Convincing Ex-H to let me homeschool DD (x-posted in blended and step family parenting) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 04-10-2012, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?


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#2 of 13 Old 04-10-2012, 07:07 PM
 
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I mostly got through the whole thing, but I got the point.

About socialization..what is it when your DD meets the checkout clerk at the store, or plays with a bunch of (or even just one) child at the park? or going to a story tiem at the library? there are SO many ways our children socialize with others in society. she will be able to speak to anyone she wants as opposed to only her peers.

 

Also, I am going through a similar thing with my children's father. I am going with the 'let me try it out NOW to convince you, if there is no or little success then we will do it your way. it's better to try now when the're young and can integrate into regular school more easily if it doesn't work out. the thing is, I *know* there will be success in it. Other good points can be the family time spent, the fact that you can choose what she learns about follow your own beliefs etc.

 

I also used the violence in schools and the bullying and stuff to put him on my side, even though for me that is not the point of keeping my children home.

 

We do not live together, and we have joint custody of the children, but I have primary decision making power. So in the end I don't *need* to convince him. But I want him involved.

 

Hope this helps at all.

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#3 of 13 Old 04-10-2012, 08:04 PM
 
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In our case, one of the big benefits of homeschooling that we didn't even think about as a huge factor beforehand, was the freedom and flexibility it gives for accessibility between divorced parents!

 

If your ex has an opportunity to go on a trip and would like to take DD for some daddy-daughter time but it's on 'school days' -- no problem!  If he has a day off and would like a visit with her on a weekday because he's going to be out of town on the usual visit day (presumably the weekend), no problem!  

 

In our case there was a period of about 2 years where my ex moved back to our home town, but me and current hubby were staying in our current city.  (Once ex's job in our home town was made for sure permanent, we moved here too -- we always wanted to move back here, but weren't just going to follow ex around in case his job ended up moving again soon -- so it was a win/win for all of us).  Anyway, for those 2 years we obviously couldn't do regular weekend visits when he lived a 16 hour drive away.  So our son would spend a month at a time with his dad, once at Christmas and once in the summer.  And we didn't have to worry about him 'missing' any school.  We could either call that his vacation time, or else send some stuff with him to do while at his dad's.  

 

If your daughter is in school all day, and with all the homework that goes along with that, your ex stands to end up with MUCH less potential daddy-daughter time.  

 

We initially agreed that I could homeschool our son until "grade 4", provided that he did third-party standardized testing starting in grade 1 (ex didn't 'trust me' to do a good job, that was his main issue - he'd actually been fine with the idea of homeschooling while we were together, because he'd be able to 'keep an eye on things'!!!)  As long as he showed 'progress' from year to year I could continue.  Come grade 4, we'd assess and re-evaluate.  

 

Well, grade 4 came and went without a peep from the ex.  Even his very old-fashioned stuck-in-their-ways parents talk about how great it is that their grandson is homeschooled, they've all come around to recognize how much better it is for him, and they appreciated the extra time it has given them with him.  


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#4 of 13 Old 04-10-2012, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for getting through what you did Seraphine. I know it was a big wall of text. redface.gif

 

I definitely like your additional points, and will tailor them to my situation. For example, violence in schools isn't quite so bad as the amount of drugs in school. While that's not one of the main reasons for homeschooling, it is something to consider.

 

Ex-H and I don't live together either. He sees DD every other weekend and for Wednesday dinners. We have joint physical and legal custody. My lawyer brought up maybe changing the parenting plan where I would have jurisdiction over educational decisions, but that involves modifying legal custody which unless EX-H agrees she said would be really difficult. My lawyer believes that homeschooling is a valid option, but says that I would stand a better chance convincing him privately rather than taking it to court, as the judge who's assigned to my case has a wife who's a school teacher in our district.


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#5 of 13 Old 04-10-2012, 08:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Right on Tankgirl73 (we must have cross-posted). I had thought about accessibility being a plus, but forgot about it. I will for sure keep it more in the forefront of my mind. It also helps that he likes to take his "vacation time" with her during the school year.

