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Just Sad

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

So it's been a long road of discussion over where dd goes to school. My dh is a public school teacher (elementary), and to him it is very important that dd go to public school for at least grades 1-3 so she can be taught reading, writing, and basic math. We have had many discussions about this and it comes down to a difference in basic beliefs about education. I believe that children who love learning will come to what they love and learn it, although I'm also willing to push through with basic reading, writing and math instruction in a more school at home sort of way. My dh believes that children need the structure of school to be made to learn certain things. He does not believe that school at home works (or that it would work with dd if I did it). These fundamental beliefs are likely not going to change (I've been working on it for 5 years). To his credit, I am the one who changed my mind about education. He is true to the beliefs he had when we got married.

 

My main desire is to see my daughter grow up with a deep love of learning and a feeling that she can do what she wants to do and find the resources to learn what she wants to learn.

 

Last night we were talking. She said school was boring. She said that she only liked recess and lunch. She said that she wished that she could go from being 3 to being an adult so she would never have to go to school. She said that school just took her away from her mommy and she didn't like that. Yes, this is all normal - but these are exactly the reasons that I don't want her to be at school! She has never said anything like that about any of her other learning environments. I want her to love learning.

 

Some history:

We've done play-based learning environments so far. Last year we were registered at the local school but bailed out before the year began when it became all day. We switched to a part time play-based democratic school instead, basically the same as her preschool. I volunteered and we homeschooled part time.

 

My daughter is an only child and we have a very close relationship. She has always been a very attachment-oriented kid. That said, she also has a lot of friends and many of them go to this school.

 

I tried to talk up school. I even started to get involved in a few things at the school last year through work so I could get a good sense of the school. However, dd is quite perceptive about peoples' feelings and I am sure that she knows that even though I've been talking in a positive way about the school, I don't want her to go.

 

We have a kind teacher. She does a lot of worksheets but they've also done reading in the library, and they've been doing outdoor activities a lot in the afternoon.

 

Some of the other kids are excluding her at recess, but she seems to be ok playing with the boys and trying the girls again soon. Soon she will be allowed to play with her best friend in the back (they limit the K-1 play area for the first 2 weeks and her friend is in grade 5).

 

What do I do to maintain my daughter's love of learning?

 

I can't change dh's mind. Goodness knows I have tried and tried again. Maybe in 3 years. Not now.

 

We will take time off school. We will be going away on an extended vacation again this year, and we will take the occasional day off school to do a family activity. This is not encouraged in our school district, nor is it a huge problem. People do it, and the schools deal with it.

 

I am working on creating an outdoor-based environmental school. I have made one for younger children and actually my dd could have gone to it this year, but dh was not ok with avoiding public school for another year. There is no option for older kids, though.

 

Private school is not an option. Dh dislikes it even more than he dislikes homeschooling.

 

Counseling is something we have tried, but it doesn't seem to change dh's fundamental beliefs: they are pretty deep, and I don't think it's my place to change them, actually, just as I would be offended if he tried to change mine.

 

Any thoughts? Sorry for the ramble, and thanks for listening.

 

 

 

post #2 of 18

I"m sorry you're struggling. I can really hear your angst in your post. It must be tough to not be on the same page as your DH about something so fundamental.

 

Just to be clear, I'm coming from the perspective of someone with two kiddos happily in our local public school. I agree with your assessment that your DD is picking up on your vibes. If you are committed to having her there for three years, I think you have to at least fake some enthusiasm for her sake. Can you volunteer in the classroom? My kids love when I'm there. Can you do "three good things/one bad" right after school? (She tells you three good things that happened at school and one bad. You do the same about your day. It's a good way to focus more on the good and open discussion about all kinds of things you might not otherwise hear about. With my second grader, I also often do, "Tell me one thing you learned today." Sometimes his answers are hilarious!)

 

If her best friend is a fifth grader, maybe it's worthwhile to try to get more engaged in the community so she can have some friends closer to her age. Park/frozen yogurt dates after school? Ask her teacher who might be a good match for her.

 

I hope you can find some peace with your situation and help your daughter as well.

all the best,

-e

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks LuckyMama. Just to be clear - she has a ton of friends at the school but her best friend is kind of a big sister sort (another only child), and she's older. Some of the other friends are being a bit exclusive at the moment, but I think that's just 6 year old politics and they will likely sort it out soon. And if they don't, she doesn't need to play with those ones.

