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Letting kids choose hs or school - how to help them

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I haven't been in this forum for awhile, and I apologize in advance for the length of this post.   My kids went to 4th and 1st grade this year at our local public school after having been hs'ed up until then.  My older son had asked to go, and we decided to give it a shot.  It's been a year of mixed experiences, and we are on the fence about returning next year.


I could do a list of pros and cons in general, but most of you here know what they would generally be.  Our plan is, for the most part, to let the kids choose for themselves whether they would like to return.  But, I feel like they need some help with this. 


For instance, my 4th grader likes a lot of things about school.  He liked meeting new kids, he likes the field trips and playing football at recess.  He likes the extracurriculars at school, like playing the trombone in the band and PE and art and drama.  However, he is bored by the academics, and takes very seriously the "normal" teasing that kids do.  I put normal in quotes because it's certainly not normal within our family, but it does seem to happen a lot in the kid world, not only in school.  Very little of the teasing has been anything personal, more just rude comments that really upset him.  He has a really hard time walking away or ignorning a kid when they say something to him.


So, he says he wants to homeschool again so he doesn't have to deal with "mean" kids.  Fine, okay, but then when the sign up sheet for next year's band comes, he is super excited about the trombone and says he wants to go back.  (Sure, we could do trombone lessons, but it's just not the same.)


I don't know how to help him make this decision.  I think he needs to work on letting minor teasing roll of his back, so I would hate for him to miss out on the other things he likes because of that.  Plus, we encountered some of it in the homeschool world as well.  However, I do NOT agree with the theory that kids should be subjected to negative experiences just to prepare them for life, and I don't want his self esteem to take a hit.


My younger son is super excited about the idea of being in 2nd grade, because it means he is "big."  However, he is academically advanced and is super bored by the "baby work" as he calls it.  I can't imagine this is going to improve in 2nd grade - I've looked at 2nd grade curriculum and I'd say he is about a year ahead.  But socially school has been great for him.  He's made a ton of friends, and for the first time has his OWN friends, not just his brother's friends.  He really feels like the big man on campus.  I'd hate to have him lose that, but I do think we are going to hit some bigger bumps with the boredeom and rote academics.  Also, he never wants to take any classes when I offer them, but really has enjoyed the art and drama classes he is "forced" to take at school.


So, I could use some guidance about how to help the kids sort out what they really want to do from parents who may have btdt.  Thank you for reading this far!

post #2 of 19

Do they both have to make the *same* decision, or is it possible for one to homeschool and one to go to school? I would say they've told you what *they* want and maybe it's as simple as just listening?


Oldest son says he wants to homeschool. So it's really just a matter of finding replacements for the things he loves about school--maybe your school will allow him to continue in the band  after school? Or maybe there's a homeschool or after-school band elsewhere that he could join? Even if trombone lessons aren't what you want, contacting a trombone instructor might help point you in the right direction. Also, being with him at homeschool gatherings will help with the mean kids thing. You're right, those things happen wherever more than two kids get together. But being there means that you can help him navigate the situation, give him ideas for responses in the moment, etc. My kids often come and find me at the park when they've encountered a situation with other kids that they don't know how to work out or handle.


Youngest son loves school and is thriving for now. You're concerned he will continue to be bored with the academics, and that may be. To stave that off, might you be able to work with his teacher on keeping him advanced? For instance, perhaps you can give him more advanced work to do instead of his homework. If, as the year unfolds, you see that he is still bored or more bored than before, you might be able to talk with him about that, and then talk about what homeschooling might look like for him (more challenging work, lots of new friends--now that he's older, he'll be more likely to make a group of his own friends rather than tagging along with his brother, classes like the ones he's enjoying at school).


