Cameron’s first essay of the sixth grade is due today. They have been working on the whole writing process for a couple weeks. On Wednesday Cameron spent pretty much the whole English class period writing his final copy in his very best handwriting. He did an amazing job. He even asked me to help him fix his spelling errors. He really wanted to do the best he possibly could.
Looking at that handwriting, it’s amazing to see how far he’s come. Now, granted, that really is his best. Normally his handwriting is a bit more messy.
But looking over the last three years of writing samples, it’s incredible. The hours and hours and hours we have spent on his writing has truly paid off. The part marked age 9 is around the time he was diagnosed with dysgraphia before we really knew what dysgraphia was. The part marked age 10 was after about a year of working on it. The top is his rough draft, the middle is what I wrote fixing his spelling and punctuation errors, and the bottom is his “best handwriting” final copy. We worked a lot on spacing and the part marked age 11 is after another several months of working on his writing (he did that one in January). Since then we’ve worked a lot on keeping the words on the line instead of meandering up and down.
What makes me the happiest about the essay is that he worked so hard on it because he wanted to do the absolute best he could on it. It wasn’t about getting an A because even with all the spelling errors, he would have gotten an A (one of his accommodations is not counting off for spelling). It was about doing his best and knowing he did his best. That can only come from the inside. Cameron will be successful in life in large part because he has such an internal drive and tries so hard.
Adrian started kindergarten with a black eye. He got that – somehow – on a trampoline at a friend’s house with a couple dozen adults around. The people at his school now totally get why he had that black eye. He’s a walking disaster.
One day I got a call from the school clinic asking me to come get him and take him to the doctor because he fell out of his chair and hit the table causing a big cut on his lip. It was still bleeding and they thought he might need a stitch. The bleeding eventually stopped and the doctor said he should heal up with minimal scarring, no stitch needed.
Another day he came home with a skinned knee. He did that falling down at recess. Yet another day he came home with a skinned elbow. That one was from a collision with the wall in PE.
Last Friday I got another call from the clinic. This time I didn’t need to go get him, but they wanted to let me know that he had fallen out of his chair (again) and bumped his head and had a little cut above his eye. A few days later, at home, he got an even bigger cut above his eye in his eyebrow.
The school people don’t even bat an eyelash anymore when he shows up with another injury. The kid is really active and, like most of his family, he’s a bit of a klutz.
Adrian’s kindergarten teacher has a lot of years of experience with 5 and 6 year olds and it’s a good thing since he is a crazy little boy. He’s had two “problem” notes home so far. Nothing she’s said surprises me in the least. Luckily she’s seen it all before. He’s had to sit in the reflection chair several times and is very excited when he ends the day on yellow instead of red. He says he’s trying to stay on green, but it’s just so hard to stay good for 7 hours. His teacher moved his chair to the front right near her desk. Smart teacher.
I think he gets bored. He hates coloring so while the other kids spend 10 or 15 minutes coloring a picture very nicely, Adrian scribbles for 30 seconds and calls it good. He is also one of those kids who thinks learning to read should take 10 minutes so this day after day learning a little at a time thing is driving him crazy. He loves school, though, and is always very excited to go back. So far I think his two favorite things have been getting a book buddy (a 3rd grader who comes and reads to him) and learning about being a bucket filler.
Fritz on the other hand is not a big fan of school. He is very bored and hates how he has so many things he has to remember to do or not do. He has asked several times to be homeschooled again. He likes his teacher, though, and likes some of what he does in school. He hates writing. His handwriting is really bad so we work on that at home as well. His teacher has promised him that soon he can do division. Addition and subtraction is getting old. His favorite part of school is recess.
Middle school is a weird time no matter if you’ve been homeschooled or if you’ve been in public school your entire life. So putting Cameron in public school for the first time at the beginning of middle school wasn’t an easy decision. The reason we decided to is because the school district has a specific plan for dealing with dyslexic kids. Two weeks into the school year and I can definitely say that putting him in school was the right thing to do.
Tomorrow I have a meeting at the school to determine exactly what accommodations he needs and when they will retest him (it’s been almost 3 years and they retest anyway every three years). In the mean time, however, his teachers have seen that he has issues and they are taking that into account. He took a continents and oceans test last week. Spelling counted. That’s a problem for Cameron. He studied hard to remember where the continents and oceans are, but spelling them correctly, even when copying them from a list just wasn’t happening. On the test he had to write them from memory. He got an 84%! He mixed up where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are, but he remembered every name of the 7 continents and 5 oceans. And he spelled every single one wrong except Asia. So, clearly, his social studies teacher realized spelling them right just wasn’t something Cameron’s able to do (maybe after 6 more months of daily studying… maybe) and so, for him, spelling didn’t count.
So far I have been very happy with what I’ve heard about Cameron’s teachers. We’ll meet his core teachers tonight. He was accidentally put in Debate (instead of a full year of PE, they put him in half year PE and half year Debate). That’s turned out to be fine. He is really enjoying learning about the fallacies and how to debate properly. He’s not a fan of dressing out for PE, but, really… is anyone? He thought lunch was entirely too long, but then he met a girl who is in a few of his classes and he’s been eating with her and they talk so much they barely have time to finish their lunches. He’s making friends and working hard at his school work. I think middle school – or at least 6th grade – won’t be too bad for him (regardless of his insistence that school is “annoying.”).
Ani is loving high school. Her only complaint? Not enough homework. Yeah. She’s weird.
Surprisingly, her favorite class is French. She has tried to learn several languages in the past and we finally concluded she’s just not the type to learn foreign languages easily. She has to take three years of the same foreign language and when she picked her classes she decided it would be French. She loves her teacher and so far she’s learning the basics. Hopefully she’ll continue to enjoy it since she has to take it until she’s at least a junior.
Of course she loves her creative writing classes. She likes biology (she got the good teacher) and English and math isn’t as annoying as she’s always claimed (she’s even actually stated that she’s good at math a few times). Not surprisingly, world geography is her least favorite class. Thank goodness for Calvert, though. They really pushed geography so she’s got a good foundation to build on there. Of course she forgot the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on her test yesterday. She remembered the rivers and mountains, but forgot those two oceans. Oops.
Transitioning from homeschooling to public school (plus an age-based grade skip) has been pretty easy for her. A freshman football player even gave her his phone number last week (to which I said “Stop being so cute” and she replied “No”). She is making a lot of friends. She doesn’t love the bus ride (though the first day she got on and thought, “So this is what a school bus looks like!”), but she has a few friends to talk to on there that make it not too bad or she’ll listen to music or read a book or text her friends on other buses on their way to school (and me… she texts me a lot).
She started seminary the second day of school (and so starts 13 years straight of seminary for our family). My child who loves to sleep in gets up, on her own, at 5 every morning. She’s liking seminary a lot. It’s a nice start to the day. She’s had some conversations about the church with various friends. We live very close to the temple here plus she goes to church early in the morning every school day so it comes up a bit. She’s definitely not shy about sharing the gospel and answering questions.
I never appreciated weekends while we were homeschooling. I had the kids with me all the time so weekdays and weekends weren’t very different except Jamie was home on the weekends. Now I really like weekends because all six of us are together.
So school started last Monday and the kids have successfully completed a full week of school. The rundown of opinions in birth order are as follows: Totally awesome, annoying, okay, and fun. As of today Cameron is set on doing the virtual school next year. Fritz said he’d like to do the virtual school, but he reserves the right to change his mind between now and the end of the school year.
As for me, I don’t have any complaints about the schools. It’s like they took almost all the things people hate about public school and they don’t do those things. People were telling the truth. This school district is seriously awesome.