Convincing Ex-H to let me homeschool DD (x-posted in learning at home) - Mothering Forums
Blended and Step Family Parenting > Convincing Ex-H to let me homeschool DD (x-posted in learning at home)
MamaInTheDesert's Avatar MamaInTheDesert 10:38 AM 04-10-2012

This ended up being really really long. Sorry.

 

Background: So, over the last couple of years I've tried to convince my Ex-H to let me homeschool our DD. She's incredibly intelligent, and everyone including him recognizes this. Our state has abysmal records. None of the schools in our area passed the national tests for the last 3 or 4 years. Even the teacher friends I have don't recommend our school system. DD still has another year before she would be required to start kindergarten. I've loosely been doing pre-k at home with her a few days a week, and she's just blowing through all of the work I give her. She's starting to ask to learn more about math, space, how to read, and comes up with other very specific examples of what she would like to know like counting by fives (heard this on tv), how to tell time, specific grammar structure like past and future tense ("Mama, how do I say it if I stir cookies yesterday? What if I stir cookies tomorrow?"), and many other things. I've also looked at the state requirements, and she is meeting or exceeding those for kindergarten, and in some cases 1st grade. I'm thinking about starting her with a kindergarten curriculum next year (a year early) because of her intense interest in learning, and to give her more challenges than she's currently receiving with all of the pre-k material we've been working with. (I want to clarify that in no way do I want to "push" her, I want to follow her lead and what I'm getting from her is "I want to learn more.") I know there's nothing stopping me from doing this since she's not required next year to be attending school in the first place, but I do wonder how it will impact her if the following year she ends up having to go to "back" to kindergarten anyway.

 

Ex-H's Argument: I've brought up the issue of homeschooling with him a few times over the last couple of years, but haven't really had more than a 10 minute conversation about the subject. He's never been a researcher, and tends to only think about his own experiences and basic understanding of any given subject. The few things that he has brought up include the fact that he doesn't believe in homeschooling all the way through high school. His mother homeschooled him through 1st grade, and when he states that fact he makes it seem as if that was a very long time to be homeschooled. He says at that time he was doing 5th grade work, and that set him up to be underchallenged throughout the rest of his schooling, so he's not even sure if homeschooling at a younger age was beneficial. He also brings up the socialization aspect of school, and says he feels that is a very important aspect of brick and mortar schooling that she would not be able to receive if she was homeschooled. These three things are the entirety of everything he brings up when I mention that I'd like to homeschool. 1) Not doing it through high school 2) being underchallenged when she does attend regular school and 3) not receiving enough socialization. The last time we talked about this was when I picked her up on Sunday, and he actually said he'd like to talk more about it on Wednesday after I pick her up from her "dad dinner day."

 

What I plan on doing: Usually if I can give him a well-researched alternative viewpoint to his own, make him feel like he's involved, and avoid any mention or expectation that he is "wrong" then he tends to be reasonable and at least come around a little bit. I figure I'll start off with asking him some questions to see where he really stands on some things, like what are his goals for her education? And I'll bring up the failures of our state and local school systems. I'll bring up the state standards, and how DD is meeting/exceeding them. I'll ask him about his feelings regarding homeschooling through high school, and where that comes from. I'd like to see what age he feels is "too old" for homeschool. I plan on finding a gentle way to tell him that if she is homeschooled through high school then I could make sure that she was continually challenged, but I will have to choose my wording wisely with that topic. I'd like to ask him what would make him feel more comfortable about homeschooling, and suggest things like yearly standardized testing to make sure she was meeting or exceeding grade expectations. As part of the state requirements for homeschooling I would be required to keep a weekly log of activities, so I definitely want to explain that those would be available to him, and that I would even make him copies every week if he wanted. I also would tell him that I would give him a list of the curriculum I would be using in case he wants to research it himself. Also, I would ask him how much forced socialization he felt she needed. She's currently involved in ballet and gymnastics, but there are other social activities she could be involved in now, and a ton more once she hits five years old (in January). Plus I would point out that we both have large social groups that include children, and while it's not "forced" socialization like in school, activities, and groups, that it does count as socialization with her peers. I think if I go through all of that with him then he's likely to at least allow me to "try" homeschooling for a couple of years. Also, I'm thinking that if I go ahead and still start with a kindergarten curriculum this next year I would go ahead and do my weekly reports as if I was already following the state requirements for homeschooling, and then I would have those and all the completed workbooks and things from that year to show him 1) that I was capable of teaching the material and 2) that DD was capable of learning while at home.