Just my thoughts. A lot of homeschoolers have one kid in school and one kid out, and while challenging, I think that if that's what works best for the kids, then that's what should happen.

post #3 of 19

I'm right there with you. My kids enjoy all the same things about school (social, field trips, seeing and playing with friends every day, group singing, etc) and DS in particular notices that academically he's bored, not challenged, finds it too easy, and the "normal" teasing, crowd control on a roomful of kids, but would actually prefer to stay on. I do wonder if he might change his mind at some stage though and how I would work through that. In our years HSing we never found similar minded people with kids of similar ages (they were all much older) - while that worked some of the time, it really was lacking for making buddies to just hang with and share similar age interests. I can totally see why they love the social contact they get and I think it would be more obvious to them what they'd be missing (they didn't know what they were missing prior to that and DD was the first to go to school because she was curious more than anything).


Good luck.

post #4 of 19

I think it's our job to provide our children with the best preparation for adulthood that is reasonably possible with the resources, defined broadly, available to the family.


If you think home schooling is it, have you looked at home school enrichment to meet the social needs (band, various) your kids have? 


For example, here there is a one-day a week arts school you can drop your kids off at, and they can take music lessons, choir, dance, studio art, drama, etc. changing classes as they go (8 year olds and up).  Which might totally work for both your kids.


My son, if asked, will say he doesn't want to do dance.  He does.  He goes contentedly and once he is there he is totally into it and all smiles so I require one day a week of dance as part of his home school curriculum.  I think kids are just weird that way when they are little and benefit from our guidance.

post #5 of 19

Perhaps your son can participate in public school band even while hsing. Look into it from multiple sources,because sometimes one person says no,but another says it is permitted.


I let my kids choose. I often ask them if they want to hs,ps,private,or try an online charter. If they were suffering in some way(abuse by staff/students) then I would need to step in and make a choice for them such as another school.


Our personal experience with bad teachers and bullying was that it is rare to remedy the sitaution,and it was better to just move on.



post #6 of 19
Originally Posted by mattemma04 View Post

Perhaps your son can participate in public school band even while hsing. Look into it from multiple sources,because sometimes one person says no,but another says it is permitted.



I think school districts around here have to let homeschooled kids participate in extracurricular activities, like band and sports, IF the practices, etc, are not held during school hours.  I think some areas let HS kids come in for particular classes like art.  Something to look into...

post #7 of 19

If you can't find a homeschool band or get the district to allow him to continue to participate, why not contact the local colleges.  He may actually be able to work with them...?


As for the little one, I agree--see if you can work with the teacher to do more differentiated learning so that he's challenged.


I'm with you on not forcing them to be subjected to that petty crap as a means of building their... whatever.  Some kids simply don't learn the lesson like that.  Lord knows I didn't.  I'm not going to make assumptions that my kid(s) will.  The potential damage is not worth it, IMO.  

post #8 of 19

Regarding the older son... Is it the trombone specifically, or the band experience in general that he loves?  If he's not yet committed exclusively to the trombone, you could have lots of options within the community for other ensembles.  Possibly trombone as well, of course, but it's just something to consider.  


In our community, there are many music programs not connected to public schools.  Mainly this will be through other musical organizations like conservatories, but there are various sources.  My 13yo son is a percussionist in the local youth orchestra as well as the city band (which I'm the director of -- we're the 'official band' of the city, not just a community for-fun band... though we are that too!) for instance.  


You said that trombone lessons wouldn't be 'the same', and I know what you mean by that -- however, most instrumental teachers know what you mean by that as well.  And I think you'd find that any good instrumental teacher will practically ORDER a student to be part of an ensemble.  It is such an important part of music study, especially if you're playing an instrument that primarily a band rather than a solo instrument, even if you really enjoy the solo repertoire!  :)  So it would be an option to consider, and talk with the teacher about options for ensembles that they might know about.

I know there's a local conservatory here (the same that runs the youth orchestra) that also organizes smaller ensembles based entirely on what students they have who are interested in such a thing.  It's also different than "band", of course, but it's still really a wonderful experiences.


