Friday, June 11, 2010

Some Major Achieving Going ON!!!

Before my girls went off to school, I had several friends who were considering homeschooling.  I didn't give it much thought because I want to write.  I felt there was a novel (or two or three maybe) inside me, just bubbling to get out, but I didn't have the time to string several coherent thoughts together, never mind sit down and write a novel.  I sort of envisioned them going off to school as a time when I would be able to sit and write.

A went merrily off the school in September of 2004 and P began pre-school.  I was busy cleaning and running errands and never found time to write that year!  A had a fabulous kindergarten teacher and a wonderful year and I anticipated that when P began full-time school...then I would find time to write!  First grade was not so lovely for A, not only did we discover that although she didn't have ear infections, her ears were not draining properly and her hearing was GREATLY REDUCED!  Also, we had issues with a bully that were not handled well by the school and I do believe that it affected my daughter, as she STILL talks about it YEARS later.  When A was in second grade, P began kindergarten and it was supposed to be my time to write.  And I did.  Or I tried and I had to face that maybe it wasn't what I was meant to do.  Also, when A was in second grade, we discovered that A was more than moderately far-sighted and was not progressing academically at the same pace as other students.  Her teacher offered to tutor her, but Jason declined saying that if the teacher couldn't reach her during school, then we would find someone who could.  The school was appalled and upset and threatened us, saying that ONLY one of THEIR teachers could tutor one of THEIR students.  We had A evaluated by a Reading and Literacy coach, who said that A was very intelligent and that her verbal and reading skills were only slightly behind because of the vision and hearing.  We hired a tutor from inside the school system, but weren't thrilled with the way things were going.  So, over the summer, I bough phonics books and worked with A myself.  The teachers laughed at me and told me I was wasting my money.  At the beginning of third grade, A's reading had improved by a whole grade level!  And I felt that I could homeschool and maybe I should.

I felt that I needed to advocate for A.  Her teacher was receptive at first.  I demanded that A's confidence and self esteem be put ABOVE her reading level.  Every success A had, her teacher commented, "See what a little boost to confidence can do?"  I kind of felt like she was taking credit for me demanding that self esteem and confidence be more important that reading level.  But, who knows.  I don't want to dwell on the negative.  The teacher had some other practices that I felt undermined A's self esteem and confidence, but that is a whole other story.

A was reading on a mid-year third grade level at the end of third grade--she had advanced an entire grade level over the summer with me, but only a few months in a whole year of school.  Odd.

A began fourth grade and needed Basic Skills help in reading.  At the very beginning of the year, we discovered that A had test anxiety.  Not just run of the mill, nerves before a test.  But crippling, paralyzing, migraine inducing anxiety that she had been unable to put into words before.  Her LA teacher was FANTASTIC about dealing with this.  I owe that woman a lot of credit.

By mid year, A was reading at an END OF FIFTH GRADE LEVEL and now she has been consistently reading at an early SIXTH GRADE LEVEL!  I am so proud of her and she is so, so proud of herself.  Yesterday, her teacher tested all of the kids and she tested highest.  (I am not soooo thrilled with the teacher comparing them and letting them know this...).  But A was ELATED last night when she told us.  She said, "Mommy, I'm not dumb."  It broke my heart.  My girl had been teased and ridiculed for needing extra help, I think that coupled with the ear and eye issues, the bullying in first grade, all contributed to her self-fufilling prophecy.  I did not agree with how the teachers and principal handled things at her elementary school (P's school) and I think all of that contributed to this belief.   I am so hopeful that with these successes, A has been convinced that she is NOT dumb and can move forward.

The past two summers, I homeschooled.  We did math facts and workbooks and read and wrote summaries.  We did phonics and spelling.  This summer, my plan is to encourage the girls to read about where we are going on vacation and make that a very informal history lesson and otherwise to just have them read and write to their heart's content...nothing formal...let them de-school, de-compress, de-stress...let their brains relax a bit and read for pleasure.  My girls are like me in that they are both always writing stories.  I've asked that I be able to correct grammar and spelling, punctuation over the summer so that they learn too and they have agreed!

We are going to have an awesome summer!

I am soooooooooooooo, sooooooooo proud of A!

I wrote A's teacher a letter of appreciation and CC'd BOE members, the principal and the superintendent.  I strongly encourage parents to do this if you feel your child's teacher has done an outstanding job. So often in education, as in many fields, no one hears when something good happens, only when there are complaints!