, I did exactly as you suggested 3 hours in the morning with one and 3 hours in the afternoon with the other.  Then independent work for each while I was with the other. All I can say is that it is good that I did not have more kids! And I will say again, that sleep is key.  I cannot do a full day if I am low on sleep. I also drink a LOT of hot tea as I find it is calming and helps me to relax!

3) Guilt.  Ah, guilt.  Yes, I used to have so much of it.  But I have come to believe that there is definitely more than one good path.  If I do less collaboration with math for example, my kid will learn less content, but will learn to be more independent.  There are trade-offs and I have come to embrace both sides of the equation as a way of stopping the guilt.  For years my standards have been too high, so I work to better align what I expect to people here on the board who I respect.  Also, my younger has stated very strict rules for how many hours he is willing to work, so I have to make choices as to what we can accomplish in limited time.  This also reduces guilt, because I know that I can't do everything, so I am *choosing* to leave behind some things. 

Well, off to start the day.  I'll try to answer the other half of your question later today.

@lewelmaI hope you had a great trip!

Apologies for the delay. We are in the middle of a cross country move and my head basically feels like it has exploded 🙂 . I read this thread awhile ago but couldn't sit down to reply until now.

Thank you for sharing your perspective. It's really helpful to hear that the days are not easy for you (though I'm sorry and I commiserate!). They are not easy for me. It is easy for me to feel like I'm failing, or doing something wrong, even though DH always says the kids are thriving. Back in the winter, pre-COVID, I had this pretty pervasive feeling that I had failed and that it would probably be better to put DC in brick and mortar schools. When we met with the psychologist a few weeks ago, the first thing he said, and repeated several times in various forms, was "It's a good thing you're homeschooling him; he would not do well in traditional school." That was, in some ways, encouraging, because it said that our decision to homeschool had not been foolish or delusional.  On the other hand, I was discouraged because it seems like there isn't an alternative to just getting the job done. So, that was a reminder to me that I've got to take care of myself.   It basically means I have to do less, and it may mean our family has to do less (because doing more usually means I have to be involved). I appreciate hearing that you prioritize self care and sleep.

On the topic of doing less, and relating to your prior post about doing fewer subjects (multum non multa) but in greater depth -- this is something I want to think more deeply about and figure out how it might look for us. DS's passion is computers and coding. He has amassed an astonishing degree of fluency and  knowledge just by messing around and watching DH work. These are areas completely out of my realm of training and interest.  For this reason, it's an area that I don't think I could really serve well as a guide or teacher or co-learner. I can curate and facilitate access to resources. So I'm thinking perhaps my role is to figure out how to help him master the basics (3R's + executive functioning skills + how to think / learn) but leave lots of time for him to explore his real passions.

How do you find energy to tutor on top of homeschooling? Has it gotten easier to homeschool as your DS gets older? 

@camino I really appreciated your post and would love to hear more about your experience.

What you shared is what we've been instinctually doing with DS - moving him forward if he understands things conceptually, even if he is still struggling with accuracy. I'd like to think through how to work with him more on accuracy (as you mentioned) in other ways. Part of me thinks that perhaps I should do fewer problems with him, more slowly, because he tires quickly when he has a task (math) that requires close attention. But I'm afraid to do that because I'm afraid he won't have enough practice or learn to develop mental endurance.

My distribution, as you mentioned, is not "equitable." I wish I was doing 3 hours with DS and 3 hours with DD, but the reality is that DD gets short changed in terms of absolute time. This is something that I'd like to continue to try to work on, not just throw my hands up and not try, but I think I also need to give myself grace. There's complacency (not even going to try) and there's maturity (do my best but recognize I can't be perfect) 🙂 --  it sometimes seems for me that the line between the two is vague.  I guess it is a trade off, as @lewelma mentioned, and the plus side is that DD has developed a great deal of confidence and independence in some areas of learning.

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  • 4 months later...
On 7/25/2020 at 8:44 PM, EKS said:

You decide how much time you want to spend on his formal education, and you prioritize the various aspects of that education.  Then you provide an education that keeps him on the leading edge of his zone of proximal development with those aspects of his education that you have determined are most critical, and these may change over time.  For the rest of it you keep him in his ZPD, but not as strenuously.  You then work for as much time as you have determined is appropriate each day and stop.

@EKSI just wanted to come back and say thank you for this. I think this idea of the ZPD is basically what I've found that is working best with DS. He's grown a lot in confidence this year. 

On 8/12/2020 at 12:25 AM, JHLWTM said:

My distribution, as you mentioned, is not "equitable." I wish I was doing 3 hours with DS and 3 hours with DD, but the reality is that DD gets short changed in terms of absolute time.

I also realize I was being unfair to myself. I spend a lot of time curating material for DD customized to her interests and abilities. It is less one on one teaching time, but probably not less total time overall. I do not spend much time at all curating stuff for DS because he can use the stuff I originally curated for his sister (or I will be familiar with alternatives because I researched so much for DD). The time I spend with him is the one on one time helping him with EF skills in the context of academics (and non academics).  

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