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A thread for those of us who've had dealings with CPS and want to feel open and trusting (not... - Page 2

post #21 of 32

I'll be frank and say that twelve is the age I am least looking forward to. I will survive and it and lie low. I think that you have a higher opinion of your kids than I do. I consider my children to be quite limited in the scope of things they understand. They have their own opinions, of course, but their opinions are based on such a small range of information and impulses that I frequently need to just ignore them. I don't ban all processed foods and sugar. I'm a fan of moderation. I think we live in the world we live in and I'm not going to make my kids freaks. That said they frequently give people lectures about how terrible and bad the McDonald's we are eating is. Sheepish.gif *ahem* (It's not even once a month. I can live with that much evil. Sometimes it is the lesser evil.) 

 

My point is that your daughter clearly wants to be learning more information. That means you need to impose the schedule and teach her discipline. She's not going to pull it out of whole cloth. Some people can. I did. Aristotle did. But it's not all that common. Most people need to be taught the routine of learning. They have to be kind of guided through the habit of learning. I'm not saying beat them over the head with workbooks or anything such as that. We do SSR (sustained silent reading) in our house. We all sit down in the living room with our separate books and read silently. (Ok, the kids are looking at pictures. So what. It's about building habit.) My husband loves to read aloud. He has spent his entire life waiting until he got to be a dad and have a captive audience. Every day he reads to the kids for an hour. They read some weird shit. Have you ever heard of Girl Genius? The whole comic series is available online, though we have the paper versions. They are pretty

 

Not to be silly, but you don't have to force feed the classics to get your kid reading. But you may have to require that she spend the hours and hours and hours necessary to get good at it. Ask her this: do you want to spend the hours now when you don't have anything better to do (come on--you're 12) or do you want to be doing them while you are an adult trying to manage a job so that you also have to deal with shame for not being competent. This is a skill that only comes through practice. Sit your butt down and read

 

But I'm really ok on every level with being bossy like this. It's my job to be bossy like this. :)

 

However! Of course you are free to ignore me and tell me where to stick it. I'm not your boss. :)

post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thank you, everyone, for all your supportive responses. I actually am keeping records of hours, and am very well-versed on the requirements in my state. The reason I wouldn't whip out those records when I'm not even required to is not because I feel any shame about what dd is learning and how she is learning it -- but because I'm then giving someone who may never have even studied education carte blanche to skim through my logs and make judgements about something that I think I've probably put a lot more thought into than she has.

 

For example, I think the hours that dd1 has spent making mud bricks out in our yard and building little houses, or sculpting the mud into animals, has built her knowledge of both science and math. I also see whatever sewing, knitting, crocheting, or cooking she does as a math activity. That doesn't mean I assume this is all the math she'll ever need, because she also works math problems and she has lately expressed a desire to go further with math. Thus I am finding the videos that can help supplement what we've been showing her about various concepts.

 

It was my impression that the CPS worker who came four years ago wasn't even aware of the homeschooling requirements herself; this was why she asked for the reference I gave her to be from my homeschooling group if at all possible. So, while I certainly think most CPS workers are well trained and qualified to evaluate child safety, it just doesn't seem like a good idea to put anyone in a position to evaluate something they may not have the training or experience to evaluate.

 

The social worker from four years ago was actually more interested in looking at the girls' artwork that we had up on the walls, and I'm sure she also noticed all the books and toys we have (I love children's lit, too, by the way :)). She never even asked to see any records.

 

In our state, we don't have to report to anyone -- but if CPS has genuine concerns about educational neglect, the policy is to contact the school board and then the school board schedules a hearing with the parents. And that's where we'd need to provide records. And, according to what I've read, if the school board deems that there is no education going on in the home, the parents either need to start homeschooling or enroll the child in school. I suppose this could happen to a homeschooling parent, but I've honestly never heard of it happening, though CPS visits are not completely unheard of.

