Teacher friend quizzing/manipulating her friend's homeschooled kids - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-16-2010, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You can see by my signature I'm just TTC, but we ARE planning to homeschool, and the problem I'm seeing with my closest and oldest friend is something I know will become an issue between us that could potentially destroy our friendship if she does it with my kids, and is hurting her relationship with her other friend. Just not sure how to address it gently, or whether I should just let it go for now. I will try not to make this too long. Names are changed.

My best friend "Mary" is an elementary public school teacher. She does not believe in homeschooling. Mostly for the typical mythological reasons that come from only knowing homeschoolers from seeing them on Wife Swap. I think on some level she also, as a public school teacher, sees the very act of not putting your kids in school as a personal attack on her profession. She does not have kids of her own but is an "auntie" to many of her friends' children.

One of her friends "Julie" homeschools her kindy age daughter. When she visits with their family, Mary semi-sneakily quizzes the girl to make sure she's actually learning things. Stuff like, "Do you know your ABCs? Let's hear it!" and "How many cherries do I have?" She's always cheerful but it's obvious to the mom what she's doing and it's incredibly insulting. It's not asking about what she's learning as part of natural, polite conversation, it's quizzing. The girl IS a little behind, but honestly I don't think it's because of homeschool and she'd probably be worse off in public. She has also asked the girl (in front of "Julie") if she wishes she could go to school and make more friends. I was not there but have heard both sides of the story and they match - Julie is of course upset that Mary is trying to undermine her family's decision to homeschool. Mary thinks what she's doing is justified because she doesn't think the girl is learning on level at home and doesn't think she should be homeschooled anyway for social reasons.

What I WANTED to tell Mary is that I would have been crazy ticked off if it was my kid she was doing that with. She's responsible for her own classroom. She is not responsible for making sure that all of her friends' children are learning everything at exactly the same time as they would in public school, and that if she tried manipulating my kids against homeschool so they'd beg me to go to public she would NOT be seeing my kids anymore. I can see this affecting me directly in a few short years when we don't do preschool. Who knows, she may start in on them at birth since she knows we plan to homeschool.

Suggestions? I just want to reiterate that aside from this one issue, she IS my best friend and my goal is to AVOID a big rift, not cause one. But unless I can get her to see that policing her homeschool friends is not acceptable, I'm going to be really wary of how much time she spends with my kids. She would otherwise be a great "auntie" so that makes me sad.

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Old 08-16-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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If you're there to witness the quizzing, I'd be tempted to interject cheeky answers on the little girl's behalf. Grin and volunteer "Looks like five cherries to me! Shall I count them out loud for you?" Or "That's a P. It makes the 'puh' sound. I'm surprised you don't know that, being a teacher and all." It's possible that being a teacher she just slips into this default interrogative, evaluative style of conversation with school-aged children without being aware that it's inappropriate. Maybe she would respond to a playful nudge or two that would cause her to wonder if she's said something inappropriate.

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Old 08-16-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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I'm on the run, but I just wanted to suggest that she may be one of those people who can't even relate to how to have conversations with children without doing all that sort of stuff - that may be all the knows how to do. I wouldn't let her, but I'm just wondering if maybe she could use some subtle help learning about more respectful ways of relating to conversation with children as equals in the conversation. - Lillian
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:54 PM
 
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You do have 6 years before your TTC child is school-aged, so I guess I think this is really just something to worry about then.

If you are witnessing stuff, call her on it. If she is gossiping about it to you, tell her what you think. If she's your BEST friend, then she should be able to take it.

Tjej
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:56 PM
 
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I'm on the run, but I just wanted to suggest that she may be one of those people who can't even relate to how to have conversations with children without doing all that sort of stuff - that may be all the knows how to do. I wouldn't let her, but I'm just wondering if maybe she could use some subtle help learning about more respectful ways of relating to conversation with children as equals in the conversation. - Lillian
i had a friend like that- she didnt know how o interact with a kid without trying to teach or quiz them. if i were "julie" i would just say. "mary please stop quizzing my child. just talk to her as you would an adult. with respect"

i really hate when adults "quiz" kids.

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Old 08-16-2010, 11:59 PM
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I would have little patience for that stuff and bluntly say that my kid is not a circus poodle and doesn't do tricks.
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I see your point with her possibly not being able to compartmentalize and talk to a kid without being in "teacher" mode, but to clarify, when she was talking to me about her other friend's family on instant messaging she TOLD me she was deliberately getting a feel for whether the child was being adequately educated or not. It's intentional. I wasn't sure how to respond to that so I didn't, really.

