Sunday, October 24, 2010

Home School Week One

I have decided to have an art & science based curriculum. This week we will focus on a Halloween theme. We will sort/count/compare seeds. Talk about plants as living things. We will also check out some pumpkins. We have some really great read aloud books to read and discuss. We will also take a look at Edvard Munch's The Scream. And use it for inspiration for an art project and social studies. We will work on basic phonic blends, sight words, and the numbers 11-20. There will also be a little sprinkle of fun fine motor activities throughout the week.

Laugh out Loud. This is what my head says will happen this week. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A really big decision

The last 9 weeks have been crazy stressful. Kindergarten set a wheel in motion that was really unexpected. It started this summer when I received a notice that Nathan's school wasn't going to offer AM kindergarten this year. I went to talk to the principal, who also happens to be a friend and my former principal. She said very clearly that her half day teacher could not meet Nathan's needs. He would be bored quickly and in trouble. She suggested that I home school kindergarten. She also offered to send us to another elementary school in the district for kindergarten. She didn't know much about the teacher, but thought it might be a good option. We decided to go for it.

Nathan was super excited the first day of school. Wanted to look just right. If you know Nathan you know that is totally out of character. When I picked him up from school he announced, "I hate that place and you can't make me go back." Oh boy, it's going to be a long year.

I read and read and read. I talked to the teacher and my old principal. I decided there would be a period of adjustment. 6 weeks. Everything said, "Give it 6 weeks."

In the meantime, Nathan was having the most defiant, aggressive, emotional behavior ever. Eric and I seriously suspected something truly awful had happened. Nathan was acting crazy. We got the name of a child psychologist and went in for a consult. I spent a little time in the classroom and talked to the teacher.

We were told by the doctor that Nathan was highly intelligent and a perfectionist. He didn't understand that he couldn't spend the time he wanted making his letters look perfectly and finish before the 10 minute timer sounded. We were given coping strategies. Talk to Nathan about not always trying his best. But working on things at a reasonable level. Choosing between being meticulous or quick.

Seriously, overnight, his behavior was back to normal. At home and school. He talked about not caring about finishing the worksheets. Approximately, 5 worksheets per day.

I thought we were going to be able to make it work. Even though I seriously disagreed with the teaching practices and seat work expectation for a 5 year old.

Then, I began to notice Nathan's complete refusal to try anything new. He was hiding the fact that he was reading. He talked about the secret in his head that told him not to even try because he couldn't beat the timer. He started shying away from social situations.

I realized he was still feeling all the same feeling as before, he was just choosing not to show them on the outside. He didn't want to get in trouble.

After meeting with the psychologist again, it became clear to me. That Kindergarten just wasn't mentally healthy for Nathan. And I wasn't willing to risk the long term negative view of himself. We went to his parent/teacher conference and his report card showed us that he has already mastered all of the end-of-year outcomes for kindergarten. She told us he was her highest reader. His work is above expected for a kindergartner. However, he doesn't see it that way. And he just can't handle the ridiculous amount of stress he places on himself to finish before the timer. Almost like he was developing an OCD reaction to the timer. (The doctor mentioned anxiety disorder and OCD tendencies. YIKES!)

We are homeschooling the remainder of the year. At home, we can learn things that he hasn't already mastered. And we can work on being less of a perfectionist and more of a risk taker in a safe way. Nathan has started reading books to me at night. There wasn't time for this in Kindergarten. We will do experiments and have field trips. We will work on handwriting in a way more appropriate for a 5 year old boy. Eric and I have already seen Nathan easing up on himself.

I have no idea what the plans for 1st grade will be. But I will definitely not make any quick decisions.

Here are a few articles that help describe how Nathan sees himself.