 

I'm so glad that you found a way to make homeschooling work with your family, and that he never said anything once you hit his "age limit." That's so awesome that you were able to turn the minds of not only him but the ex-inlaws as well. Did you end up putting anything in your parenting plan regarding education, or was it something you guys agreed upon outside of all the legal stuff?


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#6 of 13 Old 04-11-2012, 07:18 PM
 
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We were able to arrange everything through mediation.  His original proposal that I received was "son will attend school in the father's catchment area."  Um, what?  First, we had planned to homeschool (DS was 3, almost 4) and I'd thought ex was on board with that, and second, we were already agreeing that son would live with me during the week, so how inconvenient would that be for him to go to school in ex's catchment area???  So that was a big no.

 

But despite that rocky start, things went better after that.  It did get written into our separation agreement.  Basically what I described above -- son would be homeschooled by the mother, take yearly evaluations so that father is reassured progress is happening, situation to be reevaluated at grade 4 level.  That's as far as it went.

 

I was a little concerned about the testing idea -- what if our son ended up being 'behind the curve'?  We didn't think that highly likely, but anything could happen, and one of the benefits of homeschooling would be that he could go at his own pace and not need to follow the arbitrary schedule of the school system.  Ex understood that, though, and assured me that as long as there as improvement from one year to the next -- ie, showing 'progress' -- he didn't care if it was 'ahead' or 'behind' average.  That wasn't spelled out in the separation agreement, it was left understood.

 

Most of the stuff originally in the separation agreement no longer applies.  We've both moved across the country, remarried, had more kids.  The schedule of visits changed when we lived in different cities, and changed again when we were again in the same city.  We've just adapted fluidly, we've always both had DS's best interests in mind.  I think we're lucky in this respect.  We've had some disagreements along the way, but they've been pretty minor.  There have been no real battles related to custody or parenting.  And so the homeschooling stuff also just evolved into a fluid thing.  Honestly I was surprised it was never brought up again at ALL.  Probably in part because the results of those mandated testings consistently show DS in the 85th-98th percentile ;)  Plus, he's now found his 'passion' -- music -- and homeschooling gives him the time needed to devote to the any different instruments and the many different band and orchestra rehearsals without being overwhelmed.  Ex is totally on board with all his music activities.  

 

And, we finally learned/realized when he was 12, DS has Asperger's.  (He's also ADHD but we'd known that for ages before being officially dx'd).  The therapist who gave us the dx very clearly said that it was GREAT that we were homeschooling, it's such a better fit for kids like DS.  I made sure to pass on that tidbit to ex.  ;)


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#7 of 13 Old 04-11-2012, 08:50 PM
 
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I'm on the run, so didn't have time to read through the whole thread right now, but here are a few things that might help.

 

There have been some pretty lengthy threads where people have contributed their experiences, ideas, and tips - there are links to them in this thread: "Help! Need research support for DH..."

 

And here's something that was put together by lawyers who often deal with these kinds of things: Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research

 

 

All the best!  - Lillian

 

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#8 of 13 Old 04-12-2012, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Tankgirl73 - Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. We're looking at changing the parenting plan anyway right now due to changes in visitation. I think it's great when people can work it out themselves, but with Ex-H I just feel so much better having it all in writing.

 

Lillian J - What wonderful resources! Thank you so very much!


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#9 of 13 Old 04-12-2012, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Update - So I talked with him about homeschooling again last night. I showed him I knew what I was talking about. I explained a lot of the points I mentioned above, and the ones you all suggested. He actually brought up some points FOR homeschooling himself, so I felt like it was a major improvement over previous conversations. I think he may have talked to his parents about the idea, because he was so much more open. He did think that standardized testing "at some point" would be a good idea just to check on her progress, which I have no problem with. But, he was even asking what I would plan on doing for high school once she was so far advanced yet still unable to get into college, so we talked about my BIL who is graduating early from an accredited online high school with AP courses that will count towards his college pre-requisites. He admitted that it was still very far into the future, but liked that I was already thinking about possibilities like that. Overall, I think it went REALLY well, and I feel confident going though with the kindergarten curriculum next year and continuing to show him that homeschooling is a viable and preferred option to the schools in our area.


