Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Journey--What is Up with my Kid's Poor School Performance

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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Learning Curve-Working from Home with Kids

Although I was more than ready to get back to doing work, the transition to a work-at-home-mom has not been without it's challenges. As you can imagine, I have to change a few habits. I must do some work during the day. Initially I spent some time during the day on the computer. Now that I have some things settled in that arena, I have to make phone calls. This is where I hit a roadblock in a way.

I know you're going to think this is a story about the little guy, but it was my 12 year-old. Hanover wanted to ask me where the salsa was while I was on one of my first business calls. I was already nervous and had stumbled a little over my words. When she came in and started talking, I did the typical gestures toward the phone and held my finger up to my mouth.

Not good enough! Not only did she continue talking, she got louder. I finally put my hand over the receiver and whispered loudly, "I don't know and I'm on a business call." As soon as I took my hand off the phone, she asked about that darn salsa again. She was really upset. Finally, a more adamant "Go away!" allowed me to return my attention to the person on the other end of the line. I was so flustered though, I was glad we finished up quickly. It certainly shook my confidence. Hanover and I had a talk afterward.

I know I still have more of this kind of interruption in the future. As the kids and I both see other challenges and figure out how to meet my new needs and as they realize I can't be as available as I was.

For kid's events in Connecticut, see my new job at Macaroni Kid--a local website for parents with event, crafts, activities, and recipes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Evolution of Motherhood

First I was a single, working girl. Then I became a working mom. I loved my job so much and understood so little about children that I had no desire to stay at home with infants. Then my mommy-instincts to be with my kids grew and my job satisfaction tanked and I was a homeschooling mom. Once my older girls went to school and I was a stay-at-home-mom to my toddler and now preschooler.

It didn't take me long to realize that staying home with a preschooler just was not mentally stimulating enough. Sure, I could be somewhat busy toting my Little Guy to different classes, playgrounds, or library programs. That might be somewhat of a challenge for scheduling and would keep us in a flurry of activity. I love taking him out and I can work on other things while he plays. I needed something more interesting to think about while being a cruise director for the kids.

I also had some new requirements in my life. I enjoy being home for my kids after school so any new endeavor would need to be flexible enough to allow me to continue my chauffeuring and homework watching duties. I also knew that my previous career was not ammenable to part time work. I had to think outside of the box.

I knew of another mom who was running her own family-friendly business (Hi!). I pretty much begged her to take me under her wing and I am now working as an independent contractor. And now I am a work-at-home-mom. Which seems like it should be easier than it really is.

Friday, May 06, 2011

How to Alienate Your Book Club

This is a tip straight from me to you. If you are reading JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye for your book club, don't read extensively from the pertinent sections of Existential philosophy. Reading about anxiety gets a few head nods. Explaining, as well as you can, nothingness sees side conversations start up. Mentioning how existentialism also explains Holden's continuing dissatisfaction with those around him...well, that was when it was nicely suggested we return to the pre-printed study guide questions.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

What Kind of Mom Are You? Quiz

I thought this quiz was quite cute and short.

http://quiz.bronxzoo.com/mothers-day/email

It's more for you to fill out regarding your own mother than you as a mother. You can choose to send e-mail greetings to mom when you're done.



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