Parenting and schooling

Status
Not open for further replies.

rightkindofme

MyPTSD Pro
I decided when I was 17 that I wanted to home school my future children. I went to college, got a teaching credential, went through a masters program and then taught in public schools for years. I have been a lead teacher or assistant teacher at every level from preschool through basic university writing classes. I was a very good teacher to other people's children. I was highly respected by my union, coworkers, parents, and students. I went above and beyond and I viewed children failing my class as a sign that I was failing as a teacher so I figured out whatever I had to do to help a child learn my subject.

My oldest is 11; my middle child is 9. They wanted to try school when we moved to Scotland. Neither of my children are neuro-typical. (The baby is still amorphous.) When we arrived in the school the teachers and staff were incredibly negative and repeatedly talked about how my children were going to be incredibly behind because of all of the "interrupted learning". I asked them to test the kids and then we could have a conversation about how to help the kids catch up. They tested the kids. They really suck at handwriting but their father and I both have terrible handwriting as well. It's a discrete physical skill. In every other way they tested at grade level or above. My oldest tested so highly in mathematics that the teacher said they have no idea what level she is actually at because their test can't go high enough. They are both strong readers with really good comprehension and ability to analyze characters and plot that rivals many of the seniors in high school I used to teach.

They left after three months because of bullying issues. I'm not going to leave my kids in school so they can be hit nearly daily and have other parents come on campus to intimidate them for standing up to kids who are hitting them. The school agreed that my children were not the instigators. The kids who were hitting my children said they did it because my kids were annoying. The school told me kids to figure out how to not be so annoying. Oh go to hell.

I am writing today because I had an interaction on a parenting board with a teacher from this country and it stomped all over my anxieties and I need to not take this feeling out on my kids. The teacher was quite rude as she expressed that the country guidelines about standards and expected learning outcomes are really the bare minimum and she worries that my children won't be up to snuff when it comes time for major external testing.

I hate that some ignorant stranger popping off her mouth means I want to go back to drilling my kids with extreme vigor. My kids are as advanced as they are for many reasons but on the list: I was always afraid that my kids would be deficient in a subject area and it would reflect poorly on me as a parent/teacher so I push them really hard. I desperately want to relax about this but it's so hard. Part of the reason I home school is because that way I am the one responsible for making sure they are ok and I don't have to fret about them being let down by other teachers.

I had a very mixed school experience. I had some great teachers and a lot of truly terrible ones. My husband had a bad experience pretty much all the way through university. We both left high school early to go to university early because we could not be challenged at high school.

It is hard to trust that I am doing enough. I rarely feel like what I have done is enough. I rarely feel like my children are getting what they deserve. I had my children evaluated by Stanford before we moved because I wanted to see if they were clearly deficient in learning and they needed to be put in school. Stanford told me that I have created the ideal learning environment and my children are doing extremely well.

But here we are in Scotland with teachers who don't even know my kids telling me that they don't think I can do well enough. And it sends me into this shame/anxiety spiral. I want to go spend a bunch of the day crying because I'm afraid I'm failing my kids. Being good enough for them is pretty much my motivation for doing everything I do. It hurts when people imply that I am failing them.

Not long ago I cut off one of my longest term relationships because she told me that the way I am raising my children is going to make them retarded. She said she meant it "in the medical sense so I shouldn't get offended". She has no medical education, no background in childhood education or development. But she wants to make sure I know her medical opinion about how I am wrecking my kids.

It's hard not to feel really bad about myself sometimes.
 

Wonder Woman

MyPTSD Pro
Hi, rightkindofme.

I'm sorry that rude and ignorant people are causing you to question you parenting choices and teaching skills.

It sounds to me that the school in Scotland failed to provide your children with a safe learning environment. The comment that was made about your children needing to be less annoying made me shake my head. If handled appropriately by the adults in charge, bullying should only occur as isolated events. However, on-going problems with bullying indicate a systemic problem.

Really the only thing I read in your post that gave me any cause for concern is that you mention pushing your children really hard. I don’t know what all that entails. So, I'll simply remind you that children need a chance to be children. Academics are not the end all, be all in life. But as an educator, you probably are already aware of the need for balance between mental activity and play.

