Thursday, September 13, 2012

Extracurricular Activities

Kiddo had her first dance class of the year last night. Her current schedule (subject to change due to withdrawals or classes added) is:
Wednesday: Acro 4:30-5:15
                     Tap 5:15-6
Friday: Ballet/Jazz 6:15-7
Saturday: Musical Theatre 10-10:45

Not an ideal schedule, but I was late in calling and this is where they could put her. If an opening comes up in a ballet or jazz class for her level, she will likely be switching to or adding that. She is on a wait list for the Hip-Hop class 6-6:45 on Wednesday night. We are currently at 4, and may be looking at up to 6 dance classes this year. I guess it is a good thing she doesn't have homework that she has to do around her dance schedule! I am paying for 4 classes here what I paid for 3 in VA, so I can't complain about that, I just wish the studio weren't so far a drive. It is only 15 miles, but it take a half hour to 45 minutes to get there because it is on the other side of the city. I love the school and the teachers though, and so does the child. I guess she will be missing a few Friday and Saturday classes sadly, as there are times that we will be gone for a weekend. I know we are going down to PA to my older daughters house at some point so we can go to Gettysburg, and when her Grandparents come up we are going to want to go to Boston. I will just have to figure out a work around wherever I can.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Changing schedules?

Once again, last night, the child was up again doing schoolwork. She did Math, Spelling, Science, and at least part of her History while she was supposed to be asleep. She is following the Learning Guide, and checking things off as she is going. I am starting to wonder if maybe the resistance I am getting is the time of day. Her natural rhythm seems to be late nights instead of early mornings (although I don't consider 9 am to be all that early).

I am wondering if I should just let her sleep in in the morning, and start school at lunchtime.

There are a number of problems with this though. With my health issues, the later it gets in the day, the less spoons I have. My brain gets sluggish, my energy drops, and my pain increases. If I start later in the day, it might work. I know yesterday morning neither of us could stay awake and ended up falling back to sleep. We got up at noon, got right to work, and were done by about 5:30. We had some arguments about watching the geography videos, but that got done. The problem was, her Dad got home a little before 5, and he gets irritated with her when she still has stuff to do after he gets home and they end up arguing and fighting. And like I said, later in the day, I am less able to deal with things like that.

Another drawback is that I *need* time to myself in the evening, after she and her Dad go to bed. I have very, very, little time alone, and I need that to recharge and to just be without anyone talking to me. Without that quiet time, I get very cranky.

Also, with dance classes a couple evenings a week, if we have to stop schoolwork for her to get dressed, drive a half hour to dance, be there for an hour, and drive a half hour back, and then pick up schoolwork again....I just can't see that happening. I don't want to "fall behind." I want to be able to take time off from the curriculum at Christmas to do "home ec," and bake cookies and make gifts. We are taking a week off in the spring to go to Disney. I want her Grandparents to come up in the spring, and do some tourism--yes, that will count as schooldays for the district since they will be field trip days (Boston, Lexington, Concord, Adams National Park, Plymouth, etc), but that doesn't get us through curriculum, and that has to be done too. Calvert is a fantastic, thorough curriculum. It covers a lot of material though, and with them requiring notebooks for some subjects, and me setting up notebooking for others, the curriculum can be time consuming. I know she learns well with this method, but there is only so much time in a year, and I would like her to have some summer break between 5th and 6th--she really didn't get any between 4th and 5th by the time we finished the 4th grade curriculum and tests.

I guess there will be experimentation with time schedules, and we will have to find what works for us best in the long run. At least we can experiment. In a brick and mortar school, she would have to work on their schedule with no room for change.

Officially Fifth Grade

(I meant to post this yesterday, but got busy and forgot about it)

We officially started Fifth Grade Monday--it didn't happen last week because I was just too sick. I am still coughing, but am enough better that it wasn't an impossibility like it was last week.

