If your young child is adamant about going to school, - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-29-2011, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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would you let them?

My 7.5yo says he wants to go to school next school year. When I told him all the reasons I don't want him going to school he cried. He says he feels odd because all the other kids in the neighborhood go to school. He has a "friend" who brags about all the stuff he supposedly knows from school that my ds does not, like multiplication tables. I talked to my ds about that and demonstrated that he knows how to multiply, also. The difference is that he knows what it means and what it's for whereas this other kid only knows how to recite memorized facts. He doesn't understand how multiplication fits into the real world. I guess at 7 that's a hard concept for my ds to grasp.

Aside from all the educational issues I have with schools, my ds is not vaccinated. I will not get him vaccinated just so he can go to school. My state has only a medical and religious exemption and I am atheist. I know I can still file a generic religious exemption but I don't want to deal with all the hassle. If school admins decided to question it, who knows what could happen. I've already been investigated once by CPS after being reported by an OB for having a homebirth. Even though the case was closed without incident and the "allegations", whatever they were, were deemed unfounded, I now have a permanent record with CPS just for being reported. I've been told every time you are reported is a mark against you even if any allegations are unfounded every time. It's safer and easier for me to homeschool.

There's also the issue of whether or not my ds is prepared for 2nd grade. I had to give him a nationally standardized test this year (I have to administer one every year that we homeschool). I haven't gotten it evaluated yet but I know he did very well. However, he can't read books very well and doesn't write much. I don't think he's ever written a complete sentence on his own. Since we unschool I'm not worried about that but I am worried that he would be kept back in 1st grade if we enrolled him in school. Then there's also the issue of whether or not someone might construe that as educational neglect.

So, at 7 years old, would you let your child go to school if he really wanted to or would you tell him he could not no matter how upset he gets?

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Old 06-29-2011, 08:26 PM
 
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I think it would depend on why, but really 7 is still too young an age do decide things like this on their own, usually.  Peers, school in books, school everywhere, school buses can be hard to ignore.  Your son's friend is making it sound fun.  Our family is pretty on board with homeschooling, but I do like to point out preventatively that some of the things we are doing wouldn't be possible if they were in school. Of course, having playgrounds and children's museums all to themselves is a priority for my girls, not being in the midst of all the hubbub.  I also like to mention that if we want to study sharks for 10 months we can do that.

     I would probably let him know that you will be homeschooling.  Don't bother mentioning the vaccinations to him.  At school you have to learn times tables when you'd rather be doing reading, then when you get to do reading, you have to stop that to move on to the next thing.  You can learn a lot of stuff there, but homeschooling gives you the freedom to pick when and where and for how long.  

    Ask him if he wants to learn his times tables and whatever else he wants to know.  Find out what the kids are learning and show him.  Then help him do what he needs to do to learn it, if that's important for him.  Start being a homeschool cheerleader so that maybe he has a few good things to tell his friend when the subject comes up.  The fact is, the new shininess of school tends to start wearing off after 2nd or 3rd grade.  Stick with homeschooling, then when the middle grades near if he still wants to try school, let him.  7 is just too young, I think.


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Old 06-29-2011, 11:21 PM
 
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DD (9) who does NOT want to go to school, still often comes home wide eyed, and tells me about the 'cool' things her friend learned in school. I'm not sure whether her 10 yo friend fibs quite a bit, or when she says she learned something in school, she means she learned it from other kids in school. Often those claims are quite outlandish. I usually google right away, and then DD gets to see for herself whether it was true, and if true, then she gets a chance to learn a bit more about the subject.

 

Recently she came to me with the story of a flying girl in Russia, because J learned about it in school, and it was all true! lol.gif There's a neat video on youtube too. thumb.gif

 

Schools will probably retain an aura of mystery for homeschooled children, especially if their friends go to school.


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Old 06-30-2011, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, both, for answering me. I was beginning to worry that no one would have any suggestions.

I do feel like he's too young and just doesn't understand. And, school is made to be more fun in the beginning grades so his friend hasn't really experienced it yet, imo. Every other parent of an older child, or the older children themselves that I talk to, say the children do not like school anymore.

We have been looking more at the things that his friend has to know for school and I've been trying to show my ds that he either already knows it, though maybe not quite in the same way, or he can easily learn it. DS complained that I don't teach him enough so I can certainly give him work if that's what he wants. I don't know what to do about him feeling left out for not going to school. I haven't had any luck meeting other homeschooling families with kids his age in our area.

