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#1 of 22 Old 11-23-2013, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After unschooling all her life, my 13yo dd started the 8th grade this fall because school was (and still is) an experience she really wanted. Since dh and I had been all set to homeschool both girls all the way up to college or other pursuits, we saw no problem with buying a house in a suffering school district. So when dd expressed the desire to attend school, we started looking at our options. The comprehensive middle and high schools here have severe problems with violence, so we pursued charter or magnet school enrollment instead, and dd was accepted into our district's fine and performing arts magnet high school for grades 7 though 12.

 

I do think there is much less violence in dd's school than there is in the comprehensive schools. Students with chronic behavioral issues are refused admission -- but I'm realizing that if the school was too strict in how it defined "chronic behavioral issues," they'd end up kicking out the majority of the kids they were designed to help.

 

As a result, my 13yo, whom I see as a pretty normal kid -- I mean, she cares about her school work but she's not obsessive about it, she'll often decide that the work she's done on a paper or other assignment is "good enough" and spend the rest of the evening watching YouTube videos -- is in a situation where she "stands out," simply for being capable of/willing to do things like be quiet and listen (or at least appear to be listening) while teachers are talking, be quiet during tests, and listen respectfully while her fellow students are giving presentations.

 

Dd says the majority of the kids are never quiet -- they don't just whisper and discretely pass notes while teachers are talking, they talk very loudly right over the teachers. Which explains why dd was specially selected to go on a really fun field trip that most of her classmates didn't get to go on, and why she periodically gets tons of extra credit points for what I see as basic things like being quiet during a test.

 

On the one hand, I think it's good that she gets these extra perks, because she often has to endure frustrating situations, such as having to spend much of the earlier part of this semester doing bookwork in theatre class, because the majority of the students were too unruly to spend a lot of time working in small groups doing stuff like improv. It does seem to be getting better now, and I think it will definitely be better next year when she's actually a theatre major and will be working with other kids who share her same passion for acting.

 

One big advantage of this experience for dd is that she's getting to see inside other cultures. She's the racial minority in her school, and she's starting to become very aware of racism and social injustice. This injustice is one big clue as to why many of her classmates seem to have so little respect for most authority figures. Whereas dd grew up seeing police officers and other adults in authority as basically her friends -- based on what I've learned about racial profiling, it seems likely to me that many of her classmates grew up seeing their parents being harassed or treated suspiciously by the police or other authority figures, or being harassed themselves.

 

So while dd is able to walk into a new situation with a basic degree of trust and respect for the people in leadership, even though she doesn't know them and they certainly haven't jumped through any hoops to earn her trust or respect personally, I think many of her classmates are waiting to see the proof that these adults are actually worthy of their trust and respect -- and the catch 22 is that it's hard for the adults to earn that trust/respect if they can't even get many of the kids to listen long enough to learn anything new and see how making the choice to listen can benefit them.

 

So I'm eager for all the advice I can get about helping dd get the most out of this experience, while at the same time minimizing the negative affects of being in a situation where it's such a huge big deal for a kid to be engaged and attentive in class. On the one hand, I see it as a disadvantage that dd is getting special recognition for behaviors that were just basic in my suburban school when I was dd's age, and I also see it as a disadvantage that her progress in various subjects is bound to be affected by the disruptive behavior of many of her classmates.

 

On the other hand, I see it as a real advantage that she is, overall, still busy and engaged and having a great time, and developing some real friendships -- most of which are with kids from very different backgrounds and perspectives than her own. Growing up in the suburbs, I lacked knowledge about what life was really like for most of the world's people. Dd has a much deeper grasp of reality than I did at her age, and this is a definite plus.

 

Thoughts, anyone?

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#2 of 22 Old 11-23-2013, 01:00 PM
 
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I admire you for trying to find bright spots in what sounds like a bad situation, but I would find another school.  I'm not sure how much actual education anyone can get if the majority of the people around her are just being disruptive.  Personal enrichment is great, but if her primary focus is education, then I'd find a way to get her into a better school.  I spent two years in a similar situation and while I was a standout student and my grades were fine, I essentially wasted two years and was totally unprepared when I got into a much better school.

 

I'm not sure where you live, but many states now have public board schools for gifted and talented students.  Usually, you can focus on math/sci, the arts, or the humanities.  You still get to meet a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds but everyone who is there WANTS to be so they are focused.

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#3 of 22 Old 11-23-2013, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She is so happy right now that I can't imagine having her change schools.

