Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What day is it today?

I was going to write that it's been a week since I last wrote, then I went, "Wait a sec. What day is it today?" I'm not sure it's a good sign that it's only Tuesday and I think it's later than it is!

Ah well. Yesterday started off well. I was determined to have work get done and that determination and enthusiasm spilled over to dd and Bob--they both got started on writing stories and spent a good 45 minutes on it. The 16yo however... I don't know what to do about her, to be honest. She's not motivated--and she admits it. She's unfocused. She really doesn't want to be doing any of the work she's been doing, so she fights it by being unfocused. That's how I see it, anyhow. Despite daily "reminders" of how we have a choice in how we look at things and other reminders along those lines, it's not helping. Even just yesterday, somehow the topic came up of people having bad days, where one bad thing after another occurs. I said something about it all depends on how you look at it--you can see all the things as bad and focus on that or you can just stay positive. Then she recounted a day not long ago where it was one thing after another and how she tried to stay positive but it didn't work. There's something off in her expectations, I think. It's almost as though she figured that by staying positive, nothing else potentially bad/annoying would happen, but that's not really the point!

Further to her expectations... I still have to work on her concept of learning and tests. She did a physics quiz last Friday and half-way through kept repeating the mantra, "I can't remember this." Well, it really had little to do with remembering and just thinking, to the point that dd and Bob, who were "doing" the quiz in the background (it's an online quiz) were able to correctly figure out the answer. Of course, that, I believe, just made her feel stupid. Maybe that's what all of the struggles recently with her are really about: lack of self-confidence. She doesn't feel like she can (she had a very rough time with her exams), so part of her is holding back from doing it. Soooo... How to build her self-confidence with this? How to give her some daily moments of success? How to help her find her motivation? Long-term goal setting doesn't really work at the moment because part of her is convinced she can't achieve it. And she's already behind in pretty much all of her work and getting further and further behind each day because she's not doing enough. Focusing on that, however, just gets her really discouraged. Hm...

With Bob's gr. 11 physics success last Friday, and with him asking if he can do physics, I'm tempted to actually propose to him that he start gr. 10 science next year (he's in gr. 8). The reading and writing might be beyond his capacity at that point, but what a motivator! Another something for me to think about.

But, back to yesterday... Started off great, but then fizzled. As soon as I started working on math with the 16yo, it kind of all fell apart. I tried to do spelling with dd and Bob at the same time, which kind of worked, but dd had gotten into one of her funks (because she'd gotten all frustrated with her story from earlier) and the 16yo's focus was on how long and confusing her math question was... We went to park day in the afternoon, and that was really nice.

Other than that, my mind is preoccupied with where dd's toque has gotten to. :( We had it on Friday for sure, I told her I had it in my bag, which I'm fairly confident that I did, but after that, I don't know where it ended up and we only discovered yesterday that it's lost. We only bought it a couple of months ago, along with a toque for ds, which we lost within the first week. :( *sigh* She didn't play outside on the weekend and she didn't go to any stores. She did go to swimming, but says she didn't have it with her (I think I may still check the pool today) and we went to Mass, and I know she didn't have it then. I guess there are 3 possibilities: 1) we lost it at the ski hill or somehow on the way back, 2) it's in the house somewhere because I didn't put it away right away when unpacking my bag on Friday, 3) she lost it on the way to, at, or on the way back from the swimming pool. Part of me keeps thinking it's in the house, but I don't know where. Fortunately, I found her old toque downstairs on the weekend (before even knowing the other one had gone missing), so she's able to wear that, but misses her new toque!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A turning point?

I got my dd to write in French twice this week. As frustrating as she finds it, it was pretty good. her spelling in French is atrocious--but she spends almost no time reading in French, so there you go.

Bob had a meltdown yesterday. I insisted that he write before being allowed to have free time and he saw dd go off and write a whole bunch of stuff (although she was all grumpy about it, and it was huge writing and more then double-spaced) and he couldn't come up with something to write and it all fell apart. He compared himself to her, then got himself convinced he wouldn't be able to become a dentist or anything else. These kinds of meltdowns in the past have been very therapeutic and have helped to get him back on track. I have been trying to so hard to pull him back on track and so little was working. This, hopefully, will help. The talks I tried to have with him in terms of planning didn't do much (he didn't participate much), but then he resisted everything. *sigh*. We're to have another talk today to plan things out. He heard about the idea of starting over from the beginning and was kind of eager to do that the other day, and maybe he'll be really willing to do it now. We need to have a good talk about what he has to do, set some goals and create a good solid plan.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What a week

Last week didn't get moving as I'd hoped.