I'm feeling a bit like a failure for not making homeschool more enjoyable or meaningful for him. Honestly, though, because he is so young I haven't been concerned about him learning a lot of academic stuff. I still consider him to be in the young, playful stage. His reading ability has taken off even more just recently. I find him suddenly reading signs and sentences and books that he couldn't read just a few months ago. He always astonishes me with the math that he knows without even really thinking about it.

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Old 06-30-2011, 08:42 PM
 
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Some kids really really enjoy table work or a structured curriculum.  If it's initiated by the kids and enjoyed by the kids, there is no reason to give up calling yourself an unschooling family.  You might ask around and look for a curriculum that can be picked up and set down as he wishes, and one that presents things as a fun puzzle instead of mindless rote.  But even that: my oldest daughter, 6.5, loves to memorize facts about animals, lengths and such.  Rote memorization is something she craves, so who knows?  But she doesn't like the pages in workbooks (I pick the ones the most like puzzlebooks and call them that) that want you to write down the answers just for the sake of writing them down.  She'll write the answers on the pages that have secret code or something.  Work for the sake of work she does not love, and the teachers' store is full of these.  But hidden amongst them are some gems!  DD really loves her "fact cards" that she cut out herself.  She also prefers this kind of work when she already knows or is close to understanding the answers.  Some how she has taught herself multiplication (same as your son, she doesn't know her tables but understands the concept.  Some days our house rings out with spontaneous bursts of "Mama! Three 8's make 24!")

    BTW, we are a young unschooling family as well.


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Old 07-01-2011, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Some days our house rings out with spontaneous bursts of "Mama! Three 8's make 24!"

This happens in my home, too, and I am always amazed. I wonder how he knows it but I try not to say anything. Maybe I should point it out to him more.

I have always had workbooks and puzzle books around for all my kids to use whenever they want. Every once in a while in the past, my middle ds would say he wanted to do "school work" so he'd get them out. His attention for them never lasted very long. He's been doing more in them lately so maybe he's just hit a period where he's more into that. I'll have to look around and see if I can find more puzzle type workbooks.

I think some of this may have also come up from him having to take that standardized test. It was kind of funny because I got the test in May and showed it to him but kept procrastinating about doing it. He fussed at me about it enough that I finally gave in. I figured we'd do one test a day for a week but he breezed right through, doing at least each time. He was very worried that he wouldn't do well so I scored it for him once he was done. I can't tell him what percentile he falls into but I can tell him that he missed only a few. I still haven't mailed the darn thing in for scoring yet.

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Old 07-01-2011, 12:40 PM
 
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Is there a way to give him a more clear idea of what actually happens in school?  Maybe you could get some schooly curriculum and let him experience that, to see what he thinks?  Also, I'd get that test scored.  If the problem is that he thinks he's not learning, seeing a good score printed out on something official, might be all he needs.  

 

 

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Old 07-01-2011, 03:54 PM
 
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You might be able to contact the school and set up a day or two for him to visit so that he can learn what public school entails.


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Old 07-01-2011, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You might be able to contact the school and set up a day or two for him to visit so that he can learn what public school entails.


Are public school administrators and teachers really open to this? I would find it very surprising.

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Old 07-01-2011, 05:59 PM
 
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Not sure if my viewpoint will be welcome, but OP, it makes me sad that every parent of older children you know says their kids don't like school. I had a very, very unhappy schooling experience as a child (perhaps like some here). I was determined that my child would not go through what I did. Although I had never been drawn to homeschooling, I knew that should my kid be miserable in school, I would pull him out.

Happily, our local PS is a caring, nurturing place, full of art and gardens, where he has thrived for 6 years. At 11, I have never heard him say the words "I hate school" (words I used to say all the time). It's really been a revelation to me, that school can be a place of such happiness and learning. I don't make the blanket statements about it I used to make.

Now, I'm not here to say that the OP should put her kid in school, necessarily. But as the parent of an older kid, I do want to throw that perspective out there. If it's all about doing what works best for the child, maybe more schooly curriculum, like a pp suggested, would be something to try.
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:52 PM
 
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You might be able to contact the school and set up a day or two for him to visit so that he can learn what public school entails.

 

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Are public school administrators and teachers really open to this? I would find it very surprising.