 

I'm hoping that the disruptive behavior will lessen next year in 9th grade. This spring, the 8th graders will have to audition for their majors, and they'll also need to present teachers' recommendations and have at least a 2.0 grade point average. And while I realize the teachers/judges can't just turn everyone away who's been at all disruptive, or there'd only be a handful of kids at the school, I also think 8th grade is a really bad year for many kids. It was for me. So maybe 9th grade, in and of itself, will be a more constructive learning environment.

 

I don't know anything about public boarding schools for gifted and talented students in my city, but I would miss dd like crazy. She's so independent, I feel like she'll be up and leaving for LA to pursue her acting career before I know it...I'm not in any hurry to rush the separation process.

 

I do know that dd's school is one of the schools that offers the A+ program, through which students who maintain a 2.5 gpa or higher during grades 9 through 12, and complete a certain number of hours of free tutoring, get their tuition covered for pursuing an associates degree at a community college, plus some assistance if they go on to complete their bachelor's degree at one of the four-year universities on the list. I also know of one student there who is already spending her junior and senior years at the local community college, totally funded by the school district. At the end of her senior year, she'll receive her high school diploma and be just a few hours short of an associates degree.

 

And another student there, who was second in her graduating class, received a full-ride scholarship to an out of state university.

 

I do see dd learning, and intensely interested in many aspects of school life. But I also see what you mean about the positives of having all the diversity, plus being surrounded by other kids who are highly-motivated. Maybe dd will get this in her own school in 9th grade. This year's 8th grade class does seem particularly challenging. After their first fieldtrip earlier in the fall, during which a large number of kids got into a food fight and made a horrible mess at the place they went to for lunch, and then sang very loudly on the bus, and kept singing all the way back to school, ignoring teachers' requests to quiet down, it was announced that there would be no more 8th grade field trips and no 8th grade dance for this school year.

 

But as far as dd knows, there haven't been any similar restrictions placed on other classes, and she has the impression that the older kids in her school are much nicer and better behaved. Some kids from other schools also audition for the 9th grade at dd's school, so hopefully there will be enough new blood, and enough maturity occurring within the remaining students, to make the 9th grade much better than the 8th.


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#4 of 22 Old 11-23-2013, 07:04 PM
 
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You know, experience is education, and by allowing your dd to have both these very distinct educational experiences, you are enabling her vision to expand. She may very well be ready to use the community college program when the time comes, and the insight gained from experience will continue to shape her understanding of community. All good things. I applaud you for taking the risk.

 

If, on an academic level, you feel like she needs more, then I'd look at other school options. But as an unschooler, dd is probably pretty capable of self-enriching and getting her academic needs met? How are her core classes, in terms of challenge? In terms of the behavior, I was shocked two years ago when my two were in international school (we are abroad) for the first time--which is why I ended up pulling them. The classroom behavior was such a mess, and they were young and not at all prepared to make it in spite of the constant distraction, so I brought them home. In our case, all parents are paying such extravagant tuition that some apparently think they pay a fee to have their kids' behavior ignored. The result at the previous school was chaos and a kind of racism very different from the status quo US one you are experiencing. My kids would come home crying because of the way some students (of one "racial"/ethnic group) treated bus drivers/monitors/school aides (of another ethnic/"racial" group).

 

But there is so much learning and formative experience in those challenges, too. I get what you say about being rewarded for normal behavior. But on the same level, I feel like I have often been rewarded in the work world for acting like a normal person--not resisting work assignments, making deadlines, doing good work. The challenge is to keep them striving in spite of the relative ease of mediocrity.

 

I am considering taking my two currently homeschooled kids and enrolling in a different B&M school next year. Totally different situation in my case--we don't have public schools, period--but one of mine will be in 8th, and both kids are 100% behind the idea of going back to school. They miss the community of learners. Still, I am scared that sparing ds the past two years of middle school will set him up for a rude awakening. I hope I am wrong, and that, like in your case, the variety of experience serves my kids' education well.

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#5 of 22 Old 11-24-2013, 03:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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But there is so much learning and formative experience in those challenges, too. I get what you say about being rewarded for normal behavior. But on the same level, I feel like I have often been rewarded in the work world for acting like a normal person--not resisting work assignments, making deadlines, doing good work. The challenge is to keep them striving in spite of the relative ease of mediocrity.

You know, I've had similar experiences, and even though the "normal" behavior is just part of me, and I'd do it regardless of rewards, it was still nice getting the little cash bonuses.

