School Update

Right now Ani is 11 years 2 months, Cameron is 9 years 6 months, Fritz is 4 years 9 months, and Adrian is 2 years 10 months.

Ani has completed 115 lessons of 7th grade. There are 160 total so she should finish the first week of July, and then she’ll be on break until the end of July. When we go back to school, she’ll be doing a 75 day “summer” school I’ve created for her. She’ll be doing Calvert 8th grade math, Maryland history, Calvert Script, Classical Academic Press’s Art of Argument and The Argument Builder, and a study skills course I’ve put together using The Teaching Company’s How to Be a Superstar Student videos as the base. She’ll finish that in November or December and then move on to 8th grade.

Cameron has finished 20 lessons of 3rd grade. He’s got 140 to go before he’s done, so it’ll be a while. He’ll be doing school longer into July than Ani will. He doesn’t get to stop until Fritz’s birthday. Calvert 3 is definitely a step up. He works hard, though, and did very well on most of his tests today. The only one he didn’t get an A on was reading.

Fritz has done 94 lessons of kindergarten. That leaves him with 66. I considered doubling up some lessons to get them done before his 5th birthday when we officially go on vacation (because my brother’s family arrives the next day), but I decided to just keep on doing one lesson at a time. He probably could handle accelerating a bit no problem, but there’s really no need to. It’s just me liking to tie things up with a nice bow before we take a longish (for us) break. He’ll finish kindergarten in August or September and then move on to first grade.

As for Adrian, I think I will keep on doing the book a week I’ve been doing with him. He likes them. It gives him a little bit of “school” time and doesn’t take much effort on my part. I will probably get Calvert pre-k for him in January and do one lesson a day with him. If I don’t do that, I’ll do the same thing with him that I did with Fritz: get pre-k around his 4th birthday and do it double speed. He already likes to “help” during Fritz’s kindergarten lessons. His favorite part is making words with the letter cards. Adrian loves to sound of the letters, wait for Fritz to read the word, and then repeat what Fritz said and get all excited like he read it himself (he knows all his letter sounds, but cannot blend yet).

So that’s where the kids are in school now and the basic future plan. We’re all loving Calvert for the three who are using it. I really wish we’d stuck with it from the beginning! Truly an awesome curriculum and worth every penny.

Testing, testing, testing

In January Jamie called the board of education to ask about testing Cameron to find out what issues we are dealing with. They sent a bunch of forms for me to fill out and return along with samples of his work. A few weeks later I got a call from someone at my old elementary school (my kids would be going there if they were in public school) setting up a date for an IEP meeting. At the meeting they went over everything I had sent in and determined that it warranted testing. That was in early March.

Over the next few weeks Cameron was tested by the speech language pathologist, psychologist, and special ed teacher. All of them had nothing but good things to say about how polite, intelligent, well-spoken, and sweet he is. We had the follow-up IEP meeting yesterday to go over the results. While there wasn’t anything super surprising about the results, it is good to now know exactly what we are dealing with.

The short answer: Dyslexia, dysgraphia, visual processing disorder, short term memory problems, and a very auditory learner with superior intelligence.

He is 9 years 6 months old and is grade level 3.0 (beginning of third grade) right now.

He reads on a second grade, third quarter level (words + comprehension – he can read random words on a higher level). He sounds out most words and the evaluator noted that he often sounds them out wrong (substituting /d/ for /b/ or totally random off the wall sounds that don’t make any sense) and somehow gets the word right anyway. He has a problem with reading fluency and expression.

His scores for listening comprehension and oral expression are above average. His assessment of spoken language is high end of average.

The special ed teacher gave him the Woodcock Johnson-III. He scored age equivalent 8 years 1 month (14th percentile) in reading, 8 years 9 months (27th percentile) in math, 7 years 5 months (4th percentile) in written language, and 9 years 3 months (46th percentile) in oral language. His sight word vocabulary is right at grade level 3.0, though he tries to initially sound out words he should know on sight. He has trouble figuring out multi-syllable words and words that contain vowel teams and vowel digraphs. He did well with the math section, but didn’t know how to do some things (such as multiplying one digit by two digits) because he simply hasn’t encountered them yet due to being a grade behind. His word problem solving skills were at grade level 5.1! He writes some numbers backwards. He wrote sentences with variety and detail, and is a good writer as far as ideas go, but he does not use consistent punctuation and capitalization, has poor spacing, and has difficulty writing on the lines. His spelling is very poor, however she noted that another special ed teacher was able to figure out what he meant by what he wrote in spite of all his writing problems.

She provided an in-depth section by section report of his test scores as well. The most noteworthy were his spelling and word problem skills. He scored age equivalent 6 years 10 months (1st percentile) in spelling and 10 years 1 month (62nd percentile) in math word problems. Quite a range there from lowest to highest. Most of his scores fell in the late-7 years old to mid-8 years old level which makes sense because although he is 9 1/2 and would be near the end of third grade (and would be one of the oldest in third grade since his birthday falls just after the cut-off), he has just finished 2nd grade.

The psychologist administered the WISC-IV, Beery VMI, and BRIEF. His IQ is in the superior range when everything is taken into consideration. His verbal comprehension results were very far above average. His perceptual reasoning skills were slightly below those. His working memory scores were below 25th percentile. One of his processing scores was average, but his other was 5th percentile (the same skill his father had major trouble with when he was tested at 12).

The end result of all that is, if he was in public school, he would be eligible to be pulled out for special ed help for reading and writing. The IEP team never came right out and said it, but they danced around us not even considering putting him in public school. They kept talking about what they could do to help versus what I can do at home one-on-one with him and implied in many ways that what I am doing/can do is far greater than what they could do. They told me that if I have any questions or need any help to not hesitate to call and ask and they would do whatever they could.

Of course we will not be putting him in public school, but having all this documented is a good thing. Knowing that the school is willing to give me ideas if I need them (and they gave several good ideas at the meeting, some I’ve already put into practice during school) is a very good thing. Also, having outside opinions that Cameron’s a good, sweet, well-adjusted kid and having our suspicions confirmed are good, too.

I had heard from other people (not in our district) to never, ever go through the school to get testing done. It’s never a good experience, they don’t do a good job, etc. They recommended going to a psychologist instead. Now, when Jamie was tested in 6th grade (through the school) it was not a good experience. His results were virtually identical to Cameron’s, but the person giving the tests, and the school based on the guy’s report, basically rejected the results because he felt Ian was “pulling his leg” (that is written in the report!) when he couldn’t do certain things… the same things Cameron had trouble with! The problems continued and his parents took him to a private psychologist at 17 and he was finally diagnosed. So Jamie’s experience, even though he was public schooled, was similar to the experiences of some homeschooled kids.

This was not our experience at all! We decided to try the school first because it’s free and we figured if it didn’t work out we could then go to a private psychologist. Our experience with the school was nothing but positive. They had a positive view of homeschooling, treated us with respect, and spent a long time on testing Cameron and explaining the results to us. They also were quite helpful on ideas to help him compensate for the problems he has and bring them up to the level one would expect based on his cognitive abilities. I’m really glad we decided to get him tested.