Sunday, November 3, 2013

How're We Doing?

With one marking period of the school year completed, (pause for a moment: YAAAYYY! And...gulp! That was...quick...) Report Cards will be issued soon. So in the spirit of self-evaluation and improvement, I thought I'd deliver a Summary of Family Progress as well. (Because yes, I am JUST that much of a nerd...who's surprised? I suspected as much...) So here's the status thus far:

English: You'd think this one would be, well, a no-brainer, as it happens to be our Mother Tongue (and stuff). However, the Middle Schooler has been receiving unusually low grades (for him) on writing assignments from his 8th grade teacher. Husband and I have dutifully checked each one before its due date and helped Derek to edit them...yet somehow we're not pleasing his instructor. (Even with our extraordinary combined efforts...and just imagine how guilt-inducing this is for his parents, to not be doing Junior High English!) This course will have to be considered an "ongoing concern", as I believe I'll need to make an appointment to chat about how to better meet the expectations of the class.

Social Studies: This quarter we've focused--by necessity--on Economics as a topic of study. There has been an ongoing unit on Consumer Riley continues to spend most of his allowance each month, while Derek plans to stash his away until he has accrued enough for a new iPod. Then we've had opportunities to discuss rudimentary Banking, as in "even if it costs the same as our current house, we not going to buy a mansion with a saltwater pool on a 12-acre lot  in North Carolina." (Yes, this actually came up in conversation while I was perusing Real Estate websites...) And finally, we've been forced to address some Personal Finance Matters...which is what happens when your 13-year old gains 7 inches of height in 12 months, thereby outgrowing his glasses and requiring them to be replaced...even though insurance only pays for a pair every two years and his lenses are super-ridiculously-expensive due to their unusual prescription. (Sigh...)

Science: In the carefully controlled laboratory setting--I mean "kitchen"--we continue to observe and analyze the complex relationship between fuel (in this case that would also be known as "food") and A) energy, in the short term; and B) "expansion" over time. Simply put, Husband and I watch with amazement--and no small amount of consternation--the number of calories the boys consume, the amount of running around they do, and the steady rate at which they seem to be sprouting these days. This allows for a nice cross-discipline application, of course, as it relates to Budgeting at the Grocery Store (see "Social Studies") and Maintaining Fitness (see "Physical Education").

Math: We often find ourselves attacking real-life word problems these days. Example: Two brothers are playing football in the back yard. What is the minimum number of times (t) the bigger one (D) can tackle his younger sibling (R) before R storms off and quits the game? Extra credit: What is the maximum number of occurrences (O) that Mom (M) will allow before handing down punishments (P), and how many will each offender receive? Here's another one: Suppose a student has set a goal to walk to the bus stop every day this school year (instead of being driven, as in the past). The bus typically arrives between 8:55 and 9:00. The walk generally takes just over 3 minutes. At what time (t) should the child (C) and parent (P) leave the house to ensure that they don't miss the bus? What is the optimum pace (p) for their jaunt? Extra credit: Really, what's the absolute last possible minute (m) they can bolt out the door, if P needs, say, to brew a K-cup for the hike, or is putting the finishing touches on her makeup for work, or...can't decide what shoes to wear? And then, how much must they increase their...almost-jog (j) make up for lost time?

Physical Education: Lots of "unofficial activity" in this category, but in terms of organized sports, the boys are playing soccer, as usual. This year Riley moved up a league, (placing him in the younger half of the grouping again) which usually results in a season of adjustments--to bigger fields, longer halves, and more experienced kids. Riley's team is holding their own, though, and showing marked improvement over where they started in September. Next week they'll play for the 3rd place slot in their last match of the year. (Go, Riptide!) Then there's Derek's squad...who went through the same situation last year in their league...but this year have therefore become the biggest, oldest kids in their bracket. In 7th grade, they pretty much got their butts kicked (ha! sorry...) each week...aannnnd, this time around, they're doing the pummeling (I mean, not literally, just in a scoreboard-kind-of-way). So it's no spoiler to announce that in their final game, they'll be vying for the championship. (Go...Fresh Wiz! Don't. Ask. Me. They're teenage boys, that's all I can say...)

Study Skills: I'm beyond delighted to report that the 5th-grader--who right up until the end of the previous school year wanted supervision during homework time, and checking of absolutely each item of his agenda--has completely taken over his own academic responsibilities. In fact, he's been soooo quietly efficient that it took me until, oh, about a week ago, to realize he hadn't asked me to look at anything at all yet. (And on the one hand I'm thrilled to be relieved of this duty...but on the other hand it's just one more way he's not so much my baby anymore...sniffle...) And even the 8th grader has figured out that when he needs supplies for a project, he must ask well enough ahead of time to schedule a trip to the appropriate store to obtain them. Also, he has realized that when he has a Spanish test, reviewing with me beforehand nets him a higher grade. And when Mom or Dad proofread your English assignments...oh right, still working on that one, never mind...

All-in-all, I'd have to say we've had a pretty successful start to the academic term. Hopefully we can maintain our momentum as the days get shorter and darker and the potential distractions multiply. (Hello, Thanksgiving break...Holiday parties...Christmas shopping...) I don't want to have to send us all to Detention...better go look over everyone's work one more time, just to be sure!

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