To Homeschool or Not

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JJJ, May 1, 2007.

  1. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I have Tigger's Annual Review meeting tomorrow. Tigger is once again home from school. I am so torn about whether to go with their suggestion of keeping him at school or my gut instinct and homeschool him.

    He has refused school completely about 20 days so far this year. In the first part of the year, I'd drag him in kicking and screaming. So he refused another 15 or so but was physically forced to go.

    He has been restrained due to danger to self/others about 30 times this year. He also has slept through at least 1 hour of the school day on multiple occasions.

    But when he has been at school and is not being restrained or sleeping, he does very well LOL.

    The school is -- of course -- opposed to homeschooling on principle.

    My points in favor of keeping him at school

    [*]access to Special Education services[*]a break for me[*]additional chances to work on social skills

    My points in favor of homeschooling

    [*]consistency in academic work[*]decreased battles at home (no fighting to get him to school)[*]lower anxiety for Tigger[*]no restraints for Tigger

    My husband and I are going to talk it through again tonight and decide what we are going to do.
     
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JJJ,

    I have wrestled with this issue as well for my difficult child. He's not having rages at school anymore, but when he gets anxious he just shuts down. When this happens, his abiity to learn is decreased. He also has extremely low social skills. He does have a couple friends he gets along with and play with at recess, but he's not part of the larger group. His acedemics are totally mood-related.

    He is also expressing anxiety right now with the move to middle school. Many of the kids in his class are excited and talking about how they can't wait to get out of elem school. He's just anxious.

    I know that, since he's such a smart kid, we could have successful homeschooling. But he needs the social stuff so much that I have resisted. Additionally, like tigger, exposure to special services would be limited at home.

    They are tough choices. All I can say, is go with your gut. You and husband will make the right choice for your son.

    Sharon
     
  3. bystander

    bystander New Member

    I think with your background, I'd come down on the side of homeschooling. But I DO understand about needing the break. That would be a serious consideration for me too.

    With respect to the services available, you might want to check with an advocate. I do remember reading *somewhere* on line that services are available to homeschooled children. I know in our state they are available for kids in private school (EVEN religious-based) - so why not the homeschooled? Do check with an advocate or spec needs attorney.

    If you can acquire services, but your son would have to go to school for a session - that could be your time to yourself. You know, perhaps a 1/4 or 1/2 day of school for him revolving round services would be better than a whole day .... something I would think worth investigating.

    Here's some more information - I hope it helps:
    http://www.nhen.org/specneed/default.asp?id=242
    http://www.homeschool.com/articles/specialneeds06/default.asp
    http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/weblinks/specialneedslegal.htm
     
  4. kris

    kris New Member

    kids who are homeschooled are eligible for things like specials ~~~ art, music, band & extracuricular services. you also don't have to do either/or. the year i homeschooled sarah she took two class at her HS....her language & physics.

    some school district's will limit the number of classes he would be able to take at the school. sarah's limit was two....but she still could go to clubs, games, dances, etc.

    it worked great for us.

    kris
     
  5. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Triple J,

    Many parents have great success homeschooling. My personal take on the matter is that school is respite!

    And having said that, both kt & wm have day treatment settings that work the treatment plan in place. For that I'm very thankful.

    By law, the school district is supposed to have supports in place for our troubled children. And I know that's not the real world. I hate the struggles we go through to find an appropriate education for our children.

    If you have the energy & discipline to homeschool give it a try. Personally, I could never do it.
     
  6. tryingteacher

    tryingteacher New Member

    May be the day is too long for him could you shorten his day? Maybe if he knew he was going home in 3 hours he wouldn't resist going. Just an idea. I just half dayed one of my little guys with th eoption of staying in the school environment with his community worker and for the past 2 days even though he has stayed all day his anxiety has been less just knowing he has an out.
     
  7. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    kris ~ Could that be a state by state thing? I don't think that homeschooled students in Georgia can take any classes in a public school. I know for a fact that they can't participate in extracurricular school activities such as sports teams, plays, or school dances.

    Having said that, I think homeschooling is great for some kids. I am tutoring one student right now who is enrolled in an online high school and I help her with Algebra.

    JJJ ~ I would also go with your gut instinct. If you think Tigger would learn more at home because of his anxiety or attendance issues, I think you should go for it.

