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#1 of 16 Old 02-17-2013, 10:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And my homeschooling mother is out watching Shakespeare at the local gardens, so I can't vent at her. So you get the blessing of my rant. Aren't you lucky?

 

My MIL, with whom we clash on everything from religion to breastfeeding to cosleeping, has never approved of homeschooling. Nor has FIL, but this seems to be mostly a MIL-driven issue. In the past they didn't know much about it, so I'm not sure why they were against it - maybe because of how I turned out. :p

 

Anyway, we started semi-officially HSing DD two weeks ago. She'll be five in March. One week ago MIL and FIL sat DH down at their house and urged him to "seriously reconsider" homeschooling. I was not present.

 

Via DH, MIL's reasons were thusly:

 

-DH works from home and homeschooling will cause more interruptions to his day, raising his already considerable stress level

-We need time alone as a couple

-We're both sick all the time

-She's been doing research and believes that children can only develop properly away from their parents - case in point, the other night at their place when DD hurt herself and wailed for me

 

To which I would have responded, if she'd said this to my face:

 

-Currently, we do our schoolwork when the baby's asleep. So it's actually the least interrupty time/s of the day for DH, because DD and I are occupied together. Also, if DD were at school all day, she wouldn't be around to play with the baby, which she does a lot; which would mean he'd get bored and lonely and raise everyone's stress level. :p So for now, it's a non-issue. In a few years? Maybe; but DH is working towards being able to work less then, in part so he can take a more active role in homeschooling.

 

Also, the thought of trying to find a semi-acceptable school for DD, get her enrolled a few weeks late, deal with uniforms, fees, stationery, lunchboxes, schoolbuses/carpools/driving in from the country twice a day, fundraising, PTAs, sports days and the like is enough to make DH and me take to our beds with the vapours. It sounds ghastly. Homeschooling is WAY more fun and easy right now. And DH is quite enjoying it - we're watching documentaries about ancient Egypt at lunchtime, and he likes to see her show off her freshly-completed work.

 

-We actually have a fair amount of alone time as a couple; and if she is concerned, she could offer to babysit the kids once in a while. :p Never has.

 

Plus, if the point of sending DD to school is so that DH can uninterruptedly work during school hours, how will we be getting more alone time again?

 

-We're... not both sick all the time. DH gets tension headaches fairly often because he has appalling posture, but I'm not sure how putting DD in school would help that. We both had the stomach flu recently. That's about it.

 

-DD did apparently go a bit nutso at their house the other day after falling and hurting their cheek. When DH brought her home I discovered she'd actually bitten the inside of her cheek and drawn blood, so it wasn't just a tumble (in MIL's defense... sort of... nobody checked inside her mouth at the time, so she didn't know that).

 

The thing is, though, DD is generally quite happily independent. She's shy in new situations (as my sisters and I all were when we were small and public-schooled), but around people she knows she's very outgoing and cheerful. She goes to the in-laws every Monday night with DH for dinner and doesn't pine for me in the slightest, for instance. They've seen me come pick her up on occasion, to a casual "Oh, hi Mum" response or (regrettably) a whiny "I don't WANT to go!"... which hardly smacks of excessive clinginess to me.

 

Today SIL came over and filled in a bit more info. Apparently MIL had talked to her about it too, and was quite upset. When talking to SIL she didn't mention our alone time or DH's stress levels, just the development thing. Apparently she's firmly convinced that it is necessary for a child's brain and emotional development to be taught by someone other than a parent.

 

The irritating thing is, MIL has never actually asked us about DD's curriculum, our homeschooling philosophy, or... well, anything. And I'm pretty sure she has a view of homeschooling which involves mother and child locked together in a room 24/7, probably with a barred window.

 

As it is, DD escapes my (snort) eagle eye already to be taught and/or supervised by other people quite regularly. Sunday school on Sundays; a Bible study creche on Thursdays (a vaguely kindy-like environment - toys, playdough and snacks); semi-regular gymnastics lessons on Fridays; and music lessons on Saturday. We'll likely also do fortnightly group homeschool lessons of some sort during the two colder terms; we've started going on field trips; and I'm very open, as finances and time allow, to DD being tutored by other people in art, science, languages, underwater basketweaving or whatever takes our fancy. Plus we have plenty of playdates. I didn't start homeschooling to lock her away from the world.

 

So, anyway. Grrrr. I know she means well and is genuinely concerned, and she loves DD (not sure about DS, but that's another story for another time). But it really irks me that she went about it in a behind-my-back, divide-and-conquer sort of way with DH, and that she didn't think to actually ask us about homeschooling before assuming the worst.

 

So. Anyone know the research to which she's referring, regarding child development? I'm not sure if it was real studies or just editorials and opinion pieces she read, honestly, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Has anyone else dealt with this?

 

Also, any tips for graciously handling this situation? I don't need snarky responses - trust me, I have plenty of those. :p I'd like to be able to acknowledge and defuse her fears, educate her a bit about homeschooling in general and our style of homeschooling in particular, and (in an ideal world) also make it clear to her that she's welcome to respectfully ask questions about our choices, but to address them to us as a couple (or heck, me as the primary homeschooler), not to DH without my being present.

