She wants to try school - update in post #8 - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sigh. This is mostly just me needing to whine a bit to a sympathetic crowd. This may all blow over in time, but for now it's making me sad.

 

My newly-10-year-old has decided she would like to try school. She attended a few hours over the past couple of weeks in order to take part in the standardized testing that our province asks all 4th-graders to do. For her it was optional, but she wanted the experience of taking the tests, so she went. And the tests were a cakewalk for her. But she felt different: she knows all the kids in the combined 4/5/6 class, but she's a bit of an outsider. She's joined them for occasional PE classes and field trips. Her XC ski group is made up of 8 of these kids plus her. She does music with a bunch of them. She's friends with almost all of them at a superficial level, or one-on-one. But she's not "in" with the cliques and she knows it. 

 

So she's decided she wants to feel normal and fully accepted. She would like to try school full-time for a week. Her older siblings attend school. They all started as high schoolers, though, which in our province and at this school makes for lots more flexibility in terms of placement and part-time attendance.

 

The teacher of the 4/5/6 class is incredibly gifted as a teacher, and is a dear family friend whom I trust totally. I have no qualms about my kid being in this teacher's hands. 

 

I just worry about the academic and social fit. It would be such a loss for my kid to cram her delightfully angular little self into the round hole that is schooling. She is full of quirky interests and amazing abilities. Her learning is so rich, so wide-ranging, so unusual, so inspired. Her critical thinking skills, her innocent social graces, her unjaded willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt, her interest in architectural design, religion and philosophy, classical music, gymnastics, backcountry survival skills, endurance sports, her delight at reciting pi to 31 digits, her analysis of symbolism in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, the way she is whizzing through 8th grade math and basic high school chemistry and Spanish ... Overall she's probably at a 7th grade level, higher in some areas. She's basically unschooled, but loves structure, so I've done my best to feed that need in her; she has a cool chemistry program and geography projects on the go, a schedule of travel and outdoor activities and neat opportunities to volunteer around the community. She had plans to start slowly accumulating high school credits next year, and to combine an extended high school career with extensive travel and volunteer work. 

 

She's interested in trading all this in to go to 4th grade so that she can feel like one of the crowd....

 

Unfortunately we don't really have a crowd of homeschoolers here since we're in a village of 600 a long way from bigger centres: there are 6 or 8 other homeschoolers around but they're mostly younger and the couple who aren't are considering attending school next year too. She is so bright and self-aware; I don't feel right over-ruling her wishes to try school. And I understand her feeling like she doesn't really have a tribe. Most of the things she's interested in doing for social reasons she's too young for: she needs to be 12 to get involved at the youth centre, 13 to sing in the youth choir, 13 to attending gaming night, 12 to do dance. She has a number of 13 and 14-year-old friends who treat her like a much-loved slightly younger sister but she can't be part of some of the things that they'd be perfectly happy to include her in. All that's open to her for group activities is XC skiing (which she barely tolerates, due to the challenging behaviour of her age-mates) and a bit of music where she's far and away the most advanced player ... and gymnastics once a week far, far out of town.

 

I think it is probable that she will come out of a trial week exhausted and fed up with the cattiness of the girls and the disruptiveness of the boys. But I don't know that for sure: she tends to be so generous in her assessment of others and so resilient and accommodating. And so I worry. 

 

Thanks for listening. I'm not sure when we'll get her to try school. Soon, I hope. I'd like to get a clearer picture of where we're going, one way or <gulp> the other.

 

Miranda


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#2 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 09:39 PM
 
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Have you had a heart to heart with her about all the things you listed here, the reasons that her waiting to start school is probably the better choice? Does the school that you're considering assign homework? Does she understand not only the time it will take during school hours, but in the evening and what she'll have to miss because of it?

 

I would be sad too! None of our children have wanted to actually attend school. They've heard enough bad things from the neighbor kids to decide that they wouldn't like it.


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#3 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 08:23 AM
 
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What saddens me is that the childhood qualities and interests we as adults find endearing and valuable: sweet quirkiness, uniqueness, reciting pi, analyzing symbolism in Battlestar Galactica-- can suddenly become painfully unappreciated by our kids seeking connection and acceptance by their peers.  For me it feels as scary and inevitable as driving a car!


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#4 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

What saddens me is that the childhood qualities and interests we as adults find endearing and valuable: sweet quirkiness, uniqueness, reciting pi, analyzing symbolism in Battlestar Galactica-- can suddenly become painfully unappreciated by our kids seeking connection and acceptance by their peers.  For me it feels as scary and inevitable as driving a car!

 

Well, if it makes you feel any better, she is the first of my kids to experience this interest in "normalcy." My other kids have not been interested in school prior to mid-adolescence and were happy to take their eccentricities and odd abilities with them when they trundled off to high school.

