Thursday, November 08, 2012

Teaching My Kids How to Take Notes

The original title for this post was "Forcing My Kids To Take Notes". But that sounds too negative. But it is the truth. Whatever. I changed the title anyway.

The "not a homeschool co-op" requires that my 7th grader take notes on everything he reads, even fiction reading. This is new territory for us. Most of the time he takes notes on the word processor on the computer since he types about 50 words per minute and since there is so much writing with this program that his hand aches in pain every single day already.

To begin teaching him I would read aloud then stop and ask him what the main points were. Shockingly he had trouble with that so I was spoon feeding him the main points then we'd talk to make sure he got to see what I was doing to pick out the main ideas. I have learned to not let him go more than one chapter without taking the notes. He interchangeably takes notes during the reading and other times waits until the end of the reading then jots them down.

This is a pain-staking process that reminds me of how much patience I had to muster to teach my kids to read using a phonics and sound it out method.





My 10th grade son is resisting Every. Single. Thing. About. Everything. He actually meets all the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder (in my opinion) at this moment in time. Despite facing negative consequences from not taking notes in chemistry and in math he was still refusing to take notes.

This week he is trying to be compliant and has negotiated with me to orally narrate notes to me while I type them into the computer. We have not done oral narration in a few years. We used to do it as part of the Charlotte Mason method. He is still able to narrate beautifully and to summarize well when doing narration. I was surprised.

I honestly don't know what the resistance to typing them in or to writing them by hand is. I am trying to resist the temptation to blame it on a learning disability, even though he has many symptoms of dysgraphia. I am sick of learning disabilities and labels and just want my kids to do what has to be done, suck it up and just do it.

I did not used to be this harsh but my kids and general life's stresses have worn me down. This is our roughest season of homeschooling. I am still miffed as to why this fall is the time when my kids seem to be showing the largest signs of stress from the move since the initial move was 15 months ago. Why would they not be stressed more when we first moved and were in a small rental house temporarily waiting for the old house to sell? Why is having that old house gone and moving into a nice new house and having all our worldly material possessions at our fingertips instead of stashed in a storage unit more stressful? I'm not a psychologist and I do not know. All I know is I am worn out and tired and most of it is directly due to my son's resistance and their opposition.


J'sMom said...

Like the others, I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed reading your posts. They are an honest side to home schooling, and I appreciate that. Other posts I have read are all sunshine and lollypops, and while nice, they are not the reality. In regards to having your oldest son dictate to you, what about a speech to text program for the computer? It would take a bit of work to train the computer to be accurate for your son's speech. In terms of the labels/designations, I can see the good and the bad side of each. (I am a resource/special ed teacher in the public school system.) One positive though for university (at least in Canada) is that he could then qualify for extra support from the university (scribe, extra time, books on tape, note taker, etc), but a lot of this depends on having an official designation/having had official testing with a diagnosis.
Once again, thank you Christine.

dstb said...

I'll share this idea that one of my friends had when her son was reading for a book report.

He had a note card that he used as his book mark. At the end of each chapter, he would write his comments on the note card while they will still fresh in his mind. It also made it easy to write the page number down because he hadn't gotten too far ahead.

When he finished the book, the book report was practically written because he had the important events from each chapter already noted.

So simple, but I thought it was brilliant.


luv2ski said...

I agree that your honesty is refreshing. I hear your struggles and have had some similar ones in our homeschooling experience. Forgive me for this, but I am going to veer away from the homeschooling part of your post and go to the questions and concerns that you have stated in the last paragraph. Sometimes we just burn out from trying to do too much. You handled so much stress with your moves and your previous life situation prior to the moves, and with illness, and medical challenges and you have risen to each challenge with incredible energy and focus. It has been very difficult to provide yourself with the self care necessary during those times to sustain such a high energy output. This has all come at a crucial time in your both of your sons' education, so I imagine that you feel like you can't relax your standards. Especially of concern is that you and your husband want to successfully launch your older son into the college and career that he desires.

Our children feel our fears and anxieties and react to them on a visceral level. When we are feeling pressure it changes our relationships ~ no surprises there. I've recently been through a stressful 7 or 8 month period with my aging father-in-law, and it has taken a huge toll on my kids and our homeschooling. We have all had to back off, regroup, and really connect to what is important in our family and personal lives. I have been fortunate to have flexibility in our homeschooling so that our schooling arrangement could support us during our stressful time, rather than to add more stress. My circumstance is just a small example of how life can seem to interfere with our "bigger" plans. My take away what nourishes YOUR soul for awhile, everyday. It will bring you new patience with your homeschooling challenges.

You asked why your kids are reacting now, 15 months after your initial move. Because now it is REAL. They have finally recognized that their lives have changed forever, and that they are never going back "home". Moves are always traumatic, but moving is exceptionally difficult at the ages when your boys had to leave friends and family. When they were caught up in the challenges of moving, they were distracted by the novelty of their situation. But now reality has sunk in. No going back. You may not be a psychologist, but I know that you are plugged into their emotional needs. You know how to help them through this, but remember to take care of yourself first. For better or for worse, you are the center of their lives.

I don't care whether you post this to your blog or not, Christine. I do hope that if you post it, the info here will help someone else who is struggling with burn out. But if not, I hope that you know that I care about you and your family. We miss you here in your old home state, even if our paths crossed infrequently. Best wishes to you!

Unknown said...

OMG! I am going through the same thing with my 13 year old son.

He has dysgraphia, ADHD, and Executive Function disorder. HOWEVER...he is near genius level IQ. His SAT (achievement tests) showed him Post High School on almost every level a 7th grader and he's young for his class.

Note taking is ridiculous.

He was for 9 years at a college prep, Christian school and never learned how to take notes and how to outline. This is our first year of homeschooling...actually my first week. We are doing Classical Conversations (he is in Challenge A). Couldn't take notes on anything they did the first day...I have no idea what's they did the first day and I want to scream.

I am so frustrated right now. I am beginning to think that CC isn't a good fit for him.

Like you, I just want him to DO IT!!!!!!!!!! Because I don't have that problem, it's hard for me to understand why he can't just do it!!!

Sorry for the rant!

ChristineMM said...

Dear Unknown,
Please try to find my more recent blog posts about my older son where I talk about his educational testing in March 2013 and how he is officially gifted and 2e with official dysgraphia. I also blogged about the use of Live Scribe Echo. Click the label on my blog for dysgraphia and you will find it. I think Live Scribe may help your son take notes in class and relies on audio recordings also.

My experience is that even when homeschool co-ops or Classical Conversations seems to be good hearted their admin is full of people who are completely ignorant about:
gifted kids & asynchronous development
learning disabilities

This is a recipe for disaster.

Homeschool parents who run classes who are not trained on LD, giftedness, 2e, and all I listed above perhaps can create more problems for students with those things than big schools can. At least some teachers in schools have training on the above and also public schools must deal with them if the parent asks for an IEP etc.

Co-ops and other small group learning for homeschoolers are not always as tolerant or ablel to handle kids who are 2e. THey may think they are a good environment and they want to be all things to all homeschoolers but they are just not always informed or able to "get it".

Sorry if this sounds negative just giving you a forewarning.