At school this week, we're working on Week 19 out of 32. I think Week 20 is one of my favorite weeks, because 20 seems so close to the end. We're well past half-way at this point, and it feels so good.
It's also a good time to do progress reports. How are my students doing, and how am I doing as a teacher?
Fritz finally seems to enjoy reading just to read. Of course, there are a million better ways to spend an afternoon, in his opinion, but it isn't torture to get through a book. And bedtime reading is just fine. He still rushes and guesses words, and reads to get the gist more than full comprehension, but it's definitely better. (Grade: B)
Billy is a strong and diligent reader. We have finished his Language Arts book already, and I'm just supplementing with other things for the rest of the year. (Grade: A)
Katie was having enough difficulty with her reader (Reader D of the Little Angel Reader series) that I stopped two weeks ago and made her go back to the beginning. She will read a word list with "aw" and "au" words just fine, and then completely forget how to pronounce those vowels three days later when we move on. It's frustrating. I guess she just needs more practice. (Grade: C)
Jenny is starting to remember the names of letters and the sounds they make. She is nowhere near to being able to put those sounds together to form words. She is young, and I would not have put her in kindergarten this year if she attended a traditional school, so I'm happy with her progress. (Grade: VG)
Fritz is working hard on formulating coherent paragraphs. He is learning how to use an outline to lay out his thoughts. He's doing okay, depending on his mood and the assignment (if the subject is history, he enjoys the assignment; if it's creative writing - "imagine you are a drop of water" - he mentally digs in his heels and seems unable to come up with a story). His handwriting is as neat as he wants it to be. His spelling is atrocious, but he's progressing. (Overall Grade: B)
Billy is mostly doing copy work and retelling stories which I write for him to copy. He does fine, but has cleverly figured out that the shorter his oral narration, the less writing he has the next day. His handwriting is fine and his spelling is progressing. (Overall Grade: B+)
Katie is working on writing single sentences. She is capable of coming up with answers to her assignments, but asks how to spell every word. Her handwriting is getting better, and her spelling, when left to herself, is...creative. When she does writing on things not for school, she is freer in her expression and works independently. (Overall Grade: B)
Jenny is working on forming letters. She is progressing. (Grade: VG)
I pushed Fritz into 6th grade math this year (don't tell him that though). It is challenging, but he is learning the material. (Grade: B)
Billy, like Fritz, has been pushed up a grade and is doing 4th grade math. Same difficulties, same results. (Grade: B)
Katie is progressing nicely in 2nd grade math. Some days she does better than others. (Grade: B)
Jenny has made progress in counting, identifying numbers, and in writing numbers. She had been forming most numbers backward, but now self-corrects most of the time. She is learning to add numbers, and is having no trouble with that concept. (Grade: O)
Katie seemed completely unable to memorize the states and capitals using flashcards. I tried to use written reinforcement, but even after printing "Montgomery, Alabama" three times a day for two months, she still could not tell me Alabama's capital on a consistent basis. I just bought a states and capitals wooden puzzle with the capitals named under the pieces. She seems to be doing better, although I started on the West Coast.
Billy is able to do his science and history reading independently. This is tremendously helpful to me.
I am trying to get Fritz to work independently, but it is harder for him. He does well on history, average on science, and is terrible on Latin (note, in case Fritz reads this: I do not think Fritz is terrible in Latin, I think he is terrible in working alone on Latin). This week, we went all the way back to Lesson I and II to review the material. I do not think we will finish Latina Christiana I this year. That's okay.
Having four students plus a preschooler and a toddler is rough. The imperative goal for a diverse classroom is that older students be able to function on their own more and more. This requires me to let go and my students to pick up the slack. We're muddling through. We're better now than we were at the beginning of the year, but I still want to check that every i is dotted and t crossed. It is easier for me to let Billy work alone, since his reading skills are stronger and I read that material when Fritz was in 3rd grade.
It is also hard for me to accept that my children are not straight-A students. (Not the math grades, with which I am quite pleased, but in other subjects.) I was reading many grade levels ahead of my peers throughout my own schooling, and writing, especially creative writing, was never difficult. Memorization came easily, too. When my children do not behave the way I behaved as a student, I take it personally and consider myself a failure as a teacher. As unreasonable as it truly is, I think the one-on-one attention my students receive should boost them to near-genius level. Homeschoolers all begin college when they're 15, right?
I am working on using more praise and less criticism. I'm trying to appreciate their talents while being patient with their struggles. Hardest of all, I'm trying to ensure that everyone gets the uninterrupted face time with me they need. There are many times throughout the day when I have 4 or more little people asking me for help all at the same time. It is frustrating for me, rude behavior for them, and completely counter-productive for us all. I do have methods I employ to minimize or prevent this, but we're imperfect people here and we fail to follow the rules sometimes.
My overall grade: C+