 

Yes, we've been debriefing after school with 2 good 2 bad. I am planning to volunteer, hopefully doing something that's actually in the school during school hours. Some of the teachers are keen to have parents around and some are not, and I'm not sure yet whether we have one who would like that.

 

I chatted with her again this morning about what she doesn't like, and I think it's the worksheets. So I'm trying to talk up learning to write well as an entryway into writing stories. She wrote me a "novel" last night and read it to me at bedtime.

 

I'm working on being positive. You see, I can talk and act positive, but she's rather perceptive about the way I'm really feeling. With her, it's hard to fake it.

 

Unfortunately, I told dh this morning what her going to bed words had been last night, and he told me it was my fault for having a bad attitude about school. Which it is, I guess. Although I don't want to discount dd's feelings - I don't think that her feelings are all mine projected onto her. She's been in things before that I thought she would love and she's disliked aspects of them as well.

post #4 of 18

Is your daughter in K?

 

I'd give the situation a little more time.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by widemouthedfrog View Post

Unfortunately, I told dh this morning what her going to bed words had been last night, and he told me it was my fault for having a bad attitude about school. Which it is, I guess. Although I don't want to discount dd's feelings - I don't think that her feelings are all mine projected onto her. She's been in things before that I thought she would love and she's disliked aspects of them as well.


I agree. I mean, I'm sure your DD is picking up on your feelings, but I don't think that if she loved school that she would let your not liking it stop her from loving it. I am very enthusiastic about my kids going to school and my youngest (who is 2nd grade) will say he doesn't really like it, only recess and lunch. But overall, he seems happy there and looks happy when he goes and comes out at the end of the day. What is your DD like when you drop her off and pick her up? One of my friend's sons (a 2nd grader) was pretty unhappy last year and he would just come out looking "drained" and immediately go to his mom and hug her.

 

I'm also curious as to what your daughter says about school when your husband talks to her. He's enthusiastic about it, does that affect her opinions?

post #6 of 18
I don't know, I disliked the school idea and my kids eventually started to as well. Not because they didn't like school but because I didn't want them there. Our words, actions and emotions are easily picked up by our kids. I took them out last year and DD1 asked DH to talk to me about letting them go back this year. They knew my stance on it and were worried I'd be upset. And I was, however I let them go back and I'm trying really hard not to let my feelings get in the way.

When making the decision to pull them out, I really played up their boredom to DH and focused on all the negatives. Anything new is exciting to kids, well some kids and so I got them on board with tactics I now feel were manipulative on my part. I'd still rather have them at home. I really feel it's best for all of us. It's just not what they want. And I'm kind of angry about it. Like I should just do it and say the hell with your feelings over it. I just know thats not right or fair.
post #7 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by widemouthedfrog View Post

What do I do to maintain my daughter's love of learning?

.....

 

Counseling is something we have tried, but it doesn't seem to change dh's fundamental beliefs: they are pretty deep, and I don't think it's my place to change them, actually, just as I would be offended if he tried to change mine.

 


We've both homeschooled and schooled, and my children currently LOVE attending school. They prefer it to homeschooling because it is more social. It's not just that they are around other kids at social parts of the day, but that they find learning in a group to be more dynamic than learning at home.

 

First, as much as there is rhetoric in the homeschooling community that if only parents don't send their children to school, the children will love learning, the reality is that some kids who go to school love to learn, and some kids who homeschool do not. Homeschooling isn't the deciding factor. It's not that nice and neat. I think that part of your unhappiness and the conflict in your marriage comes down to your belief that something is true when it *may or may not be true* for your DD. I think that letting go of that limiting belief could provide a sense of relief for you, allow your DD to relax and enjoy her life, and take some pressure off your marriage.

 

I think that some kids are more likely to enjoy learning because they were born that way, and that how we parent and educate them is just part of the story. But it's the only part we control, so we might was well focus on it. Both you and your DH value education deeply, and therefore the your DD has a leg up. I'd lay money your house has lots of books and games, and that you guys do interesting things together as a family. I think those things are more important than how I child is being educated.

 

I've no idea how many worksheets they are doing, but when my kids started school after homeschooling, they both struggled with handwriting. They could make up lovely stories and use big word, but the physical aspect of handwriting was problematic. They wrote more slowly than the other kids, didn't spell as well, etc. From what I've seen, this is very common for former homeschoolers. I think that those worksheets might be part of the reason why. I think that kids who practice writing more may end up with better hand writing skills (which makes a lot of sense when you think about it that way).

