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October 31, 2016 - Stacey Sacco
If Justus’ word for school, as I wrote a few weeks ago, is “under-estimated,” than Matthias’ would be “under-prepared.” Despite the fact that he was homeschooled for the last two years, he did attend public school for three years. He BEGGED to go back to school. He is the whole reason we looked into this school in the first place. None of us had any idea the culture shock we were in for when entering a private school in fifth grade.
He is a wonderful reader. He’s pretty good in math. His history, geography and science skills are all above average. However, walking into school, he was falling apart. It’s not the knowledge that is lacking. It is his ability to organize and take responsibility for himself.
The first week of school, he turned in only a fraction of what was required. He didn’t understand some of the assignments, but the bigger problem is that he wrote NOTHING down. He has a beautiful, crisp, new planner and it remained that way through the first few weeks of school. He wasn’t prepared for the responsibility.
As I figure it, here is how I failed him in the last two years of homeschooling:
1. I wrote down everything that had to be done for the day and he needed to check it off. He was never responsible for hearing an assignment, writing it down, then translating that into action.
2. We didn’t do enough independent writing. I had him in a great writing class while homeschooling, but it was more research based. He is required to write a journal every day in school and it’s torture.
3. How to handle test anxiety. We really didn’t do so much traditional testing while homeschooling. Now that they are almost constant, we have discovered that he freaks out and doesn’t do so well. His grades are not a very good reflection of what he knows.
4. Budgeting time and prioritizing. I really did try to work on this one. Honestly, we spent a lot of time over the last two years discussing completing his work in a timely fashion. It just still hasn’t made a difference. He takes FOREVER to do something simple. We spend all night doing homework. And he does something that isn’t due for two weeks every time he has study hall. This certainly isn’t a skill that is resume-worthy.
5. Social skills in a new situation. I thought we were pretty good in this department. He has gone to activities and events where he knows no one and comes out with a new friend. But starting in a class of 13, most of whom have been together for the last five years, he has struggled to find a place to fit. Socially, he would have been better off if we never moved him.
6. Catholicism. The boys are in a Catholic school. I knew they would have a religion class and assumed it would be no problem. After all, my kids have been in church nearly every week since they were born. However, the religion class they take at school in no way resembles the class they participate in at our non-denominational church. Fifth grade is a difficult starting point for very new information.
As you can see, Matthias’ transition to school has not been as seamless as Justus’ has been. It’s been a rocky start with mediocre grades to reflect that. Now that the first grading period is out of the way, I’m really hoping we have this figured out. Being as I am not as intimately involved in his education as I was (and thank God for that!), I have to rely on him to prioritize and take responsibility. These are skills he need to learn, the sooner the better. They will serve him well in the future. But they are rough lessons to learn in the present.
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