Homeschooling - am I out of my mind?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by agee, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. agee

    agee Guest

    My 8 year old, like so many of your kids, has trouble with school. He did okay in K - had the best teacher EVER - but still was in trouble a lot. Mostly for getting in other kids' spaces, some fighting, some defiance. She never punished him for wiggling, moving, talking out of turn, etc. Only addressed the really big stuff and made the rest something she/he could manage.
    1st grade was terrible. He was put in a structure-less classroom with a teacher who had no control and difficult child lost it. He'd roll on the floor, smash other kids' work, misbehave, etc. All of this with an excellent 504 that K teacher and I wrote but which 1st grade teacher didn't follow. The only work difficult child completed in 1st grade was when the assistant sat next to him for the entire day. I asked for an IEP assessment and supplied complete neuropsychologist testing but was denied IEP because the teacher LIED and said difficult child had no behavior problems and did all his work in class. I supplied the hundreds of notes he sent home to me about difficult child behavior but it didn't matter. Teacher (who I now realize was covering his ass for not addressing difficult child behavior sooner) trumped mama. Also, difficult child was teetering on the edge of grade level standards so it didn't matter how he behaved - he wasn't failing so he didn't need help.
    Ok. Now to 2nd grade. difficult child has an excellent placement with a wonderful, calm teacher and a highly structured, slightly stern but kind assistant. Really the best possible placement for him. She is following the 504 perfectly and has added her own accomodations based on difficult child's age and current abilities. But he still is having trouble. Last week was the 1st office visit...and the morning rages and afternoon retreats into silence/sadness have started up again.
    I quit my FT job in June to work for our family business, but it's flexible. I also have a background in teaching and feel totally comfortable with the curriculum, etc. I am pretty dismayed about the way American schools are I have the time, the ability, and the motivation. But I'm worried about my frustration level with difficult child. It could really mess up whatever balance we have. But then again, it could improve things a lot! We'd be doing school during his sweet spot - about 10 -1 - this is when his medications are doing their best work. And he's plenty bright, although tests terribly.
    Anyone been there done that?
    Am I really ridiculous for thinking of this?
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I don't think you're nuts for considering it. For some children homeschooling is a good option. It does sound like he has a good placement this year with a good teacher but you need to do what you think is best. Look at it from all different angles and then make your decision. Hugs.

    For me, no way would I be able to homeschool difficult child-I can barely take the weekends-lol!
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We slid into it. difficult child 3 had increasingly had problems. Every year the problem behaviours would become a huge issue sooner. At first it was the last term only. Then it was the last two terms. Each year things were more severe and started sooner. Then by grade 5 the problems began almost immediately, and he was physically ill. At first we thought it was a low-grade GI infection because he was vomiting, complained of nausea every day (at least every school day) and actually had low-grade fevers. He seemed to improve a little on the weekends (I thought it was the chance to rest). But then Sunday evening and Monday morning, the fever would be back. Nothing major...

    The thing is, it meant that difficult child 3 spent a lot of time home form school. Even if I insisted and sent hi (dosed with paracetamol for the fever, and reassured that the nausea would pass) the school would send him home once he began vomiting.

    Doctors tried to tell us it was anxiety; the teacher insisted this was a physical illness and we would be negligent parents if we did not investigate in depth.

    It took most of that school year. Over tat year, difficult child 3 would have missed at least half of it. There was no way I wanted to complicate matters by 'rewarding' being home form school, with a holiday. So we brought in "school work during school hours" and the only way out of having to work, was to be asleep. He only sleeps when he's really unwell, and often not even then. So we then found that he was getting a vast amount of work done at home, much more than he ever got done in class. Hmmm... That class teacher, by the way, was always very hard on him. Always had been. I had worried she would be a problem. She refused to follow a lot of the accommodations put in place, although she followed the most important ones. But we realised later, this WAS purely stress and anxiety. But by this time, it was extreme and he was really very sick.

    Then we changed schools for difficult child 3. The new school was marvellous, they supported in every way, put in all the accommodations. difficult child 3 did better, but we could see that even with the best support, he still was not able to get his work done as well as those weeks and months he was sick at home. Then we were getting halfway through the school year, and things began to worsen again. The nausea began once more. I knew we were heading to hit the wall again, only this time at a school that was already doing the best they could.

