Wednesday, February 22, 2006

1st Semester Homeschool Progress Report

Following is the progress report I sent to the school.

We’re just beginning to develop a steady pace of learning with Z. Unfortunately, this pace has been slower than we’d like. Z’s progress makes it difficult to grade his accomplishments. The quality of his work is straight A! The quantity of his work is between D and F. I’ve struck a balance between quantity and quality in grading him this semester.

Co-morbid disorders, especially OCD, continue to escalate as Z enters his TS peaking years. His OCD has caused disruptions in Z’s sleep patterns and has increased his anxiety level. Z is currently seeing a psychologist biweekly. We are looking into the possibility of Z taking anti-anxiety medication. We have a psychiatrist appointment in May, for this purpose.

Z’s science curriculum, this semester, has been the study of the brain and the disorders he has. This, and counseling, has helped Z to overcome a few of his OCD issues.

Our goals for the current semester are to increase the quantity of Z’s work without sacrificing the quality of the work.

Math: B
Science: C
World History: C
English: D
Phy Ed/Health: C
Art: B

I didn't dare tell the school one of the learning issues we're having. Both Z and L are having a hard time accepting the concept of homeschool learning. They both believe that we're failing if we don't have reams of "busy work" in Z's files. I keep telling them that it's what's in Z's head that matters, not what's in his files. "Busy work" is a huge part of public education.


At 2/22/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger European said...

Ah yes, busywork. Busywork has a place in a classroom with 20-35 kids, because individual attention is difficult to give. Having a worksheet that's turned in gives you a chance to see how everyone's progressing (of course you don't want to overdo it). With a one-on-one ratio, you can throw that kind of work out the window.
Congrats to Z on the reported progress. I love that your whole family is dedicated to his education/learning. Way to go!

At 2/22/2006 8:20 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That's exactly IT, Euro! Teachers need something to base a grade on. They don't have time to discuss a topic, in-depth, with EACH student.

At 2/22/2006 8:37 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

From what I've seen in the GWN that's a big 10-4. TONS of busy work and what you get is diploma'd undereducated types.

At 2/23/2006 9:25 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Busy work is why I transferred from a small college to a major university. Don't ever believe that a low student to proffesor ratio is a good thing. Profs with small classes tend to have time on their hands, and justify their existance with such things as daily reading assignments and quizes. Give me a clas where the prof has 70 - 100 students, tells you waht is expected and when, and let's you go about doing it!

I was a terrible student in HS, because I refused to do the busy work. Yet I managed to score in the top 10% on the ACT.

Which is a very wordy way of saying that you are right, it is what you learn, Not how much time you put in learning it!

Sorry the comment is so long. i get chatty when I am sleepy!

At 2/23/2006 11:02 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

So, you're responsible to the school Z used to go to? I find that very interesting because I'm pretty sure up here you're responsible to the province administering the curriculum. I can see this creating a whole slew of non-scholastic problems for you - all related to bias, past history, etc. Good grief!

Now, we had a teacher friend in Ottawa who was pretty close to homeschooling his two boys, and he said he could do it in a matter of a few hours a day because of one-on-one. I was amazed. But the term "busy work" is a great one, and very apt because it's exactly what most of that stff is they give kids these days.

At 2/23/2006 11:02 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Actually, my current prof. in my Sociology of Education class would commend your efforts. She always says "never let them start a file on your kid" because it's used for tracking and placement in future walks of life (including college admissions). If you get roped into a particular "track" at schools, you're there for life. In Z's case that would mean a lifetime of menial studies and no real depth - because that's what they'd say he's capable of on some standardized curriculum.

As for GWBs comment on low class sizes, it all depends on the professor.

At 2/23/2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Great work!!!!!! Especialy pointing out that as if it is not hard enough at this age, you are also "growing into your Tourettes" I also think that knowing yourself and what "makes me, me" is awesome. That way not only is he identifing different fasets of his disease but also able to explane to others what it is and nothing opens understanding more than diologe from the person. This is esp. true when dealing with peers. You should be commended EVERY day for your tierless work!!!!! I have a VAST knowlage of different Meds. As I worked young people for over 5 yrs. Unlike a printout or watered down doctors info. I can actually relate to you REAL life side effects both pos. and neg. As my wife and I still do emergecy intakes and Initial assesments please do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions. Make sure Z understands that Meds. are a tool or a helper. They may not be forever, but they can help and they are never ever a quick fix. Remind him daily that is is HE who is making the progress. And most of all then, I'll shut up. Celebrate every little sucsses.
Boy I sound like a real know it all!!! Kids are just my passion and I can't help being excited knowing he has you in his corner.

