Hi everyone, nice that you're all still here! I'm really needing support right now.
School is NOT going well for all my kids. My 12 year old DD loves sixth grade and has transitioned super well, and is very happy and well adjusted. BUT I do notice that she reads less now and is more stressed in general, because of not getting as much sleep and having more pressure and all the damned BUSY WORK and crap that is totally unnecessary. But still, she is loving school.
Our first grade DD likes class, but is also really missing her little sister and little brother (who are home with me.) She has a mean teacher and I also notice that like her sister, my previously voracious reader has more or less stopped reading much on her own. In their school, the kids only read to get rewards, so any intrinsic and internal motivation just vanishes. It's AWFUL. Just like the Alfie Kohn book "Punished by Rewards." Just like that.
Worst of all is our 9 yo son, who is really struggling. His handwriting and composition are terrible, by school (or any) standards. Since he cannot write, and more or less refuses to just practice his penmanship, he is really struggling to keep up in class. And this is one truly brilliant kid, just incredibly intelligent and curious and on fire. He has also completely stopped reading on his own, and previously had been a VORACIOUS reader, because as far as he is concerned, there is no point to reading except to earn "points" and "rewards." So all his budding love of reading has been nipped, because it's all about rewards in school. The kids are being told that they cannot learn without rewards and punishments!! It's like my worst nightmare about schools coming true.
But more serious, our son is having trouble dealing with bullies and kids who get him riled up. He is VERY competitive, and while that serves him well in sports (he is an elite level competitive swimmer), it does NOT serve him well in interpersonal contact. It's funny, because he is a really, really nice, kind, gentle and generous person, but it's also easy to get his goat. Anyway, DS has been called to the principal's office three times now. Once for being disrespectful and rowdy during "reading class" (as if you need to be taught to read!), once for swearing outside on the playground, and today, for getting into a fight with a kid. Today there was a kid who was verbally bullying him, and taunting him, and DS got his dander up, and ended up punching the kid. (The kid took part of my son's lunch and threw it away and I guess that was the end of DS's rope, and he punched the kid.) The mutual bullying and stupidity had been going on unabated for quite a while and it finally escalated after this kid took part of DS's lunch.
Anyway, I do NOT condone hitting, for ANY reason. But then, my son received in-school suspension tomorrow, which means he must spend the entire school day sitting in the office, at a table, doing assigned work. No recess, no lunch, no nothing. I'm thinking, this is really NOT useful and cannot possibly help. Yes, you have to have consequences for hitting, but is this appropriate? And really, what will happen to our son's love of school and of learning? He was SO excited to start school, and it has turned into such a crappy experience, partly due to his own poor behavior on occasion, and partly due to lack of academic preparation (I'm pretty unschooling), partly due to other kids' cruel behaviors, and partly due to the fact that he does just not fit into a public school mold. AT ALL. He even got kicked out of preschool way back when. He was homesick and used to hide at recess and it drove the teachers ballistic.
In school suspension.
And I actually like our principal. She is intelligent, understanding, doesn't take sides, and is a well-educated and nice woman. I know she cannot allow fighting, I totally get that. But how will DS be able to stand it, sitting in one room ALL DAY, and not even allowed to get up? To me, it feels like I'm putting him in prison. It really, really upsets me. I know he punched a kid in the stomach, and that's really bad. I'm just upset about my little guy being forced to sit in the office and do worksheets for like seven hours. I really feel like I'm letting something bad be done to him.
Homeschooling was bad for us lately too, though. I was totally burned out (we have five kids and the baby just turned one.) I was out of ideas. I was sick of being isolated and the kids were lonely and bored. The HSing community here is awful----either super conservative religious or totally permissive unparenting---and there is absolutely ZERO to do also. My son was bored out of his brains. It takes me so much work just getting everyone fed every day and the laundry done and whatever else it takes to run the house, that I had/have little time and energy left for HSing and driving little people all over creating for activities. Activities which, furthermore, we had a hard time with financially, since DH just got a pay cut.
I LOVE having the three older kids in school and having peaceful days with my little ones. But how do I know whether to call it quits with public school for DS? How could I pull him out and have him hanging around the house bored again? And me SICK of having him hanging around? God, I really do need some peace and quiet. Seriously.
It's been really hard. I HATE HATE HATE the idea that so many public schools are based on: "Kids do not want to learn and cannot learn on their own. We need to force them to learn and reward and punish them, and then they will learn." It's awful! It's just so wrong and backwards! Kids are dying to learn, and will learn unless someone (like the school) tells them that they're not capable of learning without being forced.
I'm really upset right now. And I'm sick of my kids not even having time to read anymore, and being so tired at night that they can only listen to one chapter before they pass out. They are spending all their best time and energy every day, full time, on something that is just not worth it. Plus, even though I am desperate for quiet time, I do miss them, and I HATE that they are, for the first time, separated from each other all day. DS really missed his baby brother all day.
Sorry for the novel. I'm dreading tomorrow. But I'm not sure that overall, pulling DS out of school is right either. I don't want to send the message that whenever there are challenges, we just quit. He actually likes his fourth grade teacher, and loves his viola class. But it's such a restrictive, confining environment, and there are 35 kids in his class and he's just lost.