    I know in my area there are homeschooling groups. Maybe you could find a situation where Tigger could go to a class as part of a homeschooling group which would still give you a little time for yourself.

    I admire parents that are willing to take on the huge committment of homeschooling their children. Ironically, although I have taught for 27 years, I know that I wouldn't have been good at homeschooling my own children. For some reason, I have a lot more patience with other people's children than my own.

    Let us know what you decide to do.

    ~Kathy
     
  8. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    ant got all A's the year he was homeschooled...ninth grade. however he was lonely and isolated and wanted to interact with the other kids. he grew depressed from that.
     
  9. amstrong

    amstrong New Member

    My difficult child was in the 2nd semester of his Junior year at High School when I took him out and we went the home school route--this was fine as he was much older and was doing this of his own volition with very little supervision form me-other than my prodding when he procrastinated. He has recently finished up and will be getting his diploma this month. He made much better grades than before. Now, I will say that if I had had to home school him from an early age, I don't know if we would have both made it out alive because that required so much more parental supervision! I think it depends alot on the child and the parent's ability to direct and supervise.
     
  10. kris

    kris New Member

    i'm not sure, kathy, but i know i've seen pieces on homeschooling done on GMA & such & this combined option is always mentioned. it is probably a state by state thing tho.

    there are more & more homeschooling groups as this becomes an option more & more. also tons of online supports.

    by the way, the school was not forthcoming about the duel enrollment option that info came from the school district when i enquired about homeschooling.

    kris
     
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    For us in NSW (at least) in Australia, we have no middle ground - it's either full-time mainstream attendance, or full-time home-schooling. I do know of cases where a kid needed a partial attendance option and although our school district told me for years that such an option didn't exist at all, they finally suggested it for difficult child 3 for beginning high school. I tore strips off them - high school is not set up for partial attendance in the early years, AND the high school we would have had to use was an hour's drive away from home. No way could he attend partially, but it COULD have been tried while in primary school, five minutes' walk from our home. I still believe they only made the suggestion when they knew it wouldn't be taken up, and only then after strong political pressure.

    For our schools, partial attendance is only a very short-term option, such as a child recovering from surgery being eased back into a full school day.

    We chose an option called Distance Education, which is still state-based (ie public education) but managed by mail, phone and email. I am not difficult child 3's teacher, I am his supervisor. He has teachers in the city at the school (which is entirely Distance Ed) and who are available on the phone if he has a problem. His work is posted out by his teachers, he does the work (all on written notes and worksheets), I flip through it to make sure he hasn't missed anything, sign it and date it and post it back.
    This was originally designed as an education option for kids who live too far away "in the Outback" to get to a regular school. My late father in law and his brothers studied with Distance Education as they lived in the Outback.
    But more and more, it's also used for kids who can't attend a normal school, for a wide range of reasons. Some are performers or athletes; some are gypsies. Some are not well. Where the reason is psychological or medical, as in difficult child 3's case, the enrolment has to be renewed every year with a fresh medical certificate. The school district hates it and tried to block difficult child 3's transfer; Dist Ed welcomed him with open arms. school district wouldn't even inform me about this option, but thanks to my part charity work I had heard about it before and got difficult child 1 into this to finish his high schooling.

    I tell you this to help you see that there can be other possibilities. I believe you may have access to a computer-based (or Internet-based) school. While we have the home schooling option as well, I chose to not go that way for a number of reasons:

    1) I would have to write the curriculum myself, or buy one somewhere.

    2) I would have to be regularly inspected by school district to make sure I was doing a decent job; I didn't want to have anything more to do with them than I already had, after the way they treated us.

    3) By writing my own curriculum, I would be subject to constant "negotiation" from difficult child 3, while he nagged me to modify something he was struggling with. This way, if he is having trouble doing a particular subject it's not ME he gets angry with. I'm still his facilitator, not his jailer.


    We work well as a team, but we had to put strong ground rules in place. Thanks to difficult child 3's regular absences from school over a number of years, we already had these rules in place. The main rule is "school work during school hours". Even if he is sick. If he is too ill to do schoolwork, then clearly he is too ill to do anything other than go to bed and sleep. If he is well enough to be awake and sitting in bed, he's well enough to read a schoolbook or do some schoolwork.