 

What I'm asking: First of all, thank you if you made it this far. I know I went on and on. I'm trying to work this all out in my head, and it's been on my mind for quite awhile, and almost constantly since I last spoke with Ex-H about this. I'm wondering if anyone else has had any experience with this, and if you could share your story with me. Also, I would like to know if you think my plan is a good one, or if you have any advice for me. Plus, are there any any other points you think I should bring up with him? I do think that he should have a say in his daughters education, but I believe so strongly in homeschooling being the best option for her, that I'm not sure how he could see it another way. Maybe you could give me some insight about where he is coming from, but I do admit that I would very much like to convince him to let me homeschool her. Basically, what are your thoughts about this whole situation?



aricha's Avatar aricha 08:57 PM 04-12-2012

I think you are off to a good start by considering that his concerns are reasonable and valid, that he has a perspective to offer and a right to his beliefs, and that you are interested in understanding what his concerns are and explaining your ideas for addressing them as well as asking for his ideas.


MamaInTheDesert's Avatar MamaInTheDesert 10:26 PM 04-12-2012

Thanks aricha. I try to keep everything reasonable between me and the ex-h. I never want to be in a "you're wrong and I'm right" kind of battle with him. I think that things should be relatively fair and at minimum respectful and cordial. He is my daughter's father and I'm going to have to deal with him for the rest of my life, so I don't want to make it any worse than it has to be. He not only has a right to his opinions, but the right to be treated like a human. Luckily he's gotten much better at doing the same for me since we got divorced. I feel much better about being flexible and tolerant when he does the same, and we've found that with that attitude we can come to compromises without being nasty and forceful towards each other.


Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 11:45 PM 04-12-2012

I'm a former homeschooler. I think I can see both sides. I think that by listening to what he is saying and trying to find a middle ground, you are off to a good start.

 

His concerns:

  • not homeschooling through highschool -- easy enough to do. Very few people who start out homeschool end up homeschooling the whole way through for a whole bunch of reasons. I'd give him this one. Ask him what is comfort zone is for now.
  • concern about being under challenged once school starts (because this happened to him). On one hand, if the schools really suck, being right at grade level could put a child  ahead of their peers, and it wouldn't be reasonable to keep a child back just stay as behind as their local school. At the same time, I kind of agree with him. I don't know that blowing through grade levels is particularly healthy. My advice -- go deep into subjects. Do science projects. Visit historic sites. Read wonderful books out loud. Make art. Savor learning rather than rushing through it. 
  • But this relates back to the first point -- the first few years of school are more about skills, and then school gradually becomes more about content. Waiting to start her in school until most everyone can read, write and do basic math may be easier for her.
  • Socialization. I feel like a bit of a turn coat on this, but I do feel that spending time with one's peer with teachers other than mom is good for kids. There are ways to do this without school -- classes through parks and rec, girl scouts, etc. I'd avoid saying "forced socialization."  It's a way of stating that you don't value something that he does (and something I now value that I didn't when my children were 4).

 

I wouldn't advise any new homeschooler committing to thoroughly to a specific curriculum or method until they have a chance to figure out what actually works for them and their kid. You most likely can't tell your ex that -- "I'll just figure it out."  But I would avoid offering more than he is asking for.

 

 

 


MamaInTheDesert's Avatar MamaInTheDesert 10:29 AM 04-13-2012

Thank you for your insight Linda. I agree with just about everything you said.

 

I don't mind figuring out what his comfort zone is with regards to number of years homeschooling. For me thinking about high school is so far in the future, that even though I have thought about it, it's not worth really setting in stone because there will be so many variables between now and then that I just can't account for. If he has questions about what I would plan to do at those ages, I can give him several different answers based on maturity, ability, and other things, but I also would have to say that I am completely open until we reach that stage in her education.

