Saturday, March 2, 2013

Homeschooling Evan

At the beginning of the school year, all of the kindergarteners had an assessment of their skills.  Unfortunately, the assessment showed that Evan was behind in several areas.  He was so frustrated while he was taking it that he started to cry quietly and asked his teacher to help him.  His teacher reassured him and told him just to do his best.

His teacher called me that night to tell me that story, and it just about broke my heart.  I knew that he was not where he should be, but it killed me that he felt so badly about it.  When he told me that other kids knew more than he did, I felt even worse.  I wanted Evan to feel confident at school.

So I knew we needed to catch him up, and needed to make some big changes at home to get him there.  I decided that with Evan going to kindergarten in the afternoon, I would home school Evan in the morning.  As soon as we dropped the other kids off at school, we would start.

My next door neighbor has let me copy the homework packets that her son gets monthly from his all-day kindergarten, and that has really helped all year.  It is full of games that we can play together to reinforce what he is learning at school.  We always start out our morning with that.  At the beginning of the year, everyday we practiced identifying all of the letters and their sounds, tying his shoes, reading books simple books from school (like the ones that taught him how to spell color words), reading Dick and Jane and reading his sight words and numbers.  Now he practices things like telling the difference between "b", "d", "p" and q".  (He circles each letter in a different color.)

He practices writing his capital and lower case letters.

Because he has learned all of his sight words, he is now working on practicing how to spell them.  I am hoping that this will help him to spell them correctly in his journal writing.

I worried that Evan was not writing enough in school.  So he has kept his own journal at home.  We date every entry, he draws a picture and then writes one or two sentences about the picture.  We then compare how many sounds and words he got in his "kid writing" compared to "adult writing".  We hole punch his work and put it in a binder so that he can reread his entries and see his progress through out the year.  This particular entry says, "Count Duku (from Star Wars) is taking over this house."  Such a boy!

It has been exciting to watch his writing improve.  His independent work in school shows his progress too.  His "Love List" came home from school the other day, and although I was sad that I was not on the list, I "loved" to see all of the sounds he was capturing in consonants and vowels.  This list reads, "I love Moxie. I love Halo.  I love Lego Star Wars."  He is doing the same in his free writing at home.  On his birthday card he made for his Grandma Orton yesterday, he wrote "I luv yoo!" 

Evan picks out a book for me to read to him everyday.  Sometimes it is a book that he chose from his school library, and sometimes it is from our library at home.  Then it is his turn to read to me.  We have quite a few easy readers that Evan can choose from, all in a drawer in our living room.  He reads books aloud for 10-15 minutes a day.  Oftentimes he is reading to both Moxie and me.  ;)  Moxie is always there too if he needs a break to play ball or wrestle.  What a good dog!

When I need to do a little cleanup, or if I need to take a shower, Evan is only allowed to watch educational TV (like Word World, Super Why, and Sesame Street), or to play educational games on the computer (like or  After school, he can watch certain "non-educational" shows.

Evan has also been practicing how to write his numbers.  Every day he writes the numbers 1-10, and that has really been helping him to not make as many reversals in his writing.  Every few days he writes the numbers 1-50.  It is really impressive how quickly he can do this now.

Recently he began to do XtraMath.  XtraMath is a website that assesses what facts a child needs to work on, and then provides the child with practice on those facts.  It has been a little frustrating for him, especially when he first started, but he is getting the hang of it now.  Knowing those math facts is so critical to success in math, and I'm hoping that regular practice helps Evan with that.

Occasionally, we will take the day off to have a friend over before school.  He has a really nice group of friends in his class, although his favorites continue to be Connor and Ryan.  :)

So that is Evan's day...homeschooling in the morning, Kindergarten in the afternoon, and playtime after school.  I am so happy to be able to witness his progress at home, and to hear that his teacher sees regular improvement at school.  We are at a very different place than we were those first few days of kindergarten, and that is a very good thing for Evan's confidence.  I am very thankful for that.  Good work, Evan!

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