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#10 of 13 Old 04-13-2012, 01:25 PM
 
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Yay!  That sounds like it went fantastic!  And yes, the end of high school is SO far away, so much can change between now and then... maybe she'll end up going to public school for high school, or maybe there will be other educational alternatives in place for college, or who knows what else, but yes to be at least 'thinking about it' shows that you're not just doing this out of laziness lol...

 

And ack, it can be so far away but so close at the same time.  My DS will be 'grade 9' next year, which would be the first year of high school.  That does NOT seem possible.  In 2 years he can drive?  Um, what?  His voice hasn't even changed yet!  Well in our case, one of the effects of his Asperger's is that he's maturity-wise about 2 years behind his chronological age.  Ever since we realized this when he was about 6, it's been consistent.  When he was 6, he acted 4 (but was as smart as a 6-7yo).  When he was 10, he acted 8.  Now that he's almost 14, he acts about 12.  So by rights we should wait until he 'catches up' before he starts driving lol...


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#11 of 13 Old 04-15-2012, 06:24 AM
 
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Well the thing is -- high school is really kind of a gimmick.  When you are done with that level work in a subject, the home schooled student is free to start college work in that area.  On both ends of the spectrum, going to high school for 4 years and then starting college after completing all those Carnegie units is unnecessary.  The gifted do early college; the behaviorally or academically challenged don't finish high school, but can start into the community college system.  One of my friend's kids was just expelled from his reform school three months prior to graduation (to put it bluntly, though it was clearly complicated), so he'll just start college in August.

 

High school used to mean more when it was a terminal degree preparing the recipients to enter the workforce with some skills.  Now, in an effort to teach everyone stuff that 99.99% of the kids will never use (uh, valence electrons anyone?), they end up teaching a whole lot of nothing to a whole lot of kids.   

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#12 of 13 Old 04-15-2012, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Tankgirl73 and pigpokey for all the info on high school. Once DD gets a little closer I will for sure have to look into all of the options that are available. I agree 100% that a lot of information in high school is not necessarily "needed" for the general population. I love that with homeschool I can follow the lead of DD and see what information she is interested in pursuing in high school, and what skills she thinks would benefit her later in life and career situations.

 

For now (kindergarten) my basic plan is to follow a loosely regimented plan of attack for education. We'll get curriculum for all the basic subjects (math, science, language arts, history), and then also follow her passions for the arts with an art curriculum, and continuing with her dance and gymnastics classes. I'm also looking into music classes that are available, but for now we are working on very basic piano skills at home.

 

Right now her two big things are learning about space and wanting to be an acrobat. So, I am trying to teach her as much about those subjects as possible. We've been looking at lots of books about space, and we've put (even more) stars up in her room. She loves Magic School Bus, so we also watch the space themed episodes over and over. Plus she's been drawing planets and rockets and black holes for months. Once we actually start kindy then I found a good kindergarten science curriculum that includes a whole semester on space. Her birthday present from grandma and grandpa this year was tickets to Cirque du Soliel. (They don't spoil her at all now do they? lol.gif) The time when the smaller traveling circus' come to town is fast approaching, and I'm thinking of upping her gymnastics from once a week to two times a week. There's a circus camp in Santa Fe that I've been researching about that maybe we could save up for and we could vacation there next summer so she could attend, if she's still interested. (She would have to be 5 y/o.)


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#13 of 13 Old 04-22-2012, 01:45 PM
 
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I'm glad he came around a bit. Kudos for sticking to your guns.

 

Now that you have a foot in the door, you're golden... wink wink.


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