 

Sorry for the novel!


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#2 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 12:37 AM
 
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I feel you!  My DS is only 3yo and we already have opposition from the family. 

 

So far, I have told my side of the family that this is our decision For Now.  I always allow that time will tell.  I have also made it clear to them that I think it is really important for children to spend the first (approx) 7 years of life at home, or ideally in a tight knit community.  In these first years s/he learns by imitation, not only the little things like gestures and speech patterns, but especially the big things: morals and values!  This really helped my case!  I told my family that I wanted our son to be learning these things from US, not from the other kids at day care/preschool/kindergarten.  So, I have them kind of convinced for now.

 

DH's father just called to issue his approval after receiving the card we sent him made on homemade paper (really nothing fancy, DS just wanted to know what would happen if he soaked his coloring sheets in water for a couple of days... then we took the pulp and laid it out to dry).  We take it as it come though.  One day they (any of the family) are with us, the next day, not so much!

 

I was trying to find you some good links, but I couldn't find anything that was brief and specific about the benefits of HS in the early years.  I looked on some Waldorf sites and The Continuum Concept site, because those are things I have referenced in the past with my family. 

 

Good luck!  I hope this make sense, it's late and I am getting cross-eyed from computing too long!

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#3 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 02:07 AM
 
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I can't offer any advice, but I'm also in a similar situation. Whenever my daughter is over at the in-laws' house, her great granny always tells her that she has to go to school. It drives us mad! But thankfully my daughter knows better than to listen to great granny's words of wisdom.
 

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#4 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 04:43 AM
 
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I've had folks tell me it bordered on child abuse, to homeschool. That is, along with other things. I think their remarks come from ignorance.

I have a very relaxed attitude about this, now, because my son is a teen. It's too late to change what I did now! I couldn't afford to sign him up for programs and classes, but did my best to give him opportunities with others. Also, he *was* super attached, when he was young, because my parents told him I was going to die when he was just three. I think they were trying to make him independent, but it backfired tremendously. Seeing him as a teen, he seems to have the usual teen independence, despite my choices and circumstances.

As far as educating your mil goes, I don't hold out much hope. You can try offering her books to read on the subject, but she may or may read them. And she may or may not learn from them if she *does* read them. Just tell her you are the primary educating parent, so her concerns will most likely be addressed by you, anyway, so she might as well talk to you about them in the first place. I'm trying to remember the speech we came up with for my in-laws. They still had concerns, but didn't say much after the speech. If I remember it, I'll post it.

Honestly, your confidence is key. If you seem self-assured, not nasty, they will probably back off. So how you say what you say is probably most important. Practice a calm and confident response until you can say it without irritation. Bored is better than annoyed, in my experience.

Good luck.
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#5 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 05:54 AM
 
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Confidence is key. Go about your business.  If confronted directly by her, I firmly believe less is more. Don't try to justify or prove, just keep it minimum. " This is our choice. This is what we have decided to do. We are taking it year by year."  If she is certain you are wrong, the research or book you put in her hands won't convince her otherwise. Save your energy for actually doing the work of homeschooling. If anything will convince her, it will her grandchild.

 

as an aside, for me, it's not my inlaws. My sister, with whom I'm quite close, occasionally says some critical thing, that makes me realize that she wishes I'd just be "normal" and send my kids to school already.


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#6 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 08:50 AM
 
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nono02.gif

 

Sounds also like you might have a very supportive husband.  Walking away from these divide-and-conquer meetings, how has he approached the situation?

 

I believe that much research of school-aged kids needs to be disregarded because most if not every subject has been school-kids not every child.  Call me ignorant on the issues of research, but this is just how I think about it.  My teacher-sister told me that kids don't start thinking abstractedly/estimating until 6th grade.  Really?  How do they know this is developmental and not a product of generations of kids being told what to do and how to do it?  And not estimate?  Or abstract?  Sigh..... I don't know.  Our society seems skewed because *everybody*, very nearly anyway and even including HSing parents like me, have grown up in school.  How do we *know* what is normal and proper any more?  And not a byproduct of schoolish-type learning and living?

 

Rant back atcha!  Sorry....


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#7 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 11:25 AM
 
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This is *totally* off topic, but my son has informed that schools do pretty much *everything* in the wrong order.

Now back to dealing with difficult relatives....

Sometimes I just laughed at my family critics. It gives them no ammunition to fire back, and they generally don't like it. I wouldn't use that on an in-law, though, because it can cause repercussions for your husband.

Privately, though, my son and I created comics about some of the more memorable moments. It helped release the frustration.
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#8 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Sounds also like you might have a very supportive husband.  Walking away from these divide-and-conquer meetings, how has he approached the situation?