 

I agree 100% about not blowing through grade levels just to do it, and love the idea of immersion into each topic for full understanding. I also recognize that ability is not necessarily related directly to maturity. I personally read through MANY books as a child that while I had the ability to read and give definitions of the words I was reading, I wasn't mature enough to understand the concepts and truly understand what the author was conveying. I don't want to somehow do that on some massive scale with my DD. I completely agree with the concept of following the child's lead, and wouldn't want to move on until she showed interest and readiness to do so. I don't want to push.

 

My reasoning for using the term "forced socialization" wasn't to indicate that it was something I disagreed with, but more to show that I did understand that there was a difference between being in a school (or club or sport etc.) setting, and having more organic socialization arise through friendships with the neighbor kids and kids of her parent's friends. As it is now, both her father and I have large social networks that include a bunch of kids that she sees regularly (Usually, at least 5 or 6 times a month, but often times more.) I would call that, and other things we do like going to the park or the zoo where she "makes friends," more organic socialization. Additionally, I have enrolled her in dance and gymnastics, and once she hits 5 she becomes eligible for a million more activities like Girl Scouts, soccer, golf, art, and music classes that I am very much interested in. These kinds of activities I would consider to be forced socialization. Not in that I'm forcing her to be a part of it, but more like the types of interactions in those settings are more guided and directed. I see the value in both what I am considering to be organic and forced types of socialization. So, my reasons for asking the ex-h about how he feels about socialization in regards to a school setting is to see if he places a lot more value on what I am calling forced socialization, and what amount of time he thinks DD should be spending in those situations. I am for sure open to adding more activities on top of the ones she's currently involved in, as they become available to her, and already plan to. I just want to see if we're on the same page regarding how much time. Like if he says he thinks she should have X hours per week of what I'm calling forced socialization, then I can work with that.

 

And, I totally agree with you about not committing to one specific curriculum. More, I just wanted him to know what curriculum DD would be using at any given point. I think he has the right to know that. One of the best things (I feel) about homeschooling is that if the material isn't working, then we can switch. I agree with you that being ambivalent about it and just saying things like "We'll see how it goes" or "I'll figure it out" isn't the best way to start out. But, at the beginning of the school year when I order everything I can say we're using X for math, X for science, X for language arts etc. etc. And if for any reason I feel the need to switch then I can tell him "Well, X wasn't working to teach DD these concepts so we're going to switch to Y." It's not like I'm going to telegraph to him that I plan on changing things up from the get go, but I want him to feel like I would keep him in the loop -- that I would let him know the basics like what curriculum we were using, share the weekly progress reports that I would be making (as per state guidelines), and keep him generally well informed as to the status of her education. If DD were attending public school then he would have access to her texts, see some of her homework, know some of her test scores, and have a report card to tell him about her progress. I want him to feel that he would have that same sort of access, and that I didn't plan on hiding her education or somehow making him less involved in it then he would be otherwise.

 

I hope all of that made sense!


Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 07:29 PM 04-13-2012


Quote:

Originally Posted by MamaInTheDesert View Post

 

My reasoning for using the term "forced socialization" wasn't to indicate that it was something I disagreed with, but more to show that I did understand that there was a difference between being in a school (or club or sport etc.) setting, and having more organic socialization arise through friendships with the neighbor kids and kids of her parent's friends...... I see the value in both what I am considering to be organic and forced types of socialization. So, my reasons for asking the ex-h about how he feels about socialization in regards to a school setting is to see if he places a lot more value on what I am calling forced socialization, and what amount of time he thinks DD should be spending in those situations



I see what you are getting at, but I would drop the phrase "forced socialization."  It sounds negative. And it's not true. Dance class doesn't force kids to socialize -- quite the opposite.

 

And referring to "organic socialization" vs "forced socialization" is the kind of talk that causes non-died-in-the-wool homeschoolers to roll their eyes.

 

I just don't see "how long do you think we should FORCE our child to socialize" being a question that is going to go well for you. "How many hours a week do you think she should be in organized activities with other kids" is a more neutral (and true) question. If  you start by saying that you want to ensure she has plenty of time to learn as part of a group, speak up for herself, and have teachers other than you, and that you want to figure out "plenty" is, I think it could go very well. 

 

Good luck!


MamaInTheDesert's Avatar MamaInTheDesert 10:12 PM 04-13-2012

I hear you Linda. Forced may be too strong of a word, and may not be conveying the right message.