You know your children better than anyone else. So, it might be helpful to just ask yourself, are my children doing well. Do they have the skills they need to become independent learners? Do they generally get on well with their peers? Do they have friends, hobbies, and time to persue personal interests. If the answers to these are yeses, then who cares what a couple of rude and ignorant people think.

Sending you thoughts of calm and inner-peace.
 

rightkindofme

MyPTSD Pro
Really the only thing I read in your post that gave me any cause for concern is that you mention pushing your children really hard. I don’t know what all that entails. So, I'll simply remind you that children need a chance to be children. Academics are not the end all, be all in life. But as an educator, you probably are already aware of the need for balance between mental activity and play.

You know your children better than anyone else. So, it might be helpful to just ask yourself, are my children doing well. Do they have the skills they need to become independent learners? Do they generally get on well with their peers? Do they have friends, hobbies, and time to persue personal interests. If the answers to these are yeses, then who cares what a couple of rude and ignorant people think.

Sending you thoughts of calm and inner-peace.

We do academics for 2-4 hours a day during four days of the week. When I'm pushing them really hard, for us, it means that I sit next to them the entire time they are working and I don't let them daydream/work at a slow pace. They both have attention issues and the difference between what they can do with me sitting there saying (every minute) "Ok, what's the next step?" and letting them work on their own is about 3 maths chapters in a week. To use one subject as an example. It is the difference between them churning out about 5 pages a week in their writing efforts or about 15 pages. They are capable of doing quite a lot, but they need a lot of external encouragement. They have household chores that they have to do (all very age appropriate things) and they have anywhere between 4-8 hours in a day completely unscheduled to do whatever they want. They play a lot. A lot of the reason we choose the lifestyle we choose is so that play is a big part of their lives.

I don't start sit down academics at all until age 8. Before that they have some chores but their primary job is to play.

But in their play time they often ask to set up science experiments and I'm not sure exactly how to count that? I'm not enforcing it or guiding it or mandating it as part of a curriculum. They think it is fun. They do really intense art projects and watch documentaries on many subjects because that's what draws their interest. Of course they play silly video games and watch lots of kid movies too... But their time is fairly self directed.

Even the way they do academics is often very much about them choosing what they study. We have several different maths curriculums in the house and they pick which one they want to focus on (more story based, more worksheet oriented, fairly standard US classroom textbooks, online versions with video assistant stuff) for a given week/day/unit. I ask for progress but I'm not married to how it happens.

I don't worry about pushing them because I worry that I am dominating their entire life with academics I worry about it because when I spend all of my spoons sitting there telling them "Ok, refocus--what are you doing?" hundreds of times in a couple of hours I don't have energy to play later. I get very boring in the other hours of the day. I'm tired because it's exhausting.

They are incredibly independent learners. They are very good at finding assistance for themselves if they want to do a task. My kids cook stuff that is more complex than I could cook through most of my 20's. They've taught themselves complex hobbies I don't share. They are good at being dropped in a foreign country where they don't speak the language and finding everything they need/want.

They do have a hard time with peers. They talk like adults. Kids their age spend more than half of every conversation saying, "What does that word mean?" They have friends their age and they do fine in structured activities like martial arts but at school they were uber-nerds and that isn't "cool" around here. They had an easier time with peers in Silicon Valley where a lot more kids are kind of at this nerd-level. We now live in a somewhat rural fairly impoverished area and that's going to be complicated forever. But they are already making friends with folks who attend the local university? That's complicated because they are so young and I have to be part of the dynamic.

They have friends they video chat with. They have friends through their video game system (they are part of a kid-centric programming community). They have lots of hobbies and they pursue their interests.

But I struggled with kids my age until college. Their dad struggled with kids his age until college. Are we doing something wrong if our kids have similar problems to us?
 
Are we doing something wrong if our kids have similar problems to us?
Are your kids deeply unhappy? Do your kids treat other kids with disdain if they're not on the same level as they are? If not, I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

When we talk about diversity, we should be talking about all kinds of diversity. There should be room for all types if people in society, including intellectual level.
 

rightkindofme

MyPTSD Pro
Are your kids deeply unhappy? Do your kids treat other kids with disdain if they're not on the same level as they are? If not, I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

When we talk about diversity, we should be talking about all kinds of diversity. There should be room for all types if people in society, including intellectual level.

