Thursday, December 6, 2012

Little things are the biggest breakthroughs...

Homeschool days are long, but they are full of important moments. I don't remember what I did during the day when  my boys were in public school, but I do know it was easier on my nerves and completely unfulfilling compared to what I am doing now.

Today was destined to be a good day anyway, given the fact that I woke up without a headache. A first this week, so things were already looking up by the time I got my first cup of coffee. My shower happened before school started, so that meant I was already ahead by two things before I even started teaching. Got started only 15 minutes later than usual - good again. But nothing compared to what happened when we got to our writing lesson today.

I need to explain first that we are 5 weeks or so behind in our writing curriculum. I did some of this on purpose, because last year was such a fiasco with both our boy in writing, both in writing mechanics and process. I consciously "unschooled" them on writing when we started homeschool because I wanted to "start over" and undo some of the damage that had already happened. Danny need to relearn how to make his letters and numbers correctly in print before we moved forward at all. So the first month, we only did Handwriting without Tears. Benjamin also, as well as the fact that he held his pencil very awkwardly with all his fingertips. Last year at school they had started having him use a pencil grip, but that hadn't done much. So I worked for his first month just having him hold the pencil correctly and make his letters correctly with HWT.

Fast forward to week 13 of school this year. Danny's handwriting is amazingly better and he has a wonderful easy grip. His writing is legible for every assignment and he writes his letters correctly  - most of the time. Note to self: Need to remember to have him work on numbers now... :) Benjamin is holding his pencil correctly for the first time - EVER - without a pencil grip. His handwriting is still a work in progress because he's RElearning how to write, but it is really very good. I need to do more HWT on him for letter formation, but I'll go through some of that on our "off" days.

So, needless to say, actually "writing" was put aside until I could get the mechanics down. The last few weeks, I started to bring basic mechanics in, like noun/verb/adverb/adjective usage. (This always works because it gives us another chance to watch Schoolhouse Rock! lol) Everything went pretty smoothly and Danny even said "this is writing? it's easy!" I bit the bullet and pulled out some "real" writing. It worked out well when our LA writing assignment  was about Jamestown - and we are working on our Jamestown field trip scrapbook! We worked on some who/what/when/where questions and Danny gave some good, solid answers - but only in partial sentences. So last night I Googled for "rephrasing the question" and found TTQA - Turn The Question Around. Probably a very old teacher tool, but it was perfect for me and I created a personal worksheet for the boys for them to practice the concept. Once we did a few, I actually saw the the light dawn in Danny's eyes! He totally "got" the concept - and then he worked on his Jamestown piece. He took all his partial answers, created full sentences with the TTQA concept and finished a beautiful paragraph. When I showed him how good he did and he realized it WAS good, he started talking about how he can go back to school one day because he "can do the work like everyone else" because he misses his friends - especially Bryan. I was just flabbergasted! He hadn't mentioned going back to public school ONCE - and I now I realize it was because he KNEW he couldn't do the work. Just giving him the hope that he CAN do what the other kids can do and that he could join his friends again brought all that cheerful school attitude back that he had lost over the last two sad years. It was amazing!! So now we'll see if we can bring him up to speed and what grade he might "re-integrate"...what a change!

And what about Ben? He swears he'll "never go back to public school"...and he does have alot of anxiety issues that we'll need to work on. Plus, I realized he has a reading retention problem that was hidden because he was so quiet and shy. He's sure not quiet and shy at homeschool!! I'm sure we have years with him to see what develops - who knows?

Every day is a surprise - good and bad - at homeschool! :)


  1. You have made some huge breakthroughs with the boys. The basics are so important. I think teachers struggle with so many students in their classrooms and the requirements to cover what the state requires for that grade, which leaves some students behind. It is so great you can do this for Danny and Ben, and cater to what they need to work on.

    1. Thanks, Debby :) I know we are blessed to do this!