100 Days

100 days of school behind us.  100 days of tears, fighting, enthusiasm, screaming, laughing, rejoicing, threatening, pleading, failure and success.  100 days of brick-and-mortar school… and a reluctant 4th grader who stays up too late and refuses to get out of bed in the morning until I’ve gone in there no less than five times to wake him up.  100 days of home-schooling the “spirited” kindergartener, whose maddening mood swings would challenge even the most seasoned psychologist and make every day a night worth drowning in alcohol.

I said it before – I can’t believe we got this far.  More than halfway through the school year and we’re all still alive – and still doing what we started.  It’s been painful, where I repeated several times – she needs to go to the elementary school, I just can’t do it anymore.  And then it’s been joyful – where her eagerness to learn surpassed even my own post-run enthusiasm for life.  I liken home-schooling my daughter a little to childbirth… it is an exhilarating joyride laced with moments of incomprehensible pain. 

I’ve witnessed first-hand my daughter’s journey to literacy.  I – I alone – have taught my daughter to read!  It is an incredible thrill to be the integral part of her education – something I missed out on with Owen, where I had no idea on most days what he was learning.  And you know what?  It was okay with me.  Until now.  Now that I’ve been in the front row of the concert of Ava’s education – it’s so exciting to know exactly what she’s learning every day, exactly what she knows, exactly what her weaknesses are.

After 100 days, she can read and identify over 75 words and can sound out many, many more.  She read me an entire first reader book cover to cover – it was awesome!  We completed our second DORA/DOMA assessments and she is as our instructional support person says, right on target with scores ranging anywhere from late kindergarten to high first grade.  She amazes me almost daily – with not only how accurately she can hit her brother with a flying object but with her ability to break down words and grasp mathematical concepts.  I so love the way her mind works, her ability to rationalize and reason, from reading comprehension and problem-solving to gross manipulation of her diabetes to get something she wants, such as refusing to eat dinner until she gets dessert first. 

Meanwhile my other scholar continues to amaze me with how well he performs in school, given his daily emotional declaration of how much he hates it and doesn’t want to go.   I can proudly report that he recently earned A’s in Reading, Language Arts, Math and Health and B’s in Science and Social Studies.   I am amazed too by how little he has to actually do to earn these grades – he finishes his homework in record time and barely studies for his tests.  So – is this a reflection of our public education, or a testament to his genius?

Case in point: my genius recently brought home a social studies test on Native Americans.  He got a 77%.  Naturally I looked it over to see exactly what he missed.  I’m not unsympathetic – I know that social studies requires a great deal of memorization and clearly “winging it” will only get you so far in multiple choice and virtually nowhere in short answer questions.  He did well with multiple choice.  Short answers – well -not so good.  Did he study enough?  Well, I’ll let you decide.

How do scientists believe the first Native Americans got to North America?  “Scientists believe the first Native Americans got to North America because they have probably studied how they got to North America.  The scientists probably know that the Native Americans walked from Asia to North America.”  [minus 3 points for stating the obvious.]

How did farming affect the lives of Native Americans?  No points for stating that farming kept them from “moving onward,” or that “they had gotten distracted from farming to move on.”  Holy contradiction!  I’m a bit mortified at my son’s lack of clear writing skills… but really have to give him credit for the fine art of bullshitting – as you will all see next.

Name two reasons that most Native Americans moved westward.  “They wanted to find North America.  They probably wanted their feet to get moving and exercise.”  Well, can’t say he’s not creative, right?  At least he didn’t leave it blank.  Although it might have been less embarrassing if he had.

And, as a tribute to his sensitivity and compassion, I leave you with his multiple choice answer to how lions benefit from living in a pride: “Because they are in a group the lions don’t get lonely.”  Wrong answer?

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