Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Capture the educational moment!

That Spunky at Spunky Homeschool is always up to something good! This time it is a contest to win a new digital camera! And as mine is somewhat of a dinosaur as far as digital cameras go, I decided to enter. So, this is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.

When Spunky said,"Inform and inspire us with a simple post that captures an educational moment," she reminded me of one of my favorite posts from a few years ago about the struggle to teach my oldest son to read. So I dove into the archives to enter.

This was originally posted on My Domestic Church in March 2004



My son's first report card!
My oldest son, Calvin, had been homeschooled from kindergarten until this year, at the age of 14. It has been a wild ride. I was new to homeschooling, he was my first born, my baby, let's face it - my guinea pig. In a large part, how HE did in his school work was going to be a reflection on me in some respect, and on homeschooling, and whether we had just made a terrible mistake by wasting his childhood and not putting him into our local public school or our highly respected Catholic School.

Now God is not without a sense of humor. Calvin has some very fine qualities. For example, he is able to take criticism, even harsh criticism, and it never ruffles his feathers, he never has hurt feelings, he doesn't hold a grudge. That's great! He is also not self motivated, ignores criticism and has a pretty healthy ego. Couple all of that with a kid who was NOT wired to read and write in 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade and up and you have a recipe for problems!

God also has compassion. My second and third sons picked up reading with no problems at all - same materials, same teacher, different kids. That was a relief to me to take the focus off, it's not that I was doing anything wrong per se, it was that this particular child was just having problems.

To make a long story short, we found a wonderful Christian Reading specialist who agreed to tutor my son, and teach me how to teach him how to read. Alleluia! What a blessing!! Getting back to God's sense of humor- this lady lived 2 1/2 hours away and charged $65 per session and wanted to see him every other week.

The trip seemed daunting, particularly since I would have to bring all 5 of my children(and at the time my youngest was still in various stages of potty training) and I would have to make the trip in our 11 passenger Dodge Ram. Not to mention gas, food, the tutoring fee- the entire thing was overwhelming. But my son was not able to read on his own. IN 5th and 6th grade I was reading his math for him, I was reading his science and history texts. He wasn't reading for enjoyment at all and he was making guesses on his video games because he couldn't read the texts there. Worse, he did NOT want to go to PSR or participate in any activity where there was the slightest chance that he would have to read in public. I had to do something.

So with my husband's strong reservations, I started driving down the reading specialist 2- 3 times a month, with 5 kids in tow. I did that for over a year and a half. It was probably one of the most difficult projects I have ever undertaken. The logistics of it were daunting. The night before each trip required a trip to the grocery to stock up on food, snacks and drink for the journey. Of course I had to fill up the tank and then there was making sure every one was up and ready to go. I also had to allow for the bathroom breaks for my itty bitty daughter with the itty bitty bladder. That girl has visited every rest stop bathroom available on both sides of I71!!

There were times I questioned why I was doing this. One January trip I remember the roads were very icy, and the wind was blowing and I absolutely needed both arms on the wheel to keep from being pushed into the semis that seemed to surround me. I remember looking over to Calvin and saying, "Cal, you have to learn how to read - your very life might depend on it!!" Other times I remember getting into a major traffic jam on the way back and after leaving at 10:00 that morning, not getting back into town until after 7:00 p.m! Probably the scariest time was when we were on the return trip and it started to rain so hard that I literally could not see in front of me, but I couldn't pull to the side because I couldn't see what was beside or behind me either. We started praying the rosary on that trip!

But the upside was I worked with Calvin between visits and he did learn to read. At age 12 he went from a low 1st grade reading level up to instructional adult! He can read his school work now, he can read the paper, he could read the subtitles at the Passion movie! HE can function in an adult world with an adult reading level!

This year, my husband and I decided to put Cal in the local public school's digital academy. It would make him responsible to an other adult, it would give him some more accountability to get his school work done, but it would only require his presence in the school 2-3 hours a day, for only three days a week. The rest of his work is done at home on the computer. It seemed like a nice way to do it for a kid who has been homeschooled his entire academic life.

Yesterday, I got his first report card. All Bs!! That card, for that kid, with that history is just awesome!! God gave us what we needed, when we needed it. He gave us the opportunity but He also gave us a challenge, and now in a way, we were both rewarded for being faithful. I think Calvin and I are both better for the experience.



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