I have decided

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TeDo, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I have finally decided on a form of homeschooling for difficult child. With the punishment mentality of the schools in our area, I just can't see difficult child surviving there anymore. He's not rebounding from what happened at school #1 last year the way I'd hoped after the summer break and changing to school #2. But then again, they seem to be of the same mentality of school #1.

    I have heard a lot of good things from parents in this area about Connections Academy and am going to enroll difficult child. It is an online Accredited Charter School. He is excited about it. They even do IEP's so difficult child can continue to get services and accomodations, although changes will need to be made to take out the school setting-specific stuff.

    At the same time, easy child/difficult child is getting so stressed by all the homework he has every day (3-4 hrs worth) that makes it so that he has NO free time from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. He said today that he wants to do this too. I will give him another day or two to think about it some more. I don't want him changing his mind as soon as we start.

    Has anyone here heard of this program? I would be interested to hear if anyone has heard anything or has experience with them.
  2. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I haven't heard of the Connections Academy. I have heard of the on-line program k12.com which is also an on-line school. The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) used it with difficult child 1 and my mom used it with my sister. Both kids did very well with it.

    good luck.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    Haven't heard anything about this specific program, but most personal feedback I've gotten about any virtual school has been good.

    Given the issues you've been dealing with, I think this is a good choice. I hope it will prove to be a good choice as well.
  4. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I have only seen the website... it looks appealing. I have looked at the tuitions. Do you know if there is a way to get it tuition-free through the public school system?
    I had heard of k-12, but it is not available tuition-free in NC.
    You have a lot more experience with school and difficult child, but I have been playing with the idea of a virtual school as a plan B. In case standart school is a disaster (which I fear it will be...).
    Keep us posted on your findings and experiences.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Ktllc, I really don't know of course, it's just an idea - but you might be surprised by how well V gets on at school... I was surprised with how well J gets on at school. Structure and routine seem to suit him and also he is bright and wants to learn things - from what you have said V sounds the same.
    I have profound admiration for people who do homeschooling...
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    ktllc, from everything I have seen and heard, at least here, it is a free Public Charter School. I don't have to pay anything, they provide all the materials just like a regular school and in most areas they will even provide a computer for the students to use. I will try to find out if that is true in your area.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I'm jealous. I always wanted to homeschool but my difficult children made it impossible. Of course, I wish this wasn't being forced upon you by the difficult child-school.
  8. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Thanks TeDo. Any tips help! I might ask the teachers at head start about different options. The more information, the better.
    Malika: V goes to preschool everyday and he is not able to learn anything because of his lack of social skills. He is just withdrawn, in his own world having private conversations.
    I know how much troubles experienced parents are having with schools... and I'm not sure I want to fight like that. I value education, but not at any cost I guess.
    It is probably too early for me to have a real opinion on the matter, but seems like having an opened mind is key.
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I had not realised that Ktllc. For myself - all any of us can say - I see the benefits of staying within the established school sector as outweighing the disadvantages for difficult children. Where it is possible and clearly sometimes it isn't. And personally I just couldn't do homeschooling, no way. I am afraid I totally need the space from J during school time, and I think he really benefits from space from me too, engaging in his own world in his own way... I am very conscious of my own limitations...
    For those who are inspired and equipped to homeschool, I can see that it could be a real blessing in certain situations.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika - We are not equiped for homeschool either, for various reasons. As a result, we have spent at least that much time, effort, and money to find ways for difficult child to survive/succeed in the school system. For us... we are in fact getting there. It has taken much too long. But... had we homeschooled? Academically, he'd be farther ahead, but in terms of socially and in terms of enrichment classes, we could not have given him what he needed.

    BUT. That is our difficult child, not anyone else's.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Insane - thanks for your comments. Would you consider describing your children individually in your personal description so that we could know a bit more about who is who and what is what - all in perfect anonymity of course? If you'd rather not, no worries of course :)
    A friend of mine is starting up a homeschooling venture in Marrakesh that in many ways sounds really great. If J were a easy child, I'd be all for moving back there and joining in. But as it is I think he really needs a tighter structure and the practice in social skills that he gets from being around normal kids in normal set-ups. As you say, Insane, that's just my particular case...
  12. Morningglory

    Morningglory New Member

    Tedo, I have stated before That I home school my difficult child. Best choice I ever could have made. He is responding well to the daily routine and very active in class. For those of you that haven't seen my other posts We use Wilo Worlds 3D It does have a tuition, but they help make it more affordable to pay by letting you make monthly payments. This comes out of my difficult child's SSI. as far as k-12 goes, I did try to get difficult child enrolled into this first, but after paying a 500$ Fee for application ( this is not refundable) there is not a sure enrollment as they have a limit as to how many students can enroll into each grade. I was pretty steamed. Their 6th grade was full and could not get in.