We decided to put off beginning Latin until at least next week, if not a little longer. This gives us a chance to get into the curriculum and develop a routine before heading into strange, new waters.. It is probably a good thing we did too--We took from 9-5 to get through yesterdays schedule. A big part of the problem was getting her back on track after lunch. Right now I am thinking that when she grows up, she is going to be a master of the three martini lunch! We broke for lunch at 12:30, and it was 2:30 before I could get her back to work for more than a moment at a time instead of dancing, twirling, and working at stretching her leg up over her head.

Speaking of legs, I called last night and got her dance scheduled for this year. I screwed up and didn't call early enough, so she can't get separate jazz and ballet classes, she has to do a combo, but she does have tap and musical theatre. I don't particularly like the time and day slots, but it is my own damn fault so I am just going to suck it up. They put her on a wait list for Hip-Hop, and even though I don't like the idea of my 1 yr old moving like that, her dance teachers think she needs it as it is becoming a more standard style in much of musical theatre, Oh well, the child has nothing to shake or thrust, so it shouldn''t be too bad. The child has decided that she wants to study gymnastics and fencing too. Fencing isn't going to work this year, because the beginner lessons at the local fencing club overlap her musical theatre class, so that can be put off for at least a year, and with the summer Olympics just ending, there is going to be no chance of getting her into a gymnastics class. Her dance teachers would like to see her go to a circus school in a few years and learn there because they can teach her gymnastics and the wire work she wants to learn.

I guess the math I chose for this year, Life of Fred, is a hit. At 1:30 this morning when I came downstairs to take something for pain, I found her at the dining room table working on math and giggling. She really likes the fact that she has an answer key that shows the working of the problem so she can figure out where she went wrong if she didn't get the right answer. I was kind of concerned that the answers were in the book, but she has already figured out how to use them appropriately. I am really looking forward to seeing her love of math come back, and I think Fred will do that for her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not the first day of school

The local public school begins today, so a neighbor girl who also is homeschooled spent the night last night. We went to bed and let the girls stay up as late as they wanted. They are sleeping in this morning. Part of the thrill of this for the two of them is that the friend has a younger brother and sister who both attend the public school. Having the sleepover last night accomplishes a few different things. It allows her Mom to get the other two up and off to school with no interference from their big sister and no ha-ha I get to stay home. It gives the girls something special to celebrate the start of the homeschool year. It reminds them of what they gain by being homeschooled instead of what they miss. This isn't hard for my daughter, but her friend was a social butterfly in public school, and she misses having other kids who are not her brother and sister around her all the time. When the girls get up, I have a tube of cinnamon rolls in the fridge that they can make for breakfast. The neighbor's little brother has a Drs apt this morning, so after her Mom drops him off at school, she will come by and get her daughter, and our two girls will start the year with a half day.

Because it is Tuesday, and I believe that certain things, like spelling, take a full 5 day week, we are going to do other things than regular curriculum this week. I have a kit for learning how to read a non-fiction book-- and we will do that this week. It gives her some hands on fun to get back into the swing of things, and useful information that she will use long-term. It also hits some of the 5th grade standards of learning.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pros and Cons

One of the good things about homeschooling is that I have control over my daughter's curriculum and how and what she learns.

One of the bad things about homeschooling is that I have control over my daughter's curriculum and how and what she learns.

I have spent a lot of time this summer researching curriculum, not to switch from Calvert, but to supplement it, as she wants and needs more info and more depth than is offered in any fifth grade curriculum. I have been purchased a bunch of stuff, but passed on a lot more. I have looked in depth at many different things and I have found a disturbing trend, but I am not sure if it is in what is available or in my reactions.

I have reached the point that as soon as I see the words "from a Christian perspective," I quit reading. I don't know if I am missing something that may be really good, but so many of the things I actually looked at before reaching this knee jerk reaction pushed stuff that is not based in reality. Sorry, but the world is not 5,000 years old. Man and Dinosaurs did not live at the same time. Evolution happens every day. Change is the nature of the world, not stasis. Science is not the place for religious education, and with all the revisionist history that is out there, I don't trust the history texts either.