    So we pulled him out. For us, it meant a transfer to the state correspondence school. But we realised, it had been a long, slow slide in that direction anyway.

    When we finally started the home correspondence, it was actually a huge relief. My workload actually eased. Instead of being tied down with my own schedule always on hold because of yet another call to come fetch the vomiting kid from school, I found we could do a lot of what we wanted. I was at last able to keep my own medical appointments. We went on holiday in the middle of the school term, but difficult child 3 kept working. However, the work now included the travel as part of the lesson. A week after we made the decision to transfer to correspondence, we left to go on holiday in Tasmania. Part of the curriculum included Australian colonial history, so when we travelled around, difficult child 3 kept a journal, photos and text, taking notes from various public displays and other places we visited. There's nothing like climbing to the top of a Shot Tower to really understand how the early soldiers made lead shot. And visiting Port Arthur gave difficult child 3 a good look at how the worst convicts were treated.

    A few year later when we went to New Zealand, the Science topic was continental drift and vulcanism. There is nothing like actually being there and smelling the sulfur, to really understand. When you are walking through a field or around the edge of a lake and needing to step carefully to avoid being scalded by steam, you really understand the power of geothermal energy.
    One day we were watching an educational show on TV that mentioned mangroves. difficult child 3 said, "I'd like to go visit some mangroves." Now, it happens we have some mangrove swamps near where we live, so that afternoon we grabbed the camera and drove there (five minutes away). difficult child 3 explored these trees and studied them in his own way for half an hour, then we wandered off to paddle by the shore. It was relaxing for me, it forced me out of the house and outside, but it was also a valuable lesson for difficult child 3. We also have temperate rainforest 15 minutes' drive away. Coal seams half an hour's drive away. But also in our travels difficult child 3 got to see the southern beech forests in Tasmania, and then two years later saw the same southern beech forests in the south of New Zealand. We also saw the tectonic plate margin - you can actually see it in New Zealand!

    Teachers struggled with difficult child 3 and his behaviour at times was difficult, to say the least. He could be aggressive and violent. The thought of me taking tis kid, sitting him down at a desk and saying, "this morning we will study English," seemed impossible. But home schooling needn't be so formal. You can adapt the methods to suit the way the child learns best. A great social lesson as well as mental arithmetic lesson is taking the kid shopping. Get him to help you find items on the shopping list. Or sit with him and plan the shopping trip. Plan to cook something. Ask him what he would like to help cook, then calculate what ingredients you need to buy. Then shop for them. Bring them hoe, pack away the shopping, then get cooking. It involves planning, it involves reading recipes (procedure), it is practical (hands on) and the end result should be a tasty reward as well as a positive achievement. It is also valid education. You don't do this every day necessarily. But you have this freedom.

    Last weekend we had to drive to Port Macquarie (a historic coastal resort) for a family wedding. Because of the shape of the east coast of Australia (mountain range inland, running the length north-south; hence rivers running from the mountains to the sea, east-west) we crossed a lot of rivers, just as the early explorers had rivers to cross. At every river, a city has been founded. The road takes us either through or near these cities and always, over the rivers. As we drove, each river became a landmark. "When we reach the Manning River, we have only one more hour to go, when we reach the Hastings River we will be there."
    As we drive we see the country changing, we see different crops growing, we see oyster leases in some rivers but not in others. If we had kept driving we would have seen the landscape change dramatically again, another two hours north with the banana plantations. It's a great way to learn.

    But even at home - you can assess your chid's level of engagement each morning and modify your plans accordingly. For example, today I know I have my cleaner coming in at midday and this always disrupts difficult child 3. So I have chosen one of his favourite subjects (Electronics) for him to work on, he can focus on this and shut out all distractions. He has his worksheets and kit form the school, he either does a theory sheet or he assembles a circuit, takes a photo of it working then moves on to the next worksheet.

    Getting started is always our problem. But we have a sneaky trick for that too - he earns a mini chocolate bar if he concentrates solidly for half an hour. And I know once he has concentrated solidly for half an hour, that is all it takes for him to stay on task for the rest of the day.

    I'm off to get him started...

    Good luck with this. Chances are - not only are you NOT crazy, but you may have just saved your sanity!