    Check it out if your interested in a very structured on-line schooling experience.

    Tedo, I'm sorry the school system failed to meet your difficult child's needs. If it's one system we should be able to trust with our kids it's the school system. I think you made a good choice. Here to cheer you and difficult child on and sending positive mommy energy to you.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Malika, your views are ones I held for many years - that homeschooling cannot replace the wonderful social advantages of attending a mainstream local school.

    Then I got a better perspective on our particular situation and realised I'd been looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. For us.

    Basically, when you have a kid who for whatever reason is not coping at school academically, what we are now doing is preferable. And what we are doing sounds very similar to a charter school - it is a government-based (therefore free) correspondence school. There are teachers, there is a physical location, students can (if they want to take up the opportunity) attend the school roughly once a month for "study days" in a particular subject (and at such times get to interact with other kids under careful supervision where needed). We even can go in to the school for a one-on-one lesson. We can telephone teachers any time, we can email them any time and increasingly, the work is available to do online. Historically, the work comes via snail mail and we make sure the kid does it then a parent checks it is done, signs off on it ("student's own work") as a formality and we post it back. The SpEd department at difficult child 3's school is marvellous, I must have been such a pain to them this year with the will-he-won't-he do his HSC exams (and therefore need special provisions to be applied for) but the SpEd has been on the ball, always sounding chirpy and friendly even when I feel if it were me, I'd be wanting to throttle me.

    Back when we were first proposing that difficult child 3 needed to transfer to Distance Education, I was actively blocked from this by the district education office. Their reasons for veto - "difficult child 3 is autistic, autistic kids need to be in mainstream in order to receive the social interaction so vital to their development."
    I finally stumbled across the website of a young man called James Williams - he gave his personal perspective on the all-important social skills and made me realise - getting bullied at school every day and learning to be reactive, hypersensitive and oppositional is NOT good social interaction, nor is it natural. These kids are already struggling to pick up social stuff, they do NOT pick it up by osmosis, like the rest of the world. If you have a kid who has lived in isolation (as we get in Australia, kids whose families live "out in the donga" thousands of miles form the nearest school) and that kid gets an opportunity to go to a mainstream school (family moves to the city; sends kid to boarding school) then there will be an adjustment period, but a 'normal' kid will pick up the social stuff quickly just by being around others. But an autistic or Aspie kid, even one who has been socialised from very young (as difficult child 3 was; as all my kids were) will still struggle.

    Think about what is normal for a person. We spend most of our lives as adults, interacting with other people as adults. When in our lives, apart from school, will we be expected to fit in with a group of children the same age as us, in an environment where we sit together all day under the supervision of one adult whose job it is to tell us what to do? Occupational Therapist (OT) even in a typing pool, is it quite like this. School is an artificial environment, and while learning to fit in at school can be valuable for a 'normal' kid, it is just one more useless thing to learn, for an autistic or Aspie. Of course they need to learn social skills, but school social skills, for autistics, do not help them learn adult skills later on. What works best is for the kids to learn adult skills from the beginning. And for a lot of them, it is how they NEED to learn their social interactions.

    Absence of Theory of Mind has meant, for difficult child 3, that he does not distinguish between children and adults. This is despite intense work with him in mainstream, both at school and at home. With autistic kids, with ANY kind of difficult child, if they are not able to do a certain task or learn a certain way, they will not respond positively to any attempts to force the issue. And for difficult child 3, mainstream was forcing this issue to intolerable levels. Some autistics will cope with this; some will not. It is very individual.

    So what happened when we made the change?

    First I'll tell you about difficult child 1. We did this first with him. He was in his final year of school and failing. Mainstream. Socially, he had his friends (the weird kids) but academically, his ability to stay focussed on schoolwork and pick it up the way it was presented (mostly verbally, in a distracting environment) meant he was not hearing anything. He would therefore come home from school with piles of homework - all the work he had been unable to do that day at school. He would then sit at home into the evening and the night, struggling with the work as his ADHD medications had worn off. He was permanently grounded due to lack of homework being done. "You can go to your friend's place when your homework is done" meant that he never got to go to his friend's house.