As far as academics, the most important thing for me is keeping her love for learning alive. She still has that, at least in her areas of interest, and I feel like that's the best "equipment" she has for being able to learn all kinds of new things -- whatever she needs to get to where she wants to go in life.

 

And she is definitely encountering challenging work at school.

 

Your whole post is very interesting. I want to come back and post more later, but today's a very busy day and I gotta go now. Have a great day everyone!


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#6 of 22 Old 11-24-2013, 09:46 AM
 
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My daughter went to a very similar sounding performing arts magnet for 9th and 10th. She did have to take one class with 8th graders her first year because it was something required in the new district that was not required in our local district (and only taught in 8th grade.) She was just mortified by the behavior. She'd always been in school and while middle school behavior had frustrated her in our local district, moving into this class in a depressed area where she was also the racial minority... major culture shock. The behavior difference between the 8th graders who were local and not there by audition and the 9th graders who all had to go through an extensive audition/interview process was substantial. I suspect your daughter will feel the difference next fall. 

 

I have to admit, for us, the performing arts magnet was a terrible fit. The first year, the lovely social environment of artsy kids distracted her from the substandard academic offerings. The second year, the kids, the theatre/dance/music classes.... none of that could make up for the lack of intellectual stimulation. The school was still largely local children and while they were better behaved, clearly bright and lots of raw talent certainly, they did not have the academic nor the arts background that my daughter had. Everything was remedial for her outside of the dance department. She did one show and was shocked that the kids would simply not show up to rehearsals. It would take a week to learn a number than would be taught (and expected to be mastered) in 2 hours with 8-year-olds in her youth theatre. DD started working professionally at age 10 and this was just unacceptable to her. The academic level in even the advanced classes was painfully low because so many of the kids didn't have the foundation to really succeed in them at a proper pace. The teachers were not at all the caliber she'd been accustomed too. They did not expect to be listened too and so they really did not try to engage. Most resented DD for trying to push through their wall. Those that didn't were just too sad and defeated to be anything more than a place to vent. Most sat in front of their computers and hoped someone was doing the assignments listed on the board. It became a really miserable experience, her grades dropped when she started refusing to do all the remedial work and we had to pull her out. We moved her to a college/high school hybrid program where she takes most of her classes at the community college for duel credit and she's thriving again.

 

Do we regret her having that experience? Does she? Yes and no. Yes, the grade hit she took during the "dark days" is really hurting her as she puts together her college applications. Yes, DD had to go back and reteach herself subjects fully when she realized how much foundation she was missing. However, DD did learn a lot about herself. She learned a lot about society and fully grasped why so many of the poor stay poor in our country. The true inequity in our world is certainly branded in our minds. I'd say, as a mom, I don't regret that she had that experience but I regret that we didn't pull her out after that first year. My DD is not sorry we cut the experience short but says she'd not want to head out into the world without that experience. 


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#7 of 22 Old 11-24-2013, 07:18 PM
 
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It sounds like a bad school where teachers have little classroom management skills. I think learning to motivate yourself even when your teacher sucks can give skills that transfer to college and future work but it wouldn't be something I'd stick with for long.
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#8 of 22 Old 11-25-2013, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is definitely a situation where I need to keep listening to and observing dd and continually evaluating whether it's a good fit -- and if not, figure out where to go from there. But I certainly would never pull her out and send her anyplace else without her consent.

 

As far as intellectual stimulation, I imagine that what's stimulating for one person is boring for another. Dd is definitely being challenged by the new math concepts she's learning. She also went through a rigorously challenging time learning the choreography for the school's fall musical. Although dd used to love spontaneously dancing to music when she was younger, she hasn't felt the urge to do that for a few years, and she has also been growing rapidly. She's at or close to my height now, and I'm just under 5'10", and dancing as part of a group is currently very challenging for her.

 

Since she wants to pursue a career in acting, it's really wonderful that she gets to learn the fundamentals of dance next semester, plus learn all the things she's going to be learning in theatre class about how to move and carry herself for various roles on stage.

 

Her theatre arts teacher has also lent her the script for "A Midsummer Night's Dream," because they'll be having auditions for that this January, and getting an understanding of Shakespeare is very challenging for dd. Although I read to her extensively from a young age, I didn't make her listen to anything that wasn't interesting for her, which meant we pretty much read books in modern or near modern English. Her main interest in reading and understanding Shakespeare now is her strong desire to get a part in the play, so she's self-motivated, but she's also exposing herself to a form of intellectual stimulation that, in and of herself, she wouldn't have been drawn to. And I think her theatre arts major is really going to open her up to a lot of new literary worlds.

