Author Archives for Jess @ You, Me & B

About Jess @ You, Me & B

I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 – homeschooling. We don’t have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life.

Just had to share this video…

I Will Survive – homeschool version was posted on one of the HSing sites I visit, Parent at the Helm, and I think it is very creative.  I had to share it.

The Results Are In…

A few weeks ago, I bought B a stability ball.  He had been standing at his desk or the kitchen table to do homework, but he is getting taller and he has to stoop over to do his work.  Then once he is stooped over, he leans on the table or desk and kicks his legs up in the air over and over.  The table is creaking and wobbling under his weight now.  I thought about getting those bed risers and placing them under his desk to raise it up, but his desk in in the living room and the hubs says B prefers to be in the kitchen with him.  I won’t put risers under the kitchen table so I bought B the stability ball.  What a difference that has made!  B “sits” on it to do homework and to eat all his meals.  But he doesn’t really sit; he bounces.  His upper body is still and he is completely focused on the task at hand while his lower body is bouncing away!  I wish I could get an extra ball for his desk at school…

B’s test results arrived today.  He got 76 out of 80 questions correct.  He definitely passed.  :o)  I knew he passed, b/c I checked the test after he took it.  But we have decided to have B finish out 1st grade at his school.  Ever since I told him that we would be HSing him in the Fall, he has been very happy at school.  He rarely has anything negative to say about school.  He bounds out of school all excited to tell the hubs about everything he did that day and about all of his friends.  I asked him yesterday why he thought he was so happy at school now and he said, “I don’t know.  I guess because I know I don’t have that much more to go?”  Interesting.  Does he feel like the pressure is off of him since he only has 2 more months to go?  Is he more relaxed since he has another option, that he doesn’t HAVE to go to school?  Whatever the reason, the hubs and I are very pleased that B is enjoying school so we want him to have the last couple of months.  We are very happy he will end his school experience on a positive note instead of being pulled out due to an unhappy one.

Administering The Test

I want to apologize for my comments’ setting.  When I set up the blog, the default was set so that comments could only be made if you logged in.  I have changed that so anyone can make comments to posts now.

I spread the California Achievement Test (CAT) out.  It has 5 parts – 3 Language Arts and 2 Math – and B took it over Monday, Tuesday and today.  This was the same as the tests I took in elementary school.  You know, those old “fill in the bubble” tests.  Ahhh, we truly didn’t know how good we had it back then!  Oh to be back when the worst things I had to worry about were being on Sr. Irene’s bad side or whether or not Chris H. would ask me to dance at a party.  ;o)  Anywho, the Language Arts sections were a breeze.  It was fun to see how excited B was in his complete confidence that he was answering correctly.  “I am SO GOOD at this!” he exclaimed over and over.  Math was tougher…on me!

gets Math and that makes me very happy b/c I get Math.  When I was in school there were 2 kinds of students – those who got Math and those who didn’t.  I noticed a pattern in those who didn’t – they questioned Math.  There is no “questioning” in Math!  Math is finite.  The formula works, every time.  You don’t question why it works, you just plug in the numbers and know the answer is right.  But my classmates who struggled in Math wanted to know why the formula worked?  Who says so?  My friend Rosanna and I had many an argument over Math and I finally had to put Math on the “no talking” subject list.  Actually, more people than not are either English people or Math people.  Ben and I are a minority who are both and the hubs claims he is neither.  “I was a street-smart athlete,” he says.  B and I had reviewed double digit, vertical addition and subtraction and he was an ace!  He did it all in his head and I was utterly confident he would breeze through the Math sections of the CAT.  I was wrong.

He knew the answers to the sample questions immediately.  However, when I set the timer and he was on his own to do his addition section, it wasn’t so easy.  In fact, it was nerve-wracking – for me!  This was the only section he did not finish in the allotted time.  He came up with answers that were not one of the 4 options or he came up with the reverse answer which was an option.  I guess that means it is pretty common to reverse the ones and tens column.  I was surprised how hard it was for me to sit there and not help him by answering his questions and requests for help.  The only thing I could say was, “If you don’t know it, guess.  If you can’t guess, skip it and go onto the next one.”  Anywho, when he did the double digit, vertical subtraction section, there was no problem at all!  Finished all of them before time was up, got all the questions correct and didn’t hesitate on a one.  Interesting…  Mailed back the test to  Seton Testing and now we just wait for the results.

I discovered a negative today for having B at home instead of at school – potty talk!  Any and all words that relate to below-the-belt body parts, bodily noises and bathrooms are hi-LARIOUS to boys B’s age.  He knows that we do not want to hear them at home so, evidently, he and his friends get them out of their systems at school.  LOL  Occasionally on the weekends, one slips out, we correct him, and that’s it.  But today was day 6 away from school due to Spring Break and he could no longer contain himself!  Once again, oh to be at that stage where all it took was the word “butt”, “fart” or “poop” to entertain me…  ;o)

Going Public

Even though our decision to HS had been made over Christmas break, we were not ready to tell everyone.  None of our friends nor family members HSed.  We didn’t have all the answers to all the possibly questions that would be asked.  We didn’t know which curriculum we would use or if we would use one at all.  And I wasn’t ready to face any possible skepticism or negative reactions just yet.

The hubs really wants B to finish out the school year, so we decided not to tell Ben about HSing until this Summer.  B does love going to school to be with his friends.  He loves Math, PE, Music and Art.  The hubs was worried B would not be happy about HSing when we told him b/c he would not be with his school friends all day.  We also did not want B to tell everyone at school that he would be HSed in the Fall.  Our decision was not made b/c we feel the school is doing a poor job and do not want any teachers feeling slighted.  We figured the news would go over much better during the Summer, especially when everyone else went back to the school building in the Fall and B got to stay home.

As excited about HSing as I was from all my research, the hubs still had his doubts – another reason to not go public with our decision.  We had joined The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers at the beginning of January and registered for their annual conference that took place March 12-13.  There were so many interesting session subjects that the hubs and I split up in order to capture it all.  It was a great weekend for us as a couple, just to get away w/o B.  Plus, the hubs now got so much information that I had been getting for the past few months.  The more he learned the more convinced he was that we had made the right decision.  He gained confidence that he could and would teach B just as much as me.  On the way home from the conference he said we were ready to “come out” and could handle any and all reactions.  It’s been great to see the hubs turning so many everyday activities into learning opportunities w/o B even realizing it.  ;o)

One day while B was doing his homework he said to the hubs, “I wish I had a say in what my homework was.”  The hubs told me that night that he almost let it slip to B that he would soon have a say in everything he learned!  He saw then that B would not be completely bummed about our decision.  Last week B came into my room to get me up and I was not happy.

Me: I can not WAIT until this school year is over. (I mumbled as I got out of bed. B evidently heard me)
B: Me, too!  I wish I never had to go back to school after this year ended.
Me: (Blink.  Blink, blink.) You don’t.
B: (whole face lit up and big grin) I DON’T?!?!?!
Me: Nope!  Daddy and I are going to teach you at home!
B: (face fell fast and he looked at the ground) Oh.
Me: It’s going to be great, B.  You are in school for 6.5 hours a day and we’ll only need an hour or two at home.  And it won’t have to be all at once.  We’ll learn everywhere, not just at the kitchen table.  We’ll go on field trips and you’ll get to make decisions on what we learn about.  It’s called “homeschooling”.
B: Hey, I’ve seen books all over the house with that word on it!
Me: Yup.  I’ve been learning, too.  
B: But Mama?  What about Music class?  ‘Cuz at school, sometimes we play instruments in Music class.
Me: Well, we can see about that.  Plus our music class could involve going to concerts and listening to music and reading about composers.  So, do you think we can do it?
\: YEAH!  (pauses)  So, can we start now instead of in the Fall?
Me: I feel the same way, buddy.  I’m still workin’ on your daddy…

Before B headed off to school, I told him in no uncertain terms is he to tell ANYONE about HSing.  I don’t know why I expected him to do something that I myself was unable to do, but I hoped for the best.  A friend of mine said to me, “You just told him he doesn’t have to go back to school in the Fall, he will only be learning for an hour or two a day and will have field trips.  Suuuure he’s gonna keep that jackpot to himself at school!”  But he did.  He actually forgot all about HSing when I asked him if he had told anyone else yet.  :o)

This week I am administering the 1st grade California Achievement Test (CAT) to B.  It is an approved form of Evidence of Progress that the school division requires each year to show that your child is learning at home.  The hubs has promised that if B passes the CAT then we can talk about pulling him for the rest of the year.  He has completed all language arts sections so far and will complete the math sections today and tomorrow.  I know his results will not be back before Spring Break is over, but it should not be too long to get them.  I have complete confidence that B will pass.  He is bright and has a great 1st grade teacher!  Will let you know the results as soon as I get them!

The Beginning

I have been asked by some to explain how/why my husband and I came to the decision to homeschool our son.  I’ve been wanting to start blogging again, and now this new chapter in our life will certainly provide many experiences and memories that we will want to document.  So, this seemed as good a place as any to answer the questions about HSing (homeschooling).

B’s outgoing, talkative, interruptive and attention-needing personality has been the subject of many meetings, classroom observations and  behavioral charts throughout kindergarten and 1st grade.  We were well aware that B was disturbing and wasting his teachers’ and classmates’ time in kindergarten.  However, where is the incentive in that to HIM to change his behavior?  In 1st grade, he started costing himself, as well.  Although he fell in the highest level reading class based on his ability, he could not be placed in the highest group due to his behavior – according to the school, he would not work successfully independently nor in groups.  He was placed in a lower level group, where he was not challenged enough and became bored, therefore his behavior got worse.  Unlike in kindergarten, B started to not like 1st grade.  It was crushing to hear him say he “hated” school.  B is bright and loves to learn; he loves being around other kids.  Yet he hates school b/c he is bored and sitting in the hallway in timeout most days.  And when he tries to make it better for others by putting so much energy into controlling himself at school, he is a wreck when he comes home – exhausted, crying, short-tempered.  This is 1st grade, people!  What would it be like in middle school?!

In November 2009, I attending a talk at my church by Kirk Martin called “How to Be a Calm Mom.”  Most of us in the audience had “intense” children and were looking for some ideas to bring peace and order to our homes.  We got insight into how and why our kids’ brains worked and how we can create calm in ourselves, our children and our homes.  I started practicing Kirk’s ideas at home and we saw an immediate, positive difference in B.

Over Christmas break, we were visiting our friends K & C and the conversation between the wife, K, and me eventually steered toward how B was doing at school.  I was beside myself with frustration and at a loss for a solution.  I said, “My parents have offered to send B to private school.  But I know no matter which school he goes to, we’re going to have the same problems!  The only alternative to a school is HSing and I am NOT going to HS him!”  She asked, “Why not?”

Me: B and I have the same personality.  If we stayed home all day together we’d be at each other’s throats!
K: Haven’t you been taking a different approach (Kirk Martin) the past month and half?  And haven’t things been completely different between you two – calm and harmonious?
Me: Yes.  But I can’t reward his behavior at school by bringing him home and catering to him.  He needs to learn to get along in this world without being the center of the universe and he needs socialization.
K: He’ll get plenty of socialization.  So many people HS nowadays.  I’ll bet you have a huge HSing community in your area and you’ll hook up with them.  He’ll not only socialize with kids, but kids of all ages and other adults who will teach him things, too.
Me: But I don’t know everything he needs to learn.  I’m not a teacher.
K: You ARE a teacher.  You are a mom.  You work 2 jobs outside of the home with kids from 3 months to 13 years old.  You’ll learn along with him.  And I’m a former teacher; I’ll help you.
Me: But…
K: You CAN do this.  And you won’t have to do it alone.

The hubs and the kids came in just then and his and my eyes met.  “What is it?” he asked.  “We can HS B,” I said, with wonder in my voice.  We just stared at each other for a bit, and in that space between us, every reason we had recited for over a year for NOT homeschooling B just flipped in our minds to become the reasons we SHOULD HS him.  He said, “We CAN HS B.”  C walked in behind the kids, looked at us and said, “What’s going on?”  I said, “We’re going to HS B.”  “Cool,” said C.  “You’ll both be great at it!”

It was both exciting and scary to have made the decision.  Part of me did not want to send him back to school after Christmas was over, but the other part of me had no idea what to do with him if we didn’t!  I started spending all my spare time researching – online, checking out a ton of books form the library, learning the state’s and local district’s laws and reaching out to other HSers.  I have a favorite HSing author, Linda Dobson.  I found insight, empowerment and validation in her books.  Through reading books, I have learned so much about why the American public school system was created, how it works, and how it fails so many children.  I found a wonderful organization with a wealth of information and joined a local HSing group for ideas, playdates, field trips and support.

The school curriculum was created by people who have never met my son, and for left-brain learners with a particular personality that allows them to sit quietly for hours each day.  My son happens to be a right-brainer and cannot sit still.  He stands at home to do his homework but is not allowed to stand at his desk at school.  He hums at school when he is bored or stressed to keep himself from interrupting the teacher, but it bothers people anyway and he is put in the hallway for it.  Accommodations in the classroom will not be made for B unless he is diagnosed with something under the Americans with Disability Act.  There is nothing wrong with him that falls under the ADA; he merely has a learning style and personality style that is different than what the school curriculum is made for.  I do not expect the school to tailor its curriculum to B; but I can.  And I will, at home.

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