Some stuff I have looked at I can use and leave out the fallacies, but with so much of it, especially the free stuff, there is no way to eliminate it all. This makes me sad, as I am not opposed to moral lessons or philosophy intertwined with facts--looking at not only whether we can, but whether we should. I think Literature is a wonderful resource for this, but attributing evil intentions to a character because it is other than Christian makes no more sense than assuming that every character portrayed as Christian is always right and good. This is especially important when looking at historical figures. Is it right that American Indian tribes were wiped out because of Christian missionaries bringing discord and disease? Were the Crusades, called for by the Church, a good and right thing, or were they political maneuvers promoted for personal and political power? I want my daughter to make moral decisions not by limiting her world view, but by expanding it. I want her to see cause and effect, both the good and the bad. I want her to learn to research and make her own choices and decisions, not accept something as true because it was told to her by an authority figure. I want her to argue with me when she disagrees, and be able to back up her arguments with documentable facts. I want her to be able to think and analyze and not be blind to manipulations. This is why I agree with the Bill Nye video I posted. I think it is dangerous to the future of America to teach our children nationalism as opposed to patriotism, religion as opposed to science, mythology as opposed to history.

And as a Homeschooler, I can't blame anyone but myself if I fail.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Stuff!!

It has been like Christmas around here with books coming in for 5th grade. I have a number of books that are for History extensions, like Build a Tee-Pee village and Build a Pueblo Village, 3D movable maps, and other things that she can either build and display (egad, am I nuts! The child will never get rid of anything and where am I going to put a paperboard pueblo!!) or that we can adapt to notebooking pages. They look fun! I am still working on pulling together the genealogy stuff I want to tie in to her history course. I wish Ancestry had a way to sort by military page, but even after I suggested it and told them why, they haven't done it. Even to be able to sort by year would help! At least the famous ones will be easy, I can pull their info by name, but it is the not so famous ones that I think are more important. These people from your family lived here at this time, what do you think their life was like? How do you think they survived when they were captured and marched off to Canada in an Indian raid? (That one will include a field trip--the town is not that far away) Why do you think they became Mormon and left their families behind to travel west? Your (insert relation) died in the battle of the Crater at Petersburg, he had 3 cousins in the same army but not in that battle, how do you think they handled his death? How long do you think it was before they found out? I have learned that the more personal, and the more hands on I make things for her, the better she learns and remembers.

Her first two Life of Fred books came in today! Fractions has 32 lessons, Decimals and Percentages has 33. There is no reason she can't finish the two of them before Christmas, and then we can start Pre-Algebra with Biology in January. I think the style of these books is really going to appeal to her. Everything is tied into real uses in Fred's life. It is silly in the way she is silly with lots of wild and weird descriptions, tie ins to things that a normal person would never think about--I certainly didn't think of Shakespeare and Euripides being quoted in an elementary math book, let alone tied into fractions!

I have been printing and laminating and setting up notebooks and generally going anal in getting organized, but after jumping into the deep end last January with no prep, I am hoping that being prepared will ease things a bit. It is going to be a roller-coaster of a year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Stuff!!

Two boxes showed up from Calvert this morning, and the child was excited to open them and paw through all her new stuff. She was really excited to see that this year's history does *not* have a workbook like the 4th grade history did--she really did not like how that was set up and we had a few disagreements over getting it done.

In addition to the 5th grade curriculum, I got her the Adventures in Reading, Grade 5 set, which has a number of additional books, most of which slot right into her curriculum. I also got her the Adventures in Art set. We had a difficult time with Art in 4th because I couldn't always envision what the assignment required, and didn't always have the materials needed. With this set, we get a separate lesson book and all the materials needed to do all the projects--including printmaking! I am hoping we can not only use this, but incorporate the lessons in the set with the lessons in the Learning Guide manual. We shall see how it works.

Looking at Calvert's suggested schedule this year, it looks a bit easier to follow for us than last years, and has a nice slot already in it where we can add the Latin and Logic. Gotta love scheduled independent study time :)

We are still waiting for her Math program to get here, but it was ordered from a different company. She is excitedly waiting for that now, along with the extension stuff I ordered from them like a build your own paper tee-pee village and other things like that.

Sadly, I didn't win the drawing for six months free tuition for S-H-I-N-E Middle Grades Collaborative , and I can't afford it this year, but I am making plans to budget for it next year--it looks like a supplemental program in which she could thrive, and would serve the same purpose her Gifted program did in VA.

Plans for the Disney trip in the spring are also underway, and as soon as Disney Youth Program updates with their spring schedule, I am going to see if there is anything in their classes that she might want to do. Among her current career goals currently is the idea of being an Imagineer, so seeing them in action could be pretty interesting for her.

Once I go through her science book for the year I am going to see if any of the Disney Imagineers videos fit what she is doing, or Bill Nye, The Science Guy ones. Hopefully I will be able to get a good price through the Disney Movie Club on them. I know they have some of the Bill Nye ones.
I am starting to print notebooking pages for her now that I have her books in front of me so I know what exactly what she will be covering. I am still trying to figure out what style timeline I want to use, but I think the one from NotebookingPages will let us warp them to what we envision the easiest.

I still need to pull the ancestors I want to include in history for her, but now that I have her history book, I know what time and places to pull.

Ok, I guess I am excited about the new curriculum too. :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Waiting for the mail

I got the notice from Calvert this afternoon that our 5th grade curriclum has been shipped, and they have already added her fifth grade stuff to her learning portal. She has been glancing through the stuff on line and is getting excited! I have been informed that when the box comes SHE gets to open it and see everything first!

I ordered the first two Life of Fred books yesterday, but I am not sure how long it is going to take for them to come in. They will be here before Labor Day though, and since we aren't starting schooll until after that weekend, I am not worried.

I am glad I am getting stuff in with time to look over it and plan extention stuff this year--I scrambled through trying to find things more in depth for her with 4th grade because we jumped into it the day after we got the box in January. I am hoping I will be abled to be more prepared this year. I have got a lot of things pinned, and a lot of things on my wishlist at Currclick and other places, once I get to see the books and lesson manuals I will be able to decide what I need.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Well, I emailed copies of the paperwork in to the school district today. I have to drop off the physical copies later so they have the actual signatures on file, but emailing got the info in before the deadline. It looks like we are off to another year of excitement, and I don't have to take the kid out of school in the spring for the bi-annual trip to Disney. I wish I could talk the family to going at Christmas time some year, or back again for a fall trip, but the girls love going for their birthdays.

I do need to look into whether Disney has any classes going on while we are there that she might want to take--and then fight with the rest of the family over which adult gets to be the one who accompanies her! Right now they only have listings through October so I will have to keep an eye out for updates.

With actually moving into the planning phase again, I am going to have to get back into reading the DIS boards--they saved me last trip! I have to make my ADRs Oct 21, so I have a bit of time to figure out where we want to eat and how many credits of what kind we will have on the dining plan, and then start searching for reasonable plane tickets, and.... And I don't even have a travel agent this time to help me out! Aarrgghh!! I wonder how much of the planning I can make a homeschool project for the kid? Hmmmm.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Family Reunion

We are on our way home from a week in Myrtle Beach with hubby's side of the family. Sunburned, tired, and ties renewed for another year. I was really bummed that one of our nieces couldn't make it, but I am proud of her that she lived up to the responsibility of being a section leader in her band and gave up a vacation where she really wanted to be. It was a very mature decision.