And, of course, as others have mentioned, it might be possible for him to continue with the school band even if he stops attending the school for classes.  This depends on the district, the principal, etc etc.  But in our case, my son is also playing in the concert and jazz bands at a local middle school, even though he's never been to classes there (or anywhere else for that matter heh).  Since I am in the professional musical community myself, it was a bit easier since I knew who to talk to -- the band director is a friend and colleague.  So she knew who I was, knew who my son was, knew that I wasn't just some crazy homeschooling freak out to take advantage of the system (not that I'm saying any of us are heh, but that's a defense some school-types might take).  She couldn't see why not, so then I had to talk to the band association's president, who thought it would be fine, so then I had to talk to the principal, who said that not only was it okay but it was positively encouraged!


This has only been for this past year, and he's been loving it and will definitely continue.  I've already also spoken with the director of the high school band in anticipation of when he gets to "grade 9" in another year.  He was actually my band instructor back when I was a young grade 4 trombone player myself.  ;)  He's quite keen on the idea of his first "grand-student", the child of a former band student of his being in his band!  


So it could be entirely possible that you can make this work.  These days, band directors are often desperate for keen, talented students... it just doesn't get the priority that it should for so many kids and music programs are suffering.  It's highly likely that the director would pull whatever strings they need to in order to keep an eager student involved... especially a trombone player.  ;)  

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Our district does not allow students to take any classes unless enrolled full time.  It's a music class during the school day, not after school.  I think he likes both the group music experience AND the trombone.  But he interested in a lot of instruments. 


But to be honest our dilemma is less about the music class specifically and more about trying to decide whether the things he likes are worth staying for, and conversely, if the things he doesn't like are so bad that we should leave instead of working through them.  As for my younger son, as much as he says he's looking forward to 2nd grade, he also complains about how much he hates school, and about how bored he is all the time.  I can't imagine he would choose to go to school when his brother is at home.  I would certainly allow one to stay home and one to go to school if that's what they really wanted, but it sounds awful, like the worst of both worlds.  Still having to maintain the school schedule, while also driving all over the place and not having any time to myself!


Academically, hands down, homeschooling wins.  Lifestyle, homeschooling wins.  Socially . . . it's a mixed bag.  It's very hit or miss for my kids, and to be honest there are a couple of parents in our local homeschool group that make me a bit batty.  Two of them in particular participate in practically every activity there is, so it's hard to escape them.  The idea of having to deal with them again is not exciting for me, but I would do it if I had to.


Urgh.  I don't know what to do. 

post #10 of 19

It is to hard of a decision and I can see how you want to give them a chance to have what makes them happy.smile.gif


What if you guys just decide to not decide for the next month..put it on the simmer.  Maybe you can find some new activities that will interest them and possibly try or at least check them out over the summer. You could tell them to help you brainstorm ideas for activities if you were to homeschool..write everything down..even rock climbing because they need to know you at least considered it.Sheepish.gif


If possible you can try to fit in as many fun activities as you can..hope it helps to decide!

post #11 of 19

WOW!!  I could have written this post, OP!  And that last post, ikesmom?  Struck. A. Nerve. 


I have 2 school-aged boys.  Last fall, oldest was kindy age and wanted to try.  We tried a local charter school, public, and it sucked.  So once he was unhappy and came to me about it, about 3 months into the year, we pulled him.  He was very happy hs'ing until recently.  He had started asking about going back.  Basically, his brother, preschool-aged, went to a local Lutheran private school last year during the same months the oldest was in school.  When the oldest came out, the youngest decided to come out.  At the time, we couldn't afford the tuition for elementary-aged as it's substantially more than preschool, hence the charter.  Since then, we've become members of the church and been offered a financial aid package for my oldest to go to 1st grade.  He is interested, "to make new friends."  He was bullied last year, though, and doesn't want to go through that again.  He is eccentric and bold, and associates best with older kids.  I love him to pieces for being him.  But I know that, so far, he hasn't meshed well with these peers.  We teach them on Sunday mornings for a Sunday school thing we started.  They often tease him for being different.  And he's just not the type of kid who would sit still, quietly, during instruction time and he gets confused on doing worksheets then feels inadequate when he doesn't get it.  I don't think that is the right environment for him.  But then today, when we talked about letting the fin aid go and continuing homeschooling, he was heartbroken because he wants to make new friends.  We do extracurriculars as best as we can, and we do participate in a co/op but the co/op only lasts 8-10 weeks, twice a year.  My youngest is on the fence, he doesn't really seem to care.