 

Additionally, dd has been learning a tremendous amount by watching both music videos and vlogs that she's drawn to on YouTube. And I think it's great that, for the most part, she has not been overwhelmed with homework assignments. I don't really know what's typical for homework for an 8th grader, but dd generally only has homework two to three nights a week, and when she does have homework, she can usually get it all done in about an hour. Which allows her nice little stretches of time where she can just focus on the stuff she wants to focus on. I think having that downtime is more intellectually stimulating than being in an environment that others might see as more academically rigorous. It's what we're able to do with the opportunities we're given that determines their educational value, and I think dd is currently in a situation where she has a nice amount of room to process all that she's taking in, and figure out what she wants to do with it.


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#9 of 22 Old 11-25-2013, 04:43 PM
 
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This is definitely a situation where I need to keep listening to and observing dd and continually evaluating whether it's a good fit -- and if not, figure out where to go from there. But I certainly would never pull her out and send her anyplace else without her consent.

 

As far as intellectual stimulation, I imagine that what's stimulating for one person is boring for another. Dd is definitely being challenged by the new math concepts she's learning. She also went through a rigorously challenging time learning the choreography for the school's fall musical. Although dd used to love spontaneously dancing to music when she was younger, she hasn't felt the urge to do that for a few years, and she has also been growing rapidly. She's at or close to my height now, and I'm just under 5'10", and dancing as part of a group is currently very challenging for her.

 

Since she wants to pursue a career in acting, it's really wonderful that she gets to learn the fundamentals of dance next semester, plus learn all the things she's going to be learning in theatre class about how to move and carry herself for various roles on stage.

 

Her theatre arts teacher has also lent her the script for "A Midsummer Night's Dream," because they'll be having auditions for that this January, and getting an understanding of Shakespeare is very challenging for dd. Although I read to her extensively from a young age, I didn't make her listen to anything that wasn't interesting for her, which meant we pretty much read books in modern or near modern English. Her main interest in reading and understanding Shakespeare now is her strong desire to get a part in the play, so she's self-motivated, but she's also exposing herself to a form of intellectual stimulation that, in and of herself, she wouldn't have been drawn to. And I think her theatre arts major is really going to open her up to a lot of new literary worlds.

 

Additionally, dd has been learning a tremendous amount by watching both music videos and vlogs that she's drawn to on YouTube. And I think it's great that, for the most part, she has not been overwhelmed with homework assignments. I don't really know what's typical for homework for an 8th grader, but dd generally only has homework two to three nights a week, and when she does have homework, she can usually get it all done in about an hour. Which allows her nice little stretches of time where she can just focus on the stuff she wants to focus on. I think having that downtime is more intellectually stimulating than being in an environment that others might see as more academically rigorous. It's what we're able to do with the opportunities we're given that determines their educational value, and I think dd is currently in a situation where she has a nice amount of room to process all that she's taking in, and figure out what she wants to do with it.

 

Hmm, some things I disagree with. I believe there can be appropriate times to pull a child without their consent. All people have the capacity to hold onto situations for the wrong reasons. With a child, it's important to explore WHY they are choosing to hold onto something that might not be good for them. Are they afraid of disappointing others? Do they equate moving on with giving up... thus feel like the poor situation is their fault? Are they too inexperienced to understand that the situation they are in is unusual and can be better? Are they clinging for social reason not truly comprehending that they could have both a wonderful academic situation AND friendships elsewhere? Children should always have a say in their life but there are points when parents have to... well, parent. When a parent sees their child is not thriving and sticking with a substandard environment for the wrong reasons then stepping in is totally appropriate.

 

While I do agree that downtime is important and necessary, there is a huge difference between downtime and time wasted. Being in a classroom having to adhere to inappropriate curriculum for 7 hours a day is wasted time. Even if homework is minimal, having to spend hours a week on remedial and repetitive work is not an opportunity that any child should be expected to make the best of day-in and day-out. If a school curriculum offers little to nothing creative and open-ended, then the intellectually curious child can deteriorate. It may be that your daughter doesn't need a rigorous academic situation now. You said this is her first schooling experience and the novelty of being in a classroom surrounded by other kids will likely get her through this year. Perhaps despite the classroom culture you described earlier, this is an academically appropriate situation and if so, that is great!