 

I think our district's school board is kind of on overload right now. They've completely lost their accreditation, and have also suffered from severe funding cuts. Several schools have been closed and they're trying to figure out how to get everyone a place in the schools that are still open. There's been talk about letting some kids enroll in some of the surrounding suburban schools. I'm sure this doesn't mean that they'd neglect a truly needy child who was spending the whole day sitting on a dirty floor playing with animal feces or something -- but they also have lots of needy kids who are already enrolled in their system.

 

I think that, as one poster mentioned, demonstrating my knowledge of my children's educational needs and explaining what we are doing to meet these needs is the best way to deal with any concerned people.

 

As to why I posted this here and not in unschooling -- I actually see this as a broader AP/NFL issue and not just an educational one. I think a lot of parents who do things differently from the norm receive criticism from "concerned" people. In the vast majority of situations, these concerned people just express their opinions and it is actually pretty rare for parents to get a CPS visit. But some of us do get visits, and I'm just feeling a need to talk about how I'm processing all this and struggling to meet the needs of two very extraverted girls when I sometimes feel like I'd like to just cut any critics out of our lives, just as I've cut out my sister and some

other relatives.

 

But part of the reason we joined this church was our lack of extended family and our need for community. We now have some close friendships in this church (some of whom have had their own issues with the SS director), and I know it would break the girls' hearts to suddenly not be able to go to church anymore. And sometimes they do need to see a doctor, too. So it is definitely in our girls' best interests for us to keep getting out there and interacting and all that; I'm just trying to deal with those times when all the "concern" makes me want to say something mean like, "Don't you have a life???"

post #23 of 32

Hugs, mama!

 

It sounds like you are doing a great job, and some people really are just busybodies who cannot bear to see people making different choices than they would.

 

With regards to reading and your oldest, I agree with everyone else and with you - it sound like she lacks practice to gain fluency.  I thought Chechen's post had some great ideas on how to promote fluency.  I think novels, with there big "walls of text" can be very difficult for emerging readers.  I would definitely focus on magazines, non-fiction and graphic novels for an emerging reader.  My youngest took about 1 year to gain fluency - to go from being able to sound out individual words to being able to read small novels on her own or out loud.  

 

In the mean time, I would protect her and your family from "concern."  Does she want to continue in the SS class?  My kids might not after a teacher embarrassed them in front of the class.  Is there much socialisation time during class or is it after class?  Maybe she could attend service with you and socialise after class?  Do they have any informal youth groups where reading out loud is unlikely to happen? 

 

The doctor visit is odd - how did the doctor know they were not up to grade level? headscratch.gif  Did the doctor quiz them?  I would model to my kids and, to a degree, my husband, presenting our best face when talking to unknown people or people in authority.  I am much more likely to talk about the play we saw last night or some other positive thing than the messy house.  Most people do not want to worry about other people (btdt - it is exhausting).  Do not give them much reason to.   I hope this is not out of line - telling people what they want to hear so they do not become overly concerned  (if you do not need help, of course!) is a life skill - and even if you do not need it OP, it might help some lurkers out there.

 

Lastly, know all of this will end.  In all likelihood your daughter will learn to read (and if she is not able to read novels after a decent amount of practice (6 months or so  - mark it on the calendar!)  - seek testing and help. Said from one USer to another).  It is also a sad fact of life that people are often less concerned with teenagers than kids, even if she cannot read in 2 years, people will be less concerned about it - or at least less likely to call CPS.  

post #24 of 32
Have you ever heard of Kahn Academy? Google them. (I'm on my phone.) They have truly amazing instructional videos on a variety of topics include maths.
post #25 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

In the mean time, I would protect her and your family from "concern."  Does she want to continue in the SS class?  My kids might not after a teacher embarrassed them in front of the class.  Is there much socialisation time during class or is it after class?  Maybe she could attend service with you and socialise after class?  Do they have any informal youth groups where reading out loud is unlikely to happen? 

 

The doctor visit is odd - how did the doctor know they were not up to grade level? headscratch.gif  Did the doctor quiz them?  I would model to my kids and, to a degree, my husband, presenting our best face when talking to unknown people or people in authority.  I am much more likely to talk about the play we saw last night or some other positive thing than the messy house.  Most people do not want to worry about other people (btdt - it is exhausting).  Do not give them much reason to.   I hope this is not out of line - telling people what they want to hear so they do not become overly concerned  (if you do not need help, of course!) is a life skill - and even if you do not need it OP, it might help some lurkers out there.