At 2/23/2006 6:35 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, busy work was why Z was failing in public school. Handwriting is excrutiatingly slow for him, so busy work kept piling up and frustrating him. PLUS, the teachers weren't giving him credit for late work, even though he had a disability and was in Special Ed.

GWB, I'm with Laura on this one. Some do, some don't. I went to a small college too.
I had a psych prof that did nothing but repeat the textbook in his lectures, so I didn't go to class much. I got a C, even though I aced his tests. Why? He graded on attendance. Bastard! Other teachers didn't care, as long as you handed in their assignments and took their tests.

WC, we're actually accountable to the state, but the local school district is the middleman. You're right, it scares me shitless sometimes. That's why I don't want any locals knowing about my blog.
We would be able to school Z in just a few hours/day if it wasn't for his attention problems. Everything, especially writing(composition), takes him longer than other kids. The main thing, to us, is that he's LEARNING!

Your prof is right Laura. Z was already being labeled and pushed aside. He was also developing behavior problems from all the bullying he was receiving.

Thanks Davey! I will DEFINITELY be picking your brain before our psychiatrist appointment in May.
Z is starting to understand the meds=tool idea. That's why we want him to understand his body. If he goes on meds, we want him to be able to tell us if something isn't right with his body.
He's also learning that there's no quick fix, and working around his disabilities takes a LOT of work. He gets sooo frustrated with this "snail's pace", but he's a kid, and he can't see the big picture like we can.
Small successes are all we ever have, so we have to celebrate them. Z thinks this is lame.
BTW, we're not ALWAYS tireless. We're often exhausted and frustrated, but we just keep taking one step at a time.

At 2/23/2006 6:45 PM, Blogger Davey said...

And hence the term... Silly

At 2/23/2006 7:04 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Way to go! In depth study of a topic is always more interesting than busy work. Love his science work! Not only is he learning how brains work as a science goal, he's learning the inner workings of himself. That can only help him in his growth and understanding of himself and others. What stamina you must have! Never doubt for a minute that you're doing the right thing. Your chld's future is worth it.

At 2/23/2006 8:01 PM, Blogger SME said...

Yes! Down with busywork! Just pretend Zach's brain is the only file you've got...

At 2/23/2006 9:17 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks VV, I LOVE moral support. I don't thinks it's as much stamina, as it is pigheadedness! I'm pretty stubborn. Gee, I wonder where the kids get it?
His brain studies HAVE helped him overcome some of his OCD problems.

SME, now if we could just ORGANIZE his file!

At 2/23/2006 9:27 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

tshsmom thank God you are stubborn!!!

My little Bro (the one married to the psychopath) was forced to do math and science at his chronological level instead of 2 grades ahead as he was allowed to do in the U.S.

He wound up into drugs, bored out of his's a wonder he survived at all.

School can really f*ck you up...

At 2/23/2006 10:05 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Right you are Bridg!
You wouldn't believe the improvement we've seen in Z's self esteem and attitude since we've been homeschooling him!

At 2/24/2006 1:47 PM, Blogger zydeco fish said...

I always hated busy work. Of course, I did an M.L.S. degree, which was a whole lot of busy work.

I am amazed that anyone would attemp homeschooling. I could never do it.

At 2/24/2006 2:46 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

We really didn't have a choice ZF.

At 2/24/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

So great for Z that you guys are homeschooling him.

At 2/24/2006 10:42 PM, Blogger Bhakti said...

Busy work is the sign of a lazy teacher (or burnt out) if you ask me. I never believed in busy work. I used to give the students who finished early special projects of interest to them.

I do believe, however, that some amount of 'rote' work is necessary. For example, learning multiplication tables is best achieved through repetition. That doesn't mean that you can't throw a fun multiplication game in the mix every now and then, though! :)

Sounds like your son is very lucky to have you for a mom. And I'm sure that you are giving him the right attention and school work that he needs.

Much love,

At 2/25/2006 1:02 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

I thought I could never homeschool too. Did you tshsmom? It was the last option we looked at and scared me half to death. After several years I am finally realizing that we are fine. We are doing a fine job.

I am so glad that you had the courage and foresight to know what was right for your son tshsmom.

What a terrible experience for him in school. So glad THAT'S over! How much more important to be taught by people who love him and will help him to help himself.

At 2/25/2006 2:37 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bhakti, there's no such thing as too much busy work in math! The more problems you do, the better your understanding of the subject.
I had to buy an Algebra I text as I couldn't write enough quadratic equations on my own.

Monica, I knew that we were capable of homeschooling, we just didn't WANT to. We got to the point where we had no other choice! NOW we're enjoying the experience.
I guess it's the old adage-"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" ;)
I still panic sometimes about teaching higher math and science, but I'm relaxing more about that. We progress right along with Z, so I think when the time comes, we'll be able to handle it.