 

If your daughter is new to Shakespeare, I highly recommend seeing the show prior to reading it. Shakespeare is meant to be heard, seen. Comprehension goes way up when you can visualize and hear the language being used. Another good tip for beginners is to listen to an audio version while reading it. Midsummer is the typical starter piece and there are appropriate parts for beginners to advanced.

 

Acting is a very tough profession. I recommend encouraging your child to supplement what she's getting at school especially in high school. More often than not, kids whose experience is restricted to school, even a performing arts school, are ill-prepared for the realities of the business. Help her explore the industry as a whole so that if she decides she loves entertainment but doesn't want the lifestyle that she has ideas of how she can have both stability and a career she loves.


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#10 of 22 Old 11-26-2013, 03:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As I've already mentioned, the work is challenging for dd. She also has creative assignments. I feel the best measure of whether she's thriving is observing whether she remains excited about her life and keeps learning new things, so I see her as thriving right now.

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#11 of 22 Old 11-30-2013, 06:26 AM
 
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MM, I can't tell (haven't had my coffee) if there is a chance that maybe the behavior issues you're seeing/hearing about are pretty typical and are just standing out because of the transition from HS to PS?  Thriving, happy, learning, challenged, creative, making friends - this sounds like a pretty good environment. 

 

The bigger red flag for me when I read your first post are all these rewards your DC is given for things that (for now) she considers basic cooperation. My DC has seen some of this but for our DC she also struggled with reading so it was a great thing for us to have as a balance. We would talk about behavior being a skill just like reading is a skill. My DC knows that I would prefer the school not reward behavior (because the opposite is a punishment) and I've talked to her about skills being equal and remind her that she would be so sad to not get a reward because she was struggling with reading, yk?  My hope and assumption is that my DC takes these behavior rewards with a grain of salt. 

 

For us, though, I thought 6th grade is old enough for our DC to be in a heavy rewards environment. I feel like that is a part of "the real world" and her foundation in the early years that tried to address intrinsic motivation could see her through. 


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#12 of 22 Old 11-30-2013, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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MM, I can't tell (haven't had my coffee) if there is a chance that maybe the behavior issues you're seeing/hearing about are pretty typical and are just standing out because of the transition from HS to PS?  Thriving, happy, learning, challenged, creative, making friends - this sounds like a pretty good environment. 

Maybe the transition is part of it, and I think dd will probably always approach school differently than many of her peers, because it's a much sought-after environment for her. She's where she wants to be -- she could return to unschooling anytime she wanted, and especially when she's in a class she sees as really fun like theatre arts, it's hard for her to understand why many of her classmates would rather cut up and end up having to do bookwork instead of improv for the day. She is still managing to get lots of opportunities for improv anyhow, and it really seems to be her natural element.

 

As far as the rewards -- yeah, I'm with you on not really liking the whole carrot and stick thing, but after unschooling till the age of 13, she's probably ready to experience the world's primary form of behavior mod. And when she gets chosen for a special fieldtrip or gets a bunch of extra points, I think it can help compensate for those times when she, you know, doesn't get to have as much fun as she'd like to in theatre class because of the choices of some of her classmates.

 

It may be that, in two years when she's in 10th grade, she'll decide she'd rather spend her junior and senior years at the community college. But at this point, she totally wants the entire high school experience and doesn't want to bypass it by attending college, and it's really okay if she still feels that way in a couple of years, too.

 

I think the important thing is for her to know she always has options and she's never "stuck." Maybe some of her classmates have felt too stuck for too long, and don't see themselves as the driver of their own car...they get some sense of control by refusing to listen to teachers, but I think dd sees that they're missing out on a lot, too. She's very much in the driver's seat of her own life now, and I just want her to stay empowered.


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#13 of 22 Old 11-30-2013, 10:16 AM
 
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I think dd will probably always approach school differently than many of her peers, because it's a much sought-after environment for her. She's where she wants to be -- she could return to unschooling anytime she wanted, and especially when she's in a class she sees as really fun like theatre arts, it's hard for her to understand why many of her classmates would rather cut up and end up having to do bookwork instead of improv for the day. 