 

I liked all of Chechen's ideas, too!

 

Yes, she still wants to go to Sunday School. The kids all have an activity hour where they can play games and hang out from 10:00 to 11:15 AM and then Sunday School from 11:15 to 12:15, and she has always wanted to attend both, apart from one time when she came up to church with one of her friends because he wanted to be up there for Music Sunday. I've made it clear to both dd and the SS director that she can come up to me anytime she wants to. She has one really good friend in her class, and one developing friendship that looks like it will become close, and she seems to get along really well with all the other kids; I help in there sometimes.

 

It's true that she felt very upset and humiliated over the SS director's behavior, and the mom of her really good friend has told me that he was really angry over her treatment and didn't feel that the apology this woman gave was at all sufficient. I've heard that this woman was actually asked to take a step back and not help with the summer camp that we had last week; she is still on staff but apparently has said or done things to offend some other parents, too.

 

This doctor was actually filling in for the girls' regular doctor who was on vacation. I had felt some urgency about getting dd1 checked out because she'd mentioned feeling some dizziness, and blackened vision, when standing up after sitting for long periods. I'd read that this could be due to needing to drink more water, but also that it is still a good idea to have it checked out by a doctor, and this doctor incidentally did say she just needed to drink more water. But I also just scheduled both girls' physicals because it was about time for that. In future, I'll schedule their physical at a time when I can take them because I think some people may be biased against fathers who aren't working, even when they are taking care of their children.

 

I also think this particular woman may have something against homeschooling -- and there may have been a note in our file that we homeschool -- and I'm sure there's also a note in our file about us not vaxing. Some people see red flags just by adding these two facts together. The girls are also on Medicaid and some people do look down on that, I suppose. I don't know, all I know is that I've taken the girls for lots of physicals in the past and they've always done just fine with whatever questions they were asked. So it seems really weird that this doctor was so concerned.

 

rightkindofme, thanks for the tip. I'll have to check into Kahn Academy.

post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 

Kahn Academy looks awesome!

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post

Kahn Academy looks awesome!


It totally is! My husband told me about it. I have watched a lot of their videos because my math skills aren't where I feel they "should be" given how much "education" I have had. So I go learn. :) I find them very approachable.

 

And many universities like MIT have many many full courses for free online. In this day and age if you have a computer and an internet connection there is no excuse for ignorance. I feel like I live in a magical time. :)

post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 

Well, it's been a week since the doctor visit so I think we can relax about that.

 

Dd has been improving a lot with both reading and writing in just one week of really concentrating on it -- and last night, she told me that she really, really wants to go to school. She'd been to her library activity in the afternoon, and she felt like all the kids were annoyed with her for talking so much. She said since she normally just gets together with other kids a couple of times a week, whenever she does it's like she can't stop talking.

 

She really wants daily interactions with other kids, which she can't seem to get just in the neighborhood. There are a lot of kids on our block but none whom she really connects with at this time. She has mentioned before that in school, she'd be meeting so many different people that she'd be bound to find more kids with common interests, and I think she's right about this.

 

After the three of us -- dh, dd, and me -- talked it over, we came to an agreement that we need to spend this next school year really focusing on helping her gain the skills she needs in order to be able to start school in the fall of 2013 with other 13 years olds. She is extremely bright and can learn and do anything she sets her mind to, we just hadn't seen it as a priority to see to it that she was working on the exact same things that the other kids her age were working on in public school, because I knew that when she was ready, she'd be able to buckle down and learn whatever she needed to learn for college or whatever training or career she set her mind to.

 

Well, she is ready to buckle down now. And I feel good about what we're doing because of how I saw her face light up last night, and also because I believe that by helping her get up to speed, we'll be helping her to enter school next year as an empowered young woman -- knowing that she's there by choice, and can also choose to homeschool again if at any point she decides that this would be better for her.