    And now for the rule that 'sold' this to difficult child 3 - NO HOMEWORK. We do ALL schoolwork during school hours. If by chance he slips up and obviously slacks off, AND there is work still outstanding, I negotiate (ie bribe, at times) to get him to do SOME work on weekends. But not too often and not on a regular basis. I'm currently re-negotiating school hours with difficult child 3 - we originally matched it to normal high school hours so when he's done he's free to go and play with his friends who live nearby. His friends are all very much younger than him - about five years younger. Kids his age he just can't relate to, except on a superficial level, unless they're talking about computer games.
    I've noticed that difficult child 3 works better with an earlier start and earlier finish - he gets little work done after lunch but can knock over a huge amount with one long morning work session. I reckon that by using his time more efficiently, I can give him time off and then negotiate for maybe a homework hour on Saturday mornings, while it's still too early for him to go visiting.

    But we work it out between us. This is difficult child 3's education, he has to own it.

    If you take this on, there are some things to consider:

    1) It will eat into your personal time. Any projects you might have - don't expect that you will have uninterrupted time to work on them. He needs you available, even if he is working on his own. You need to be able to walk past very quietly (ie sneak up) and make sure he's on task. I find that I have to stay with difficult child 3 to get him started, then I check every half hour or so. Getting him started can take time because if he's obsessing about having the correct pen, or a computer game he didn't quite finish, I won't get a thing out of him until he settles. So it saves time to help him get settled without too much nagging.

    2) You need to be able to support his learning without him feeling nagged. And something I found - he doesn't value my opinion, nor does he want me to help because then he can't claim the work as his own. Example: last week his geography teacher wanted him to write a list of words and their meanings. He complained that it would take him ages to look them all up in the dictionary, so I offered to read the meanings out to him. He said that unless he did it, it would be cheating. It had to be his teacher telling him that my dictating to him while he typed was perfectly OK, because by typing it out he was learning it - and learning was the task, not already knowing it.

    3) This is a GOOD point - you will have more freedom, in some respects - no more being limited to school hours or school terms for a lot of activities. We're about to go on holiday during school term - the schoolwork comes too. We've modified some of it, with teachers' blessings, to incorporate difficult child 3 keeping a photo journal of our trip. I talked about our schedule this morning with difficult child 3 - he will begin schoolwork 1-2 hours earlier each morning (including weekends) and then at about 10 am we will all get into the car and do the tourist thing, with difficult child 3 typing everything in as we go, on the Alphasmart (very portable word processor).
    We're going shopping tomorrow morning, during school hours. mother in law has a doctor's appointment and I gave difficult child 3 enough warning so he worked extra hard today to earn the privilege of coming shopping. We will still bring some schoolwork with us (his easier stuff) but I'm not expecting much to get done.

    3) Social exposure.
    A HUGE argument against home schooling in any form is, "But he will miss out on all that valuable social interaction." This was really worrying me, too, and it almost tipped my decision back to normal school, until I stumbled onto the website of James Williams, a remarkable young man. This high-functioning autistic teenager gave HIS take on "social interaction" and pointed out that the school environment is very artificial - where else will you be assigned to a group of young people all around your age, with a much older authority figure out the front. How normal is this?
    Contrast this with a shopping centre, for example, where we encounter a wide range of people of varying ages and abilities. It was an interesting point - difficult child 3 copes better in a more natural public situation, than he ever did in school.
    Bullying is far more common in the school grounds and if you ever encounter it out in the real world, it's generally easier to walk away, easier to deal with and there are strict laws governing behaviour as well as legal strategies in place to resolve any conflicts.
    And you can manufacture social interaction opportunities as needed - a lot of homeschooling groups organise meetings, get-togethers, study days and so on. You needn't be home-schooling in isolation. And when these groups DO get together, it is a much more 'normal' grouping of supervised children with a number of responsible, parental adults present along with a much wider age range of kids (smaller numbers, too) and a wider range of abilities. Some kids are home-schooled due to physical disability - your child gets the chance to get to know these kids at study days. There will be other kids with similar problems, anxieties etc and I've found friendships like this are very loyal and long-lasting, as well as generally valuable. Far less chance of bullying, far more chance of positive social interaction.
    For difficult child 3, mainstream school was a place of horror where he was bullied every day, and not only by other students. He was learning to be afraid; to hit back because it's OK, other kids do it; that whatever he tried to do he would never be valued and would always get punished; and was getting to the "Why should I bother?" stage.

    difficult child 3 is now much more relaxed. As a result, his interactions are more natural, he's less impulsive (because he's not so anxious and therefore his brain is freer to think before he speaks or acts) and the flow-on from this is that his interactions are generally much more positive, which reinforces the ongoing success. Out in public people comment on what a well-mannered young man he is. People find it hard to believe that he is autistic, but if we put him back into the school environment then the cracks begin to show again very quickly.

