Monday, June 25, 2007

Look!! It's a post about homeschooling!

Now that baseball season is over, and our first day of school is 37 days away (ACK!), I am ready to throw myself into my lesson planning!

And, as usual, my brain and heart are wrestling each other for control. My brain finds itself drawn to the Well-Trained Mind/Classical approach, but my heart finds itself drawn to the Charlotte Mason approach! Somewhere in between, I understand that the two aren't mutually exclusive.

It also doesn't help that alot of the new things I'm learning in RDI seem to mirror what I know about the Charlotte Mason approach to learning. And because of Austin's struggles with learning, I go back and forth with the idea that I need to teach him according to a structured school-like schedule to make sure he is progressing; and the ideas that, since he IS a slow learner and processor, we need to take things more slowly and use materials that will really light a spark in him, even if they are 'below grade level' and even if that means we read 5-6 good books really well, rather than fly through a graded textbook/reader.

I've been reading a series of blog posts on my friend Tammy's blog ( about reading comprehension. They begin on June 21st, if you are interested. Tammy is a long-time CMer and has a daughter with autism whom she has been homeschooling as many years as I've had children, so she gets my respect and my attention when she posts about schooling! And it so happens that reading comprehension is a thorn in my side.

Kids with Aspergers are notorious for having poor reading comprehension. I understand that, and have accepted that Austin struggles with it. However, I was determined to attack it head on this past year (his 4th grade year). I purchased a 4th grade reading curriculum, along with the teachers manual so I could ask him reading comprehension questions. We spent an entire month off from reading, working through the Reading Detective book, to prepare for the ITBS. We followed that up by doing practice sets with ITBS questions. What did we get from that intensive work? Reading Comprehension was the ONLY score in which Austin made no progress. His score was the exact same as last year's, which actually means that he lost ground because he was doing the 4th grade test rather than the 3rd grade. He made TONS of progress in other areas, so this really stuck out at me. (Compare this to the fact that his only 'grade level' score continues to be spelling which is the only subject that I cannot consistently figure out how to teach him! So we do nothing in spelling and he's still grade level, but we spend a whole year concentrating on reading comp. and get negative results! UGH)

So there must be a better way! Apparently the textbooks/questions/workbooks are not doing it for him. Between Tammy's posts and the information in the book "Apprenticeship in Thinking" that was recommended by our RDI consultant, I'm seeing lots of overlapping ideas. So I just may be ready to make a big leap of faith!

Maybe. :)


lisaquing said...

Ooh! A post about homeschooling! I read it avidly and await your musings soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I think reading comprehension is tied to LIFE comprehension. As you begin to progress with RDI, the
reading comprehension will come.
Another reason to put academics on the back burner for a while! Other wise reading comprehension will be a rote exercise, just like your experience last year.
Just my thought! POOHDER2005