In case there is any doubt, I love my son. I do. I may blame him for my thinning hair, but I think the world of him. He’s incredibly intelligent and capable of anything that he puts his mind to. The problem is that he doesn’t often put his mind to anything at all. Public school was certainly not designed with that boy in mind. It has been a struggle for him since day one. Correction – it has been a struggle for us. It hasn’t been much of a struggle for him because he couldn’t possibly care any less about it.
He’s butted heads with teachers and hidden homework because he didn’t want to do it, and his grades have suffered. If he would simply complete his work and turn in assignments, he’d be a straight A student. He’s exhibited an impressive and glorious level of apathy as to whether he succeeds or not. For the first two nine weeks of sixth grade, he skated through his math class with a low D. In the final two nine weeks, he let that slip to a high F. We warned him that he had better run his math final like a rock star or he would flunk the class officially.
Yesterday, his report card came in the mail. He finished the year with a 58% in math. He had not brought his grade up by a single point with his final test. It was clear and obvious to me that his laziness in the class had put him so desperately behind that there was no way that he had any hope of continuing on. This called for desperate intervention on my part. A quick Google search returned several websites with printable curriculum for home schooling. I located a sixth grade math class with printable worksheets including randomly generated exercise problems and coordinating answer keys that looked fairly full-featured. I know my son can learn this stuff. Can I cram a year’s worth of math into his head in two months? I can’t think of a single reason that I shouldn’t try.
I told Wee Bot of my plan to get him caught up in math. If they force him to repeat the previous class, he’ll be prepared for it. If by some miracle of No Child Left Behind they decide to advance him despite his poor performance, he’ll be ready for seventh grade. I told him that he was going to have to do this since he made the decision to blow off math class. His choice was whether he would participate and make it painless or drag his heels as he did through the school year, in which case he would basically do nothing but math all Summer long. His choice.
The first three sheets were basic addition and subtraction. The addition was multiple numbers and both were algebraic in form. His first attempt was a failure to a classic degree. He made solid F’s on two and a low D on the third. I pointed out a couple of tips to improve his work and sent him with fresh worksheets. He came back with an average 16-point improvement. I wrote in the correct answers and told him to study them and see if he could figure out what he had done wrong. With the next attempt he improved again. At this point, he has finished several weeks of sixth grade math and is making an A average.
Several weeks worth. Of math. In two days. A average.
I was right! For a while I feared I was living in parental “my kid is awesome” denial. He proved that fear wrong. His performance is not only becoming more accurate, it is also accelerating in speed. At the rate he’s going, he’ll have sixth grade math knocked out in time to start picking up some seventh grade math. One way or another, we stand to get him caught up in time for the new school year in the Fall.
This brings several questions to mind. First of all, the home environment is obviously a far better learning environment for him than the classroom. With Jennifer working full time and me starting a business, I’m not sure how we would do the whole home school thing, but if that turned out to be the right thing to do, we’d have to figure out something. Secondly, since I’m putting him through the curriculum, I wonder what hoops I’d have to jump through to claim that as him retaking and passing sixth grade math so he could join his peers in the next level. The third question is the same as the first: If home schooling is right for him, what are we going to do?!?!?
Sorry. I know this isn’t supposed to be a Daddy blog. But, there you have it. I just want my boy to realize his potential. That’s not too much for a parent to ask, is it? He really is a good kid, he’s just not much of a self-starter. For years he’s said that he wants to be an astronaut. I’ve told him that he needs to get good at his math and science and keep up with the target shooting. He could fast-track himself through the Air Force ranks and wind up in space very easily. He’s just got to apply himself. The last two days make me think that he’s starting to believe me. Why oh why don’t they come with a manual when they are born?