The 16yo was recovering from burnout a bit. She did get some stuff done, but not much. She said, though, on Thursday that she was really enjoying having a break after the several weeks of stress.

Our dog passed away on Tuesday :( , which left us with a no-work day on Wed., then Thurs. was Valentine's Day, and Friday was only a half day. We cleaned a bit Friday morning and then watched a movie.

This means that the 16yo is now 2 weeks behind her original start date for the semester, which was already a week behind the school's 2nd semester start.

However, I'm reminding myself to focus on what I want, so I'm focusing instead on how to make the most of this week, which is a holiday today, tomorrow we're at a ski hill, Wed. and Thurs. are full school days, then Friday is another half-day with yet more ski in the afternoon. 2.5 days, plus an hour tomorrow morning. Since I am so resolved to get work back on track, I'm taking that hour to work with the kids on establishing plans for the week. The 16yo already has a calendar with her subject unit/chapter deadlines, so her job will be to figure out how much she can reasonably get done during her available work time. She'll need to aim to do 1.5 to double what she was originally going to do each day. She'll probably have to work 6 hours both Wed. and Thurs. to make a good dent on her stuff. She doesn't have diving or anything Thurs. night, so she can bring some work home with her, too.

For "Bob," I keep bouncing back and forth between ideas. On the one hand, I'd like to just tell him, "You have to do this, this and this." On the other, I want to work with him. But then thoughts come up of, "It doesn't work well. He's not willing to be responsible/follow through on his plans. Etc." I have to have a clearer image of where to go with him. Let me babble here about the things that need to be worked out in terms of work.

Okay, he needs reading time, obviously. He needs to have time to read silently, and he needs reading instruction to improve his skills. He needs to work on his printing, but it doesn't have to be every day. He needs to work on spelling--at least 3 times a week would be good. He needs to write daily. He needs "remedial math" time as well as time to work on his math text. Since he did NONE of it last week, he now has 75 days to do 100 days of work. He really ought to have science or social studies each day. Maybe he and I can just discuss things and work out a vision from there.

For dd, it'll be the same: work out what kinds of work should be worked on then take it from there.

For ds, it'll probably be more of a discussion along the lines of, "It's important to practise reading and writing and do some math each day. When should we do that?" Other than that, it's really up to me to come up with activities and lessons to invite him to. He's already agreed to telling me all about some bugs he knows and I'll write down the information, but we haven't done it yet. We did do the Golden Bead presentation last week; I can do the layout this week and play some games like, "Bring me 3 tens. Bring me 5 units."

My niece is only coming once this week. I should still probably think of some activity I could show her.

I know one thing I want to bring up (again) during our discussion/meeting tomorrow is what is acceptable in the morning. Bob in particular will need a reminder that going off to talk to someone, especially while they are working, does NOT constitute work and is interfering with the work others are doing. Another thing that needs to be brought up is how he seems to feel the need to take a break after every work item, even if it only took him 5 minutes; I'm not going to bring that up specifically (focus on what you want!), but we can talk about when breaks are reasonable, how long, and what is okay to do during a break. I think we'll create a big "Reminders" poster or something that can be put up and referred to.

I just had the thought that I'd like to bring back something I haven't had going in a long time: classical music playing lightly in the background. One problem with that is that our upstairs stereo's cd player has gone haywire. I could put it on downstairs, that'd still work, since the way our house is built, downstairs is just right there. I should try cleaning the stereo again and see if it helps. The way it's acting makes me think it's dirty rather than actually damaged. I might need to see about a different cleaner since we've lost the actual cleaning solution for the one we have.

Oh, and I put up an Agenda sheet for meetings and it's so strange how meetings help curb certain behaviours in Bob. For example, after coming back from his dive meet, he kept saying to people, "Go home!" Well, up it went on the sheet and when we sat down for a little meeting at lunch, he said he'd stop (even though we'd all asked him before to stop, but somehow, having it brought up at the meeting makes it more 'serious') and he really did catch himself a couple of times and changed what he said. Haven't heard it since.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A new semester!

