Friday, June 13, 2014


I was determined I was NOT going to homeschool this year. 

And Lan Lan DID NOT want to be homeschooled. 

So, of course, when middle school began to prove itself to be too daunting for Lan Lan, we knew that homeschooling WAS NOT an option.

Lan Lan struggled.  She has made great progress in learning to read and write English, but she is still several years behind her grade level, and middle school really kicks it up a notch.  Not only did she struggle in class, she also had about 3 HOURS of homework every . single . night.  And this was homework that needed parental assistance because of her reading challenges and because she is still trying to grasp so many concepts in English.

Have you ever tried explain the difference between matter and mass and weight to a child still learning English?  I don't recommend it.  Because I don't even understand it. 

There were so many nights when I told Lan Lan just to do her best because I couldn't spend 3 hours helping her every night.  I had several other kids who also needed homework help.  We were starting in on homework as soon as kids got home from school and working on it until bedtime. 

It was overwhelming. 

And Lan Lan INSISTED on striving for an A in every class.  Which is noble.  Unless that stress takes over a child so fully that they begin to become so full of anxiety and stress that it reaches epic, unhealthy, proportions.  And no matter how much I tried to tell her that all we wanted was for her to just learn what she could and to ignore the grades, she couldn't do it. 

We were both a mess.  We had multiple conferences with teachers and staff.  We begged for her to be taken out of her social studies class and given an extra reading support class.  Her reading is what is holding up her learning.  She is very intelligent, she just needs to have better basics to move forward with her learning. 

We were not able to take her out of a core curriculum class.  It is "against the rules" even when everyone agrees it is in a child's best interest (don't even get me started).  And teacher's were not allowed to give her less work because Lan Lan is not on an IEP.  And Lan Lan cannot be put on an IEP because she is still learning English so it can't be sorted out what is an ESL issue and what is a possible learning challenge.  And a child who is learning English cannot have less work that a child who speaks English fluently because that would be discrimination (again, don't get me started!). 

We did have a great school counselor trying to help us navigate the challenges, but there seemed to be no direction to travel towards. 

And so.  I did what I said I wouldn't.  I started to think about homeschooling.  Which I didn't want to do.  And, honestly, I wasn't sure how much of Lan Lan's anxiety and growing moodiness was due to puberty and what was due to all the stresses from school.  But over Christmas break I saw Lan Lan go from her new, overly-anxious, depressed self, back to her old, loving and outgoing self.  I knew what we had to do.  And it was the best decision in the world. 

We ended up pulling Lan Lan from all her morning classes (ESL, math, social studies) and sending her to school in the afternoon (science, language arts, and leadership).  It was a perfect balance.  It was crazy for me work-wise--I would try to come home everyday around 10:30, homeschool Lan Lan for an hour, then drive her to school, then I'd go back to work.  We did more homeschooling in the evening.  Lan Lan also did some on her own early in the morning.  It was really crazy.  But we made it work. 

We put together our own social studies curriculum (using lots of library materials) and used Math-U-See (didn't love it sorry to say--partly because Lan Lan is so set in just memorizing rules and not understanding why they apply).  When I became a slacker teacher on math we hired a math tutor and that has been fantastic.  Lan Lan has lots of holes in her education pre-adoption.  We also decided to start Lan Lan with Vu's dyslexia tutor.  Lan Lan hasn't been officially diagnosed with dyslexia, but the program is Ortin Gillingham which has been highly recommended by Dr. Boris Gindis, the go-to guy on older adoptees and education/cognitive remediation. 

Next year?  I don't want to homeschool. It's a ton of work.  But I will.  Because it's what Lan Lan needs both educationally and psychologically, and I can also see the handwriting on the wall for Mei Mei.  Next year we will continue in a similar schedule to this year--I would love to hear suggestions for an on-line math program.   And any favorite social studies ideas (we will be studying US history to include US geography, Native Americans, colonies, the American Revolution and the Civil War and Reconstruction.)  I love unit studies that incorporate many different aspects of a topic.  And any way you real homeschoolers get excited for something you don't really love to do, but know is right. 

For now, it is summer.  Summer!  I do have some summer-schooling plans, but for the next few days we are FREE!!!!!


thecurryseven said...

Narrow down social studies... do you know what specifically you're going to be working on? I'm sure I have recommendations, but don't want to overwhelm you with things you don't need.


Ann said...

Hi E.! I updated the post to include where we will be going with social studies. Would love your input! Thank you!

Alex and Riann said...

Teaching Textbooks is a computer-based math program to maybe look into? And maybe take a peek at Story of the World, which has both an audio text, as well as book/workbook with lots of ideas for activities, narration, maps, etc. May God continue to grant you wisdom and discernment as you teach your girls!

Anonymous said...

I have used both Aleks and Teaching Textbooks math. I am using Teaching Textbooks with our new 10 year old son from China ( home since Aug).

thecurryseven said...

I'm finally getting back here to see what you're going to be working on. Here's my short list of favorite US history things that I off the top of my head with no real organization. I love the Chicago Review Press books (Civil War for Kids; Abraham Lincoln for Kids, etc.) They have great information with interesting activities. I used them extensively when we studied the Civil War. For Geography, have you seen the Holling C. Holling books? (Minn of the Mississippi; Paddle to the Sea: The Tree in the Trail) They are great stories with a ton of information tucked into the story. Beautiful Feet Books publishes a study guide and large maps to go along with them. I also love using historical fiction to go along with history. (I know you want to do more reading aloud.) We love Johnny Tremain; By the Great Horn Spoon (by Sid Fleischman about the Ca gold rush); The Captain's Dog (about Lewis and Clark). Also, if you just want a great book of resources, look up TruthQuest History. They have books for each era of history and there are literally hundreds of resources for practically every historical topic you can think of. Have fun!

e (Someday I would love to just sort through curriculum for people and plan out their studies. Fun, fun, fun.)

Sammy said...

OMW, you should get mommy of the year!