considering homeschooling my 6th grader - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 11-03-2012, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
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DD is having a rough time of middle school.  While she is getting good grades, she is not doing well socially, and the constant struggle over homework completion has taken a toll on our family life.  Also, she does not like one of her teachers, and she has him for 3 classes.  DH works full time, and I am about to start a business and will be working part time (during school hours), so I'm not sure who would be the teacher.  Perhaps we could just get her a tablet and let her learn like the Ethiopian kids.  Or bring her to science, history, and art museums, armed with a notebook, and have her write reports (which she might enjoy).  I don't know how to go about home schooling, and I hate to see dd suffering through school like this.  DH and I just had a meeting with dd's teachers, school counselor, and principal, and though it seemed like a productive meeting, I realized afterwards that they put the blame on her and wanted her to attend some after school programs (thus adding to the problem).  I don't even know what to ask here.  What should I be asking?  What do we need to know?  I should mention that dh disagrees about home schooling as a solution. 

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#2 of 6 Old 11-03-2012, 02:43 PM
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There's a really crucial bit of information missing from your post: what does your dd want to do?


Certainly homeschooling in this situation is possible. It would be important to create a deschooling phase, up to several months long, in which you allow your dd to decompress from the stress and structure of her school experiences, and gradually rediscover her self-motivated love of learning. While deschooling you may keep a certain rhythm to your days, and try to create the sort of transition your dd seems to need, but you should steer clear of imposing a school-like structure of your own. If that's the route you eventually want to go, you should wait a while, and introduce it gradually. In the meantime, you may see your dd doing a lot of seemingly aimless or apparently recreational time-killing. That's normal, and it's almost always worth waiting it out.


Learning from life, from community experiences, from involvement in family activities, from trips and museums and videos and the internet and hobbies and conversation ... all of that can make for a very robust education, and it may be that independent project-oriented assignments may work very well for your dd. A lot depends on personality and learning style, though. Some kids prefer to have their learning parcelled out by subjects, based in books, administered by someone else, or undertaken in group or hands-on settings. Some prefer their parents to be highly involved, or prefer company in some form. That's not to say that homeschooling in your situation will only work with a very particular sort of kid, but the particular approach you take will need to evolve as you discover what works best for your family.


My youngest dd is just 9, but her academic levels is two or three years ahead, so she may be in a similar situation to your dd. I work part-time during the day. Her dad works full-time-plus. I'm able to carve out an hour five days a week to work with her specifically on academics and that's sufficient for the academic work she's doing. She is also involved in violin lessons, art classes, gymnastics and a series of civics workshops. We run and bike together for a brief time most days, and she practices music every day. So I'm involved in supporting her learning a fair bit: it's just that I'm not necessarily doing that to the exclusion of everything else for hours a day at a time. She's easy-going and amuses herself without difficulty. She has a fair bit of social contact with her school-going older siblings and with friends from the community during the after-school hours and on weekends. I involve her in as much of my life out and about in the community as I can: she often attends meetings with me, assists at community events or whatever. All in all she does fine and it works, though I often feel this year with my workload having increased by another 6 hours per week that she's sometimes veering towards being understimulated and bored. We're constantly looking for new tweaks and adjustments and opportunities. So long as we keep working to find those little tweaks, things work fine.


Your dh's reticence about homeschooling is a definite hurdle though. I'm just guessing here, but he is likely viewing homeschooling as "running away from your problems" rather than dealing with them, and equating this to situations out there in the Real World where things don't necessarily always revolve around you and your sensitivities. That's a pretty common perspective, especially amongst dads. If you and your dd really want to pursue homeschooling think I would encourage him to view the shift not as escapism, but as empowerment. Rather than avoiding distasteful problems, you will be embracing courageous solutions -- thinking outside the box, creating opportunities where none existed before.


I mean, if he was in a soul-sapping work situation with a co-worker who was driving him nuts, if they were always jostling over who had responsibility for this or that, stepping on each others' toes and getting each others' backs up, one possible solution might be to collaboratively split up and re-organize the team to clearly delineate and redefine responsibilities so that they weren't working directly with each other any more. Now, in a sense this is avoiding the conflict with the annoying co-worker, reshuffling the two of them into different parts of the company, rather than dealing head-on with the hurt feelings and power struggles. But on the other hand, this is a sensible solution for preventing ongoing conflict and using each person's expertise more fully in positive ways, unencumbered by the drama of interpersonal baggage. It's a case of restructuring the environment to more fully use one's potential and avoid expending energy on unnecessary stress. To opt for home-based education rather than a soul-sapping middle school education can be viewed the same way.