At 2/25/2006 11:16 PM, Blogger Candace said...

Busy work is a pet peeve of mine! (We're hsers, too.)

A lot of people who don't hs seem to think you should try to copy school at home. It's quite an eye opener to some when you explain that school is a flawed model that you do NOT want to copy. They are simply doing the best they can given their circumstances: 20-30 kids per instructor, no way to tailor the curriculum to the child, no way to use different teaching styles for each different learning style (audio, visual, aural, kinesthetic), no way to cater to any but the chunk of students in the middle since they're the largest group, stuck with textbooks chosen by some committee instead of real, living books. . .

Preaching to the choir, aren't I? :o)

At 2/26/2006 7:37 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

OH Candace, I had no idea that you were a HSer! AND you're familiar with oriental languages? I'm in awe!
You and I are definitely on the same page! NOW, if I could just get my guys on this page. ;)
I've discovered that Z is a kinetic learner, with some leanings toward audio.
I've had to learn all these different learning styles and techniques on my own, over the last year. We've discovered a FEW things that work, and a LOT of things that don't. It's all trial and error. We are just starting to get into a groove that seems to be working.
We MUST keep in touch! Thanks!

At 2/26/2006 11:05 AM, Blogger Candace said...

It's always good to find more hsers! :o) Have you seen Cynthia Ulrich Tobias's books about learning styles and personalities? I really liked "The Way They Learn."

There's certainly a lot of trial and error! But our advantage is that we haven't invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in it and we can jump ship as soon as we figure out that something's not working. (and sell it on eBay, LOL!)

We're really relaxed hsers, so we don't do a lot of prepackaged stuff anyway, but it's so good to be able to pick and choose. It's also nice to be able to teach each subject on the "grade" level that they're ready for. I don't think that IRL any kid is at the same grade level in every subject.

How long have you been hsing? A friend of mine just started and her dh has done a 180 since they started (used to be dead set against it.) Another started at the beginning of the year and her dh was against it, too. I'm not sure if he's coming along yet or not, LOL!

At 2/26/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Candace, I'll check out that book!
We're relaxed on curriculum. The only textbook we've bought is for Algebra. Our schoolday, however, is pretty structured. Z's Tourettes and ADD benefit from a structured environment.
LOL about wasting money on methods! The only thing we're out, if something doesn't work, is the time I've spent researching.
We started HS in January '05. DH was the last holdout; he was worried about socialization. He has since come to realize that Z CAN'T learn in a public school environment. We live in a rural area, so this is our ONLY option.

At 2/26/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger Candace said...

Ah, the old S Q. That does seem to be the final stronghold of most opponents. I always point out that the only kind of socialization that can't be duplicated is the negative part. everything else can be gotten elsewhere *if you want* - scouts, church groups, sports or music groups, hs groups. There's always something. For us it's Tae Kwon Do. We spend a lot of time there and it's like a second family for us. There are several other hsing families there, too, so there's even a hs TKD class offered during school hours. Woo hoo!

One time I purposefully chose to misunderstand my friend's dad when he brought up the socialization my stepson would be missing out on when we pulled him and I said, "Oh, I know what you mean! There are so many negative social aspects about school, but plenty of positive opportunities for socializing outside of school." He had absolutely no comeback, LOL!

At 2/26/2006 5:12 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That's just IT, Candace! The only socialization Z was getting in school was bullying!
The other one that always cracks me up is "They won't be able to relate to their peers". SO? My kids have always related very well with adults, and that will get you further ahead in the world.

At 2/26/2006 9:20 PM, Blogger Bhakti said...

Yes, I agree...there has to be a certain amount of 'busy work' in math, although it probably isn't really 'busy work', but 'necessary work'. The same with spelling: if you don't write each word AT LEAST 5 times, the brain won't put it in the long term memory bin.


At 2/26/2006 10:20 PM, Blogger Alessandro_PPG said...

Olá! Estou divulgando o meu blogger: e meu site: ! Colabore com o meu Webblogger clicando nos anúncios Google para eu adiquirir um domínio próprio! Abraços! Conto com sua com a sua colaboração! Abraços!

At 2/27/2006 1:06 AM, Blogger Bathroom Hippo said...

D in English?

Man I gotta use the bathroom.

Good to see you again Secret Squirrel.

At 2/27/2006 3:28 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Sorry Alessandro; no habla espanol.

Bhakti, I'm a visual learner, so notetaking always helped me commit things to memory. Z got excused from writing spelling words in school. For some reason he only needs to see a word once to spell it correctly. His brain works in mysterious ways.

Hippo, what's with you wanting to destroy Gyrobo? I can't go along with that because he's a cute little guy! ;)


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