Monday, March 23, 2009

Issues with Homeschooling.

I am having some issues with homeschooling one of my kids, and I would love some advice from other Homeschooling Mamas out there.

This is our first year homeschooling. I currently teach Ashley (11, and in 6th grade) and Zander (5, and in Kindergarten). I absolutely love teaching them and can't imagine sending them back to public school - ever.

I have no problems teaching Zander. He is doing so well in everything. He is reading and spelling on a second grade level now. I am *so* proud of him and how hard he works every single day.

My issue is with Ashley. I got back a batch of her grades on Friday, and I wanted to cry.

We use Christian Liberty's homeschool program called CLASS. It is awesome. My brother actually attended Christian Liberty for several years, and I had a boyfriend that went there - a long, long time ago. Their CLASS system is fantastic. I teach the kids, give them tests, send the tests to Christian Liberty, they grade the tests, and they email me the results. I absolutely love it.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I sent in a *huge* batch of tests. They emailed me the results and I was floored.

Ashley is doing fantastic in the subjects that I sit and teach her. A's and high B's in English, Math, Geometry, Spelling, and Science. Awesome! BUT, the two subjects that she reads and studies on her own, she is failing. And I don't mean she's failing a little bit, I mean she is getting 40's on her tests. (The subjects are reading and history.)

Right now, our process in those two subjects is this: She reads the set pages each day and takes notes on what she's read. At the end of the week, we discuss what she read, the important key words, and review the pages. But, apparently that's not working. Even after doing that for months now, she's getting 40's and 50's as her test scores in those subjects.

Do y'all have any suggestions? Obviously I can't do this for her, and I don't think I should have to hold her hand through these two subjects. She has to learn to be able to do things on her own. After all, what boss is going to want to hire someone that can't read and comprehend what she's just read without being told a gazillion times?

I really don't know what to do here. Ashley is *such* a smart girl. She's proved that with her other test scores in other subjects. So how do I get her to do well in these two areas that she's lacking?

Man, I never saw this coming. I thought she was doing really well. Now what?

5 Super Cool Replies:

Natalie said...

Well, I don't homeschool, but I do have a teaching degree ;) First, we all have subjects we enjoy more/do better in. Of course, even if they are difficult subjects for her, you want to see her get grades higher than 40's. Ashley is old enough that she should be able to tell you what she is finding difficult about the work. Is she bored? Is it a problem with reading comprehension? Lack of effort? You're going to have to understand WHY she is having problems before you can fix it.

Do you do any activities in these subjects with her at all, or is it all up to her? You are absolutely right that she will have to learn to do work on her own, but in a regular classroom, she would still have some instruction from her teacher in every subject, even if there is work to be done on her own. Given that homeschooling is also a new experience for her, you might want to consider more support in those areas, at least until she improves. Given that she is doing well in all other subjects, it seems to me there is probably a connection between her grades and the difference in instruction with those subjects, especially if they are ones she already has difficulty with.

Do you check her notes every day to see that she is understanding what she is reading and getting the main points? Are there any other activities you have her do to process what she's read? Are there videos or other resources you can use for some subjects to reinforce the lessons? Are there other homeschooling moms in your area, maybe from church, you could connect with for support and other activities? Just some things for you to think about as you try to get this figured out.

You know I admire and applaud what you are doing. With as much as you have going on in your life, your dedication to keeping your children in a wholesome learning environment is to be commended. I don't know how you manage it all! You'll get this figured out and Ashley will be fine. She is a very bright girl, and you have her best interests at heart.

The Stevens Family said...

I don't homeschool either, sweet mama, but I have taught in college, and I had a few thoughts.

I agree with Natalie, could Ashley be bored? I think history is the most boring subject on earth, but I remember that I learned it when the teacher used other methods of conveying the information. What if you acted out things, or made up little songs, or drew pictures? That may seem elementary for a 6th grader, but there are many types of learners as I'm sure you know. Maybe she's not so much of a reading learner as a watching learner, listening learner or doing learner.

Maybe she needs to have checkup sessions with you more often than once a week. I think I as an adult would probably even need to review things more often than that in order to remember them. That would be a lot of information all at once.

I think you're amazing to be homeschooling your kids in addition to everything else you do. I can't even IMAGINE how you do it all. I know Ashley can do these subjects, there's probably just some little catch that's making it difficult.