I realize it will be a while before the child we're trying to conceive right now will be in grade school. But I'm not sure not saying anything for the next six years while she pulls this stuff with other people I know is really going to happen. Especially when she keeps talking to me about her concerns about her other friends who homeschool. I'm trying to find a constructive way to address this so I don't blow up at her one day and non-constructively tell her to just knock it the h*** off and leave them alone.

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Old 08-17-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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maybe you could pass her some info...

like, "i know you were saying you were concerned, look at this info i found"

then pass her some stuff about unschooling/waldorf etc that are more child led.

most educators recognize waldorf as a good education. they DISCOURAGE academics that early.... she needs to leave that little girl alone.

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Old 08-17-2010, 12:54 AM
 
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Does she know you want to homeschool?
Is she a new teacher by chance?
This might help with the idea that homeschooling is an afront to teaching.

I think how I would handle it would depend on what kind of friendship you have. If she's quizzing a child and you are around you could say something like" Oh quiz time? fun! I have a good one. What's the chemical componsition of road salt. Or the last Chinese dynasty? Or the current leaders of the G8 countries? the value of Pi to 10 decimal places?

Or you could tell her that you won't hassle her about all the stuff you hear about the school system and check in with her student's progress when you visit her and ask that she offers you the same courtesty.

Or you could have a heart to heart talk with her. Or suggest that in the interest of self education she could do a little reading on homeschooling and by the way did she know that one of the most common professions represented in homeschooling groups is teachers? (Among the 90 families in our homeschool group we have 3 early childhood educators, 4 former or current teachers, 4 principals (most often the husbands/spouses of the primary homeschooling parent) and at least 3 university professors.)

I think it would be very difficult to be close friends with someone who doesn't support homeschooling or at the very least wasn't about to be open minded and respectful about my choice. So I can see why you are concerned. I also agree with the PPs that a lot can change over the next 5 years.

Good luck
Karen

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Old 08-17-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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she TOLD me she was deliberately getting a feel for whether the child was being adequately educated or not. It's intentional. I wasn't sure how to respond to that so I didn't, really.
If she actually articulated that to you, you'll probably get plenty of openings like that over the next six years or so if you keep up the friendship. That's where I'd drop in a comment like "But is it our place to judge other parents' choices?" Or "Well, they may have different priorities from what you might have in the classroom. Who are we to judge?" Or "Well, you know, I'm pretty sure it's their right to homeschool." Or "You may disagree with their choice, but what can you do about it? She's the parent. I think we should just try to be supportive friends."

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Old 08-17-2010, 01:32 AM
 
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Does she have kids?

If she's really an old, close friend, you could just put it to her "you know, that kind fo thing sometimes drives HS parents cra-azy."

Since you're in the planning stages, you could try the "I was reading this message board" tack, like "I've been reading this parenting message board and ventured over to the learning/homeschooling section, and there was this thread, man, you *would not believe* how insulting some homeschooling parents find that...there was an interesting discussion about it..."

Maybe she'd think it through a little bit. Or at least, learn a bit how other people (including you) might take it.

I've done something like that for a SAHM friend of mine who would drop little cringe-worthy (but not intended to insult necessarily) comments about parents who put kids in daycare, to kind of give her a heads up that people just aren't going to take that very well.
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Old 08-17-2010, 01:49 AM
 
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That is a friendship I would end. I have dealt with remarks and such, but I would never stay friends with anyone who tried to undermind me as a parent. I might make remarks back to the "friend" about how rude she is and you would never tolerate her doing that.

To put it nicely, a lot of people with no children "know" every single thing there is about raising children. I was the same way. I knew it all too. I even did a practicum leading a group where I helped teach parenting classes. I was a teacher and was often asked parenting advice. Then I became a mom. whoa! Not much I learned from the books applied to real life. And nothing in the education classes from college nor my classroom experience applied to actually educating my own children.

But honestly, even if you like this friend, I would put up boundaries big time with her. Like, if you are with her and you catch her trying to quiz the child, quickly call the child to you and change the subject. If "friend" gets mad, just say "this is not school time and I am sure HER teacher does just fine." Maybe you could chuckle some time and offer to come to her classroom and do an evaluation of her work for her since she feels so entitled to do whatever she pleases to judge others. Make it sound like you are laughing off her bad behaviors and then if she acts hurt, just say you are laughing with her.

I just cannot stand people like her. Guaranteed, when you become pregnant, she will tell you what to eat, how to give birth, what you need to buy. She will try to weigh in on the breastfeeding, etc etc. So you really really need to be on your guard and keep your boundaries up. That is, IF you remain friends.

Good luck!
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Does she know you want to homeschool?
Is she a new teacher by chance?
This might help with the idea that homeschooling is an afront to teaching.