    Marg
     
  12. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    for those of you who have homeschooled, then sent them to school does the school test them to see what grade level they are at?
    My neighbor homeschools (has 5, two are just babies..all easy child's)
    She told me to homeschool a year, then he would have to test for grade level if he wanted to return. Also, school district asked me if I have considered shortened days. I didn't ask them, but how would he get all his classes in if he had shortened days? He has so much anxiety that he also shuts down at times when he is frustrated and upset. I don't know if I could homeschool because I think it would just be one fight after another. He loves the social aspect when things are going good.
     
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We're lucky, because the correspondence system means difficult child 3's work is graded with other kids doing the same classes, also by correspondence. He did very well last year - the first time he's ever won any sort of school award. For him, it showed how much better he could do studying at home instead of in a classroom.
    We also have regular government testing, in various grades. difficult child 3's grade is the one getting tested, he's done one test already and has the next one next Tuesday (when ALL kids in the state, in his year, have to do the same test). This helps the schools see how well the kids are doing compared to the whole state.

    You can get a good feel for how they're going, if you have a sample mainstream curriculum worksheet to check against what you know they're actually doing.

    Whether there are more specific testing procedures in your area - you would need to talk to educators or home-schoolers in your area.

    Marg
     
  14. bystander

    bystander New Member

    3) Social exposure.
    A HUGE argument against home schooling in any form is, "But he will miss out on all that valuable social interaction." This was really worrying me, too, and it almost tipped my decision back to normal school, until I stumbled onto the website of James Williams, a remarkable young man. This high-functioning autistic teenager gave HIS take on "social interaction" and pointed out that the school environment is very artificial - where else will you be assigned to a group of young people all around your age, with a much older authority figure out the front. How normal is this?
    Contrast this with a shopping centre, for example, where we encounter a wide range of people of varying ages and abilities. It was an interesting point - difficult child 3 copes better in a more natural public situation, than he ever did in school.
    Bullying is far more common in the school grounds and if you ever encounter it out in the real world, it's generally easier to walk away, easier to deal with and there are strict laws governing behaviour as well as legal strategies in place to resolve any conflicts.
    And you can manufacture social interaction opportunities as needed - a lot of homeschooling groups organise meetings, get-togethers, study days and so on. You needn't be home-schooling in isolation. And when these groups DO get together, it is a much more 'normal' grouping of supervised children with a number of responsible, parental adults present along with a much wider age range of kids (smaller numbers, too) and a wider range of abilities. Some kids are home-schooled due to physical disability - your child gets the chance to get to know these kids at study days. There will be other kids with similar problems, anxieties etc and I've found friendships like this are very loyal and long-lasting, as well as generally valuable. Far less chance of bullying, far more chance of positive social interaction.
    For difficult child 3, mainstream school was a place of horror where he was bullied every day, and not only by other students. He was learning to be afraid; to hit back because it's OK, other kids do it; that whatever he tried to do he would never be valued and would always get punished; and was getting to the "Why should I bother?" stage.

    Wow. This is one of the best arguments I've heard against the whole - "but-he-won't-get-social-interaction" thing!

    The only thing I might digress a little from is that the workplace can be very similar to a school environment. And the social interactions aren't necessarily better. Over the years, I've seen a LOT of adults act worse than kids I went to school with! And while there are anti-discrimination guidelines and rules, there's a lot of subtle stuff that goes on as well.

    For now, homeschooling for me is a no-deal. DS and I don't get along very well when it comes to doing school work. He doesn't take me seriously all the time - and he wants to be in school. However, I know that a few years down the road this may very well change ... I'd certainly be willing to do it if he decided he wanted to homeschool instead.

    I hope the OP is able to get the info she needs - it's not a bad idea at all for kids who have trouble coping with the school environment.
     
  15. Pam R

    Pam R New Member

    Just a note that every state has differing home school regs and policies, and that here in Mass., the policies can differ from town to town or school to school.

    This is all to say, here in Mass., one can not count on the school allowing a HS'd child to take part in Art, Music, sports, etc. Some schools are great about it, others absolutely refuse.

