07 September 2010

Homeschool Failure

Siigh.  Getting real.

Emperor's handwriting leaves much to be desired.  The more I work on his cursive, it seems, the worse it gets.  I finally asked Woodjie's preschool teacher how they teach their tinies to write and she recommended Handwriting Without Tears rather strongly.  It isn't, of course, what they use for the standard issue children in our district... they use that cray-zee "D'Nealian" stuff that makes you write from the bottom of the paper up, sidewise and backwards.  (Look.  To make a lowercase b, one must go UP to make the loop at the base.)  I taught him to print just as I perfected my handwriting as a teenager, and yes, that means Emperor makes his lower case a's to look just like the typewriter kind, not the o with a stick on the end.

So.  I'm looking at the catalogue and thinking about what to do for Emperor.  Emperor is in tears and insulted because his handwriting is already perfectly neat (even though much of it is unreadable if you don't know him).  He says he refuses to do anything else; he's done with handwriting. 

No, wait!  He's left-handed now!  Except on assignments where speed is required!  In which case, things are even worse!  But look how neatly he can write with his left hand!  And yes, he can.  If I want to wait 500 years for a page-long paper, this would be the way to go.

Now I'm all confused and don't know what to do.  The strength of homeschooling is that you can cater to your student(s), but that's also the drawback.  Stage a mini-revolt, and Dad gets involved.  And once that happens, then Mom and Dad fight about who's the best teacher for the kid, who's getting criticized, whose feelings are hurt, whose kids are these anyway and blah blah blahhh. 

I guess because our lives are perfect and we don't have anything else to fight about.

Or take this.  I saw a nifty little game called Free Rice.  How fun!  Hey Emperor, come over and play this geography game.  He took a look at the country on the screen.  Ohhh, I shouldn't have asked.

"How am I supposed to know the answer to THIS?" he asked incredulously.  I told him that he can do this... he knows this... just sit down and look carefully. 

"Well, doesn't it have an easier level?  Can't you give me a hint?"  Um, no.

Dad gets involved and can't believe what he's seeing, that Emperor doesn't know the answer.  Emperor claims that it's not fair, he didn't get to study for this, and how is HE supposed to know which country this is!???  He has NO IDEA?  Where's the hint button?  Can't Mom help him?

Siiigh.  "It's the United States of America," I told him finally.  "Hit 'United States,' and look at the next one.  Maybe it gets easier later."  (ha)

Um, but it did.  Bam! He knew New Zealand.  Bam!  Iceland.  Bam!  Austria.

Ummm....???  We spent YEARS learning about our own country before learning about other lands.  And who cowers in fear before the Icelandic and New Zealand armies?  Sorry to all y'all Icelanders and Kiwis, but really.  You know STINKIN' ICELAND and its location, but not the US?

And Madagascar?  Madagascar!??  Instantly, this kid clicks the right answer for that one, too.

D is all mad.  His teacher should have done a better job with this "countries and their locations" thing.  So now, guess what we are doing every week?  Yep.

And Elf.  He did poorly on a math quiz.  Since we found out he'd copied the answers on occasion a few times in the last several weeks, he must take an assessment test.  He's flunking fourth grade stuff.  Arg.  And it's stuff I know he knows... (the value of the 3 in 3,000 is not 1,000... but yes, it's in the thousands PLACE.  I still have to mark this and several other answers WRONG.  Because they are.)

I'm afraid of what's going to happen if he tests into first grade and Mom and Dad need to work out what to do.

12 comments:

  1. Failure? But he knew all the other countries, Mrs. C! That does not sound like a failure to me. Sounds like the kid, for whatever reason, didn't recognizethe U.S. right away.

    I've read good things about Handwriting Without Tears, though my oldest homeschooler is only four, and our first official day of homeschool is today (She's actually napping after a successful morning, praise the Lord!).

    In other words, I have no insights to offer, :)

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  2. Ahhh, but your comments are always welcome. Especially the one about our not being failures. :)

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  3. Dude, I am so there with the handwriting. I have tried approximately nine-hundred and fifty-seven handwriting programs. So now I get the extra guilt of realizing that probably the switching did not help the situation. We are sticking with Getty-Dubay and that's it.

    As for Cursive? Please. I've bagged that notion already and I'm years away from it. Legible printing is my goal at this point.

    Also - I love Free Rice!

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  4. So... does that mean you have Handwriting Without Tears to sell me for cheap? It would alleviate some of the guilt.

    I love Free Rice, too, but it didn't load up for us properly today. :)

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  5. here's a post i seriously read JUST BEFORE yours: http://www.raisingarrows.net/2010/09/lifestyle-of-learning-handwriting.html hope it helps!

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  6. Mrs. K, Amy is always kind, always insightful, and always encouraging. Thanks for the link. :)

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  7. I think you are looking at this all wrong. Doctors have atrocious handwriting, and the harder they try to write neatly, the worse it gets.....maybe this is a sign you are rearing a future doctor...

    Trust me, I worked for several. ;)

    It will get better.

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  8. Handwriting... well you must know that our Griffin can not write and never will.... which makes me cry...so I shall not comment on your wee man's abilities! Except, at least he can write.

    And I am SO GLAD they know where New Zealand is.. cos I live there! lol

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  9. I gave up on cursive long ago. Both my kids prefer to print, and that's just the way it goes. They can sign their names, because a "signature" is required in life. Other than that? Pppffff, no stinkin' cursive.

    As for the countries...my 14yo couldn't identify all the ones your little man did. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, homeschooled or otherwise. You clearly are a great teacher, and your kids are getting a great education. Fear not, sister friend.

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  10. Aww, Blondee, thanks! Though Emperor would have a hard time fitting his writing on that prescription pad...

    Chris, I knew you'd appreciate that! :)

    ((Claire)) thanks. :)

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  11. I am way late in getting back to this (long week), but I wanted to tell you that I had a visit with a couple of teachers about this very issue a few years ago. I know you face very different challenges, but I thought Id share this much with you.

    I was told by both teachers that if the boys prefer to print, then let them print. Why? Because--in the long run--it isn't important. One teacher said that since MAP testing became such an issue, though she teaches it, she's spent very little time worrying about cursive writing. She herself asked high school teachers. They told her that they do not require cursive writing (especially since they generally want it all typed these days). All the kid needs to know how to do is sign their name in something approaching cursive. That's it. So why are schools still teaching it this way then? Good question.

    All the boys were introduced to cursive writing and familiar enough with it that they can read it very comfortably and sign their names. Otherwise, all four print-their own choice-and they have good, legible handwriting. (A rare thing with men, I hear). My dad prints. My mother prints. I print. All because our cursive writing is terrible.

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  12. Who needs cursive in an electronic age... they can print or type.

    Meanwhile, I haven't met a homeschooling kid who didn't try to take a shortcut (copying answers)... Show him that you are watching and will make him repeat it till he gets it right and he will apply himeself to math. It just sounds like pushing boundaries to me.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)