I think how I would handle it would depend on what kind of friendship you have. If she's quizzing a child and you are around you could say something like" Oh quiz time? fun! I have a good one. What's the chemical componsition of road salt. Or the last Chinese dynasty? Or the current leaders of the G8 countries? the value of Pi to 10 decimal places?

Or you could tell her that you won't hassle her about all the stuff you hear about the school system and check in with her student's progress when you visit her and ask that she offers you the same courtesty.

Or you could have a heart to heart talk with her. Or suggest that in the interest of self education she could do a little reading on homeschooling and by the way did she know that one of the most common professions represented in homeschooling groups is teachers? (Among the 90 families in our homeschool group we have 3 early childhood educators, 4 former or current teachers, 4 principals (most often the husbands/spouses of the primary homeschooling parent) and at least 3 university professors.)

I think it would be very difficult to be close friends with someone who doesn't support homeschooling or at the very least wasn't about to be open minded and respectful about my choice. So I can see why you are concerned. I also agree with the PPs that a lot can change over the next 5 years.

Good luck
Karen
Yes, she does know I plan to homeschool (and has tried to talk me out of it). She has been teaching for about six years. Your recommendation on the heart to heart talk and finding some resources about how many educators choose homeschooling and why are good ideas. I don't want to be sarcastic or snarky with her because she is my oldest and closest friend and is wonderful in many other ways. We've been best friends since we were six-year-olds and I don't want to lose her friendship over this, which is what I can see happening if she doesn't respect (or at least keep her mouth shut about) parenting choices that differ from hers, especially regarding how our kids learn.

Ultimately I think we just have very different views of the purpose of public education - to me it's a great resource for parents who can't or don't want to be responsible for their kids' education, but certainly isn't the only way or the best way to learn. To her it should be mandatory for everyone so nobody "slips through the cracks" or, heaven forbid, learns science and history from a Republican.

"Guaranteed, when you become pregnant, she will tell you what to eat, how to give birth, what you need to buy. She will try to weigh in on the breastfeeding, etc etc. So you really really need to be on your guard and keep your boundaries up."

Sorry, haven't figured out multi quote. But yes, Lisa, this is the bigger issue and I can see it coming. She's dropped a couple of zingers on those topics just since finding out we are TTC. We are on opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways but I do value her friendship and will be really sad if we can't stay civil once parenting enters the mix. I'm asking the question now and not six years from now because the homeschooling issue is already putting a strain on our friendship with her often making negative HS remarks and trying to convince me they should be public schooled before they are even conceived. If I hadn't been best friends with her for 25 years I wouldn't be so concerned about preserving the friendship but it really would be a huge loss for both of us so I'd like to keep that from happening.

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Old 08-17-2010, 03:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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...and ultimately the real current issue is the way she is alienating herself from her other friends who currently homeschool by doing the things I mentioned above - quizzing, trying to get a 6-year-old to ask her parents to let her try public school. Because I care about her and don't want to see her wreck friendships over that, I do feel I need to gently say something about how that is not okay.

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Old 08-17-2010, 07:31 AM
 
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This book was written for people like your friend (and my MIL) that do not have any info on homeschooling but are against it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143...ef=oss_product

We haven't given it to my MIL yet since my husband wants to read it first. I read it. It's very gentle in its approach but does a great job of showing how great homeschooling is.

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Old 08-17-2010, 09:20 AM
 
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If she actually articulated that to you, you'll probably get plenty of openings like that over the next six years or so if you keep up the friendship. That's where I'd drop in a comment like "But is it our place to judge other parents' choices?" Or "Well, they may have different priorities from what you might have in the classroom. Who are we to judge?" Or "Well, you know, I'm pretty sure it's their right to homeschool." Or "You may disagree with their choice, but what can you do about it? She's the parent. I think we should just try to be supportive friends."

Miranda
yes, i totally agree with this.

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Old 08-17-2010, 09:36 AM
 
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How can she be behind at five? In most countries, kindy and counting and alphabet learning don't start until six. The whole early-learning is to make up for the fact that American TEENAGERS don't study nearly as much as teens in other countries. [/rant]

Anyway... I wouldn't worry about how you are going to school your own child. I really wanted homeschooling for my first daughter.

She first asked to go to school at 26 months. She asks to go every day. She never refuses to go to school. She loves it. She is so incredibly social I can't believe it. My second is quite different, so I may have my dream come true eventually, but frankly, I'm beginning to think it's not for us.

So I agree that going with general answers like, "Different things work for different families," and let her know you're not going to get into a battle. Then re-post if your child is homeschooled at four or five and she's still bugging.