We have stopped for the night in Virginia, and are going to go to Petersburg National Battlefield in the morning before continuing on to PA. I know we are not going to have time to see everything, but at least it will give a physical memory to the Civil War when we study it this year, and I really want to see the site of the Battle of the Crater, as I had an ancestor die there, and the Pennsylvania Monument. There is also a Jr Ranger program, and she loves to do those--and it will count for history! :)

Off to do more research on the battlefield so I can field questions tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life of Fred

The spousal unit and I have discussed it and we want to change the kiddo's math program. I do need to talk to Calvert yet, but we want to go with Life of Fred and start with the Fractions book. With this program, she will be starting Pre-Algebra in January or February. Check out the webpage, I think this will really appeal to her and it comes highly recommended by other moms of gifted kids. With this program, we could have her through Trig, Calculus, and Linear Algebra before she finished High School, and she should be able to clep out of some of the college math classes--yes, they claim it is that good and that effective.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Homeschool Giveaway has an awesome contest running right now, and if you win and there are things you won't or can't use, you can always either sell or donate them! Check it out here: HUGE Back 2 School Giveaway

Fifth Grade Curriculum

  • Critical Thinking Level E
  • Reading Comprehension Level E
  • Critical Thinking: Quips, Quotes, and Queries
  • The Sign of the Beaver
  • Sing Down the Moon
  • Shiloh
  • Number the Stars
  • The Secret Garden
  • Call it Courage
  • American Tall Tales
Possible (probable) additional reading, Calvert Discoveries in Reading 5
  • The Sad Night
  • Pedro's Journal
  • Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Guns for General Washington
  • The Story of Sacajawea
  • Guide to Lewis and Clark
  • Meet the Wards on the Oregon Trail
  • Harriet Tubman: Anti-Slavery Activist
  • Song of the Trees
  • Charlie Skedaddle
  • The Cat who escaped from Steerage
  • Dolphin Adventure--A True Story
  • The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets
  •  Hurricanes: Earth’s Mightiest Storms
 We will also be doing read-alouds, and she will have her choice of personal reading--likely American Girl Books and things like the Percy Jackson series.

Social Studies:
  • Student Atlas
  • Build Our Nation
Supplemental Material:
  • Chester Comix
  • Various programs from Patchwork Designs, Inc
  • Current Events
  • Complete Book of US History
  • Colonial Crafts
  • History Pockets: Explorers, Rev War, and possibly Civil War
  • She has ancestors in the US at least as early as 1630. We are going to pull their information into notebooking history.

Either Calvert 6th Grade or Life of Fred Fractions and LoF Decimals, moving on to LoF Pre-Algebra with Biology if there is time. I am leaning hard towards Life of Fred but need to discuss it with the Calvert Educational Advisor and ATS teacher.

  • Calvert 5th Grade Grammar and Usage
  • "Quote" book (copywork)

  • Scott Foresman 5th Grade Spelling
  • Calvert on-line Spelling program
  • Writing lessons in Calvert Learner's Guide Manuel
  • Notebooking History, Reading, and Math
  • I am working on finding her a pen pal
  • 5th Grade Science: A Closer Look
(I am currently exploring possible supplemental labs--maybe Magic School Bus)

Computer Science:
  • Calvert 5th Grade Computer Skills and Applications

Art and Art History:
  • A Child's History of Art: Painting
  • Art lessons in Calvert Learning Guide Manuel
  • Providing LOTS of craft materials

  • Latin for Children Level A, along with DVDs, history and activity books, clash cards, and vocabulary poster.