I'm sure that not every school would allow it, but I know people who have been able to arrange it without any difficulty.  There's no harm in asking. thumb.gif

 

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Old 07-01-2011, 07:43 PM
 
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It is called shadowing. Where I live public school do it all the time

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Old 07-01-2011, 11:17 PM
 
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I think in this case, you need to evaluate exactly what he is getting out of your current homeschooling situation. I understand the concept of unschooling and we follow it to a ceratain degree, but my daughter is 8 and can most certainly read, write and perform basic math problems and is even starting on times tables. And she wanted to do it all. I followed her cues. Your child is obviously distressed about how you're going about things, atm and in thinking about putting him in school or not, his needs should be addressed. If you're not comfortable putting him into school, perhaps you should look into a different way of teaching him. And I don't think that 7.5 is too young to ask to go to school. I could see it if maybe he was five. A child at 7.5 is beginning to understand more about the world around them and compare themselves to others (as he so obviously is).


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Old 07-02-2011, 06:35 AM
 
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I think in this case, you need to evaluate exactly what he is getting out of your current homeschooling situation. I understand the concept of unschooling and we follow it to a ceratain degree, but my daughter is 8 and can most certainly read, write and perform basic math problems and is even starting on times tables. And she wanted to do it all. I followed her cues. Your child is obviously distressed about how you're going about things, atm and in thinking about putting him in school or not, his needs should be addressed. If you're not comfortable putting him into school, perhaps you should look into a different way of teaching him. And I don't think that 7.5 is too young to ask to go to school. I could see it if maybe he was five. A child at 7.5 is beginning to understand more about the world around them and compare themselves to others (as he so obviously is).

 

I don't know.  It's clear that something is stressing him out, but it could be that he is FINE with the way he's learning, except that he's spending time with a kid who is very good at making him feel dumb.  OP, have you observed the way the two boys interact?  Maybe your son needs some help figuring out who is and is not a friend.  Does he have homeschooled friends?  

 

Anyhow PheonixMomma, what your daughter can do at age 8 doesn't really matter, because kids are ready to do things at different ages.  Letting kids learn on their own schedule is a key part of unschooling.
 

 

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Old 07-02-2011, 07:39 AM
 
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I don't know.  It's clear that something is stressing him out, but it could be that he is FINE with the way he's learning, except that he's spending time with a kid who is very good at making him feel dumb.  OP, have you observed the way the two boys interact?  Maybe your son needs some help figuring out who is and is not a friend.  Does he have homeschooled friends?  

 

Anyhow PheonixMomma, what your daughter can do at age 8 doesn't really matter, because kids are ready to do things at different ages.  Letting kids learn on their own schedule is a key part of unschooling.
 

 

ITA.  Ds was lucky that the kids he hung out with were mostly not competitive.  That dynamic wasn't there of a kid bragging about what they know from school or anything else.  I've overheard schooled kids doing this to kids a grade lower, showing off their trivia in a way that seems to emphasize that they think they are superior to the younger kid.  We mostly hang out with homeschooled kids and these ones don't do that.

 

PhoenixMomma, the OP didn't say her child couldn't read, write, or do multiplication.  She said he can't read books well and doesn't write much.  He doesn't have his times tables memorized.  This isn't expected of kids who have just finished 1st grade regardless of how they are educated.

 

I might look into whether he can visit school for a day.  Is school still in session where you live?  It might help him realize what a grind school is.  He might not want to go after a visit.  If he does, you can remind him that that is his goal and give him a year to work towards getting on the same page as the school curriculum.  That keeps you out of the dynamic of enforcer and keeps you in a facilitator role.  (I have a strong willed child so that would be an issue for us).

 

Or maybe when you get the test score back, and you can show ds that he did better than 75% of the kids his age, including the ones in school, he will feel reassured and have something to quote at his "friend."  Not that I necessarily think emphasizing test scores is a good idea in general (I never told my ds his score because he didn't ask and didn't seem to care).  But it will be something concrete for him when his friend is showing off.  My ds does seem to think outside objective evaluations are worth more than me giving my opinion (this has come up with non academic achievements for us).
 

 


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Old 07-02-2011, 08:33 AM
 
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This is a hard one.  On the one hand, I think 7 is far too young to make that decision.  They just don't understand all the ramifications yet.  (How many people who send their 7yos to school would unschool or homeschool if their kid asked??  To most that would be unthinkable.)  And by ramifications, I don't mean I consider school a bad thing, just that it is something the entire family needs to weigh and decide on.