  4. Raven21901

    Raven21901 Guest

    My difficult child is 27 now but when he was 12 to 14 years of age I could not get this boy up for school for anything. He would throw stuff at me and curse me and say I am not going to school. It was getting so bad that I know if I did not do something I would probably get arrested for not sending him to school. Next step was to have him tested to see what I was up against before considering putting him on homeschooling. He tested off the charts. He tested on a 12 grade level. When he was in elementary school he was a straight A student. When he got into the middle school he thought it was uncool to get good grades so he was failing. Then I realized something when I took him to the doctors. His internal clock is backwards. After thinking back through the years I remember him always wanting to be up at night and sleep during the day. We have a few family members like that. So when I put him on home schooling he would do his schooling midafternoon into the evenings. Made it so much easier. Only problem is and I do not know how his dad did not get into trouble. When my difficult child son was 15 he decided he wanted to live with his dad because I would not allow him to hang on street corners with people who did drugs. His dad did drugs and drank so he figured he would be allowed to there. And he never enforced him to go to school. So he missed out on a education when he moved in with his dad. As for the question of homeschooling. I am all for it. It sure made things easier for me.
  5. agee

    agee Guest

    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.
    I know that difficult child will learn better at home - even at 8, heck, even in kindergarten, he'd tell you he can pay attention better when he's in a small group or working with one person. And the amount they actually get accomplished in 2nd grade is pretty minimal - I think we can accomplish more. I've been thinking that if we do it we'll take some steps backwards and focus on basic skills he should have learned in 1st grade and which he didn't. Some of his current struggle was due to that lost year.
    I just worry about its impact on me, my work schedule, my frustration level. Every morning here is horrible, however, and every afternoon it's 2 hours for him to do the small amount of homework sent home.
    I may have a pretend home school day next week and see how it goes - find out exactly what they're doing in school and keep him home and do it.
    If we *did* do it I wouldn't start until after the winter holiday break. If things keep going well it would be the start of next year. But if last week was an indication it's not going to keep going well.
    Lots to think about.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am not sure where you are but many states now have schools at home offered. Its basically a computerized program. I think GA actually has one that is offered to other states but you would have to check. I so wish this had been available when my kid flunked out of HS. There is also a thing called unschooling which is kind of like what the program did when my son was in wilderness camp. They didnt focus on actual work books for history, math or science but they wove those things into the program. Math was done constantly because all the kids had to figure out so many things and do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions...etc. They had to plan menus for their camps for the week, decide what food was needed, decide how much of each product was needed, how much of each product was needed per person...etc.
  7. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I've always considered school as respite. However, this year my difficult child kt is attending school from home on an online high school. It seems to be working very well for us. I'm talking about a 16 year old versus your 8 year old

    You'll need to structure your days for your difficult children sake. Break times are important ~ can he play in the backyard while you eat your lunch? Can someone step in during the course of your day to watch difficult child while you head out for coffee a couple of times a week. You will need respite of some sort.

    Good luck with whatever route you choose.
  8. troubledheart

    troubledheart New Member

    I have been homeschooling my 13 year old for the last year. It has gone really well, for the core subjects I found a set of DVD's that he loves, on his computer. He does not have internet access and these do not require it. He just didn't learn paper to pencil, like an NT would. He has really progressed in the past year. However, he is struggling socially now that summer is over (we school year round and take breaks when we want, but live in a relaxed state) and is pushing to go back to school. He wants so bad to be like everyone else, and then gets upset when he loses a friend fast. Summer time we have a campground we go to every weekend, and he has friends there, and follows the rules to a is just when others don't he has a huge problem with it. And it ends up in a meltdown.

    I am considering a virtual school thru a different district in my state (it is free) but they don't cater to Special Education for math, so this might be a problem, as math is not where his interests lie, it is in history.

    I like the fact that we can "home school" whenever, whereever we want, and where ever we find a learning opportunity. My husband teaches him woodworking and working in the shop, and yard maintainance and things of that sort. We have a "home maintainance" course in the winter....shovelling driveway, lol. But it is things he needs to know. We are also starting with consumer math for him to learn everyday math stuff. Not just Geometry and Algebra and all the stuff he will never use. He also just started reading the James Patterson series of books 1st - 7th and is doing a book report on each one. Hmm...

