Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

School Daze (and we haven't even started yet!)

We had Open House at school last night. It was hectic, for sure. Always is. Tons of kids, grades K through 12 with parents and siblings, coming to find out their teacher, or schedule (6-12) and meet all of their teachers, and determine where all their classes are. Meeting the resource room teacher.

Poster in the Special Education Director's office

Alex is in the same classroom E was in for 5th grade. The teacher isn't the same, well kind of. She was the long-term sub when E's teacher was on maternity leave. That teacher has since moved to a different position and the teacher who subbed took over 2 years ago. So we've had some experience with her. She is nice and had her classroom all laid out with the books they will use, what kind of work she'd like to see on book reports, etc. They are going to do 6 book "projects" this year, where they read a book of their choosing - teacher-approved, of course - and then make a small project, such as a poster, brochure, diorama, etc, and then do a short oral presentation.

He doesn't know what days they have specials yet, but should be taking computers, art, music, gym and Spanish again this year. Last year, and throughout summer, Alex said he wanted to play soccer, but the last two weeks he changed his mind. After I signed him up. I even had all the paperwork at home filled out and ready to turn in last night. He had decided that he would at least sign up and go to the first practice to get practice and game info. His biggest reason for changing his mind? Cub scouts and Choi Kwan Do! He wants to make sure he has enough time to do both of those! What a smart kiddo. Well at least he wasn't to s ad when I realized I'd forgotten all the paperwork at home last night! He actually made sure to tell me that he was absolutely fine with it and he'd much rather work on earning belts at Choi, and awards in Scouts.

Alex was a little upset last night when he saw the class list for his teacher. While he knows several kids in his class, and he knew his best friend and a couple of other good friends wouldn't be in his class (they are in 4th grade and there's no 4/5 split this year), he had hoped a certain good friend would be in his class. Unfortunately he's in the other class. I was proud of him though, because he took it in stride and remembered that they would have lunch and recess together as well as all of his 4th grade friends :)

E is rotating classes this year. It's his first year rotating, because, as you may know, even though he's been in a regular education classroom with no aide since the beginning of 3rd grade, he was in a self-contained "elementary style" classroom for 6 & 7. They have such a large class size for his grade, that it's been split into 3 sections for all of middle school. Previously, due to interest from many families, they had 2 rotating sections - A & B - and one self-contained section - C. Because of the school size, logistics almost required it to be like that as well. At the end of last year, they did a survey asking if there was interest in staying with a SC class, and over the summer we received a letter stating that there was little to no interest, so there would be 3 rotating classes. The high school building was under construction during the summer and there was a small addition put on to one of the hallways. That will now be used for one of the sections of 8th grade. Section "A" was always seen as the "advanced" class, while not honors, they seemed to work at a slighter quicker pace. "B" did all the same curriculum but the pace may have been different. The kids have all been at the same levels for learning basically. They took the kids from self-contained last year and split them between B and C. No biggie. I was a little concerned about E being in B, because of the pace. He's smart and usually ahead in many subjects. B & C will be in the 4-8 building, while A will be in the high school. I was also concerned about him not having algebra this year, which is required for him to go to International Academy next year, should he apply.

I voiced my concerns last night, and I'm so glad I did. The HS resource room teacher made sure to talk to the vice principal for me, and I received a call today!

She wanted to reassure me, that although they aren't teaching Algebra as a class, they are offering the Algebra test for the students! They do it in April, and if they pass, they get credit for taking the class. Sometime in January, E's math teacher should give us some study topics (not a specific study guide and they won't actually be teaching it) to practice with, and they do apparently use an Algebra book (?). Also she wanted me to know that the only reason they didn't put him in "A" was because it's his first time rotating, and they didn't want to throw him into a whole new thing to quick. Since it will be a rotating section AND in the high school vs the middle school building that he knows well. She said if he does really well with rotating - handling transitions, frustrations, etc - as well as his grades, we can revisit it and consider switching him at the end of Trimester 1!!

So, now it comes down to this: Should we just let the math take it's course, or should we do some "homeschooling" for Algebra? And I don't mean extra practice. Basically a real class. Where I go get the Algebra book and Teacher's book, and we sit every day and have a half-hour lesson. More formal than just practice. So he doesn't feel like he has to just figure it out on his own. He's a very visual learner, and I think he will need to be taught some of the concepts he's never been introduced to. I know homeschooling isn't something Jason and I agree on, but they are still going to a traditional school. I'm just thinking of something extra, to give him an advantage when it comes to going to the school he wants to go to for high school. It's not about what I want here, it's about helping him. If the school isn't going to have a traditional Algebra class, but they are willing to test him to pass it, then he needs to actually be taught some of it, right? Thankfully, for him and I, math is fairly easy for him and one of his favorite subjects (math and science are top right now, followed closing by history. Of course he loves to read so reading is not too far behind. Writing and gym are definitely at the bottom of the list, though!), so even though it's not my best subject, with the help of some good textbooks, I think we will be just fine.

E has Art for 1st hour for Trimester 1, which he loves. MTSS(math/reading standards)(M,W-F)/Computers (T), Math, Reading, Social Studies, Lunch, Science and finally Writing. I think it's fortunate that 3 of his best subjects and one of his absolute favorites are in the morning, and his top favorite is right after lunch. He'll be able to concentrate without being hungry on Science. His least favorite is at the end of the day, after lunch and he can look forward to going home after. Hopefully he will get along with all of his teachers, and also continue to deal with frustration and transitions well. His perfectionist attitude has been coming out a lot in Choi Kwan Do, and we've been talking about it daily. I know that it can affect not only his attitude but his assignments, others' responses to him and the atmosphere in the classroom. Two of the teachers are new to the school this year (MTSS and Science), 1 (reading) worked in the preschool before but is new to the MS, 2 (Math and SS) have never taught E but we've talked and they know him, 1(writing) he had in an earlier grade and she knows his difficulties, but hasn't taught him in several years, and the computer teacher I'm not sure about. The art teacher is pretty awesome. He's been there since the school opened 12 years ago, and E had him in 6th and 7th grade. Mr G actually chose Ethan for the Spirit award for his classroom last year and said he saw how much he'd grown and how hard he'd worked on dealing with his frustrations! E is looking forward to Tuesday morning :)

I really need to help Little J  with his potty-training. It's so hit or miss, and I know better than to rush or force it, but I'd really like to have him fully potty-trained day and night by January (October would be better ;) ). I want to put him in preschool at least part-time, during the day, so I can pursue some dreams of my own. More on that later, once the plans are set in stone.

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