 

On the other hand, it's something he really wants and this sets up a "forbidden fruit" kind of thing, I think.

 

Are there any classes at the zoo, the children's museums, the other museums, the Y?  That might be a good compromise?  Our Y has weekly gym classes for homeschoolers, and the zoo has a regular class about animals for homeschoolers.   Also, there are homeschooling co-ops where he can learn things in a group setting.  he might like that!

 

As for wanting to learn multiplication - so teach him!  That's what unschooling is about.  If he likes worksheets and workbooks, make them available.  He might feel better using them.  My daughter is really into ancient Egypt, and all ancient civilizations.  She knows more about Mohenjo-Daro than anyone I know.  Is there a point to knowing this stuff at 7?  Maybe not, but that's not for me to decide - she asks to learn it so I make it available to her.  

 

My dd has an older cousin that brags about all the stuff she knows, too.  It's hard.  So far it doesn't bother dd because she knows she can learn whatever she wants, but it annoys the cuss out of me.  lol  

 

As for the debate about whether or not he "should" know multiplication now - not really.  It's like everything else - there comes a time when kids are ready for this kind fo thing.  Most scope and sequences on curricula don't teach it until 3rd grade, and 7 is definitely not 3rd grade.  Some kids might learn it earlier, some will learn it "on time" and some later.   He sounds like he's ready to start, though.


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Old 07-02-2011, 08:56 AM
 
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I don't know.  It's clear that something is stressing him out, but it could be that he is FINE with the way he's learning, except that he's spending time with a kid who is very good at making him feel dumb.  OP, have you observed the way the two boys interact?  Maybe your son needs some help figuring out who is and is not a friend.  Does he have homeschooled friends?  

 

Anyhow PheonixMomma, what your daughter can do at age 8 doesn't really matter, because kids are ready to do things at different ages.  Letting kids learn on their own schedule is a key part of unschooling.
 

 



Right. I understand that and I wasn't throwing it out there to shame the op. I was using it as an example of how we've followed her cues. We had a point in our homeschooling career where we got really bogged down in the idea of what howeschooling "should be", instead of what worked for our daughter. At that point, we had to re-work what we were doing and find the right environment for our child, to make HER happy. I mean, isn't that what AP is about? Working with your kids to find what suits their needs? And if the situation called for it, I would have put her in school. Her education is just too important to mess around with. Am I advocating for the OP to put her son in school? Not necessarily, but it's clear that her child is looking for something different and is frustrated with the current situation.

 


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Old 07-02-2011, 11:20 AM
 
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My 8yo has a schooled friend who is a bit superior in her manner about all sorts of things including her fantastic schooling. She tells my dd all about what she is learning and how much she knows about this that or the other and 'quizzes' my dd on her ability to spell or add up etc. From time to time this has freaked dd out and made her think that she is missing all kinds of excitement and serious *learning* and this probably peaked at around 7 but is waning now that she is well into her eight year and feeling more confident about her skills and secure in our decisions.

 

Schooled kids want to feel that they aren't wasting their time at school and so they are more likely to talk about how wonderful it is and how much they are learning. That is just natural when you consider that they are looking at their unschooled neighbour who seems to be just having a ball. My older two children have always been schooled and I know from them that school isn't really all that and they don't get much done in a day. This helps to balance the messages  coming from the schooly friend and allows for plenty of discussion of pros and cons.

 

I feel your angst over this and I wouldn't say that there is an obvious deficit in your home experience that is causing this: it helps to remember that often this stuff isn't about us but more about them!

 

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Old 07-02-2011, 04:32 PM
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I unschooled my oldest for preschool and K but he wanted to go to school so I let him. My middle son never wanted to un/homeschool and went to preschool while his older brother was unschooling K. If you are unschooling so your child can direct his own learning, I think you should respect his wishes about this. If he doesn't like it you can always pull him out.

I don't know where you live, but in many places, many children are 7 at the beginning of 1st grade. It sounds like that would be the most appropriate placement, and if you don't make a big deal out of it, no one else will either. My middle child is going into 1st grade next month and several of his classmates from last year are already 7 or turning 7 this month. 

 

 

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Old 07-02-2011, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Where we live, he would have started 1st grade last year based on his age and already would have been a grade behind many of his friends because of when his birthday falls. So, this coming year, based on age, he would go into 2nd grade.