 

My kids all started school around age 13-14 after unschooling and I agree with you, this doesn't go away. Knowing you are in school by choice, and knowing through experience that there are other decent options out there, that makes one a different student with a different attitude towards school. My ds was unschooled until 13, and has been in school full-time since 14. He's currently completing his senior year and he still feels this difference keenly. It still annoys him sometimes, but he's come to terms with it. He appreciates what school is offering him because school is not a given for him: it's a choice he made willingly. This past week he was describing something about the school environment to me when he shook his head and mused aloud how ironic it is that he is the only person in any of his classes who actually wants to be in school -- and he's The Unschooler! So after several years he still thinks of himself as an unschooler, and his attitude about school and why he's there is still different from the other students'.

 

My 10-year-old unschooler joins the local school for occasional workshops and a few classes each week, and she notices the same thing, though with the age-group she's in the misbehaviour and poor attitude is even more raw. I just keep reminding her that it's hard for kids who have grown up with no choice about their educations to see the good in what they are compelled to do. I explain to her that when someone pushes you, it's a natural human instinct to want to push back, and that's what those kids are doing. Her own teacher-pleasing exemplary behaviour is the result of her privilege of choice: she doesn't feel the need to push back because when she's there school is her choice. The rewards she reaps from her decent behaviour are the school's efforts to mitigate the 'pushing back' that is so common amongst kids who are subject to compulsory schooling. Now, obviously that's an explanation for a 10-year-old; I know it's more nuanced than this. But I do think there is a fair bit of truth in it.

 

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#14 of 22 Old 11-30-2013, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just keep reminding her that it's hard for kids who have grown up with no choice about their educations to see the good in what they are compelled to do. I explain to her that when someone pushes you, it's a natural human instinct to want to push back, and that's what those kids are doing. Her own teacher-pleasing exemplary behaviour is the result of her privilege of choice: she doesn't feel the need to push back because when she's there school is her choice. The rewards she reaps from her decent behaviour are the school's efforts to mitigate the 'pushing back' that is so common amongst kids who are subject to compulsory schooling. Now, obviously that's an explanation for a 10-year-old; I know it's more nuanced than this. But I do think there is a fair bit of truth in it.

 

Miranda

 

I think this is really true. We've been through a lot of ups and downs during the past year or so, and dd felt, and probably still currently feels, like we made a huge mistake in unschooling her. When she expressed the desire to attend school just before the fall semester a year ago, her dad and I felt that she really needed to get more comfortable with reading and working math problems, and she agreed. Up to that point (up to age 12), she'd had very little interest in reading and it was still a real struggle for her to read even a paragraph or two, and she hadn't been interested in learning to work math problems involving carrying or borrowing. This was fine for living and learning outside the school structure, where she was free to focus in on any skill at whatever time she felt a desire to do something requiring it, but I felt we'd be setting her up for failure if we just threw her into a classroom setting in that state.

 

She very quickly improved her reading and writing skills on her own, and she and I would work together on math problems at Khan Academy whenever she was agreeable to doing that (which was only occasionally), and I can kind of understand that in the thick of all that, she felt like we'd done her a real disservice by not forcing her to sit down and do structured work every day, starting at around age 5 or 6. But that simply wasn't how she wanted to spend her time at age 5 or 6, or even 8 or 9 or 10 or 11! And who knows, someday she may tell us we made a big mistake in allowing her to attend public school...all I know is that it's important to me to listen to my children and respond to who they are and what they want in each moment. It just seems completely "off" to me to say, "I'm making you do this now, so that in 5 or 10 years you can thank me."

 

I'm accepting that dd may very well always feel that we did it all wrong -- but what I am seeing is that she is currently right on track with her academic abilities. She's doing beautifully in language arts and loves writing stories. Math is hard for her at times, and she's getting tutoring, but is also excelling in some stuff she's currently learning about shapes. She's currently getting five A's and 2 B's -- the B's being in American History and one hour of math (she has two hours of math and is getting an A in the other hour). So maybe the two B's would be A's and she wouldn't be needing the tutoring if we'd forced her to do structured work starting at age 5? Maybe she'd be able to finish her occasional one hour of homework in 30 minutes?

 

Who knows? I needed some math tutoring myself, and I was public schooled all the way through. So it's just not always possible to predict outcomes of various choices ahead of time. I think I'm going to stand by my decision to keep listening to what my kids are saying now.

 

Plus, I think her high levels of enthusiasm and motivation are waaay more important than whether she's getting high grades or not -- and it seems very possible that, had we made her start "book learning" at age five, she might have lost that fire somewhere along the way, as many of her peers seem to have done.