Oh, he just thinks it's funny. He sort of rolls his eyes at his parents on a lot of issues; he doesn't have a very high opinion of their critical thinking skills (his mother especially), and he's a bit Aspie and doesn't care what anyone else thinks of him to begin with. They certainly won't convince him to send DD to school - even though I'm the second-generation homeschooler, he had a worse time at school, and for a variety of reasons is more anti-school than I am, though he doesn't know as much about the benefits of HSing.

 

So he's supportive, but in a kind of "Silly Smokey, you always worry too much, it's just my parents being themselves, who cares?" way. He's partly right - I do get overly anxious when I sense social tension - and he's partly just a bit oblivious due to the Aspie thing. But he's on my side.

 

Quote:
Privately, though, my son and I created comics about some of the more memorable moments. It helped release the frustration.

That's awesome. :)

 

Quote:
Also, he *was* super attached, when he was young, because my parents told him I was going to die when he was just three.

Wha... WHAT? Yikes.

 

So DH and DD went over to the in-laws' last night, as they do every Monday. I'd given DH instructions to say, if the topic came up again, that I was happy to show them DD's schoolwork, talk about our homeschooling philosophy etc. It didn't come up.

 

You know the weird thing? MIL and FIL are both horrified by NZ's education system. They come from South Africa and feel NZ academic standards, respect for teachers etc are extremely backwards. And FIL's a teacher and hates it. He's always complaining that the kids don't want to learn, don't want to be there, don't show up to exams, never do their homework and so on. You'd think this would make him a tad more open-minded about alternative education... but no, apparently not. Although as SIL put it, it's not so much that they're anti-homeschooling as anti-us homeschooling.


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#9 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 12:55 PM
 
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Vent away! They sound strikingly similar to my inlaws right down to the talking to dh but not having the balls to say anything to me directly. Oddly enough, though, mine tend to shut up once the kids are actually school age. We heard nothing since dd11 was 5 or so but MIL recently started in with the 4yo about trying to teach her to write letters, buying workbooks as "gifts", etc. Weird.

Hopefully yours will butt out on the same timeframe! wink1.gif
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#10 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 10:00 PM
 
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My experience is they will never like it, but eventually stop talking about it. Until the child approaches graduation, when they come up with a crazy and expensive plan where your child will graduate three different ways. Or was it four? Anyway, the point is each year they will probably be less vocal about it. So, weather the crap now, and do your own thing.
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#11 of 16 Old 02-19-2013, 01:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I dropped by Mum's place today to pick something up and we had a long chat. She was sympathetic - and her mother was anti-homeschooling for the first decade or so too, so she knows what it's like! She very satisfactorily pointed out flaws in MIL's reasoning, reassured me that DD is not in fact a wee cowering timorous beastie, and then gave me a travel booklet they'd finished with so I could cut out the photos of the pyramids for DD's ancient Egypt scrapbook. :p  Mum's great.

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#12 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 03:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sigh. DD got a card from her great-grandmother - MIL's mother - for her birthday. I quote:

 

"Dear [DD]

 

I wonder if you can read this now? Are you learning to read and write with Mummy, or do you go to big school? I went to big school and it was fun because I made lots of friends, and there were lots of children to play with."

 

Harmless enough sans context, but I suspect MIL has been spreading the love. Wonderful. MIL and FIL turned up an hour late to DD's birthday party, incidentally, and then didn't speak to me. I hoped MIL might notice DD cheerfully playing with the other birthday party kids, all of whom (by sheer coincidence, but hey) happen to be homeschooled and are nice, non-clingy, well-adjusted children. But I doubt it sank in.


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#13 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 04:09 AM
 
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That's exactly the sort of thing my daughter's great granny would do, so you have my sympathy!
 

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#14 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 04:58 AM
 
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Imagine it from her perspective. You are ruining her favorite grand child's life and there is nothing she can do to stop this train wreck.eyesroll.gif. Clearly, any mother who would act so crazy and irresponsible is not approachable and cannot be counted on to think rationally, so why would she come to you with her concerns? eyesroll.gif

I hope those eye roll smileys convey my sarcasm. Obviously, I've btdt. She will let it go, eventually.
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#15 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 10:44 AM
 
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This is my inlaws as well.  Overall they are lovely people, but they cannot seem to accept the fact that a child doesn't need "trained teachers" and lots of tests to learn something.  They are very black and white about this issue, and others.  Most recently my 9 yo went vegan and her grandparents are convinced she is malnourished and that we need to "be the parent" and tell her she must eat meat.

 

It must be hard to be a grandparent, you love your grandchildren so much and yet you have absolutely no power to raise them the way you feel they should be raised.  

 

Anyway, you have my sympathy.  Eventually they will simmer down about it, hopefully.


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#16 of 16 Old 03-19-2013, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, DH helped DD write a nice thank-you note, which just happened to include mentions of the friends she has and the fun trips she's been on. :p

 

Also, SIL mentioned to MIL the other day that she's thinking of homeschooling her boys, either at 6 or 12 (or whenever they can no longer afford Montessori). In her words, "she [MIL] didn't die". Heh.


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