We've talked some more about it and 2 things came up. First, he said he wants time away from his little brother. Second, he said he wants to make new friends. I'm not sure how else I can accommodate him having time away from his little bro. I'm the only parent at home right now and I haven't had much luck finding reliable babysitters. Making new friends is interesting because he just made 2 new sets of friends when 2 new families moved into our neighborhood. Plus, he has other friends at his Tae Kwon Do school.

I can't afford to pay for any extra-curricular classes right now. Even if I could, I don't think there's anything like that around here. I've tried contacting a person who advertises a homeschool orchestra but have never gotten a response. I think I mentioned here before that all but one homeschool group that I know of in our area are religious. Since we are atheist, getting involved in co-ops with those groups wouldn't work. The one secular homeschool group only does activities early in the morning, before I can even get us ready to leave the house.

WRT this particular friend. I've had issues with him for a few years now. I don't really think he's much of a friend but my ds says he's his best friend. He lives right next door so they play together almost every day. He is very competitive, making a competition out of just about everything. It was so bad when they were younger that this boy would push and shove to be the first to get a drink of water from me even when it was just the two of them. I had to make him stand on the other side of the room and wait until I poured both drinks and then I'd hand them to each boy at the same time. I intervene a lot and tell them that whatever it is isn't a competition because I don't really want my boys getting caught up in who gets the first drink or whatever.

I have gotten to the point where I now talk to the friend about how we don't do things such-and-such a way in our home or family. The other day I told him that friends don't do and say things to make each other feel bad, like bragging about knowing more. I don't know if that was the right thing to do but I can't take it anymore.

I can't remember if I mentioned it here but my ds has been going through another reading explosion recently. He's been reading a lot more than I realized he could, even books. And he can do multiplication and division. He just doesn't know it as memorized times tables. OTOH, his friend may be able to recite his times tables but has no concept of what any of it means or how it works in the real world. I've been trying to point this out to my ds (how much he knows, not how much his friend doesn't).

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Old 07-02-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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I want to say that my 6.5yo daughter, pretty much "unschooled" since day one and with no desire to go to school loves to go around showing off her knowledge.  She's the fact-lover, and when she shows off to adults, they think it's charming.  I have no doubt that were she in school, she would BE THAT KID!  This kid is trouble, as far as your homeschooled son's self-esteem is concerned, but it might just be a personality quirk, because I have one of those in my house!  Were he homeschooled as well, the effect might still be the same...

 

Does this kid know how bad his showing off makes other kids feel?  Your son is probably not the only one on the receiving end of his bragging.


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Old 07-02-2011, 08:54 PM
 
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Every child wants to be as cool as their friends and do what others do! Maybe a simple conversation about how he feels and then come up with a plan (list his ideas even if they are silly to you) and implement them. Create a web diagram to help him get in touch with his feelings about why he wants to go to school.

 

Some conversation suggestions:

 

*I can see (or hear) that you really want to to go school. Can you tell me what you think school is like? What kind of things do you think they do?(draw a school and list all the things he thinks school is)

 

*That does sound like fun, maybe we can create our own school. Draw another school and come up with a name, school colors, a schedule if he is into it, and a take this exercise as far as he wants too.

 

*How do you think you (we) can create something cool like this? Brainstorm...they always love that. Since he is seven he will probably come up with some really fantastic ideas like creating a zip line into his classroom, thats OK write it down anyway.

 

Be real with him and empower him in this situation! All the other "stuff" like vaccinations(I have been a simular situation) doesnt matter, what he thinks is the most important thing. Help him solve this problem, place the responsiblity on him to solve this problem, that true education.

 


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Old 07-03-2011, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This kid is trouble, as far as your homeschooled son's self-esteem is concerned, but it might just be a personality quirk, because I have one of those in my house!  Were he homeschooled as well, the effect might still be the same...

 

Does this kid know how bad his showing off makes other kids feel?  Your son is probably not the only one on the receiving end of his bragging.


I don't know if things would be the same if this kid were homeschooled. I started thinking about when I began having serious problems with his behavior. It was soon after he started school. That's when he became so over-the-top competitive and sneaky and dishonest. I know he was jealous in the beginning that my ds didn't have to go to school because he told his mom many times that he wanted to be homeschooled, too. I feel like I'm bashing this kid but the fact is that he has problems with all the other kids. My ds can play with everyone else in the neighborhood in various groups and there's hardly ever any trouble. As soon as this one kid enters the mix, he's fighting with everyone. The other kids try to ditch him. They don't invite him to parties. His parents don't seem to get that the problem is with him and not everyone else.