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#15 of 22 Old 12-02-2013, 05:26 PM
 
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 So maybe the two B's would be A's and she wouldn't be needing the tutoring if we'd forced her to do structured work starting at age 5? Maybe she'd be able to finish her occasional one hour of homework in 30 minutes?

 

Who knows?

 

 

I've sometimes wondered about the same kinds of things. One of my DDs unschooled/relaxed homeschooled until she was 10. Then she attended a traditional public school for a year and a half. Then she attended a very funky progressive school (like unschooling, but in a building with other students and teachers) for 2 and a half years. Now she attends a large, public highschool. She does well, but would it be easier for her if she had always gone to school? Would she be further along in math? Would she be able to spell!?!

 

We'll never know, but she when we talk about it, she's glad for all the experiences she's had. She likes who she is, and she thinks if she hadn't had years that "education" meant playing with playdough or going backpacking or whatever it is that she wanted to do that day/week/month, that she wouldn't be who she is. She thinks differently from most of her peers, which is isolating at times but..... she's happy in her own skin. 


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That's great, Linda. I hope that someday dd will express happiness about at least parts of her unschooling experience, too. But I guess the important thing is that she's happy and thriving now. It seems like it's very important to her to differentiate herself from me right now and to emphasize how very differently she sees the world from how I do, and how very differently she will do things if she ever becomes a parent. So I've given up on waiting to get any positive feedback -- I guess the real feedback will be her continued love for life and learning.


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From my experience, many 8th graders are pretty social and can be unruly. I teach 10th grade, and I have begged my principal to never make me teach 9th grade again. There is a special place in heaven for middle school teachers. One poster mentioned that the teachers must not have good classroom management- that may be the case, but I doubt that it is. Teaching students at the age who have not be taught good social skills is very, very difficult. Management skills are tough because what works with one group might not work with the other. I have had seven student teachers and when they ask me my management plan, I really can't answer. I don't really have problems, and the few I have are dealt with quickly. My students come from a very diverse background; we are the only high school in the city and the two middle schools are very different. The respect for authority varies quite a bit. My biggest behavior problems are often from the white boys (I am a 44 year old white female). Some of them come from the richer areas and have a sense of entitilement. Not all of them, but some of them. I have the least amount of problems from the black boys because most of them are being raised by women who they respect. I just have to threaten to call their mom or talk to their coach and problems are solved. They give more problems to the young white male teachers who are not coaches. All that being said, they ALL tend to mature as they go from year to year. I have former students who come back and apologize for being unruly.

 

If your daughter really likes the school, it will probably only get better. The difference in behavior from a freshman to sohpmore class is night and day- from freshman to senior will astound you. IME, 8th grade is the absolute worst. I did it for two years; never again.

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#18 of 22 Old 12-03-2013, 02:13 PM
 
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 It seems like it's very important to her to differentiate herself from me right now and to emphasize how very differently she sees the world from how I do, and how very differently she will do things if she ever becomes a parent. So I've given up on waiting to get any positive feedback -

 

That is completely normal and age appropriate and doesn't have a thing to do with how she has been educated. If she weren't doing it over education, it would most likely be about something else.

 

God help the woman who needs warm fuzzies from her 12-13 year old daughter! We really, truly cannot let this phase effect our sense of self or self-evaluation of our parenting. She's just trying to grow up, and it is messy.

 

Here's a hug. :Hug

 

Besides all that, she is too new to school to really evaluate what her homeschool experience gave her. Give her another year or two. She is still working really hard playing catch up on a  stuff that would be easy if she had always been in school. This has been a heck of a year for her, and I think planning a celebration at the break would be a good idea. She has done something very difficult, and it sounds like she has done remarkably well with it. 

 

I also think that adjusting from unschooling to school is a bit like culture shock and that she will go through stages. Although how she feels is real and is how she feels RIGHT NOW, she may feel different by end the of the year, or next year. Or when she is 30. I suspect that for most kids who both have a positive homeschool and schooling experiences, that full adjustment and maturity mean that they get to a place of seeing the positives and negatives of both.

 

What kind of options do you have for highschool? Is there a school besides the one this one feeds into that she could attend? Is getting onto an honors track an option for her next year? The behavior in honors classes tends to be MUCH better than gen ed. At the roughest school in our district, which sounds a bit like the population she is in school with now, the honors program is excellent and works with community college.

