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Friday, August 26, 2011

One Week Down...35 to Go!

aka...The Countdown has Begun!

Well, we started school five days ago & here I am on Friday wondering if we're going to make it through the school year! This was NOT a good week at all.

I'm using Catholic Heritage Curricula's lesson plans for The Prophet & The Princess, while The Archangel is using an online program through Ohio Connections Academy. He really wanted to do an online school again (we did K12 - Ohio Virtual Academy two years ago) & after researching, I found OCA to be the highest rated online school in Ohio. Also, they have a variety of clubs/activities that students can take part in once they prove they can handle the courses they're assigned. I thought it might be good for him w/ his ADHD

Our first day was full of tears, anger, emotional meltdowns, yelling, etc. Definitely NOT a good way to start out the year. They were very excited to begin on Monday & our first half hour went well. We opened w/ a prayer, talked about our schedule, started to learn a church hymn (We Have Been Told), & read about the Queenship of Mary (as Her feast day was Monday). Then we went into lessons.

The Prophet complained that his math was too hard & that I promised him it would be easier when we started this year. We are finishing his 4th grade math from last year before moving into 5th grade. He seems to have such a negative attitude towards math that he makes it harder than it actually is. He absolutely hates the math fact sheets that give him practice on addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division...things he really needs to have a grasp on. They are supposed to be timed sheets, but most times I've just had him do part of the page to avoid a meltdown or tearing up of the page. (Yes, he has done that often.)

The rest of his subjects went well...a lot of reading & self-guided lessons.

The Princess was ready & willing to start. She loved everything that I had her do. I felt bad several times when I had to make her wait because I was helping one of the boys w/ their lessons.

And for The Archangel...this is where most of the tears & meltdowns came in. At first he was so excited to start OCA & couldn't wait to get started. Their program is laid out differently than K12, so it's going to take us a couple weeks to get it under our belts & get into a rhythm. I told him from the start that he would have a lot more work, including a lot of writing, than in the past because the school has to follow state standards. I don't think it sunk in until he actually had to do the writing.

I will say that for a 3rd grade boy w/ ADHD, he has excellent handwriting. They use the Zaner Bloser method & The Archangel has done very well so far. The writing he stresses about is when he has to write a character description, answer lesson questions in complete sentences, etc.

The subject that really set him off was math. He's in the gifted & talented level for 3rd grade. (They had pre-testing a couple months ago & he did quite well.) He has a good head for mathematics, but it wasn't until Wed. evening when it dawned on me what part of the problem was. With his ADHD, the math text is too busy for him to focus. It's colorful w/ lots of pictures, charts, etc. I know that works great for some students, but I think he has trouble filtering down to the actual math problems. The concepts are not hard for him...in fact, most are review, but it just gets overwhelming for his eyes.

We are testing two possible solutions to this. 1) I will copy the problems from the text for him into a spiral notebook & he can solve them from there. 2) We will use the optional workbook that has more problems for students who might need additional problems to work on. I'm thinking #2 will be the way to go for us.

The other thing he is having trouble w/ is reading comprehension for all subjects. He reads very well & has always read several levels above his current grade. As soon as he's read (or has been read to), I've asked him some questions & 95% of the time he can't answer from the material he's just gone over. It's very frustrating for both of us. Again, I think the ADHD plays a big part in this. Unfortunately, we haven't found a medicine that works for him yet.

I've been so worn out by the end of each day this week & crashed as soon as my head hit the pillow. It's tempting to just chuck it all & send them to school, but then again that brings along a whole new set of issues. The public school they would go to is back on our city's failing schools list, charter schools' classes are most likely filled already, & we can't afford Catholic or Christian schools (which are also probably filled). I'm also worried about the boys individual issues (The Archangel's ADHD/aggression & The Prophet's anger) & how they would even adapt to a brick & mortar school. They picked up so much just from the neighborhood kids, what would school be like? Not to mention all the "politically correct" stuff (not really the word I want to use!) they'd be exposed to.

I've been praying SO MUCH lately, but I just don't feel like I'm getting an answer or solution to this problem. I know it's only been a week, but I really can't handle another week like the one we've just had. I try to remain positive & cheerful during the day, as well as preparing the night before, but each day the fuse is a lot shorter. I don't feel at peace right now & it's showing in all aspects of my life...short temper, emotion jags, my blood pressure is up slightly, the house is a mess, I'm achy all over & not eating properly, etc.

If you've stuck through this rant to the end, I thank you! I know it's quite a bit of rambling, but I just needed to get my feelings & thoughts down.


Mom to 5 Boys said...

Whew!! So glad I"m not the only one who has issues the first week back! Our biggest issue right now is getting a schedule down. It seems we've been schooling the entire day!! It should not take as long as it is. Between dawdling kids and me trying to be in 4 different places at once is a little daunting!

No worries! It'll come. They've had a whole summer of not having to focus and do school work it'll take time to get back into a routine. Dinodude is having some focus problems like the Archangel and we have already been tweaking his work alot. I found this pretty interesting article that made me feel a whole lot better! http://www.jeanniefulbright.com/articles/how-long-should-a-homeschool-day-be

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

Oh, I wish I had seen this on Friday to send you a hug and a prayer right then and there! (Sending one now and taking comfort that time is eternal with God! (((xo)))

I admire you for trying so hard to find what works for each of your children and I understand how it feels to be so exhausted and frustrated that the outside school seems like a better alternative.

You are praying.
That is good.
You may not "hear" a direct answer, but He IS answering.

Remember: He will make up where you lack (Jesus told Faustina), and though we can not function in the midst of chaos...HE can and DOES; still tending perfectly and calmly and peacefully to each and every soul in the room.

It will be ok:)

As for the reading comprehension difficulties...while I have told you before that I am NOT educated in ADHD, I have had children who struggle with "comprehension" issues. Something that has helped immensely (and may or may not help you but worth a try perhaps?) is to change the WAY I ask questions.
What I mean is this: Instead of saying things like, "What was the girl's name who took the basket through the woods?" I now ask things like, "What do you like best about this story?" or "If you could change the ending to this story how would YOU write it?"
I have found that for some reason these type of "general" questions illicit a better response. The child who struggles will not feel so intimidated (like they're being "tested" for "details") and you might just find that they DO recall the story more than you (or they) realized!

You and your sweet family are in my thoughts and prayers...and try to remember what my husband always tells me in times of crisis: It's better to close the books all together and just BE home as a family for even a whole YEAR than to think the kids would be better off somewhere else each day:)

Much LOVE and many PRAYERS,