    And I definately know your point about the respite. We've HS'd always and have never had respite, not even offered from family. One of my dreams.

    As far as socialization, around here there are so many things to do, socialization can seriously get in the way of more stay at home academics. I've heard some moms refer to it as "car" schooling, not homeschooling.

    As far as learning social skills, school would be my last choice for that. I've gotten my son into a program in part sponsored by DMH that works on social skills. I think it's a much better choice.

    Lowered anxiety/stess levels for both us and DS were also reasons we have decided to just stay home. And then there's the general safety issue, which for us was very important. DS was attacked and injured both (brief) times he was in school and nothing was done about it.

    Homeschooling allows you to tailor the program so your child can learn in ways that allow him to learn. And lots of moms do their own Special Education services or find alternatives outside the school.

    I've found a wonderful Yahoo group for parents homeschooling special needs kids of all types. A veritable fount of info:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HS-Plus/

    Anyways, for us, HS'ing has been the only real choice. But each family must make the decision that will work for them and the children involved.

    Pam R.
     
  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Thanks all. husband and I read all of your comments. I think we are going to try some partial-day options for the next 4 weeks. Then I'll homeschool through the summer and we'll make a decision in August after we see how the summer went.
     
  17. helpmeplease

    helpmeplease New Member

    I am going to be homeschooling my youngest and possibly my oldest next year if I can get her to a point where she will actually do the work that is assigned to her, so I've been looking into this lots lately.

    I wanted to mention to all of you that are considering the art/music/sports thing that you can do classes outside of school. Homeschooling is popular here in AL and since we've moved here, I've read about classes at the local science museum, ice skating school, theater workshop, and library just for homeschooling. These classes are held during the day and are open to all homeschoolers. Also there are sports teams just for homeschoolers, usually sponsored by the cover school. There are weekend family picnics, planned field trips, etc.

    Also, a friend of mine here runs a homeschool coop for high school age. Parents teach classes in all subjects to supplement what they are learning at home. I like having the opportunity to pick and choose those who will be in charge of my children throughout the day and this sounds great to me!

    These are things I found only through homeschool groups locally. I would advise you to seek out as many other local homeschoolers as you can. There are Yahoo groups and message boards and local church support groups. The more you search the more you will find. If you look hard enough you will find that there are much more opportunities for a homeschooled child than one who attends public school. in my opinion,they are more social and have more opportunity to learn extras and focus on their interests when you eliminate all of the wasted time in public school.

    I am hoping to homeschool my oldest next year but I can really only do that if she's going to cooperate with me. I cannot have daily tantrums in my house. I struggle with this because I know in my heart that her learning style is better suited for homeschooling. Her attitude leaves me exhausted and needing a break most days though.
     
  18. bystander

    bystander New Member

    JJJ- I hope you find the concoction that works for your family and your son - keep us posted as to what you do and how it works for you guys.

    One thing that has discouraged me from homeschooling to is that I have no academic education background. People who I know that homeschool who *were* teachers or in education in some form are very successful at homeschooling. Therefore, I think this is a BIG thing in your favor. I know some other folks are too - but it also takes a LOT of organization ... not my strong suit :crazy2:.
     
  19. helpmeplease

    helpmeplease New Member

    bystander- if you really want to teach your children at home, please don't let that discourage you! There are many curriculums that you can purchase that lay it all out for you, support groups, coops, etc. You need to remember that no one but you has your childrens' best interest in mind when it comes to teaching them. Especially if they are a difficult child. My daughter's teachers at school would be perfectly happy to let her slide by barely passing. In fact, they'd be happy to let her fail. They don't know her like I do and they certainly won't plan their lessons and teaching methods based on her learning style. They teach the way they teach and if my child doesn't fit the mold, then she has no hope. At least at home, you have the advantage of taking it slow, moving quickly, and even taking a full year to do one school year's worth of work if that is what will help your child succeed. The possibilities with homeschooling are endless. Don't underestimate yourself!

    But, like I said earlier, at this time I just can't keep my oldest home. She is violent and disrespectul every time I ask her to do anything. I'd like to keep that to a minimum and keep the younger two from being exposed to her fits for now, so I do understand anyone with a difficult child who doesn't want to homeschool. It must be so hard with a kid with a conduct disorder. I can't even imagine.
     
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