Monday, March 18, 2013

Thoughts for the Last 10 Weeks of School

When I wrote this post last August, I had no idea we would be moving to a new home and that our oldest son would need pacemaker surgery this school year. These two events changed our school year a bit. I am surprised to see how much we did pull off in the first 26 weeks of school. After reviewing our goals from August and looking at where we are lacking, I have written our goals for our last 10 weeks of school. 

Science is the subject we fell the most behind in during this year. I promised Tom Sawyer we would do four dissections this year. However, we've only done one, a cow's eye. To keep my promise, I need to do three more dissections in the next 10 weeks. We will be dissecting a perch, clam and frog (the frog once again by popular request). We also will be working our way through Biology ~ Real Science 4 Kids. This is the elementary version and it has only 10 chapters. We will be skipping the ninth chapter because we already did butterflies. Since my kids already have a fairly good grasp of beginning biology, the book will be easy to finish in one quarter. (Tom Sawyer will probably read the textbook in a few days, knowing him and his love of science.) We will also be growing a tadpole into a frog. Lastly, we will be doing a unit study on George Washington Carver from Beyond Five In A Row. I will postpone our unit studies on Helen Keller and Thomas Edison for next year.

Geography was pretty much a total failure around here this year. We looked places up on maps as we came to them in our literature books, but otherwise, I did not get to any of our planned unit studies. We also did not do much with our book about the 50 states. I am not going to try to fix this in the next 10 weeks. We will pick it back up with geography next year.

We are doing well in literature. We read the 12 books in the sidebar of my blog and did unit studies with some of them. We still plan on covering The Little Town on the Prairie, The Secret Garden, Patty Reed's Doll ~ The Story of the Donner Party, and George Carver Boy Scientist. All of these are unit studies. We will be doing two more poetry teas.

Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood are doing great with Teaching Textbooks. Little Red Riding Hood is now working above grade level! They will continue on for the rest of the year. Goldilocks is doing very poorly in math. I am still searching for what will unlock her math abilities. She is not experiencing success with Teaching Textbooks and has not experienced success with any of the four previous curriculum choices we have tried. I am considering a private tutor for her.

We have done well on history this year. Our goals were not that lofty to begin with, but we are up to date with the plan. We were even able to add a few extras like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Donner Party's rescue in 1847. We will be wrapping up loose ends and be ready to start full force with the 1900's next year.

So far this school year, we have studied three musicals. We did State Fair, My Fair Lady and White Christmas. We will finish off with Fiddler on the Roof. We also are up to date on our musician studies but will be leaving out the last one I had planned ~ Scott Joplin. We will be getting plenty of music in the next few weeks with all of the rehearsals for Swan Lake. The kids also completed their performance in The Nutcracker this past winter. In addition to Swan Lake, the girls will be doing a performance with their aerial arts class. Each girl has a solo with choreography each created. This should be an exciting challenge for them.

We have completed our studies of Matisse and N. C. Wyeth. We will be doing Picasso in our last quarter. Frank Lloyd Wright will be postponed for next year.

Language Arts
We had a good year in language arts. I have seen an improvement in all of the children's writing this year. We will continue working our way through workbooks and writing daily in our journals for the rest of the year.

One of the most important goals for the kids this year was to do something that received public recognition and criticism each quarter. The first quarter they made shoe box floats which were judged in the state fair. They performed in The Nutcracker during the second quarter. The third quarter will end  next week. Just before it ends, however, they will participate in the Festival of Knowledge (which is like a science fair that our nature center hosts). They are doing projects entitled Turkey Vultures, Gold in North Carolina and Opossums. The last quarter they will perform in Swan Lake with our dance studio.

Changes for Goldilocks
I have decided to make some drastic changes to Goldilocks' learning environment, effective immediately. She is doing so poorly in her academic work and really does not seem to care. I truly do understand learning challenges. However, her attitude is unacceptable. So from this day forward she will be spending a large part of her free time doing drill work in math. As she finishes workbooks with 95% accuracy, she will earn 1 to 2 hours of media. I have struggled for years with how much to expect from her. However, no doctor has told me that she is unable to learn (as I've been told about my son Tim from his birth -- although his desire to succeed has continually shocked doctors when he makes progress) or that she is retarded. In fact, her doctors always seem surprised at her poor progress. So I need to assume that much of her issue is lack of desire and motivation. What happens to her over the summer and next year will depend on what progress I see in the next 10 weeks. I am considering a tutor for her instead of dance next year (since I can't afford both) and sending her to a homeschooling friend's house or an academic minded co-op. She needs a wake-up call. Once the attitude has been stripped away, I may be able to help her get somewhere.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. I can't believe how much you have accomplished with all the changes and curves life has thrown at you. Isn't it amazing how kids learn no matter what? I LOVE the goal you had about "something that received public recognition and criticism each quarter.". That is wonderful. I may 'borrow' that idea from you. I hope things get better with Goldilocks. I think all kids go through stages where they enjoy 'learning' more than other times. I know Keilee did. Hugs friend.

  2. I do understand about how these life changes can affect your schooling. We have had such similar circumstances this year and they have affected our schooling as well. I think you have done a remarkably wonderful job! I like the idea you had to "do something that received public recognition and criticism each quarter." That is a great idea. I will have to think about how we can add this to our school schedule. I also understand about disabilities and attitudes and how it is hard to separate the two sometimes. I struggle with this as well.

  3. So sorry for the struggles. I hope you get to the root of things quickly. (((Dawn)))

    Would love to hear how you are doing music studies. That is a real weak area for us. I just don't do much of anything. Thankfully they get some of this in our co-op.

    Hugs to you

  4. Oh yes, abilities v disabilities, that has been my kids too to varying degrees...even still. =/
    Praying for everything to click.

  5. You have accomplished so much, Dawn, when you had so much going on. I also love your flexibility. I told Nick last night that I think that you're the most amazing homeschooling mom. You've always been an inspiration to me.

    I understand your concerns with Goldilocks; I had the same concerns with Jay. Reading and math have been his biggest struggles. When he was tutored in the Wilson Reading Program, he progressed in reading. Teaching Textbooks, which was the best program ever for Nate, was not a good fit for Jay. Now that he's in school, I'll be curious to see if he's able to learn math. That way, we can figure out how much was attitude and how much was a disability.

    I hope you'll update us on how she does these next 10 weeks. Media is the best reward around here; praying that it is an incentive for Goldilocks!


  6. I am amazed at how much you have been able to accomplish period, let alone with all the circumstances of this year! I think it's good that you have reevaluated your plans for the rest of the year and adjusted them.

    One of our kids has a similar issue to Goldilocks and since I have no answers for myself, I've got no advice to offer you either, but I will be watching to see how this new strategy works for you and I will pray for patience and wisdom for you and for a heart change for Goldilocks.