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Old 08-17-2010, 10:19 AM
 
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Write to Dear Abby about it. Dear Abby will reply explaining how rude it is to question other people's parenting decisions. Cut out newspaper article and send to friend.
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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Yes, she does know I plan to homeschool (and has tried to talk me out of it). She has been teaching for about six years. Your recommendation on the heart to heart talk and finding some resources about how many educators choose homeschooling and why are good ideas. I don't want to be sarcastic or snarky with her because she is my oldest and closest friend and is wonderful in many other ways. We've been best friends since we were six-year-olds and I don't want to lose her friendship over this, which is what I can see happening if she doesn't respect (or at least keep her mouth shut about) parenting choices that differ from hers, especially regarding how our kids learn.

Ultimately I think we just have very different views of the purpose of public education - to me it's a great resource for parents who can't or don't want to be responsible for their kids' education, but certainly isn't the only way or the best way to learn. To her it should be mandatory for everyone so nobody "slips through the cracks" or, heaven forbid, learns science and history from a Republican.
Are you able to talk to her about your concerns? Could you say that you care deeply about this issue and deeply about her and that you would hate for a philosophical issue that has nothing to do with her but which is vitally important to you to come between you.

She sounds entrenched in her view and that is IMO unlikely to change as the pro-school/anti-homeschool philosophy likely forms part of her identity. I don't know that arguing the merits of homeschooling is going to work and that perhaps you could approach it more around the idea of respecting each other's paths.

That being said, she might enjoy David Guterson's book Family Matters. He was a teacher when he wrote the book and his wife was homeschooling their kids. It walks through the arguments against homeschooling from the perspective of someone who works in the school system and it is quite non-confrontational in its approach to dispelling some of the myths about homeschooling while still respecting the need for public education.

If she's worked in schools for 6 years she should be able to have some idea of how the school system can not meet the needs of every child. If she doesn't admit that then she isn't being honest with herself.

There was a long long discussion here with a teacher who was calling for more oversight of homeschoolers. Tonnes of interesting points on both sides.
There is a bit more discussion on that blog. Maybe you could pass it on to your friend and you could talk to her about it - assuming you want to get into philosophical discussions about educational theory.

good luck
Karen

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Old 08-17-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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What I WANTED to tell Mary is that I would have been crazy ticked off if it was my kid she was doing that with.
I would say exactly this, with a smile. If it opens up further conversation, I'd talk about why I wanted to hs and why such quizzing would bother me, offer some books or websites about hsing if she's open to learning more. Who knows what will happen 5, 6 years down the road--but if she's starts doing this kind of thing with your child, then I'd plainly ask her not to and suggest other ways she could relate to your child. It can all be phrased gently and sincerely.

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...and ultimately the real current issue is the way she is alienating herself from her other friends who currently homeschool by doing the things I mentioned above...
And that is between THEM. I wouldn't step in the middle of that. First, you're not there to witness all of their interactions and you don't know what each of them is thinking or feeling. They can speak for themselves, or choose not to. Either way, I'd step away from it and let them handle it.

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Old 08-17-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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when she was talking to me about her other friend's family on instant messaging she TOLD me she was deliberately getting a feel for whether the child was being adequately educated or not.
Perhaps you could tell her that it isn't her job to assess a child whose family hasn't asked for her help.

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Old 08-17-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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I see your point with her possibly not being able to compartmentalize and talk to a kid without being in "teacher" mode, but to clarify, when she was talking to me about her other friend's family on instant messaging she TOLD me she was deliberately getting a feel for whether the child was being adequately educated or not. It's intentional. I wasn't sure how to respond to that so I didn't, really.
Ugh.
I never attempted to educate ds1 before kindergarten - certainly not in any formal sense. But, he went into kindergarten ahead of most of the expected "learning outcomes" for the year (ie. what he was supposed to know at the end). A month before kindergarten ended, I heard the teacher talking to another set of parents (which, in retrospect, she probably shouldn't have been doing in my hearing, but the parents didn't object) about their daughter. That little girl was nowhere near any of the learning outcomes, despite being in school for the whole year. Looking at one child and what they know at any given time, and using that to assess an entire method of education/learning is nuts.

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Old 08-19-2010, 11:39 PM
 
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About a year or so ago my husband was doing a small electrical job for the mother of his best friend. He took our son with him because he was going somewhere else with him when the finished the job. THe whole process only took about 20 minutes. But while my husband was in one room doing the electrical work. The lady, a retired school teacher, spent the whole time trying to convince our son that he should try to convince his parents into letting him go to school. Because you know, school is so much fun and he would make real friends there. I guess as opposed to the pretend friends he has through our homeschool groups. When they came home my son started in about "Why can't I go to real school and have fun all day and make real friends." I was livid. But I didn't feel like I could say anything to an 89 year old woman. My husband did speak to his friend. And I have not let my son go back to her mother's house again.

