Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Break!! (Aka: The end is almost near)

Woot! This means no needing to plan a French class for tomorrow, no figuring out what school work to assign my son, no picking up nieces and nephew from school each day, no driving kids to activities in the evening... At the same time, it means tackling my taxes and babysitting my two nieces and one nephew. lol. They're old enough that I don't really have to do much to babysit, so it's all good.

I suppose I should update a bit: My daughter is taking a break from official school work for the next while. I am exploring different options we can follow for finishing up her high school studies, potentially even still by the end of next school year, as well as looking at post-secondary institutions and what they will accept. The less hoop-jumping as possible, the better. Right now, though, she needs a break. Well, really, she needs to deschool a bit!

With it being April just around the corner, it's hitting me that we only have about 2 months left for school work, which might not matter for my daughter given she's on a break, but it does matter for my son, who has not been doing a whole lot lately (my fault). The end is almost literally around the corner! I really, really, really need to figure out some gentle ways to get my son writing more. His math is going along okay, but we are WAY behind in the books we've been doing this year and he has really done only one tiny bit of writing.

A thought came to me that I suppose it wouldn't hurt to slightly modify things now in preparation for next year. Except that I haven't entirely thought about how I'm proceeding next year. Some thoughts at the moment:

1) Present my 13-year old with the fact that he is supposed to start high school in the 2015/2016 school year. Find some work samples of things students write at the end of grade 9 (jr. high here) and the kinds of work students do in grade 10. Work together to create a plan of getting him able to write at that level and do the type of work that is typical. (As I type this, I hear him previously having said to me, "I'll just do what you tell me to do." lol. This might turn into a "here, this is the level we need to get you to" discussion and me doing the planning.)

2) Lay out certain options with full disclosure. ;) What I mean by this is that a parent-issued high school diploma here means nothing for a lot of institutions and even for some employers. If the government hasn't issued it, it's not "real". One option is to go for the government diploma (which, in itself, has a few options). Another option is to just go for certain credits (again, some options within that). Another option is to do a similar, but not exactly the same, curriculum as our provincial curriculum and rely on things like perhaps SATs or portfolios as proof of completing high school. Have him think about the route he wants to take. (I can see him shrugging and going, "I don't know. Whatever you think is best." lol)

3) Start high school, sort of, next year. We could start covering certain grade 10 topics, like for social studies and science. For math, he's got a ways to work to be ready for grade 10, so we'll just keep on moving forward with what we're doing. I've been focusing a lot on basic things: multiplication, division, fractions, decimals... He's done some pre-algebra stuff and that always goes well, but we'd hit a point of his needing to be more comfortable with fractions and division before moving on. I had a look at what's in the grade 9 textbook for the province and he's actually covered some of the things that other students will be starting next year, so he's not entirely "behind". Regardless, we have the option to "bank" certain credits. If we can finish one or two grade 10 subjects, or even finish something like the required Career and Life Management course next year and get it out of the way and have a start on the credits, that would be fantastic.

Whatever we do, I feel it's really the time to print out the local school outcomes, with perhaps columns (started, somewhat covered, completely covered/mastered) for him to really start being more aware of what there is to learn and to start taking action on it more. Or perhaps just for him to see that there is a lot to be covered and only 5 minutes of work doesn't really cut it! I also have in my mind the idea of a checklist of certain types of texts to write and read. And definitely give him (even if it's used as worksheets) old provincial achievement tests for the sheer purpose of having him see what is expected to be remembered and just have experience with the wording. An introduction to testing without the pressure. :)

So, what can I modify right now?
*I could figure out the math he could get done by the end of the school year and make a checklist. He's been working on The Key to... booklets the past while. I'm sure I could flip through them and figure out something reasonable. Ideally, he would do some of the geometry or other work from the grade 8 local textbook, but I'm not at all sure how much is left in those booklets.

*For science and social studies, I could have him pick one of the grade 8, or even grade 9 (what do I care? lol) topics and we cover the outcomes and beyond by making use of whatever resources we can find. This would end up involving him doing some research, which would be good. It may also be the approach we'll take for his high school courses rather than just relying on a textbook. But on top of that, a checklist with science activities to work on during the week and social studies/history readings that we've (not) been doing (France and England).

*For English and French... I think we have to finish reading The Hobbit, and I will tell him that's our goal. We're only half finished Le voyage au centre de la Terre and it's been years that we've been working on it. Not sure it's reasonable to say we need to finish it. It's tough reading and the Charlotte Mason approach of a digestible number of pages is key. Other than that, my mind has been toying with the Writing Workshop approach with him, starting out with something easy but essentially going through a checklist of topics/text types. There are also some simple French grammar pages that don't take long and just give him some extra exposure since he doesn't read much in French. He's also been painfully slowly working through The Hunger Games. I think I either need to set the amount of silent reading time higher or just tell him, this book needs to be done before summer. Or provide him a challenge: "You think you can finish it before summer?"

I have written "checklist" I'm not sure how many times. I think it's time I had some checklists. lol. I can put on there things like:
*Italian (he's decided to drop Irish; using Mango for it was a little much). I got him connected to Duolingo and we will have a bit of friendly comparing as I make my way through the Italian in my account and he does his. Or perhaps we'll have something where one of us is on the computer while the other is on a laptop, sitting side-by-side in our respective accounts.
*computer programming: he wants to learn scripting, but doesn't like working on it unless I'm there so he can show me stuff. lol
*music (oy, I just realized I completely dropped the ball on Charlotte Mason-style music appreciation)

I'm not sure if I'm making any sense and this all might not be helpful to anybody but me. Sorry!

How are you doing as you face the approaching end of the year? :D