Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Working vacation

My kids have this week off from school, but they don't have the week off from school work. My daughter -- amazingly, for the first time in her school career -- has a research report to do, complete with diorama and public speaking. All the fifth-grade classes are doing reports either on famous people or presidents, and her drawn-out-of-a-hat subject is Sally Ride. So we read a book together and took notes, and found some Web sites, and put a print-out of the Challenger in a shoebox, and put together an outline, and are now up to the rough-draft stage. The "we" there is somewhat worrisome, because my daughter, with her reading comprehension problems, is so clueless as to how to proceed on something like this, and I am so bad at giving clues and so good at just taking over and doing. Teachers may be worried about kids plagiarizing from books and Web sites, but in this case, I think it's more likely that my daughter will be plagiarizing me. Must ... let ... her ... make ... mistakes.

I'm also probably overinvolved in the book report my son is doing on George Washington, if for no other reason than I'm the one who asked his teacher to assign it to him. I let that slip, and he's not likely to let me forget it. I guess it is sort of disloyal to demand extra work for vacation-time; but there's not a lot of challenging going on in a self-contained special-ed classroom, and if I can arrange for challenging things to be assigned on my time, I'm going to do it. He wouldn't write a report to please me, but he will do it if his teacher says. And I'll help, a little with the reading and a lot with the pushing and the prodding and the nagging. His teacher gave him a very cute "Book Report Sandwich" to fill out -- title on the bread, characters on the lettuce, settings on the cheese, synopsis on the meat, opinion on the mayo, and drawing on the back slice of bread -- and he should be able to do most of that under his own wording. Unlike his sister, reading and words aren't problems for him. Paying attention for sustained periods is. So we're doing things in tiny bits over the course of the week, and slowly the work will get done. If I'm lucky, he won't hold a grudge.

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