Saturday, September 19, 2015

8th Grade

It would be an understatement if I said that our home is under a load of hormones.  Between my pregnant mood swings and two (yes, two) kids experiencing the growth pangs of adolescence...tears, sighs, angst, and ravenous appetites are a daily battle.  It is not unusual for a writing assignment or a simple question to end with someone spontaneously bursting into tears or peacefully seeking time alone. 

There are many happy moments, too, like the fact that Gavin has hit his stride in school this year.  He is in eighth grade, his last year before the scary thing thing called high school.  (It's not really scary, but counting hours and keeping track of credits is intimidating!) At the beginning of the school year, we talked a lot about independence and how he needed to be responsible for his daily and weekly schedule.  He needed to remember what was required each day.  That responsibility gave him the privilege of flexibility.  If he wanted to work ahead or rearrange his workload, it was his choice as long as he completed a full week of assignments.  

Those who know Gavin well, know that he is a bit, shall we say, scatterbrained.  More accurately, he is in his own world.  He is a deep thinker and often tunes out the conversations and happenings around him.  We often participate in family discussions over dinner that he has no recollection of the next day.  He remembers facts well, especially if those facts have significance to something he loves.  Names, however, or places, details, and times come in at the bottom of his priority list.  Requiring him to take charge of his own school work seemed like a stretch.  

This year he is taking Algebra 1.  His math curriculum is self-taught, but I decided to experiment with giving him the answer key, too.  After completing the day's lesson and problems, he checks his own work and then goes back through to fix what was incorrect.  It's not simply a matter of erasing one answer and replacing it with another.  He has to do the work to understand why it was wrong in the first place.  Though he does well in math, he does not enjoy it.  Last year that meant that he saved it for the end of the day when his brain was already frazzled.  This year, with our new system, he has chosen to tackle math first.  When he reaches a concept that he just cannot grasp on his own, I let him know that I am there for tutoring and questions, but this new system of independence is working well and growing his maturity.  

For months, I thought I knew what he would be studying for eighth grade science.  All I needed to do was order the book.  About three weeks before school started, we were having a conversation in the car and Gavin was telling me everything he knew about sharks. I quickly reworked our plans so that instead he could devote his year to learning about aquatic animals this school year.  He is working through the science book independently, with plenty of discussion on the side. He has created an accompanying notebook with all of his sketches, photographs, notes, and science experiment sheets.  This notebook is very important to him and he takes pride in keeping it just-so.

We're expecting the new baby in four months. With  all the joy will also come disruptions, uncertainty, and schedule changes, but now I know that next year when high school, Gavin is ready to take it all in stride.

1 comment:

  1. I always think of high school as a tiny bit scary too!

    It is a good idea to transfer some of the responsibility to the student! Sometimes we are not aware of how much they really can do until we give them opportunity.


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