  • The Art of Argument with additional DVD instruction
(we will see how this one goes, it may get dropped until she is older)

Supplemental Material:
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Kids
  • NG Kids Almanac 2013
  • Calvert Online sources including Discovery Online and Brainpop
  • Downloaded Material as needed from currclick, Teachers Pay Teachers, Teachers Notebook, and other sites
  • Girl Scouts
  • Dance
  • Possibly Fencing Lessons--she wants them, I am a bit leery.
  • I am considering adding Calvert Reference Library 4, which contains a Student Dictionary, Student Thesaurus, and a lesson manual to teach use of reference materials.
  • And then there is Minecraft--I know it is educational, as I have seen it spur many things and seen an increase in vocabulary, spelling, and research skills, but I don't play so I know I am missing a number of the things that go on at a subliminal level

Teaching Methods include the Calvert Learning Guide Manual directions, Daily 5, CAFE, Notebooking, Lapbooking, Construction of an American History Timeline, field trips to places like Sturbridge, Boston, and the Big E, and various games and kinesthetic activities.
I think that is it. I know, it looks like a lot, doesn't it? She can handle it. I'm not sure Mom will make it though! Coming up with methods for working with a primarily kinesthetic with an strong sprinkling of visual-spacial learner who just happens to be highly gifted at the same time is exhausting. The only thing I am really not sure about is the logic. It is recommended for 7th grade and above, but she reads and reasons on at least that level. If it catches her attention, we will run with it, if it doesn't, we will put it off until another year.
This is going to take a lot more prep work from me than going with strictly the Calvert plan, but I have learned since we started this journey that I have to mix it up with her or she becomes stubborn and it takes hours to do anything! As long as I can make it fun, or make my own excitement contagious, she will be fine and we will have a blast. I am excited about it. I have done more research since I started homeschooling than I have in years. My own brain is getting exercise, and I am learning new and exciting things myself.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Laminating Latin and preping lapbooks

I finally finished laminating the Latin flash cards I got from currclick. I feel like I have spent all day printing, cutting, laminating, and cutting, but it is going to be worth it. She is already picking them up and seeing the relationship between a number of the Latin words and words she knows in English. I have them ready now for the trip to the family reunion, as well as the Latin roadside bingo for her to play in the car. Tomorrow I am going to have her choose the base colors and glue all the minibooks into the lapbooks for the interviews with her Grandparents at the reunion. This way she can decorate them and make them all pretty and stuff and fill them in while we are there so that they will get to see the finished product. I think all the girls may enjoy this project if we can get them telling stories. We don't have to do a lot yet before she takes her final test for Calvert 4th grade, but I think we are going to take it easy this week so that she doesn't come back to a test, having had a week at the beach. We will work on her writing assignments that go in with the test, she has a couple live classes this week with currclick, she has the lapbooks to prepare, and we need to get laundry done, get packed, and get ready for the trip. I will order her 5th grade curriculum after Labor Day--it only takes a few days to come in--and we will start 5th grade then. Hopefully, without the need to deschool, we will be able to move through the 5th grade material faster than we moved through the 1//2 year of 4th grade. To speak fairly though, it was past the half-year point of the public school when we started. Still, we moved pretty slow some days, and then there was the experiment of doing all the different subjects in blocks and then taking that portion of the test. Not going to do that again! It took forever that way, although spending a week doing only science was kind of fun. :)

If I get a chance tomorrow, I will post the curriculum we are going to be using for the year. I have to get the letter put together for the district anyhow, and I should be able to do it while she stresses about where to put the minibooks so that it looks best--because there is no way Miss Creative Perfectionist will do it the way that the instructions tell her to!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why I homeschool

Woo-Hoo! I have managed to get a background, and play with fonts and colors! You know those things are much more important than content, right?