 

My other advice is to get hobby, a part time job, or take a class that would be fun for you. Do something for yourself during the time she is in school. Go out to lunch with a friend, explore funky shops -- something. Start to add some balance to YOUR life. You cannot change how your husband thinks, but you do have complete power over how YOU think and how happy YOU are.

 

I think some of the basic things that parents can do to nurture a love of learning are:

  • read to a child daily, even once the child can read to themselves. If you haven't started on chapter books with your DD yet, she might like Wizard of Oz.
  • Make art together.
  • Cook and create other things, like playdough, together in the kitchen.
  • Spend time in nature together.
  • Go to historic sites and museums together.
  • Watching interesting TV and DVDs together and talk about them.
  • play board games together
  • attend plays and musical events together
  • Make the library a weekly event

 

In some ways, I find it more pleasant to leave some the tedium involved in learning to someone else by allowing my children to attend school, and then just doing the fun parts at home. I find that in some ways, I'm capable of being a better, more connected mom because I've had a break. I'm fresh.

 

My last advice is to quit asking her for negative things about school. Stay open to hearing her, but ask more neutral questions. Ask specific questions, follow ups to what they were working on the day before, use the names of her friends, talk about the projects or units they are doing. Asking for 2 bad things about her school day isn't balance, it's just teaching her to look for negative things. Right now, if she just enjoys school, she knows she is being disloyal to you.

post #8 of 18
Well said Linda. I certainly see the difference in a few months at home with my little one. Her math skills rock but her reading leaves a lot to be desired for. My oldest, is a reader and a writer, so she does well no matter what. I think I actually hurt the little ones learning curve. Though I will say those months of us together helped me understand how they learn and when it comes time for homework together I now have a better understanding of why the don't understand something and it's easier for me to help them.
post #9 of 18

In our public districts we have 3 with in 20 minutes, they each offer alternative programs. My dc are in a parent partnership program (PPP). My dc go to classes 2 days a week and we hs for the rest of the required hrs. Maybe you could do some research about what your area has to offer. 

post #10 of 18

The first weeks of every year are very hard on my dd, she is a very routine child and the change throws her off and makes her a little more moody.  After the first month of school though she tends to be very excited about the learning and the routines.  I really think you need to give it more time, talk it up more, and find ways to bond with her after school.  My dd and I play card games and read together in the evening now but when she was younger I would join her in her play once she got home from school then read to her.  I think if you give this time and find ways to make her time after school all about her she will probably come around.  If she hated shopping in the middle of the day, you having to do meal prep, or you being on the computer when she was home then pointing out how lucky she is to get to be at school while you do those boring things may help her see a bright side.

 

If the friendship problems continue I suggest sending an e-mail to the teacher asking her if she is noticing the same problems your dd is talking about.  My dd tends to get very dramatic and she distorts what is happening or only gives me half the story, she is better at realizing what she is doing and stopping herself now that she is a little older but she still tends to do this to some extent.  She used to tell me awful stories then I would talk to her teachers and it turned out that she was happy and playing most of the day except a very brief fight that lasted all of two minutes.  Approaching the teacher to find information can put your mind at ease and it lets the teacher know to watch for possible problems so she can redirect the children.  Primary grade teachers tend to be very happy to redirect children and help them socialize in more appropriate ways. 

post #11 of 18

How does he feel about DL's so you are still technically part of the school board and have a teacher? WIth our DL, it's 2 full days at school with a teacher, then we bring stuff home to work on.

post #12 of 18

Why does he get to decide?  Seriously?  The fact that he is not willing to consider private school either speaks to me of control issues on his part.

 

I also think it is insulting that he does not think you can teach a grade 1-3er (whom I assume has no learning issues) basic reading, writing and math.   

 

I hope he is not so inflexible in other areas.

 

_____________

 

That being said, one of you does have to move in position and it seems you are being the one this time.

 

School does work for some kids.   I would give it a genuine try.  I would not initiate school talk with DD (at least for a little bit until you feel better about the situation) but I would certainly listen if she needed to talk.  You can talk to the school about how she is settling in, if she plays with kids on the playground, if she seems engaged...that sort of thing.  

 

Personally, I would give it a certain amount of time (Xmas, maybe) and if she were not happy by then I would do something - from change classes, to change school, to cyber-ed to HS.  (cyber school is often government curriculum - maybe that would satisfy him?)