I have talked to him at least once about how his behavior makes others feel but I don't think he gets it. His reaction whenever I try to talk to him is to put his head down and pout and not say a word until I'm done. I don't think he's really listening. I think he's just waiting until it's over and hoping he doesn't get into big trouble or is punished. His dad, at least, is pretty harsh with punishments. I've seen him hit his son once and I've seen him threaten him with various objects. One time when my dh pulled a very heavy brush out of the garage to get the dirt off his boots, this boy literally cowered and wimpered as if he thought he my dh was going to hit him with it.

Nettie ~ I like your suggestions. Very practical. Those are things I can definitely do. I'll have a hard time, though, if my ds wants something very structured. I have finally come to accept the fact that I am not a structured person. I am terrible at following schedules or even loose plans.


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Old 07-03-2011, 06:07 AM
 
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Wasn't he asking to go to school for first grade also?  If your kid wants to go to school and learn stuff, let him go!  Lots of kids have a blast at school.  Why not at least give him the chance to try?  Aren't you supposed to be following his cues?  I'd say asking consistently for over a year to go to school is a pretty big cue.  

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Old 07-03-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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BTW if you think that a child is actually being hit with objects so much so that they whimper when they see a brush, you should call CPS.  Seriously.  Immediately.  

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Old 07-03-2011, 10:17 AM
 
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Wasn't he asking to go to school for first grade also?  If your kid wants to go to school and learn stuff, let him go!  Lots of kids have a blast at school.  Why not at least give him the chance to try?  Aren't you supposed to be following his cues?  I'd say asking consistently for over a year to go to school is a pretty big cue.  



I don't think just because a kid asks for something it is necessarily the best thing for them. 

 

OP -  you are the parent - you know what's best for your kids.  I like some of the other pp suggestions about seeing what it is he likes about the idea of school and integrating that into your homeschool.  Lots of kids have a blast at school, true.  That doesn't mean it's good for them.

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Old 07-03-2011, 10:58 AM
 
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I was thinking that you could sort of split the difference. Yes, unschooling is about following the child's lead about the kind of learning they want to do, and yes, it would theoretically be good to say "let him go; you can always pull him out if he hates it later" but I do agree that he's too young to make this decision. Some bells cannot be "un-rung" and some damage can't be undone. Clearly he doesn't have the big picture (and so he shouldn't....you are the parent and the bigger issues like vaccination & all that are grownup issues to solve). So maybe you can say, "I see you really want to go to school, and your preferences are very important to me. But I think you will be better able to make that decision when you are [fill in age]."

 

Kids have to do that all the time. (i.e. wait till a certain age to do something, like get a job or learners permit, or whatever). By doing it this way, he can feel hope that someday soon he can do it, he won't feel trapped in his current situation, and he can even "work toward it" by making sure he's up-to-speed on the various subjects. That alone may discourage him from wanting to go! haha.

 

 

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Old 07-03-2011, 11:03 AM
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So for two years now your son has wanted to go to school but you won't let him. He wants a more structured learning environment but you refuse to do that because 'its just not you". 

 

How did he do the standardized test if he has trouble reading? You didn't read the questions and answers out to him, did you? 

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Old 07-03-2011, 12:16 PM
 
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I think I mentioned here before that all but one homeschool group that I know of in our area are religious. Since we are atheist, getting involved in co-ops with those groups wouldn't work

 

Hi there - We don't share religious beliefs / nonbeliefs with anyone we know, yet we manage to do things together with all kinds of people.  Specifically wrt homeschool groups, I too was hesitant to join the main group in our area because it was religious but what I found when I joined was that they do not teach religion in the group.  The weekly co-op classes focus on art, music & gym because that helps parents meet the county requirement for those subjects.  They also have classes like science, Spanish, etc and they DO NOT teach Creation or Design or whatever in the science class.  THey would probably not be happy if I taught Evolution (by name) either but it never came up so it did not become an issue.   The class is once a week and is not meant to cover your entire subject matter, just an opportunity for the kids to meet and do things together like make atoms out of pretzel sticks and marshmallows or draw up the life cycle of a butterfly, you get the picture.  Whether the butterfly wings colors came from God or adaptation, both or whatever, you can discuss on your own time.   I used to worry about what might happen if  my daughter were to speak up about this because we have been to the Smithsonian Exhibit on evolution (and specifically butterflies) and she is really into the whole thing.  But it was never a big deal.  They are mostly busy with their glue and scissors.  The co-op class is honestly more for filling that gap that young homeschoolers sometimes need to feel that they are part of a structured learning group as their schooled peers are.  Lining up to go to the class, taking lunch in a box - these too were special to my dd.