    We made the change. His mainstream SpEd was also his English teacher and a former Distance Ed staffer. She liaised with Distance Ed English department to help pull him through his English HSC exam that year. We dropped half his subjects and he worked hard on what was left. He had a lot of one-on-one lessons and they got him through. He then had to do the remaining half of the HSC, over the next two years.

    What about social stuff? Well, now he was working on his schoolwork at home, teachers on call over the phone (I had to make the phone calls, he could not initiate a phone call to save his life) and all DURING SCHOOL HOURS. He was getting the work done. No more homework - it was ALL homework, and all getting done while he had his medications on board. So socially, difficult child 1 would work on school stuff all day and when school hours finished, he had got his work done. Time to play. Neighbourhood kids would drop in on their way home from school to find difficult child 1 ready to play a computer game with them, ready to go visit, ready for anything.
    So socially, things improved out of sight. Meanwhile he kept up his friendship with "the weird kids" from mainstream. They are all still good friends 10 years later.

    difficult child 3 - he spent a lot of time home with me anyway, because school was either not coping and sending him home, or difficult child 3 was vomiting at school (undiagnosed mystery illness, turned out to be severe anxiety). It was unpredictable; I cancelled many medical appointments and other stuff I was involved in, because I would get an urgent call to collect my child. I learned to keep him home if I had a specialist appointment, bring the kid with me. I was packing educational materials I had bought for this sort of situation. Meanwhile I was fighting the district education people who insisted difficult child 3 could not be in Distance Ed.

    What we found - difficult child 3, when he came out with me (doctors, shopping, meetings etc) he learned to interact with a wider range of humanity. He talked to shopkeepers. He took himself around to his favourite shops and window-shopped for what he wanted. He asked for help from shopkeepers. "Can you price-match this product for me?" I kid you not, it was amazing. When shopping I would set him a task - "go get these items on the shopping list. Try to choose the most economical size or brand." As a result, he got some practical mental arithmetic lessons (we now have unit pricing - didn't back then).

    Basically, when we switched away from mainstream, both boys improved their social skills. It took difficult child 3 a few years to stop being dangerously reactive to other people, he still can be prickly with husband. But he unlearned all the bad stuff from mainstream, while in my care and supervision. I was on the spot to help him learn the adult way to interact. All the lessons we had tried to teach him in mainstream began to bear fruit - "don't hit back. Don't start anything. Walk away. Tell someone. Ask for help."

    My boys learned to interact as adults, with adults. Still a learning curve with difficult child 3, but he has a better understanding now of the broader spectrum of humanity. In school you sit with kids your age, you play with kids your age (or get ignored by them). You deal with their immaturities and pettiness. But when you interact with adults, it is safer. You learn the variety, you learn to adapt your own responses according to the situation. But you don't have to deal with the extreme nastiness that kids are capable of, especially to someone who can't understand it well enough to survive it.

    I'm not saying this is the best way for all kids. If a kid can handle mainstream, it is one of the best ways to learn. But if a kid is not coping, all the usual arguments against any form of home schooling just do not apply.

    We need to change our thinking on this and recognise that for some kids, learning adult skills is actually the best shortcut. And home schooling can be socially enriching!

  14. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I just want to tell you your post is FANTASTIC!!! Thanks for sharing. It will guide me in my quest in helping V.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, Aidenjames...
    Can you introduce yourself? Perhaps on a new thread...
    What brings you to our world?

    If you have been following this thread, and others started by this member recently, you would understand that her difficult child indeed has special problems, and school is not working... It is a very difficult decision, usually, to choose to homeschool - but for some kids, there is no other answer.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Marg, I understand better from your post why homeschooling could be a sane and healing option for some Aspergers or autistic children. Thanks for explaining. There is so much to learn about all this! For a child like J, though, homeschooling would be a real calvary - he wants and craves the company of other kids so much. He has already been socialised enormously I would say from having been to school - has learnt how to wait his turn as a matter of course, how to play amicably, etc. So, as always, it is case by case - no generalisations about homeschooling, or anything else...
  17. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When my difficult child was at his "darkest", 2nd through 5th grade, homeschooling was TOTALLY appealing. He was a smart kid who liked to learn, but school was so tough for him (and H**l for me).