I don't know if any of that helps, but let me send you big HUGS and best wishes. You are phenomenal. Love ya tons.

RazzberryMomma said...

Hey Girl!

You've gotten some really great advice so far and I'm not sure if I can really help, but I had several thoughts when I read your post.
This is our first year homeschooling also, and while my kiddos are younger, I understand what you are going through. I have to agree that she may not be a visual (reading alone) learner and that alone may be causing her difficulty in learning the material. Part of why we (as in me) chose to homeschool was so that my children would have the opportunity to learn the material in a way that they would be understand and absorb it. The way they learn best. I would suggest that you talk to her first and ask her why *she* thinks those subjects are more difficult (making sure to leave it an open ended convo so she's not feeling picked on, you know?) Tell her you want to do whatever you can to help and you'd like her input on how you could best assist her in those areas of study. Then see what she says... you might be surprised at the answer. After you talk to her, there are a couple things I could suggest. History is something that I don't even use a book for right now... though the book I will use next year is called The Story of the World. It is written very much like a novel... very easy to read and comes off a lot like a storybook. It comes with this ENORMOUS activity book with a ton of activities to go with every single section of the book. It is set up in such a way that you can spend as long or as little time as you want on each section. There are crafts and projects and field trips that can be done and some of the sections can take months if you do a bunch of the activities! It's an amazing curriculum and it makes History exciting and interactive... the one thing I think is GRAVELY missing from most history curriculums. I'm not sure if this is even an option for you, but even if it's not... it gives you an idea of how to help her learn the content. (That was my main point anyway!) ;o) I would suggest that on the weekends, you look over her History matter for the week and go online (I'm going to email you with a bunch of online resources we use) and find activities or even field trips to do for that content. Maybe find a few videos that could help her. Maybe tie her spelling into it by adding a few of her key terms from history... or tie in her writing by having her do a writing assignment about what she's learning in history. Do a craft involving it. You get the point. lol And obviously you could do the same with Reading. What Reading curr are you using? We use Houghton Mifflin and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!! It is our reading, grammar, sometimes history and writing all tied into one! For example... His lit story this week is about the Titanic... so we are using the vocab words in addition to his normal spelling words, watching a video about the Titanic and looking up info about excavations that have been done since it sank. That will be our history for this week and we are going to do an experiment to help visualize how the boat sank... so that's some science as well... Does that make sense? I know you have a set curriculum and possibly time frame that you have to use, but I'm just trying to give you some examples of how to make the material a bit more interesting for her. I know when I was a kid, if all I had to learn material was a book, I was screwed! LOL I needed something to help me. And if I didn't have it, I'd memorize what I needed to know for the test and then never think about it again... something I'm determined to avoid with my kids.

Anyway, I'm not sure if any of this will help at all, but it was just some thoughts I had. Try to make it more about homeschooling and less about "school at home". ;o) I'm going to send you an email as soon as I can and give you some resources that I can't live without.

Hope this helps!

Jenn Rogers, MUIB Founder said...

Hiya honey! Just wanted to stop by and let you know I am checking out CLASS. Steve and I have discussed it before, but I felt like it would be too difficult. However, the way this seems to be set up, I would not be alone in how and what to teach. Feeling led to at least explore the possibility. I requested an information packet, and will pray about this. I just think Bry would benefit from more individualized instruction. Our public school system is a one size fits all, and is more about test scores and federal funding. Thanks for the info!

My step sis loves home schooling her daughter who is Bry's age, and she also has a son in public school (she's also a mom of 4 like me, lol). Public school works for him, but her daughter is now thriving with homeschool. Each child is different, you know?

Michelle said...

You don't know me, but as I said in a previous comment, I can see we have a lot in common.

I post often about homeschooling, so feel free to read any of my past posts.

My suggestions: (take 'em for what they are worth, ya know)

Make sure whatever cirriculum you pick IS working. I went through MANY different things before finding the ones that worked for my girls. We still try new things.

I have one learner who can and will learn anything, anyhow, anyway. I have another who cannot and will not do anything without me. Eventually she will move on from that. But that is the freedom of gear it towards what your child needs.

I don't do tests. To me that is too much like public school. We, as parents, can see if our children are learning the subject. I STRONLY encourage you to forget the tests and make it less like public school and more like having fun learning with mom.

Lastly, some things are just harder for certain kids. If you are hard core on this cirriculum in general, maybe you could just find a different one for the ones she's struggling with.