I feel like I'm taking something from them by not letting them go; I went to a Lutheran school just like this growing up, and it was incredible.  Not the academics, but the input from the other teachers, etc.  I'm still friends with my 8th grade teacher who's little girl I babysat from birth while I was in the 6th grade.  My 6th grade teacher drove me home from soccer practice often, my 7th grade teacher and his wife stayed in my home for a week watching my sisters and I while my mom and dad went on an anniversary trip, and I made some awesome friends there. 

But I was also teased fiercely and felt on the outside because I didn't come from a rich family.  Now neither do my kids, and I know how they will feel.  And just looking through the classrooms and newsletters, I'm noticing things that I don't agree with, from special AR field trips with pizza lunches just for those kids who do AR.  That kind of sucks in the first grade.  I remember trying my hardest but not being good enough for enrichment meetings, and feeling really stupid because of it.  I disagree with so much of formal, structured schooling, and my kids have THRIVED since pulling them from school.  They are sooooo much happier!


But how do I tell them no, that I know better?  How do I tell them, in essence, I don't really think your opinion is as important as mine?  greensad.gif

post #12 of 19


I didn't mean to offend. I just thought that spending time together would open ideas to what they could do for extra activities 

post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by ThandiweView Post


But how do I tell them no, that I know better?  How do I tell them, in essence, I don't really think your opinion is as important as mine?  greensad.gif

I love my kids to pieces, and for what it's worth, I have no trouble telling them this whatsoever.  In fact I frequently do tell them this explicitly because I want them to understand that it is not about me doing a power-play and them having to wait until they are big enough to get away.  It's about the fact that their brains are not developed and trained enough to make these decisions.  They are getting there, and when they are 12 they will have more say than they do now, and at some point they will probably be making decisions for me. 


post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by ikesmom View Post


I didn't mean to offend. I just thought that spending time together would open ideas to what they could do for extra activities 

No, no, no!!  I'm sorry, I didn't mean it bad.  I meant it was GOOD!  Sorry!

post #15 of 19
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

  Socially . . . it's a mixed bag.  It's very hit or miss for my kids, and to be honest there are a couple of parents in our local homeschool group that make me a bit batty.  Two of them in particular participate in practically every activity there is, so it's hard to escape them.  The idea of having to deal with them again is not exciting for me, but I would do it if I had to.


Urgh.  I don't know what to do. 

You do not have to do things with HSers.  We do sometimes, but it is hit and miss.  My youngest gets a good chunk of her socialising through Girl Guides and the babysitters she goes to once a week.  There are lots of non-HS options for socialising and enrichment.


Good luck in your decision.  In your shoes I would lean towards HSing, but it is not my decision.




post #16 of 19

Update on our situation: We have decided to stick with homeschooling.  I wanted to thank the moms who gave feedback on this thread, because it did help me make a decision by processing through my emotions. flowersforyou.gif

post #17 of 19
Originally Posted by Thandiwe View Post

Update on our situation: We have decided to stick with homeschooling. 

Again?  I thought you made that decision before you even posted on this thread!  biglaugh.gif  Sorry... you know I adore you & I TRULY understand your agony in this stuff.


I'm with pigpokey although really, I try to lay these things out in a way that I don't ever really let my kids think they have the final say to begin with... kwim?  This way, it's less about "I say vs. you say" and more about "Mommy has an important decision to make" and I'm open to considering what EVERYone has to say about it, but it is Mommy's decision.  And since that's laid out up front, there's no feeling that the decision was taken from them.  Does that makes sense?

Likewise, I do try to point out where my 7yo has his own decision to make and make it out to be of equal importance that he consider everyone else's ideas when he makes it--but ultimately, it's HIS decision.  He just recently had to decide whether to take piano, violin, both, or none.  Totally his decision.  He opted for both.  I'm skeptical, but am thankful it's summer session (fewer lessons to pay for!).