    Good luck, there is a TON of stuff out there. time4learning is good for younger ones and it is inexpensive.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    For maths, we have a computer-based option which works at whatever level you choose to set for the child. The level can be adjusted as needed and offers a lot of incentives to improvement. Lot's of "well done!" and certificates. It also allows the kids to 'play' against other kids of the same level, around the world. It is inexpensive (costs us A$99 a year and also has an English course included). There are very similar programs that in recent years have been loudly advertised and costing thousands or even tens of thousands, but frankly this is very similar in how it works and what it offers. For $99!

    We haven't enrolled this year because difficult child 3 wasn't studying Maths this year. But he's back to it next year, I think. We haven't chosen next year's subjects yet (overdue to choose - he begins next year's work in a few weeks).

    There are other similar programs, it has greatly undercut the very expensive private Math coaching system. We did look into the expensive one for easy child, but at the time it was only offered on easy child and not Mac, plus they used a lot of personal consultants to personally sell it, and tihs is very expensive marketing. We didn't want to pay for the marketing staff, we just wanted the programming. So we prefer this much cheaper version. There are also some good software packages you can get, which help.
    So Google Mathletics and see what you think.

  10. agee

    agee Guest

    Thank you, thank you.
    I don't think we have free virtual school for kids my son's age in my state, although there is virtual high school and possible middle school. I looked at time4learning and I think it will really do the trick re:basic skills stuff. I would take him all the way back to 1st grade skills work to re-learn and also give him some success. He is experiencing epic failure currently, and it won't hurt to review all the stuff he missed last year.
    I understand about the need for socialization and also respite. My neighbor/friend suggested I enroll him in our school's after-school program a couple times a week. I can do this with-o him attending the school and I think it's a great idea. He was in the program last year because I worked and that plus a full day of school was too much, but if he had school at home he could go and play for a couple of hours with other kids, giving him friends and giving me a break. I love this idea.
    This morning getting ready for school was horrible, which both deterred me from wanting to do this but also supported why I probably need to do this. He would not get ready. Would not put on shoes. Would not get in the car. I had to literally pick him up and throw him in the car, backpack and shoes following. He was handed over to a teacher at school with-one shoe on, one shoe off. It made me sick to my stomach.
    I really appreciate the feedback.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We found that we didn't really need to worry too much about socialising - difficult child 3 when in mainstream would come home with loads of homework to do; it was a lot of work he had not been able to do during the day. So after holding himself together all day, he got more of it at home and we had meltdowns. The struggle would continue into the night and of course meant he could not go play with friends until the work was done. And it was never done. Once we made the change to school at home, difficult child 3 got the work done during school hours, so he was ready to go play when the neighbourhood kids got home from school.
    The joy of difficult child 3 being able to go visit friends after school - if there is a problem, or another kid there who is bullying him, he can come straight home. He has choice. Also I would often tag along and talk to the parent in the kitchen or in the background, so I was present and that helped my son's friends to learn the early warning signs for when he needed to be sent home. But over time difficult child 3 himself has learned how to remove himself, with no outside help.

    However, attending after school care is a good idea. Often these arrangements have activity afternoons where play is more directed. These would be the better days to choose, if you can (the circus skills afternoon, or the theatre sports afternoon). We used to go shopping sometimes. Or he could enrol in an after school organisation or activity (tennis club, drama class - which difficult child 3 does - or similar). Directed activity is less likely to cause problems socially.

    With the failure to get ready (in mainstream) - there's no need, for home schooling, for the child to get dressed if he doesn't want to right away. difficult child 3 often starts his schoolwork while still in his pyjamas. But if someone visits or a tradesman arrives, difficult child 3 gets embarrassed if he's caught in his pyjamas in the middle of the day.

    WHen the child has some choice and control in areas that don't matter, it's easier to get them to cooperate in areas that do.

    A suggestion - how about you try this out for a set time - you do have to have some academic material available from somewhere as well as some minimum expectations in terms of outcomes. See how you go and if you feel you're not having the success you hoped for, make sure you can put him back in mainstream when you need to. The measure of success perhaps could be - can we do a better job at home?

    Easy to assess.

  12. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Good Luck with whatever you decide ! :D Keep us posted because someday I may be in the same boat ....