So, back to the homeschool journey. We moved from Hampton, VA to Chicopee, MA last August because the Army decided we needed the excitement of a new home. This was a hard move in some ways. We loved Virginia. We lived seven miles from Yorktown Battlefield, about fifteen miles from Williamsburg, just a few minutes from the Virginia Living Museum and the Mariners Museum. We had a very, very nice house on base at Langley, and our daughter was in a fantastic school system. She was tested first in Kindergarten for the Primary Enrichment Program, and was accepted into that. It never dawned on me before that she might be gifted. I knew she was high energy, but didn't act like the ADHD kids I knew. I knew she could hyperfocus on ideas and things she wanted to know and explore, but not like the ASD kids I knew. She was just my kid--bright, bubbly, curious, and soaking up the world like a sponge. The school saw something in her that I had just assumed was normal for her and asked permission to test her and asked me to fill out a form that asked strange questions, like about her sense of humor...I had no idea that being a smart alec had something to do with being gifted! She was in the PEP program for k-2 and was then tested again to determine whether she was actually gifted. Umm, yeah. Kind of scary-gifted. She tested at Highly Gifted. 99th plus percentiles. eep. Thank God the school had a great program and great teachers who were up on differentiating learning and dealing with gifted children, their asyncronosities and their roller coaster emotions. Mrs. Lord, Mrs. Reader, Mrs England, Mrs. Lamanque, Mrs Carter, and Ms Baggett will always have my grateful prayers for the way they loved and treated my daughter.

And then we moved to Chicopee, MA. I was excited about the move. Although we would be further away from my in-laws, which wasn't for happy-making, we would be closer to our older daughter, closer to friends from the SCA, back into an SCA Kingdom that I knew and wasn't PA but it was closer to home and a culture I knew and understood. And Massachusetts would be cool we thought! We had spent a lot of time at Yorktown, now we could see Lexington and Concord. We were trading Jamestown for Plymouth, Williamsburg for Sturbridge and Deerfield. There were lots of cool and interesting thing to see and visit and learn about! It was going to be great! And then dd (darling daughter) started school. By the third day I was trying to make an appointment to talk to the teacher because she was already coming home in tears--the teacher had torn up her paper, threw it away, and yelled at her in front of everyone! It seems she committed the unforgivable sin of doing her homework paper in class after she had finished her classwork. This happened a few more times before we could manage to fit in a meeting with the teacher as her schedule was busy. By the time we did meet, I will admit that I was angry. There was constantly something wrong with my child's work, her behavior, everything--and I wasn't hearing it from my child. I was being told by the other neighborhood kids that she had gotten yelled at and she hadn't done anything wrong. When I would ask her about it, she would back up the stories I had heard, but increasingly she was seeing that she was being yelled at because she was stupid and a bad person. After I met with the teacher and loaned her a book about dealing with gifted children, explained what reaction dd was having to her behavior (and she jumped on me for calling her a bully--which she was since much of bullying is defined by the reaction of the victim), I came home with a bit of hope that things would be ok. I should have known it wasn't going to be when the book came home with dd that afternoon with a note that said "I don't need to read this, it is just common sense." Three days after our meeting she again turned on dd in class--this time over not sitting still and quiet when she had finished her work--even though I had asked her to give my child extra work so she wouldn't be disruptive. I was told no, they didn't do that as it wasn't fair to the other children to allow one to get ahead. I should have taken her out of school then, but I believe in the Public School System and just demanded that she be moved to another classroom. They finally managed to get her into the gifted program also, and the gifted teacher did as much as she could for the kids for the 45 minutes a week she had them. Once she got into the program though, it was constantly held over her head that it was a privilege, and that any teacher could have her removed from it if they decided she didn't behave well enough/ didn't work hard enough/ didn't get good enough grades on projects or tests...basically for any reason they could dream up. This added to her stress, and by November we had reached the point that she was sick more days than not, and I was feeding her pepto bismal before sending her off to school. It seems that the bullying behavior of the teacher hadn't stopped when she was moved to another class. The teacher had poisoned the well, and my child, who was known and loved by all the teachers in York County who came in contact with her, was now the object and the scapegoat for everything that went wrong, whether she was involved or not. It seems when you are the new kid, and the object of the teachers derision and bullying, it allows the kids to bully you too. Her lunchbox was taken and thrown on the roof. The seat of her bike was slashed. She was pushed into walls and tripped in the hall. And the teachers did nothing about it. She spent recess sitting by herself and not playing because it was safer that way. And most of this I learned from other kids--by this point, mine was believing she deserved it.