 

However, I disagree that the socialization in her dance class isn't... guided? directed? organized? DD is required to pair up with different kids for a specified length of time within the class to do her routines and exercises. They are often split into groups to work on different techniques. Since she is young they often work on basic body movement exercises like skipping while holding hands with a classmate, or playing movement games as a group. Each week the teacher picks a "leader" that the girls have to follow who gets to show everyone "how to do things" and picks the fun thing or game they play at the end of class. There's a couple of girls in her class that DD says she doesn't want to partner up with, or says that she wishes weren't the leader, but she partners up with them, and follows the instructions of the leader, because she has to listen to her teacher.

 

But, I guess all of that is neither here nor there, because I do agree with you that the language is too strong. You've helped me to realize that my term for one type of socialization was not one I should be using because it may be interpreted as negative, and doesn't convey the same message as using another term like "organized activity." I do appreciate your insight on that. I will work on using more neutral terms so I can reinforce that ex-h and I are on the same page, and that I am just looking for clarification on his priorities. That way I can make sure homeschooling would meet both of our educational goals for DD.


MsChatsAlot's Avatar MsChatsAlot 09:44 AM 04-18-2012

I've always been a 'take it a year at a time' kind of homeschooler.  I didn't start out thinking it would be any specific way.  It might be easier for him if you make a plan to revisit it every year -- assess what's working, what's not working, changes to make or keeping the status quo, and the possibility of going to school.  Your dd may at some point want to go to school too -- so it may help to keep things on a year-to-year basis.  I take it year by year and have homeschooled for 8 years now.  My best friend intended to homeschool throughout and her daughter insisted on going to school 4 years ago and has never been happier.  You just never know.

 

If he's not interested in doing the research, would it help to find other parents or educators in your community that could share their experiences with an advanced learning child?  Sometimes hearing from other parents and seeing how other families have found their way can help too.  My ex isn't into research at all either and didn't want to hear from 'others', but I always ask him to present his own research and findings and when he didn't, he allowed me to proceed as I wanted.

 

My ex was not keen at all to have me homeschool - especially in the beginning.  I'm on the other end of this with a child who is not developmentally on par -- so he was especially concerned.  But as he saw the kids fitting in with other kids and adults, being able to read and write and do things like 'normal' kids -- he's relaxed quite a bit.

 

Finding the middle ground and using that as a basis for your conversations can really help too.  If you feel yourselves a bit at odds, bring it back to "We are both concerned about her.  I absolutely want her to be well socialized too.  We both want what is going to be best for her."  These thing help bring the conversation back to the truth -- that you both love her and want what's best and you are both committed to doing what is best for her.

 

If you want to ask more specific questions or if you want me to share more, please feel free to pm me anytime.


MamaInTheDesert's Avatar MamaInTheDesert 10:45 PM 04-18-2012

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply MsChatsAlot!

 

I think the one year at a time plan isn't a bad idea. I just had been stressing over the idea that he may not even let me try. While I do have the plan that I would like to homeschool throughout, I am for sure open to re-assessing if at any point homeschooling isn't meeting DD's needs.

 

As far as the ex being open to other people's opinions... he tends to be the kind of person who feels "called out" if I try to have him talk to someone else.

 

This though:

Quote:

Originally Posted by MsChatsAlot View Post

 

Finding the middle ground and using that as a basis for your conversations can really help too.  If you feel yourselves a bit at odds, bring it back to "We are both concerned about her.  I absolutely want her to be well socialized too.  We both want what is going to be best for her."  These thing help bring the conversation back to the truth -- that you both love her and want what's best and you are both committed to doing what is best for her.

 

is what I think will help me best in the long run. I think he feels that if I'm being contradictory then I'm trying to "pull one over on him." With past disagreements, I've really had to remind him that it's all about DD, and that there's no animosity lurking behind anything I'm saying or doing.

 

Thank you again!


Climbing Rose's Avatar Climbing Rose 12:25 PM 05-09-2012

If he totally shuts the door to homeschooling, you could present a decent private school as a compromise, and ask him to cover the costs of that.

 

I say that because hopefully a private school would be better for her than public school if it came to that, and also- I have heard of a few dads who quickly came around to homeschooling, when they were thinking a judge might tell them to pay for private tuition.

 

I hope it goes well for you and your DD!


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