My middle child has some anxiety issues (that got so much worse when attending school, she's doing a lot better lately) but my kids are mostly very happy. They don't treat kids with disdain they leap into a cheerful, happy explanation. They love being able to share what they know. "Oh you don't know this yet! Awesome! A chance to learn a new thing!" That... can overwhelm other people. We embrace learning as a lifestyle in a way that is truly uncommon. But we very much mean well.

I feel like a dick sometimes when I want to talk about how it is complicated being very intelligent. But all of the ways that my children struggle socially are canonical for gifted children. They don't understand why other people aren't excited to learn in the same ways we are. They don't get why people aren't super intense about interests. They try to "care less" but it isn't natural for any of us. We care about all of the things we care about at 100%.

I feel like it is normal for us to fit in better in some settings than in others? We are still trying to find our place here. It's going to be an interesting journey.
 

rightkindofme

MyPTSD Pro
It's worth mentioning that my kids are 2E. Highly intelligent, but also dyslexic. My oldest has ADHD. I am pretty sure my second child is also autistic like me. My youngest struggles with being emotionally a year + below her apparent age while being in the 99% for height.

They are all over the map in terms of development and at home... it just doesn't matter. They get to just be themselves and we help them adapt to what they need.
 
My nephew is a super-genius, but he's also a dick to people he considers to be intellectually beneath his level, which is almost everyone.

It sounds like you've got it covered and are doing the best you can, which is all anyone can do, especially since so many parents just don't give a shit. No one has a perfect childhood, but if there are generally more good times than bad, that's a win.
 

rightkindofme

MyPTSD Pro
My nephew is a super-genius, but he's also a dick to people he considers to be intellectually beneath his level, which is almost everyone.

It sounds like you've got it covered and are doing the best you can, which is all anyone can do, especially since so many parents just don't give a shit. No one has a perfect childhood, but if there are generally more good times than bad, that's a win.

I am not even a little bit supportive of being snotty about intelligence. I would no more support a big ego over being smart than I would racism or feeling superior because your parents are rich or being more able bodied. People are born without control over many factors. Everyone deserves kindness and dignity.
 

Friday

Moderator
I used to have this posted on my fridge, for years and years. The magazine has long since gone under, but the piece itself is a true gem. I used to reread it whenever something got under my skin.

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

by Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling, Issue #1, Fall 2007

  1. Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
  2. Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.
  3. Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
  4. Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
  5. If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.
  6. Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
  7. We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
  8. Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
  9. Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
  10. We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
  11. Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.
  12. If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
  13. Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.
  14. Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
  15. Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
  16. Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
  17. Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you anymore.
  18. If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
  19. Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
  20. Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
  21. Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.
  22. Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
  23. Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
  24. Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
  25. Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!
 

rightkindofme

MyPTSD Pro
I used to have this posted on my fridge, for years and years. The magazine has long since gone under, but the piece itself is a true gem. I used to reread it whenever something got under my skin.

I feel so understood. ?

Re #17: I say "I am really glad schools exist because not everyone is cut out to home school and that's ok." I honestly believe that most people should not home educate because it requires a fairly specific temperament and it is a good thing that society has the need for lots of different kinds of people.

My grandmother-in-law (husband's grandmother) was in education for 60+ years. When we first got married she asked how I wanted to educate the children meaning public or private and I told her home schooling. She looked like she bit into a lemon. She proceeded to tell me about the few religious home schoolers she knew who had not done things to her standards. I was young and patient then. I wrote her a 15 page letter (we live across the country) detailing all of the educational theorists I have studied and why I am pulling from different theories to construct the specific way I am doing things. Now all of a sudden she wishes that more kids could be home schooled. ? It was funny to have her go from cold to hot on the topic. I no longer trot out my credentials for most people. Not every home educator has them and it inculcates bias for me to say "I'm qualified" because the implication is that other people are not if they lack the same background. I don't want to be a gate keeper in the same way other people gate keep me.

It's all complicated.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top