 

If they had anything religious such as grace before lunch or a religious song I would not have objected, I would have just told my daughter that it was a custom that some of the people followed and it was part of this group.  I wouldn't have required to do it, but I would not have objected if she wanted to sing along either.  I would be prepared to discuss any questions that came up afterwards.  At least that is what I think I would have done, since it never happened I can't say.  If it got to be too heavy I guess I would have had problems, but it never came up.

 

Re: mornings.  Left to herself dd wakes up between 10 am and noon.  Yet when we joined the homeschool co-op, we had to leave the house at 8:30.  I took her to the first one and she liked it so much she was easy to wake up for the next one.   It was only once a week - she looked forward to that day.    She went to a day-camp once for 5 days which required 7 am wake up and she managed that too.

 

Of course if your child were to go to school it would involve early wake-up as well.


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Old 07-03-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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I used to say that by the time my kids were 10 they'd have the majority of the say in this choice. Then my eldest wanted to check out school (out of curiosity, and a concern that she was missing something crucial and meaningful) at 9, and I let her "shadow" for a week, after which she decided "meh." Now I have an exceptionally mature 8-year-old (my fourth child) who I think I would allow to attend school if she really wanted ... but she is fully capable of considering all sides of the issue and has understood that the limited social benefits would come at some pretty signficant costs for her. 

 

So would I let a 7-year-old choose for himself? I don't know. It would depend on the 7-year-old, and the school.

 

I would certainly take the request seriously. Meaning that I would open, and continue, a dialogue to solve whatever the issues are. For instance, if he is craving social interaction, I would bite the bullet and join a support group or co-op even if didn't match up with my religious beliefs or homeschooling style. Or if there are no extra-curriculars you can afford to get to, I would *start* something if possible... a Roots&Shoots group, or a Reader's Circle, or a Family Bicycle Club, or a Children's Community Garden, or whatever, volunteering my time in an organizational or leadership capacity, possibly trading off younger-brother child care with a mom who has an older child who wants to be part of the activity you're running. I would take a more active role in setting up a roster of play-dates. I would get out and about more with him, even if it's just to a café for a hot chocolate, to the park, for a litter-picking walk. I would do whatever was in my power to fix the "mornings don't work" issue so that you can get to the secular homeschool group -- minimize artificial lighting in the evenings, move dinner time an hour earlier, institute a family tradition of a walk or a quiet swing and readaloud story in the hammock at 8:30 pm. I mean, really... if school is the alternative, that's going to involve early mornings in a huge way, so finding a way to manage mornings to serve unschooling is probably small potatoes compared with the that.

 

If it's the lack of structure and intentionality to his days that's bothering him, if he's so unaware of his learning because it's such an integral part of his life, find ways to draw his attention to what he's learning. And maybe consider ways to reassure him about the skills and concepts he's picking up. Find a general 2nd grade skills dollar-store workbook and let him at it: let him see that he can do much of what is technically a year ahead of his age-grade. Sit down with him and ask him what he would like to learn and how he would like to learn it: and if that entails structure and school-like materials, support him in that. Maybe that will get it out of his system, or else maybe you'll both discover that he thrives on it. 

 

If he's getting disparaging comments about his education from his buddy, then I don't think occasional counter-indoctrination would be amiss either. If you get into a casual conversation that meanders into plate tectonics or the caramelization of sugar, or what "average" means from a mathematical standpoint, do a little double-take and exclaim "Oh! Isn't it lucky you're homeschooled! I didn't get to learn about this stuff until I was in high school [fifth grade, eighth grade ... ]!" Or if you're eating waffles at 10 a.m. on a blustery day, relish the moment by saying "This is so cozy and nice and relaxed. Imagine if you were Dylan, you'd have had to be out of bed three hours ago and waiting outside in that horrible weather for the bus!"

 

Rather than just seeing it as a "School? Or no school?" issue, treat it as a signal that something, or several things, need to change. Set about identifying those things, and make it clear to your ds that you see his dissatisfaction with homeschooling as an issue to be creatively and energetically explored and solved. 

 

Miranda


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