    When he was on a modified day in 2nd grade, I worked with him the other half of the day and was amazed at how much more we could accomplish 1 on 1. However, I also knew that most of difficult child's issues (even though there were lds) related to social interaction, reaction to stress and/or discipline, his sense of entitlement, understanding he wasn't the only one considered when decisions were made, etc.

    I felt that learning how to relate to other kids (i.e., taking turns, understanding when someone was joking, etc.), becoming part of a group, realizing that he didn't drive the program, and everything that relates to was more important that just the academic aspect.

    For us, it paid off. Slowly but surely he began to learn the lessons he was so behind his peers with. He still is not really that social, has three kids he really talks to, is quiet and reserved and stubborn, doesn't really talk to his teachers, but he gets it. He still has that difficult child entitlement gene, but he complies and rarely gets in trouble. His teachers typically have positive things to say and he ended his first year of high school with honor roll grades. It's a far cry from the 2-3 times a week I used to have to go and bring him home from school because he was raging, tipping desks, classroom cleared of kids, etc.

    I think it's so totally personal. Each of our kids is soooooo different.

    TeDo, you have the right attitude going in - you are excited and optimitistic - it will be great for the boys because they will benefit from that enthusiasm! The program sounds great. Does easy child/difficult child go to a private school? My easy child used to have hours of homework in middle school too (she went to a private school and it was highly academically challenging but she was totally over prepared for high and was able to take advanced classes and some college credits). I think that amount of homework is ridiculous - I kinda think homework is silly too, but that's another discussion.

    Good luck - keep us posted.

  18. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    LDM, easy child/difficult child is in our local public school (school #1 for difficult child). You know, the ones that refused to work with me AT ALL when it came to difficult child. I agree, this amount of homework is a**inine. If you're going to give homework, at least give them SOME time during your class to get it started. I am so tired of them handing out homework assignments as the kids are leaving the class. Then they dock points if it is late (they are always due the next day). WHEN are they supposed to ask questions if they don't understand something????
  19. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you've found a workable solution, and that difficult child is on board with it. Miss KT would have been less than cooperative at the notion of homeschooling, and given the heightened state of drama around here when anything resembling homework help was presented...well, let's just say that someone would have gotten hurt.
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You're right, Malika. It very much is case by case. difficult child 3 was always the social butterfly, despite his autism label. He loves being around people, he enjoys younger kids especially (more on his social level I think) and enjoys helping other kids especially with computers and computer games.

    The issue with mainstream for us - was the social experience productive and generally a positive one? If so, then stick with it. We stuck it out for years because we felt it was best. But when it became apparent that FOR US it was not working and in fact was seriously damaging what social skills difficult child 3 had, we made the change.

    We have a friend in the village who a few years ago removed her boys from the local school in order to home-school them. The boys are PCs, nice kids, a bit odd because their mother is a hippy and never cut the boys' hair. The eldest boy at school has feminine facial features and long blonde curls down to his waist, is likely to cop a lot of bullying. But even here, this boy was coping well and was popular with the other kids. He really is a nice kid.
    But his mother was doing very little about his education. The boy was himself being proactive and seeking out learning opportunities. His younger brother far less so; he was only 8 and enjoying communing with butterflies. I organised a couple of "school excursions" for the boys, took difficult child 3 along too because I felt it would be good for him (he is friends with these boys). We had a good day, I think the boys learnt a lot, we explored local forests and got very hands-on with a lot of stuff. But these boys were starving for intellectual content.
    A few months later the older boy asked to be allowed to go back to school. When he got back, after 2 years' home schooling, they found he was ahead of his grade in some areas and behind in others. He has since fitted back in and is now in high school. His mother's experiment with home schooling is now over; I think she realised that she was actually supposed to be teaching the boys and not simply allowing unstructured play time.

    Aidenjames, I understand and respect your views. However, it all needs to be taken in balance. And the modern classroom environment is a very recent thing, it is not normal. If it works - great. But it doesn't always work and is not always the right fit. Not for all kids. As I said in my earlier post - if mainstream works, then great. But we need to have options for those kids who struggle and for whom mainstream is a bad fit. And in Australia, we do have places too remote for mainstream education. That's why in Australia we also have correspondence school options. They actually do give these otherwise home-schooled kids the necessary social interaction but in a controlled, structured way.