Saturday, August 8, 2009

final exams

Daniel's first-grade portfolio review is on Monday afternoon. A credentialed teacher will look at all his work and sign a statement indicating he is working at his ability level. I then send that signed statement to our school district late this month, with a list of the curriculum I'll use and the subjects I'll cover in 2009-10.

We're in the throes of final exams, much to Daniel's annoyance. No, they're not required. I just like the concept of final exams. In terms of writing a report card, they have more value than chapter or unit tests for the home-taught student. Chapter and unit tests are valuable mainly in deciding when to move on to new concepts. If they don't still know the tested concepts at the end of year, did they really learn them--or were they just covered? Final exams require comprehensive review that helps a student make cognitive connections that may have been missed earlier. The learning is then solidified, leading to mastery.

While his grades will be mostly B's, his attitude pretty much always stinks. I'll be giving him a U for unacceptable in attitude (he tantrums). It isn't the work; he enjoys learning and he genuinely likes the curriculum. It's sitting still instead of being outside that he hates, or sitting still when his siblings aren't. However, if his siblings are working nearby, they distract him.

Even with medication he struggles mightily to pay attention. When I look at the body of work he's accomplished this year, I see the grace of God staring back at me. It isn't Don's or my effort, or even Daniel's effort. It's grace. My dear son struggles to pay attention to even a simple, five-minute explanation--no matter the method. His eyes wander horribly. I was reading recently that ability to pay attention improves for the ADD/ADHD sufferer when eye therapy is used. Training the eyes to stay focused is most of the battle. Interesting, no?

Anyhow, much needed rest will happen after Monday. We'll take a couple weeks off, then start second grade. They are actually excited about starting their new curriculum!

Daniel really needs the steady routine of year-round school to help him control himself. Routine is everything. He normally finishes in a few hours, spaced over the morning and early afternoon. Plenty of mental rest is built in, and the frequent physical exertion he needs is easy to facilitate--except during the snow months. We won't go there. Suffice it to say that I am praying for gym-membership money.

Timothy will be schooled consistently this year too--his official kindergarten year--although I don't have to do anything formal with the school district. Kindergarten isn't actually compulsory; age six by a summer cutoff date starts compulsory education. He isn't six until November.

1 comment:

Andrew & Terri said...

Oh, oh, oh! What you said about Daniel and his eyes and his brain triggered something that I should have mentioned to you a long time ago. Bal-a-vis-x is a set of exercises designed to help children integrate their left and right brains, improve eye tracking, and gain focus. I was trained in them while I was teaching and I have seen them make a difference in kids' lives..and they are SO FUN! Check it out: