Saturday, September 06, 2014

Week One of the Big Changes: Success!

I have to say, one week in... well, half a week, since Joey started school on Wednesday, so that's also when Andy and I started official lessons... and so far, so awesome.

The first week of school for Joey the last few years has always been... well, a disaster, really. This year? His teachers allow hugs. They help him, they guide him, they make it clear what their expectations are and provide him tools to meet them. They are busy teaching him those tools right now. He gets the attention he craves, and his fellow student thinks he's the bee's knees, and doesn't tease or otherwise make fun of him. Into Toy Story and Frozen? No problemo. You like words? Cool, let's look at word roots and definitions. You get the picture.

The result? Happy Boy who wants to get up and go to the school in the morning, two morning in a row, first week. Wow. More spontaneous speech. Telling himself stories that are not just scripts or episodes he's already seen. Half a week in, and I get the feeling that by the end of the year, I may have my Joey on the right track.

School for Andy has been a struggle of tears the last few years, anxiety of bullying from both students and unempathetic teachers. His third grade teachers figured him out. Last year's teachers never did, and I think they just wrote him off as a spoiled over-sensitive brat. Summer has been something of a struggle to get him used to home learning, and finding out interests we can target for interest and pleasure in learning. Saying "learn" around him risked shutdown. Asking him questions risked shutdown. I was getting very worried that this might not work, and then what to do? Sending him back into the hellhole is not an option, to be honest.

We talked. We looked at some materials. We toured the town and the resources for local field trip opportunities. He actually asked to look at some places, to get out and explore some. He asked to see the local museum. We read Ichabod Crane together, set up a game that teaches scientific method, and even did a straightforward math lesson, at a table and very traditional. No, it wasn't all sunshine and roses, but he did it. He showed interest. He demonstrated understanding. I think by Christmas, when his "deschooling" should be complete, we should be able to really get into what he needs to move along. Here in Virginia, he needs to pass an eval at the end of the year (either a portfolio or standardized test), so we will likely need to continue with math lessons in a more traditional way- I'm not really familiar with any other way to teach it- but we have plenty of resources here to make history, science, reading, grammar, writing, arts, etc. relevant and immediate. BY the end of the year, I may have my Andy back on the right track.

Folks, that's starting the year with a Win.

Let's keep up the good vibes.