School Update and a Few Thoughts

It’s February and the boys and I are working hard at lessons. We took way too much time off during the fall and also during Christmas & right afterward. When we hit the books again, I balked when I realized we weren’t even halfway through Gray’s 5th grade math curriculum yet. We school year-round, but I like to finish up his grade year by June, so we can take off for a few weeks before starting a new grade in July. I did some quick calculating, and if we work hard and if he takes his tests on the weekend (they’re pretty quick), we can get one extra lesson in each week. That will get us finished up by early June, and we can even still take 2 weeks off in March for a Spring break, once the weather gets nice and warm (but before it gets hot). So that’s the plan!

Des’ grade level is a little more complicated. If he were in public school, he’d be in kindergarten this year. However, I started him on kindergarten math back in the fall of 2012, and then I started him in kindergarten phonics in January 2013. He was way more ready for math than he was for phonics and reading at the time…he’s slightly dyslexic and has had some struggles with early reading. We’ve moved through both subjects at his pace, which means we’ve stopped here and there and worked on things a bit longer.

Because of this staggering, slowing down, and occasionally stopping, we finished kindergarten math last month— at halfway through the year. We took a short break to focus on addition facts (he has been slower to catch on to those, but is doing really well now!), and then started 1st grade math last week. And a year into kindergarten phonics, we’re about 4 weeks from finishing up, at which time we’ll go right to 1st grade phonics.

For Des, learning to blend consonants and vowels was very stressful and difficult for him at first (last year), but once he got that down, and once we started learning “special sounds” (Abeka’s word for phonograms), he started “getting” reading…finally! He’s made amazing progress over these past weeks especially. For instance, just a couple of months ago, he would only read very simple words if he was asked to do so. He would never attempt to read on his own, and also wouldn’t write anything at all unless he was told to do it. But just in the past two weeks or so, he’s started reading everything. He’ll surprise me by suddenly reading out loud to me when he sees things that interest him in his magazines and books, or something on the television screen. He’s noticing words and is enjoying the fact that he can decode and read them now! During these same couple of weeks, he’s begun writing things all on his own. He’s been writing little notes and journal type entries, and though his spelling needs work, he’s actually writing things on his own accord, so I’m thrilled!

For all the struggles Des has had, Gray has never struggled a bit with any academic work. He just picks things up naturally, like Philip and myself always did (no one taught any of us three to read, for example; we just started reading on our own around age four). Gray even taught himself to tell time when he was three to four years old, which still amazes me when I think about it. But Des…he’s had to be taught. To read, to add, to tell time, and probably, I’m guessing, he’ll need to be taught to spell well. Overall, I believe he is a smart boy, but in my opinion he’s not “gifted”, which is characterized by a natural inclination or “gift” of understanding things like these with little to no formal teaching. I sure do love him, though! 🙂

Gray, however, for all his intelligence and ability, struggles with what I feel are serious attention issues. I have no doubt he would be diagnosed with ADD if we were to have him evaluated. I believe he has some other issues as well. He has stayed in much trouble for not doing his work in a timely manner. He’s lost all privileges on many occasions, but nothing ever seems to get him to simply sit down and do his schoolwork assignments like he’s supposed to. We finally made some adjustments to his workspace recently, gave him a few new incentives, and that —along with losing every privilege he’s ever known— seems to have gotten him motivated to do his schoolwork properly, because he’s done really well for the past few weeks. I am so thankful for that, because struggling with him on this for a couple of years now has been extremely frustrating and stressful! I’m praying he sticks with his newfound diligence when it comes to his schoolwork.

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2 thoughts on “School Update and a Few Thoughts

  1. Hey Cam! I’m so glad to see you back on your blog. I love to hear all the little detail things about Grayson & Desmond. I love to read about you too, and all your personal feelings & problems. It helps me to understand you better and feel closer to you. If you decide to do something more private, please include me in that.

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