The final straw was when we went in for the Parent/Teacher conference in December. At that point we saw her grades, which were all good, except for the citizenship type grades, which were all bad. We were informed that she would not sit down, she would not do her classwork, she would not behave, she did not use her time wisely, that she had to be kept in from recess a number of times so that she could do the before school work she hadn't got done that morning. At this point I interrupted to say that she was probably doing that on purpose so that she didn't have to go to the playground and told her of some of the incidents there. That was when I found out that the teachers do not supervise the playground, lunchroom, or halls. I was shocked. Then the woman had the audacity to tell me that they (the teachers) had decided that dd was either ADHD or ASD and that I needed to get her into a Dr and get her on medication. That was the final straw. I informed the ignorant twit that she had been tested in VA when she was tested for the gifted program, and the response I got was "I'm sorry Mrs. Butler, she isn't ADHD or ASD. She is simply Highly Gifted, and they don't make a pill for that."

I came home from the Parent/Teacher conference and started researching what to do to get her out of that school spawned from the depths of hell and begin homeschooling. The district told me I had to keep her in until the next board meeting, but that since Christmas break was coming up, and no one would really notice if I didn't send her back the 3 days in January, I could pull her as soon as break started. I really didn't want to leave her there for another week and a half, but I legally had no choice.

Scrambling for a curriculum and knowing nothing about what was available, I had her take the Calvert placement test and enrolled her in their 4th Grade mid-year ATS program. She has a test every 20 lessons that is sent into a certified teacher along with a couple of essays, a book report, or other writing sample for grading. She receives a certificate of completion at the end of the grade, and everything is transferable to a public school if we move somewhere we can send her back. It is a really good, demanding program, and I have done my best to follow it faithfully. We will be doing Calvert again for 5th grade, but math is up in the air. I want to advance her to 6th grace math, as I am tired of her being either bored or teaching me the lesson. If Calvert won't allow me to do that, I am going to order math separately and use Life of Fred Fractions and Decimals, which are lead-ins for pre-Algebra. I am also going to be doing a lot more Charlotte Mason style teaching while using Calvert as a spine--she is fully capable of taking that information and interacting with it on a higher level by notebooking and other activities.  I am sure she would do well with any curriculum I put together however I know my child and she needs the accountability of those tests and the assurance of the certificate. I also know that Calvert is highly respected and will give her a fantastic foundation for high school. So I supplement. A lot. I had to do it when she was in a wonderful public school, it will just be even easier homeschooling, because I can be sure to tie all the "fun stuff" into what she is learning instead of it just being for fun and her not having the schema to make the connections. It is going to be a good fun year. I have learned so much since January about her learning style, how to excite her even with things she doesn't like and doesn't see a reason to learn (like spelling), and I have done a lot of research. I have wish lists at all sorts of places so that I can go and grab supplementary curriculum as I need it. I have bookmarked blogs of good teachers, and am reading them and learning constantly. I have a supportive on-line community at Secular Homeschool, and two other homeschool families on my street.

Now if I were just younger, did not have a chronic disorder that disrupts my life, and had a lot more energy....but as long as we are wishing for the impossible, how about a big lottery win too?

A new Adventure

First things first, I am going to have to figure out how Blogger works, then I can actually let people know I have a blog here. The goal of this blog is to document my family's homeschool journey. We started last January (2012), due to ongoing problems with the local public school. Although I had never seriously considered homeschooling, it had crossed my mind on occasion. In fact, it has been recommended to me in the past by teachers, as in, "It may reach the point where you are going to have to homeschool if you can't get her into a dedicated gifted school, because we are not going to have the programs to support her for much longer." Yeah, thanks :/ At my age, and with my health, this is not a path I would have chosen had it not been forced upon me, but now that I have embarked on this journey, I would not turn back for all the tea in China.

There is the first paragraph of my new blog. Now I am going to try to figure things our to make it look more like me :)