 

Good luck - it is not an easy situation to be in.

 

 

 

 

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow - thanks for all of the replies. If I may, I will continue to vent a bit on here until I feel better about this direction.

 

First, a quick update:

So the teacher draws an "X" through things that are wrong on their work as she goes through the classroom. At the end of the lesson she recycles the pages that have an X on them. Today dd drew her grandparents' dog instead of herself in a picture because she said that she was going to miss the dog, who is going to live a 4 hour flight away soon (long story). The teacher put an X through the picture and recycled it and told her to draw a picture of herself. This happens with the worksheets too. Dd is very sensitive to criticism and I would like to teach her that you can learn as much or more from your mistakes as from your successes. Should I ask the teacher that she be allowed to keep her sheets with an X on them?

Dd is really questioning why they have to do certain things. I can tell her why they are doing some of the things. For example, they need to color in the lines to help their fine motor control for writing, not because it is important to color in the lines. However, I am not sure what to tell her about her desire to do one thing when the teacher asks for another thing. Her desires are important too. Dh says she just needs to follow what the teachers says and do the assignment properly. I agree, but I want her to continue to understand that her opinions are valued. Thoughts? I've arranged my own life so I don't have to jump through a lot of hoops and I work on a consensus basis with people, so I guess my problems with top-down decision-making are coming out here. I guess I can explain the idea of an assignment. When she gets older and can write a little better, she can write down ideas of other things she'd like to do and do them at home (like the dog picture).

 

In other news, a little boy decided to wag his nude (body part that I am not sure I can mention here) at her at lunch today, so dd told the aide and the principal had to mention in the assembly that everyone should keep their pants on. And apparently one little girl asked her to be her friend today, so that is good.

 

So far the work they are doing is a repeat of K and we could easily do it at home in an hour tops.

 

Linda, I don't know if I'm buying into the "only homeschooling breeds love of learning" thing. I am naturally more of an unschooler and definitely a system-questioning person, but I also had a wonderful academic experience for a number of my school years. So I see that school does not need to be bad for learning, although you do need to learn how to fit into a system, which I have more trouble with now - just how much I didn't actually realize until recently!

 

I definitely have other things to do. In fact, I'm rather over-involved in our local community and when my daughter is in school I can keep myself quite busy. So no problem there. I'm also very much focused on making my own life as happy as I can make it within the boundaries of our current existence, and I believe that this is totally possible even if I have other wishes for our family life.

 

Why does dh get to decide her educational direction? Because he is more stubborn than I am. Also, because I can see his point and his values, and while he can see mine he disagrees about 90% with my thoughts on the topic. And I was willing to sign her up for 3 years of school if it meant that she could stay home again when she was 9. It was only due to the fact that local schools suddenly became full day K that I managed to have dd at a DL and homeschool last year.

 

What we were in last year was essentially a DL program. I would be happy to go to another one. Actually, since I work part time and dd would like to go to something part time, that's ideal for us. Dh does not see DLs as proper school even though they are part of the school system.

 

I actually went into this with a fairly upbeat attitude that everything was going to be ok, so in some ways I'm surprised at my strong feelings against what is going on - even though it's all totally normal school stuff. I will give it time because that it what I have to do. At the moment, we're in for the year, and likely for 3.

 

 

 

post #14 of 18

What about a private school that is more in line with what you believe about learning (example - less top-down learning)?  I think that is a very reasonable compromise if you can find such a school and afford it.  I know he said no - but gah - I do not think it is reasonable for him to veto both HS and private. 

 

 

You do not need to answer this here (and I will bow out of this conversation after this question) but I do want to ask:  Do you usually concede to DH due to his "stubborness?".  It is one thing if you both concede to each other in your life, but an entirely different thing if you are the one who usually does the conceding because he is less flexible.

 

If your DD turns out to like school - great!  

 

If your DD does not like school, and that does not change in by mid year no matter how much attitude adjusting or meeting with the teacher happens, I would not make her stay for 1-3 years.  Life is too short to be unhappy.  Both you and your Dh have viewpoints on education, but your DD is the one who has to go there.  If it is not a positive experience I really would insist on change.  


Edited by purslaine - 9/13/11 at 4:07pm
post #15 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by widemouthedfrog View Post
So far the work they are doing is a repeat of K and we could easily do it at home in an hour tops.