 

My advice about helping her get the most out of the experience (back to your OP) is to listen to her, and ask her questions about her experiences that aren't meant to lead anywhere specific, but just to help her think about and process everything. Kids this age aren't necessarily open to what we think about things, but having done our jobs well for the preceding years, they have a solid foundation to figure out stuff if they take the time to do so. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is listen.


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#19 of 22 Old 12-03-2013, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mar123, I know 8th grade was my absolute worst year in school, and I had at least a couple of people say they thought it would be better to have her wait another year and start school in 9th, but we weren't willing to keep putting things off if we had a good option. Since she'd already spent her 7th grade year getting ready for a classroom setting, we didn't want her to feel like we weren't going to follow through on our promise. I think you're right that it will get better.

 

Thanks for the hug, Linda. Yes, there is a community college option. The 16 year old girl who played the lead in the fall musical, whose younger sister is dd's friend and classmate, is actually on this track and still has the opportunity to audition for all the school plays. She'll be graduating from high school in two years and be just a few hours short of an associate's degree. All but the last few hours of that degree will have been paid for by the school district.

 

As I've already mentioned, dd currently feels a strong desire to experience everything about high school, and sees starting college at 16 as missing out on that -- but who knows how she'll feel in a couple of years when she's in 10th grade? I do think the community college option is a great opportunity -- but then again, so is the A+ program, in which students maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and provide a certain number of hours of free tutoring and get two years of community college paid for.

 

It's really just a matter of helping dd get what she wants out of life...and I agree that the main thing I need to be doing is simply lots of listening.


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#20 of 22 Old 12-03-2013, 04:54 PM
 
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It sounds like she's thriving right now. Next year, when the school "should be better" you can discuss other options in case it's not what she wanted or expected.

 

There definitely is something different about the approach to school when a child is there by choice. I homeschooled Hannah from 5th through 7th grade, then in 8th she chose to return to public school. She had a hard time with the initial adjustment, but after a few months she was absolutely thriving. Now she's in 12th grade and still thriving. I homeschooled Leah for one year, but that didn't work out very well either, and she happily returned to school the following year, but also with the attitude that she wanted to be there.

 

I see a definite difference with Jack, who's in school not by his own choice. I homeschooled him one year and it just didn't work out at all. He's an extrovert and I'm an introvert, and we came up with a schedule that wore me out but left him understimulated. Plus, I really couldn't afford to keep paying for all the music  classes, archery classes, etc. In public school, music lessons are free. Then there's the issue of my health- I seemed to neglect it when I had him home; something that didn't happen when I had Hannah home with me.

 

So, the end result is that Jack has a very different attitude towards school than Hannah does and Leah did. I feel guilty that I can't give him what I gave them, and I HATE the excessive testing and a lot of the "busywork" he gets from school. But I also have to respect my limits; he's better off with a healthy Mom even if school isn't a perfect fit for him.


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#21 of 22 Old 12-04-2013, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I see a definite difference with Jack, who's in school not by his own choice. I homeschooled him one year and it just didn't work out at all. He's an extrovert and I'm an introvert, and we came up with a schedule that wore me out but left him understimulated. Plus, I really couldn't afford to keep paying for all the music  classes, archery classes, etc. In public school, music lessons are free. Then there's the issue of my health- I seemed to neglect it when I had him home; something that didn't happen when I had Hannah home with me.

Yes, keeping a very extraverted teen stimulated is quite an undertaking. I'm glad you found a solution that helps you stay healthy!

 

Most of the families we know who are homeschooling teenagers have them enrolled in lots of different lessons, and are on the go practically every day of the week. In our case, even when we find free or low-cost things to do, we can't afford to keep enough gas in the car to be driving somewhere every day. So we are homeschoolers who actually spend most of our time at home and in the neighborhood, which seemed to work fine for dd1 when she was younger, and still seems to be a good fit for dd2 now -- but dd1 started expressing a need for a broader canvass, and eventually really spelled it out to us that the only way she could get the kind of experience she wanted was by going to school.

 

Overall, I'm really glad she's had this experience of getting to the root of her own discontent, articulating her needs to us, and setting some major changes in motion. She went from saying that "nothing in my life ever changes" to seeing how much power she really had to affect her own destiny, and that has to be a good thing.


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#22 of 22 Old 12-04-2013, 07:16 AM
 
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Part of the reason we are planning to go back to school is that I am no match for 2 extroverts. Like Ruthla describes, I am exhausted by mid-afternoon and they are ready to go out and find some fun. We are so thankful to have spent the time we're spending out of school, but everyone is ready for something different.
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