For the OP, I see so many problems in your future with this woman. Unless you make a stand now, you are going to be dealing with this for a very long time. This is what we have chosen for our family and I do not want to discuss it further. PERIOD.

I wish you well in TTC.

Kathi

:::Mom to 5 adult children and 8 year old, Dakota "Why do they call it homeschool, we're never at home?"
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by WTHamI? View Post

-I think on some level she also, as a public school teacher, sees the very act of not putting your kids in school as a personal attack on her profession.

-She does not have kids of her own but is an "auntie" to many of her friends' children.

-One of her friends "Julie" homeschools her kindy age daughter. When she visits with their family, Mary semi-sneakily quizzes the girl to make sure she's actually learning things.

The girl IS a little behind, but honestly I don't think it's because of homeschool and she'd probably be worse off in public.

She has also asked the girl (in front of "Julie") if she wishes she could go to school and make more friends. I was not there but have heard both sides of the story and they match - Julie is of course upset that Mary is trying to undermine her family's decision to homeschool. Mary thinks what she's doing is justified because she doesn't think the girl is learning on level at home and doesn't think she should be homeschooled anyway for social reasons.
With all due respect, I cannot tell if Mary is arrogant, ignorant or both....

I might share with Mary that non everyone buys into the current mainstream educational model and that in many instances that model does not work.

It is "kindergarten" for pete's sake! I would tell her to lighten up and to encourage her to research different educational philosophies. If that does not help, show her some very real statistics about the state of public education in our country.
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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I hear you... I really hear you that this woman is dear to you and that you want to stay friends. I'm going to try to keep that in the front of my mind while responding.

But she really raises my hackles with her "assessing" another's child, especially the bit about her asking the child if she wants to go to school and make more friends.

The only advice I can come up with is for you to sit down with Mary and be very honest. Start off telling her how much she means to you, that you love her and treasure your friendship.

Tell her that you respect the work she does and the passion and devotion that she brings to classroom teaching. But tell her in no uncertain terms that there are more ways than one for a young person to grow in knowledge and that homeschooling is one of those approaches.

Tell her that while you acknowledge her opinion, you do not share it and that the only way for the two of you to remain friends (which you very much want) is for each of you to avoid the topic.

Tell her that you will not allow her to quiz your child in any way. In return, you will not go into her classroom and quiz her students.

The irony, of course, is that if you did quiz her classroom students some of them would be "behind". That is not a reflection on her so it shouldn't be a reflection on homeschool teachers.

Catholic homeschooling mom of two daughters and four sons... baby Mark born on 8/27/10. Kidney Disease Awareness
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Old 08-25-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
And that is between THEM. I wouldn't step in the middle of that. First, you're not there to witness all of their interactions and you don't know what each of them is thinking or feeling. They can speak for themselves, or choose not to. Either way, I'd step away from it and let them handle it.


This made me think that by the time you have a child and your child is school-aged, your friend's child will be much, much older (11 or older... wow!) and your teacher-friend may have had time to be "proven wrong" and to change her views on homeschooling or at least on you guys homeschooling.
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Old 08-25-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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If you're there to witness the quizzing, I'd be tempted to interject cheeky answers on the little girl's behalf. Grin and volunteer "Looks like five cherries to me! Shall I count them out loud for you?" Or "That's a P. It makes the 'puh' sound. I'm surprised you don't know that, being a teacher and all." It's possible that being a teacher she just slips into this default interrogative, evaluative style of conversation with school-aged children without being aware that it's inappropriate. Maybe she would respond to a playful nudge or two that would cause her to wonder if she's said something inappropriate.

Miranda
When DD1 was 2 or 3, her uncle, a former teacher, interacted with her in terms of quizzing. It wasn't malicious, but it was his typical mode of operation. Each time I responded with something like what is Miranda suggesting above. He hasn't done it since.

I think he wasn't aware of the way he was interacting with her.

ETA: okay, nm, if she is fully aware.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:53 PM
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I would def. talk to her about it. I would let her know that her current behavior could prove to be a friendship killer. I would also give her resources so she could learn more, and I would refuse to talk about schooling choices unless she educated herself some first. Then, it would be a discussion--not a debate.

If she would be willing to read, "Homeschooling, a family's journey", http://www.amazon.com/Homeschooling-...2773245&sr=8-1 the author explains their path to hs and includes lots of data/research about schooling in general.

Amy

Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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