Hanover started public school in November of 2009 after three years of home schooling. Her first year was a little rocky with adjusting to new expectations, rules, and learning new skills. This following year, in sixth grade, started off really well. She could still her new best friend, she made another, very close friend, and her grades were good. Everything seemed to be coming together.
Her second report card started to show a slip. Her grades had fallen and there were some comments about her performance. The third marking period showed a steady decline in all of the academic subjects. After meeting with her main teachers, we implemented some new strategies at home to deal some of the issues.
One concern we needed to address was homework. Hanover was not turning in the required work. If we let her come home from school and blow off steam and play until dinner, by the time dinner was over, she forgot what her homework was or forgot any verbal instructions. First change: homework, if there is any, is done before anything else. That way all of her work is still in the forefront of her thoughts, she's still in "school-mode", and she can truly relax knowing she doesn't have anything work waiting for her before bed.
Along with that, I also became the homework police. I checked the websites where the teachers posted the assignments and made sure she knew about each one. I also drove her back to school a few times if she forgot a book.
Another change put into place dealt with organization. Instead of one binder that hardly held all of her work, we purchased a separate binder with dividers for each subject and a portable three-hole punch. She can punch any paperwork and add to the right binder. That helps cut down on some of the lost papers.
And that helped with some of the concrete problems. I wanted to understand the daydreaming that the teachers were reporting. They all said her test scores were good but her grades suffered because she didn't complete homework and she drifted off in class. So I investigated further with an academic counselor.
Yes--I know she was probably underachieving in school because she didn't need as much time, but it took a second set of eyes for me to figure out that she was fiercely independent. It's not that she didn't want to do well in school, it was that she is very intrinsically motivated and whatever was going on in school didn't float her boat. Which was almost no answer to what we needed but did help us move in a more interesting direction.
When I'm not policing schoolwork, I publish a website that has crafts, recipes, and events for families in an area of Connecticut.