 

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#5 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 09:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

Have you had a heart to heart with her about all the things you listed here, the reasons that her waiting to start school is probably the better choice? Does the school that you're considering assign homework?

 

Our local school assigns very little homework so that's not really an issue. She gets a little bit of homework in Spanish (she's taking a Spanish course with the high school kids) but presumably she would have to give up the high school stuff to be in Grade 4, so she would probably end up with less homework, or about the same amount. But I don't think she understands how exhausted she'll be after full days there and how much of her evenings she'll lose because of school-night bedtimes. She currently has long evenings with her siblings and dad, and goes to bed around 11:30, arising at 9:30-ish in the morning. School days don't start too early here, but she'd need to be up by 7:15, so her evenings with family would be drastically curtailed. 

 

Coincidentally she'll be spending a couple of hours today in a vehicle alone with our friend the Grade 4/5/6 teacher. (She and I have teenagers in the same choir, and share the complicated driving arrangements. Dd10 goes to town on the same trip for gymnastics.) I imagine my dd will want to talk to her about the possibility of school. I think my friend will likely encourage her *not* to attend school f/t, though she will be very enthusiastically welcoming of my dd for any trial or part-time attendance. I may have a quick word with her ahead of time just to explain where this is coming from and my feelings on it. I trust her not to undermine me on this. She's a real outside-the-box educator but is also realistic about the limitations of school-based learning, and knows about all the cool things my dd is able to do at home. 

 

Dd and I have been talking for more than a year about how school could be made to fit her needs. She knows about the poorness of academic fit at an intellectual level. She knows that high school will make the fit issues better. We sort of had a plan to gradually nudge open the door to advanced placement in the high school by having her do intro Spanish at the school this semester, then Grade 9 math next year, and then ramping up her involvement in high school courses the year after. But two school years from now feels monumentally far away when you're barely 10. 

 

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#6 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 09:50 PM
 
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That is really hard.  I know I've admired the set up you all have had with your local school(s), and the great flexibility you've had.

 

Is it possible that this is just February talking?  Sometimes this time of year can bring about a longing for something different and an uneasy feeling that is actually more about a longing for spring than a need for life changes.

 

Having been a youngest, it is hard to be in such a quiet house sometimes.  I can see the desire for friends and activity being alluring.  Maybe a couple of week trial would give your DD a real sense of what she would be choosing.  From what I know of her from your descriptions on here, it really doesn't seem like she'd find what she is looking for in the class anyways.  A really short trial might not show that, though.  

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#7 of 10 Old 02-21-2013, 04:40 AM
 
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What a tough situation! Hopefully she would try it and decide it is not for her after all! I have always been a misfit and understand that pang of wanting to fit in somewhere especially after spending time with and observing a tight knit group in action but that feeling always went away after experiencing or thinking about what it takes to fit in. I was never able to do it. I found it exhausting. Hopefully she'd feel the same.
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#8 of 10 Old 02-26-2013, 09:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Once we started talking seriously about the prospect of school, things kind of fell into place. She got past pining for something that she thought wasn't a possibility and started really thinking about how it would work for her.

 

She figured out what she would have to give up to go to school: gymnastics, late evenings relaxing, time with siblings and dad.

We talked to the parents of her closest homeschooling friends and found out that at least two of them are not, as my dd had previous thought, heading off to school next year.

She had a couple of really positive ski days with the homeschooling crowd, and then one pretty annoying ski day with the school crowd.

She attended a few special events at the school (a dance, the standardized testing, and then she was invited to be included in this week's theatre productive with her age-group at the school) and discovered that even the kids she really likes are annoying in group situations. She was witness to some exclusionary social behaviour and physical aggression. She spent her time feeling sorry for the teacher for having to deal with the kids. 

She realized she couldn't get done the things she wanted to do in the course of a day when attending school. She had to put some things off, and hand others off to me or her sister or brother.

 

And so she decided not to participate in the play, and she thinks she'll wait another year or two before starting school full time. She hasn't made a final decision on that, but says she's leaning that way and doesn't feel she needs to arrange a couple of weeks of classroom attendance in order to evaluate the possibility.

 

The pendulum may swing back and forth a bit, but I'm pretty sure she'll come down on the side of homeschooling in the end. Whew! I really didn't want her heading to school before about 8th grade.

 

Miranda

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#9 of 10 Old 02-27-2013, 05:55 PM
 
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Good to hear things are working out in that direction! 

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#10 of 10 Old 03-04-2013, 11:47 AM
 
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I'm glad to hear it hasn't taken too long for her to see the bright side of what she has been doing. :)

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