We are finally beginning second semester. About 1.5 weeks late, but oh well.

The 16yo has a LOT of work to do already since she didn't get started last week as she had planned (did her exam later than anticipated then was gone all Friday morning). She was given things to do on the weekend. I hope for her sake that she did them. We have got another crazy week ahead of us.

Today: park day
Tomorrow: 16yo has an appointment in the morning and all the kids are in a workshop in the afternoon
Wed.: have my niece that day; actually, that'll be a fairly normal day, except we want to have birthday cupcakes for her (she's 3 today!)
Thurs.: 16yo has driving lesson over the lunch hour, plus it's Valentine's day: more cupcakes or maybe cookies instead!
Fri.: skiing/snowboarding in the afternoon--this time, the cold shouldn't cancel it!

Basically, that amounts to 4.5 mornings and 2 afternoons of work for the oldest. Minus cupcake and whatnot time. So, bascially only 3 days to get her work done.

I'm starting fresh with "Bob" today, too. I worked out last week how much math he has left to do: 100 lessons in 80 days. Supposed to be a lesson a day. He's going to have to work steadily, then double up certain days. I've also decided to have him work at his level yet still meet the gr. 8 language arts reading and writing requirements for the school we're with (for those registered to do so; he's not; I know, it's complicated if you're not familiar with our system :) ). He's got what looks to be a lengthy checklist for each day, but it's really not that bad. He needs to get working!!!!

Dd has been remotivated (that a word?) over the past few days and is eager to work on some different things she's got going. She even did division with me last week and was enjoying it. I had started the Jump Math's approach to learning the times tables in 5 days with her and Bob, but hadn't gotten past the first day with them. So I reviewed the first day stuff with her (which is simple things up to 5x5) and then decided to ask her some of the same things but in division form. She did the division faster than the multiplication. What a kid!

Ds has been sick. :( But he's getting a bit better and we should be able to resume some learning activities today. I'm going to re-present to him the Golden Beads today so that he can learn the names of the categories. Then tomorrow, I'll do the bead layout.

But now I have to go get myself ready for the day!

It's been so cold here lately (in the -35C to -45C with the wind chill; about -25C in general). It's now up to -13C! Yay! It'll be around -4C sometime this afternoon. Perfect for our re-entry into park days.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Warning--crazy week ahead!

Things have felt crazy, hectic, busy since we got back from Christmas vacation. I keep waiting for it to be over with, but I think I've got to change my expectations!

Here's our coming week:

--morning meeting--had restarted then stopped; we'll restart and tackle plans for the day and expectations: like NOT finding things to play with at 9am and you haven't gotten anything done yet!
--16yo's study day plus 2nd semester planning and maybe fit in some CALM or French; we decided to hold off until Wed. morning for her chem exam because she has not practised all of the equation work and more than half the exam is equations!
--work day for the others: have got a list for "Bob" and we'll be tackling his wandering today a bit
--my niece is coming, but she usually comes Mondays so that's not any different

--morning meeting
--16yo's study and work day
--typical day for the others
--my niece will be here

--Bob is gone on a dive meet; no niece--I'll only have 3 kids in the house!
--16yo does her exam in the morning; my two will do something quiet (I will do school stuff with them before the 16yo arrives)
--field trip to a vet clinic
--16yo gets started on her 2nd semester course work! (bio, phys., English, finish up math, finish up CALM, French--sounds like a lot and it kind of is, but she's got maybe a week's worth left of CALM, French isn't super intensive since she's only going for French 30, math will be done by spring break)

--still no Bob
--my nephew has the day off school and we've been invited over to his place; his place used to be the 16yo's (former) best friend's house--she's spent more time there than I have! She'll get to see the renos. I don't know when we're going and the oldest definitely needs to work, so I might end up dropping my kids off there and coming home with just the 16yo--that'll be sooooo weird.

--still no Bob; no niece
--normal work in the morning
--try to reinstate our Friday clean-ups
--ski/snowboarding in the afternoon

With the oldest starting her bio and physics, I've been hoping to make some materials or come up with some lessons to offer to the others related to what she's doing. I haven't come up with anything yet.