Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ready for School

Our school year typically starts in October, on cold, rainy days, or when the snow starts. It typically ends in April, or whenever the sun starts proclaiming it's spring time in the north. Not that the kids don't learn ALL summer long- they just don't tend to do it with a pencil & paper. They're busy planting, growing, harvesting, raising critters, milking, doing hay, gathering firewood, endless construction (at least it feels endless to me...) They're butchering, cooking, riding, training, doing car repairs, learning to drive... They're very busy boys.

Life as we know it will change on Monday. My oldest boy is going to high school. We started this homeschooling journey because of him. He's visually impaired, and school was not a good fit. After suffering through 3 1/2 years, being labeled a 'behavioral' problem, being treated as learning impaired, being ignored, and having all of his school work sent home as homework, we decided enough was enough. I was teaching him anyway, so what was the point of him sitting in a class room all day?

After joining all of the local homeschool groups, doing field trips to the Children's Museums, Story Book Gardens, the local museums, science club, homeschool soccer... and so many other wonderful opportunities to learn and socialize, #2 wanted to skip school all the time. We were always doing something more exciting than he was doing at school, so he started homeschooling too. #3 & #4 just joined in at the kitchen table when the time came, school wasn't even a consideration.

When we moved up north, we knew there weren't any active homeschool groups online. 3 years later, we still haven't met any other homeschoolers in the area. There is no Children's Museum, and few other museums, with odd hours. We don't get out much these days. The older boys continued in Navy League cadets, and are now in Sea Cadets. The younger boys went to the Ontario Early Years Centre for awhile, until they aged out of the program.

We tried school, the year before last. The local school was French Catholic, and I thought it would be cool for them all to learn French, since we live in a bilingual community. #1 hated it before he even started, and resented me for sending him. All of the same old problems came up with his vision, plus the added issues with the language. #2, my social butterfly, gave it a really good try, but couldn't seem to find his niche in the social network, and decided the rest wasn't worth it. #3 excelled at the book worky stuff. No surprise there, I'm pretty sure the little math whiz is gifted. But his ADD was a problem in the classroom, and I refuse to drug him. Then winter hit, and the little hermit had to be dragged out of the house day after day. #4, SK, really took to the social scene, handled the book work ok, and was doing well with the French. Kindergarten was all day, every day, to reinforce the French. When they took away their afternoon naps, it did him in. He was too tired all of the time. Getting him up on time in the morning was next to impossible.

By January we were all miserable. We had had enough, and decided to go back to homeschooling.

So now he's going back to school. I took him in to the high school in the spring. We met with the guidance counsellor, and discussed his vision. Discussed the programs. Discussed life... It sounds good. He'll have one class to work in the computer lab, learning how to work with programs that will read and type for him. He'll have his homework sent home on an Ipod as audio files. He'll be in locally developed classes for English, Math & Science. The guidance counsellor thinks his Geography class will be the most difficult for him. He gets to take phys ed, shop, & music. And he's looking forward to going. He's excited. About school. Now I just have to keep them from crushing his spirit and making him hate it all again.

We have adjustments to make. We have to go to bed earlier, lol. We are not morning people. Especially #1 & I. Summer camp (Sea Cadets) helped with that. For three weeks he was up at 6am, and in bed by 9:30. We've tried to stick with that routine since he got home, but some days are better than others. Can't send the kid to bed when supper's not ready til 10... We tend to eat after dark. We're busy outside until dusk, and then come in to cook after dark, which generally makes supper very late. That has to change. I'm looking into more crock pot recipes so I can get on with my daily routine and not worry about having supper on the table on time. It'll be easier in the winter, once the soup & stew season starts.

We have to make room for homework. Not space exactly, but quiet time, when his brothers are busy elsewhere, not distracting him.

We have to do more chores, so he can do less.

I have to pack lunch. Not difficult, but not habit. The boys have been getting their own lunches for years. I have to bake ahead of time, and make sure they don't eat everything in sight before #1 gets his lunch, since he won't be home to wait for something to come out of the oven.

He has to catch the bus every day. I drove them a lot when they went to the local school. The high school is 45 minutes away. He has to catch the bus!

And we have to make these adjustments while finishing our fall chores here. Another 15 cords of wood, harvesting the garden, canning beets, pears, & salsa, painting Pop's place, cleaning out the barn, finishing the fencing... Without my biggest boy...



  1. Wendy, good luck with the high school experience. All you accomplish just makes me very tired.I am impressed.

  2. So far, so good. He seems to be liking it. The school is still trying to figure out where he's at and what he needs to succeed, but they're definitely trying. He has an Education Assistant for Geography & shop. He's ok with her for geography, but she's annoying him in shop class. He's very hands on- that's the way our life goes, and he feels comfortable in shop. He has experience there. I'm sure they sent her in to keep him from cutting his fingers off, but he says she keeps getting in his way. English is a locally developed course, which means that he does it with the special ed teacher, and they're doing the same kind of reading comprehension work that he was doing at home. And then the Guidance class is also with the special ed teacher, but it's mostly for him to learn how to use the computers. He's using Dragon Naturally Speaking, so the computer will type what he says.

    Thanks. I figure it's my job, since I don't work away from home. Have to keep the bills low.