 

I'd be really worried about throwing her in right now, this fall, because she probably wouldn't be ready for 7th grade math and reading and so on, so she could end up being put in with a younger group of kids, and she's very tall, about 5'8" now, and already feels self-conscious about being so much taller than other 12yo's...it's weird because she used to feel so good about being tall, but all of a sudden she's started seeing it as a bad thing...but anyhow, I'm concerned that if we threw her in right now, she would stand out as a kid who's not at grade level, and this could make it very hard if, a few weeks or months into the experience, she decided it wasn't what she wanted after all and we took her out.

 

I know a year seems like such a long time to wait, but she is also starting in the Coming of Age program at church this fall, so she'll start having youth activities. Plus she can stay in her library group and get together with other homeshoolers on Wednesday afternoon.

 

Dd asked me to wake her up earlier than usual this morning, and she's already out taking her morning walk with our dog. She then plans to really get busy with her reading. It's amazing how much easier that it's gotten for her now that she's decided that she really wants to do it.

post #29 of 32
I think that sounds like a very reasonable transition. Starting out behind is very damaging to self esteem. Are you familiar with you state educational standards? Every state puts what children need to know online by grade. That could guide your progress. If you have any questions about what some standards mean I'd be happy to explain them. I taught middle school then high school before having kids. smile.gif
post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much, rightkindofme! I will definitely let you know if I have questions about this. I know middle school (called junior high when I was that age) was the most difficult time for me and it took me years to get over the feeling of wanting to just be invisible in certain situations -- and the feeling that people who were nice to me just felt sorry for me. My experience made me really determined that I'd never put a child of mine in a place like that.

 

Of course, I don't assume that everything will be the same for dd. But I want to help her get equipped with all the tools she'll need in order to feel empowered and on top of things.

post #31 of 32

Totally butting in late to this thread, but my radically unschooled 11.5 yr old (at the time) decided to go back to school in the middle of sixth grade and while we tried to talk him out of it (middle school is the worst time to go back IMO and i encouraged him to wait til high school) he wouldnt budge. he was sure that it was what he needed...he wanted to meet more kids. So i sent him. He did fine at first (socially...i didnt really care about the academic part which freaked the teachers right out...but he did very well academically and was clearly ahead of his peers in many areas esp reading/writing) but ultimately it just didnt work out well for him. And his personality was changed, he was a different kid coming out than going in. Hopefully one day i'll have that sweet openminded kid back but he'll be 16 and so far i rarely see that side of him. Sometimes i cry just thinking about it. I will always wonder how it would have gone had i refused to let him make that choice. I really bought into the "let the child choose" advice (and that made sense at the time since he was very self-directed) and of course there could be SO many factors going into the change (puberty, me adopting a baby, etc etc)...but in the end, if i had to do it over, i would make a different choice. I would do ANYTHING i could to meet his social needs without throwing him to the wolves that is middle school.

 

Of course...other people have had kids go back to school and they do well. Im not anti-school...my 10 yr old goes to the local elementary and does very well socially there and i will be sending my younger boys there as well (currently in preK for another year)....but yeah it didnt work out so well for my oldest.
 

post #32 of 32
Thread Starter 

queenjane -- Thank you so much for sharing about your perspective! What I'm seeing right now with my own dd, at this moment, is that she's come back alive in a sense. She's so happy now that she has a goal to focus on.

 

I'd honestly been kind of feeling like I'd lost my radiant little ball of energy -- but I see today that she was never really gone: she just needed a broader canvass. She's been growing so much and she needs her world to expand, too. I'm certainly not saying that going to school is the only way to expand one's world, of course, but this is what she really feels she needs right now.

 

I agree that middle school sucks, it sure did for me, but dd hasn't seemed this happy for a long time. I'm not going to jerk the rug out from under her now that we've promised that we'll do everything we can to help her prepare for the eight grade and then try to get her enrolled in a school in the fall of 2013.

 

In the meantime, she'll be starting Coming of Age and youth group at church, and we'll still be involved in our Wednesday homeschooling co-op because her younger sister is still homeschooling, plus, of course, dd1 will still be a homeschooler this year.

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