 

....Why does dh get to decide her educational direction? Because he is more stubborn than I am. Also, because I can see his point and his values, and while he can see mine he disagrees about 90% with my thoughts on the topic. And I was willing to sign her up for 3 years of school if it meant that she could stay home again when she was 9. It was only due to the fact that local schools suddenly became full day K that I managed to have dd at a DL and homeschool last year.

 


It's completely normal for the first month of school (or so) to be a review of the previous year. It allows the kids a quick catch up (some kids do no reading, writing or math over the summer) and lets the teacher see where everyone is, and if there are gaps for specific students.

 

I don't think it sounds like your DH decided her education -- I think you found a comprise you could both live with. I'm sure that pulling her out of school at age nine isn't HIS first choice.

 

I also don't think there is enough in this thread to say whether or not your DD likes or dislikes school. Yes, there are some things she dislikes about it. But it sounds like there are other things she likes. And she hasn't really had time to settle in.

 

A few months ago I got my first part time job in 14 years (I've totally been a SAHM) and there have been some bumps. I cannot image how difficult this transition would have been for me if I had a family member looking for signs that I didn't LOVE every single minute of it, asking for negatives things about and then fixating on them. Waiting for a clear sign that I should quit and spend all my time at home. Instead, my family stayed positives and encouraged me with the bumps. I found that helpful, and I'm a grown up.

 

She is spreading her wings a little bit. Let her have a chance it figure it out for herself. Help her be successful in the situation rather than removing her from it.

 

I also suggests you send the teacher and email and ask to set up a short conference with her as quickly as possible to discuss the X out work/recycle thing. I think that part of what the teacher is working on is "following directions," which is a skill that some kids need to work on. However, I think your DD should have been able to keep her dog picture with a kind explanation that she needs to work on what the class is working on.

 

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by widemouthedfrog View Post

 

Dd is really questioning why they have to do certain things. I can tell her why they are doing some of the things. For example, they need to color in the lines to help their fine motor control for writing, not because it is important to color in the lines. However, I am not sure what to tell her about her desire to do one thing when the teacher asks for another thing. Her desires are important too. Dh says she just needs to follow what the teachers says and do the assignment properly. I agree, but I want her to continue to understand that her opinions are valued. Thoughts? I've arranged my own life so I don't have to jump through a lot of hoops and I work on a consensus basis with people, so I guess my problems with top-down decision-making are coming out here. I guess I can explain the idea of an assignment. When she gets older and can write a little better, she can write down ideas of other things she'd like to do and do them at home (like the dog picture).

 

 

What do you tell her at home when she questions why she has to do things? Like what if you asked her to brush her teeth and she said she felt like drawing a picture instead? OK, you might tell her she could brush her teeth after she draws a picture but what if this was in a limited time situation, like you had to leave for an appt in 5 min and she didn't have time to draw a picture? You probably would tell her that she had to brush her teeth now and she could draw a picture in the car. So I would explain to her that she might not always be able to do what she wants at school but that she can always work on things at home. Maybe when she comes home from school you could start asking her if she had something she couldn't do in school that she would like to do at home?

post #17 of 18

Is your husband an empathetic sort?  Could he listen to her concerns during this transition period?  I do think she should have someone to talk to about school - but given your own issues around school,  maybe it should be him for now? 

 

another idea - do you have someone in real life to vent to?  School can be hard on parents - particularly if they are not sure it is the correct path.  Honestly, school has caused me a lot of stress as an adult!  I recommend someone in real life as I find the forum here quite pro-school, and their kids and parents love their school.  It can really hard to read so much school-love if you are struggling.  I found people in real life to be better at empathising on this issue than people online.

 

good luck,

 

Kathy


Edited by purslaine - 9/13/11 at 6:44pm
post #18 of 18

I'm fiercly selfish over my kids time.  I have a very hard time with their being in school away from me.  However I didn't get as much time with them as I wanted when they were younger.  DH doesn't want them in school either for the same reason.  It's not that we think they hate it or that they are not learning.  We still teach them at home.  With homework we go over it and if given the chance we'll take it one step further.  I realize it's just hard for some parents to let them go.  I look at it like an experience, all life is is experiences.  I want them to experience it all.  Good and bad... very little bad of course... maybe a stubbed toe?

 

We really had to sit down and discuss why we felt the way we did about school and get to the root of it all.  You gotta be honest with yourself about it.  Now I'm not saying school is the way to go, but if two parents are in disagreement, one doesn't automatically win because it's the mother.  Both sides have a vested interest in whats best for their child. 

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