So, BigGuy’s testing qualified him for Algebra I in the district. He took the Iowa Algebra test (I think it’s the IAAT, but I think there’s another one called the IART–not sure which). It had four sections and BigGuy got 3 problems wrong on the entire test. BAM! “Do you even DO math, bruh?” (We are all about the “do you even” remark here lately)
That being said, we’re still uncertain that he can take Algebra with the district…
The news of his test results came with lots of congratulations and a comment that he was a genius. But he’s not a genius. He can grasp math concepts when they’re explained as he can understand them, but that’s true of all kids–they just don’t all have someone who can put it in terms they understand. I have to wonder how many other kids could do this if they were given the time and freedom to learn differently. BigGuy still does not have his math facts memorized. We have numerous friends for whom that alone has kept their kids from moving forward in math in school (one was homeschooled for a few years for that reason alone)
BigGuy was allowed to wait to learn math until he was ready. When he thought he was ready and didn’t enjoy it, he was able to stop. And play. Play is a lot of “figuring things out” and being creative–all of which helps with algebraic thinking and concepts. He spent many years playing while his friends were learning. Learning a LOT of stuff. Stuff that I knew he could learn later if he needed to. But people will say that he’s just a genius. Guess what? We have his IQ results. He’s gifted, but he’s not a genius. He’s just been taught in a completely different environment.
Meanwhile, being involved with the school district poses some challenges. BigGuy has a diagnosis of secondary immunodeficiency. It’s on a long list of diagnoses that is growing, but this is the one we have to do the most accommodating for. We have never had to describe our religious beliefs to anyone because we’ve always had the medical exemption to spare us that humiliation. Yes, “humiliation”. With the level of viciousness that prevails about vaccinations, having your legit religious beliefs questioned as if they only exist at your convenience (generally by people who don’t see how you live your life–let alone how you live your life very clearly aligned to those beliefs) is humiliating.
But I digress…
We relocated several years after the hospital visits stopped. After we had managed to find the preventions and interventions that kept our guy healthy. Some of that is food and rest and to be honest, removing him from environments that are potentially harmful to his health. It means knowing–every time you are shelling out money for an activity–that you could lose that money if he is getting sick because you have to pull him out of it. And no, you don’t just get your money back. Partly because we are pulling him before he is full-blown sick, not because he IS sick. It’s how we keep him out of the hospitals.
So taking Algebra with the district is either a daily, year-long course or it can be done by way of homebound tutoring.
Reality? I could teach this kid Algebra. Anyone could. The curriculum manufacturers have done nothing if not made math instruction exceptionally easy for a person who is unskilled in math. If you think all math teachers are skilled in math–think again, folks. There is an industry devoted to ensuring math instruction happens DESPITE the person teaching.
Our issue is that BigGuy wants to attend the math/science school and he is a year ahead of the gifted kids in our district (and our district is one of the better in the area). I feel like we need to have an objective party validating his math and science. I can do that by way of the online school, but I have to pay for that. I pay taxes. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to have him take it at the public school. That thought, however, brings a keen awareness to the health-based realities of that situation. And those are a little scary. Where I never felt like we lived in a bubble as homeschoolers, I realize that health-wise–our BigGuy totally has.
So we are dipping our toes into exposure to that environment and starting slow. I blogged about it here. But a year-long endeavor in a core subject is not how you transition. And that brings us to algebra.
To do homebound instruction, we need to process paperwork that requires our doctors who 1) aren’t even in town (NEITHER of them) until tomorrow (the day before school starts); and 2) they might need lab work to do the documentation. I’m mildly concerned about all of this and whether or not any of it will result in everyone’s agreement that my guy needs to be on homebound instruction.
There are other benefits of homebound instruction, too. BigGuy has a documented history of checking out when he’s grasped a concept and ready to move on. It looks like an attention problem, but it’s not. One of the major questions I have for the homebound program is whether or not BigGuy would be allowed/able to move ahead if he bangs the work out and understands the concepts. If he wouldn’t, then we wouldn’t do this anyway. The other benefit is to our lifestyle: it means we don’t have to be running to the school daily. Homebound instructors only come out 1-3 times/week depending on your course load. Although we have a daily in-school class starting this week, it only runs for 9 weeks. That’s not the same as locking yourself in for a full year.
The virtual school has enrollments starts for next week and then roughly every 3-ish weeks through early November. I talked to my BigGuy and he said that he’s okay with waiting to start Algebra. In the meantime, we’ll get him registered for Astronomy and go from there.
It all happens for a reason. This is stuff we need to tend to regardless. It’s time.