Sunday, January 23, 2011

School update

You all remember this blog? Occasionally, I update it but mostly I forget to do that so blogs are posted and then months go by with no resolution.

Back in November, I talked about how WF was struggling in school and we were thinking of pulling him. I called the district about having him out for the semester. I was told that unless I could prove that he was going on sabbatical, then there was no guarantee that he would get back into the school for 4th grade. This seriously tilted things because long term homeschooling or having two kids at two schools was not something I was interested in.

So we decided to keep him in school with careful monitoring. We have started scheduling playdates with kids from school to help him make friends. The theory being, if he can talk to them one on one, then in a group, he'll have an easier time talking to them. We've had a couple so far. One was pretty successful, the other I wouldn't say as much about. As for the bullying, I don't know if it is getting better but they are mostly having indoor recess and the bully is in another class so they haven't been interacting much. We'll keep a close eye on it, as it gets warmer and they start going outside again.

On a positive note, I'm pleased to report that his school work has gotten MUCH better. I add up the total number of points the kids could have gotten for the quarter and then what they did get to come up with a quarterly percentage. It makes more sense, in my head, that way and gives me an easy point of comparison for overall achievement. His first quarter percentage was 74%. His second quarter percentage was 87%!!!! His only two 1 (they use number instead of letters. 3 is grade level, 2 is working towards grade level and 1 is significantly below grade level) grades were in handwriting and does neat and careful work.

Right about the time everything else was happening, he got a 504 plan that allows him to use a laptop at school for writing because his handwriting is so terrible. We've done a couple of different handwriting programs, he has worked with the OT at school, etc, etc, etc and it just never got any better. Although the computer doesn't help with the spelling and such, at least the letters are formed properly and there are spaces between the words so I can figure out what he is trying to write. The VERY best part of his 504 plan? He gets to dictate his extended responses on the ISATs instead of writing them!!! If you have ever talked to him, you know the kid has a huge vocabulary and can talk your ears off. As long as he doesn't have to write it himself, he will rock ISATs. It also means that he won't be being graded in handwriting anymore, because he isn't writing. So good stuff!

While I didn't talk about her in November, we just new report cards so I'm going to brag about MF too for a minute. She was slightly below grade level in her reading during 1st quarter. Nothing horrible, just a little lower than they wanted her. By the end of second quarter, she had improved so significantly that even if she doesn't improve one single point for the rest of the year, she will still be at grade level! Plus, he handwriting is already better than his is.

I think there are several factors that contribute to that. Most importantly, she has the DESIRE to learn, where he never really did. Second, she had a consistent preschool experience, while he went where ever I happened to be working at the time. Third, they have different teachers. His teacher, who was super nice, didn't seem as focused on academics as her teacher is. During the whole first semester, his teacher didn't send home any homework, except for name writing work sheets. Her teacher sends home 2 letter sheets and a sight word sheet every week. Now that they have all the letters, she is sending home word sheets. She is learning to properly form the letters from the get go, instead of learning bad habits that he never unlearned.


Catch Her in the Wry said...

I can't believe the CU schools are still grading on handwriting! 25 years ago when my kids were children (they were homeschooled), we scrapped the handwriting pretty quickly after they learned to print.

My thoughts were that they'd grow up in a world where typing/keyboarding would be much more important than cursive, and printing would be valuable only for filling out the letter boxes on machine graded tests. I was right; they rarely write with hand except for their signatures.

imarogers said...

You are a good mom for taking so much time in trying to help Chris.