It's not about learning to put up with situations you can't change: it's about learning to change situations that you refuse to put up with. And really, when it comes to raising strong, good, capable citizens, I'd far rather my kids learned the second lesson than the first!


You might try a bit of that rhetoric with her dad. smile.gif


Good luck!


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#3 of 6 Old 11-04-2012, 02:43 AM
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I agree its really important to work out what your dd wants. I'm not totally clear what age a middle school child would be-I assume around age 9/10? Apologies if I've got that wrong!


The only thing I'd add to Miranda's excellent post is thaiht I wonder if either of you have enough information to make a decision about homeschooling? I don't mean how to do it or anything, more how it could work for you, in your specific circumstances. I wonder if it might be helpful for you both to get a feel for what could be available locally for homeschoolers. I'd say IME that the single biggest reason kids are unhappy with homeschooling is the lack of social opportunities and so for me, if I were taking a child out of school, that is the first thing I'd look at. I'm saying this especially because your daughter is relatively old to start homeschooling, and she is about to enter those years when kids often gently (or not) begin the process of disentangling their self from their family.


I don't mean necessarily the local homeschooling scene. That can be very hit and miss IMO and I think its unwise to be too reliant on it for socialisation. I mean, more generally, what do you have available in your community for your daughter? As homeschoolers very little is handed to us on a plate, and you may have to create, or help her create, opportunities, but the question really is, are they out there, in some form, for her? You're looking for community groups and organisations which are open to having her accompany you, which don't explicitly exclude kids her age. I think for many kids same age friends are important, its just that the richness of homeschooling for me lies partly in those multi-generational friendships that can spring up between people who share an interest, as well as the sense of self-worth that comes from making a concrete contribution to your local communtiy. Also, its important to me that my kids feel rooted in our community, which is that much harder because it is largely based around one local school which almost every local child goes to. My kids do actually know a lot of the local schoolkids because they do scouts, choir, sports etc with them, but they also know a lot of the local adults. 


I'd sit down and have a think about whether, honestly, you can offer her enough for her to feel grounded in this way in the longer term. There might-probably will-be times when she wishes she had more friends, could learn x in school-but that isn't what I mean. Can homeschooling offer her what she actually needs emotionally? Of course what we need can be completely different to what we think we want!


On the other hand, having been to school she might actually have a lot of strong friendships and you might have local contacts, helpful friends or even supportive family locally. She might be the kind of child who really doesn't seem to need much in the way of social interaction, who is perhaps more cerebral and likes learning about others through reading fiction, for example. I think as long as you think you can create a network to support your daughter as she enters adolescence, that's really all you need. In practical terms I think, take her out and spend time getting to know her and what she needs and the rest will fall into place.

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#4 of 6 Old 11-04-2012, 08:59 AM
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Just have a second for a quick reply.  My dh works full-time 50-60 hour weeks.  I work half-time outside the home.  We have made homeschooling work for our dd.  We have found that a mixture of letting dd follow her interests through resources she and I find and online classes work well.  Having an online class or two helps her pursue her interests without my needing to find resources in those areas - which gives me a little more time. :-)  She is thriving and enjoying learning.   She is 14 now, and we've made some form of my working and her homeschooling work since she was 5.5.  

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#5 of 6 Old 11-04-2012, 09:17 AM
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You haven't specified the problem. And having both the teacher and principal blame the child is concerning.

I think it's doable to homeschool, but if I were the child, I'd be pretty lonely spending so much time alone.

I had a situation growing up with a teacher who was determined to act as though I was stupid and misbehaving, because 'six children from the same family can't *all* be smart and can't *all* be good'. Since I was the youngest, she expected *me* to be 'the problem child'.

It was awful living through the 3 years I had her. 4th through 6th grade was a time of torment. I survived. What made it worse was my own family going along with the teacher. "She's the professional. She must know what she's talking about." was my mother's view, and the rest of the family took their cue from her.

Either way, keeping her in school or homeschooling, be on your daughter's side in all this. It's a tough situation. I hesitate to make any recommendations, because I see a lot of difficulties either way.
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#6 of 6 Old 12-01-2012, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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At the time of my original post, I had not brought up the subject of homeschooling with DD.  When I did, she said that she had been thinking about it, but was afraid to bring it up. 


I got The Everything Homeschooling book from the library, and that seems like a good place to start.  Not sure if we will actually do it, but I think we can do it. 


Thanks for the input.  It's nice to have a place to talk.  Or "talk."  :-)  I haven't been to MDC for years, and had not been to the homeschooling forum before, but I knew where to go!

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