He had similar decisions to make about curriculum for the next few months.  He wanted to learn about Colonial times and chemistry--which completely threw me because I bought a history curriculum that started in a different era and a science curriculum for a different domain both based on what I thought he would like... before asking.  eyesroll.gif


He is also the sole dictator of what happens with his allowance money.  Granted, he is required to split the money among 5 categories and he is required to use the money in that wallet for it's intended purpose (Angel money is only used on charity, etc.).  But as long as he stays within category, we cannot tell him what to do with his money.


My son understands that the decisions I give him are actually pretty important things in his life.  This might lessen the blow of my having the bigger ones.  And if it's been too long since he's had a biggie to decide, I hand him over some kind of special responsibility.  A few months ago, I handed him the task of planning a meal that had every food group represented.  If he needed more, I could've handed off actually shopping for and preparing it.  Oh!  And we were in the supermarket yesterday and he decided that he wanted to buy turnips (seriously??)... so I let him.  He then decided that he wanted to make soup, and I allowed him to proceed with buying stuff that he decided he wanted to put in the soup (although when he said "lettuce" I told him he couldn't cook lettuce, but that kale was "like the soup version of lettuce" which he was fine with).


There are countless ways to give a child decision-making responsibilities without allowing them to run the ship.  I realize there are people that feel that children of any age should be able to direct all decisions in their lives and learn through the benefits and consequences; but that's just not the comfort level or structure of my family.  This is a happy medium between that and being completely authoritarian.

post #18 of 19

Yes..I agree with a little bit of all of it from everyone because it really depends on where your at and what age your kids are at the time your giving into the decision making.



My ds is 11 and he started to second guess whether he would continue to hs when we had  a new family move in across the street. They have 3 girls who ps, and ds took quite an interest in spending time with them for a while. They often came over right after school to ask him to chase them on his bike up and down our street.


Then he crossed over from cub scouts to boy scouts. This was right about the time he started to voice an interest in public school. I calmly said "ok..yeah well we can see what our options are" At this age there are so many things that he feels big and proud about. He feels like he is a decision maker in so many ways because part of schooling him is teaching him how to make choices. I like to make him feel valued as a person too.  Due to various family situations ds and I have really had to pull together and withstand some harsh experiences. There were times when we had to hold our tongues and our feelings to ourselves to keep peace in our household and we felt very hurt and angry inside. I think we felt in many ways that things were beyond our control. So when I have a chance to let him voice his opinion and it really matters and his deep dark eyes speak I really try to listen. That doesn't mean his choice rules..I do decide..but I listen and it does matter and tug on my heart.




Again this is where I am at right now..I wasn't here last year and who knows next year if hormones kick in and he needs me to grab him by the shoe strings a bit.  We are all in a different place at a different time. 

post #19 of 19

Yeah, this has been a big decision, and even once I had an idea settled on it, hours later I would doubt myself.  If you think this is tough watching, you should have been my husband!  duck.gif It was probably really mind-numbing to be around me for a few weeks.  When I posted the update on this thread, we had finally typed out the letter for the school declining the financial aid and signed it.  It was faxed in and I heard back from the principal yesterday.  While I felt foolish declining the package just weeks after accepting it and causing unnecessary paperwork, he was really grateful that we gave him enough notice that our funds could be reallocated to another family in need.  This has been big for me, I believe, because I always expected my kids would go to private Lutheran schools.  I never intended to homeschool.  We honestly just stumbled upon a while ago, and then it became a means to an end when I was dissatisfied with the public school but couldn't afford the private.  Once the opportunity to get assistance for the private school panned out, it was really, really conflicting.  I struggled, day to day and even hour to hour with the decision.  I finally let go of years of expectations and my family's dissapproval and declined the package.  So, we're locked and loaded, going nowhere but homeschool!  And very happy with it.  heartbeat.gif



Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post
Again?  I thought you made that decision before you even posted on this thread!  biglaugh.gif  Sorry... you know I adore you & I TRULY understand your agony in this stuff.
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