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View Full Version : What kind of school experience did YOU have as a kid?



CrazyMom
12-30-2014, 01:24 AM
Would love to know what YOUR school experience was like, and maybe comment a little on how alike or different your kid's school experience was/is.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
12-30-2014, 06:11 PM
Public school, K through 12. I was one of the youngest in my class, painfully shy, bright, and sensitive. I did well academically in elementary and middle school (the work was easy), but never developed the self-discipline and work ethic to do as well as I could have in high school. I had a wonderful group of friends and that made my high school years pretty happy over all. A few minor bullying incidents, but nothing traumatic. 90% of my teachers were competent, but uninspiring.

I do want to give my kids a better academic program than I had. When I got to college, I realized how narrow my education was, despite honors and AP classes. I hardly knew anything about world religions, never learned about any social sciences besides history (and only US and European at that), and had read only a handful of "great books" in English class. My kids are certainly getting a more challenging and deeper elementary education than I received by a long shot.

Emotionally, I hope my daughter, who is similarly shy and sensitive, will come out of homeschooling more confident and comfortable in her own skin. My son... well, he's my non-neurotypical kid... I shudder to think what a rigid, peer-centric school environment would do to him.

elvesandgiants
12-30-2014, 06:16 PM
I think the real difference is that my kids are confident. No one ever told them they weren't wearing the right clothes or their interests were nerdy. For my daughter I see a huge difference. At her age I was withdrawn and sad. We weren't well off. My parents were in graduate school so I was one of the poor kids, subsidized lunches and goodwill clothes. I retreated into books. My daughter also loves to read, but she has an active social life. She doesn't care what she looks like or if her interests aren't the normal "girl" interests. About 2 years ago we were at the library and she was playing with a bunch of kids, some she didn't know. A girl came up to her and said "I don't like you. I hate you." My daughter shrugged and answered, "That's okay. Not everybody has to like everybody." and then she went happily back to playing. It was perhaps one of the wisest things I've ever heard anyone say. I would have felt destroyed at her age to have someone tell me they didn't like me. Homeschooling has given her confidence in herself. At her age I spent hours every week day in an environment with people who ridiculed me. She spends her time in an environment where people think she's awesome and where she's allowed to fail until she succeeds. And her friends are mostly homeschoolers so they feel confident to be different too. I love that.

dragonfly
12-30-2014, 06:26 PM
I think I'd describe it as insular. My kindergarten teacher was also my 12th grade English teacher. There were several kids in my graduating class that could say the same. Some teachers were good, one or two great, some not so great. Bullying and the like were never really an issue for me, fortunately, but sometimes being in a small school felt like being under a microscope. I was expected to act and achieve a certain way, and it was a revelation to go off to college and be just another face in the crowd.

Looking back, I wish there had been some kind of effort on the part of the school to prepare us for life after high school, whether it was going straight into the job market, how to succeed in college, or just to figure out what might be the right path or paths to choose.

It wasn't a bad experience, but not one that I really enjoy looking back on fondly. It was as good as it could be, but I wish it could have been better, I guess.

CrazyMom
12-30-2014, 08:56 PM
I had an undiagnosed anxiety problem and skipped school like my life depended on it.

Massive panic attacks daily. In elementary school, I very literally missed 50 school days per year due to crushing anxiety attacks. Some days I would simply wake up and feel like my life depended on staying home.

My teachers would beg me to come to school....I was a terrific student. My friends would miss me and feel let down when I didn't show up for a while. My mother would beg/threaten/cry/scream...attempt to take me forcibly to school. At six and seven years old...I would leap out of the car at an intersection and run as hard as I could to escape school...didn't matter where. I'd run and hide under bushes, run for a patch of woods....scared everyone to death. My mother was horrified...had no idea what to do. I always felt horrible for running....but in the throws of an anxiety attack, I honestly felt like being told to go to school was being asked to walk to my death...would have felt no different. Who wouldn't run from that? My mother would send me to the bus stop in the morning and I'd dash away at the last minute and hide in the garage until the school bus left.

These were the days before people believed kids could suffer depression or anxiety disorders. Kids feel irrational terror? That's just silly, what do they have to feel that stressed out about? My guidance counselor told me, "All kids get butterflies in their stomachs some days, why are you really missing school?" Because, asshat...some days it literally feels like if I go to school I will die. Asking me to go to school feels literally exactly the same as if you asked me to walk off a cliff at the grand canyon, or asked me to put a gun in my mouth, or asked me to walk in front of a train. I don't come to school....because I don't want to die. It's not butterflies.

At home, I was a cooperative easy going kid. (relatively....I was pretty normal other than the anxiety attacks)

On the days when I could FORCE myself to go to school (the anxiety came in different intensities, the lower grade anxiety, I could work through, the blinding white extreme anxiety...forget it)...I had a great time. I was bored a lot, got caught up with everything I'd missed very easily, and enjoyed my friends (two lifelong friends from first grade....one who is currently my sister in law and an absolute doppelganger of my daughter, and one who is still my best friend who I talk to daily and see weekly....really great relationships with good support) I got As and Bs. My teachers always lamented that if I showed up more often, I'd be wildly successful and should attend gifted classes (something I didn't want to do).

Weirdly, for a kid with anxiety....I also loved theater. Acting, singing, reading. I was an insanely comfortable public speaker....which made my anxiety attacks seem even more bizarre to everyone. If I had one at school, I'd throw up and go home....no one really knew what I went through, and no one questions vomit. Weirdly, I never missed a performance of any theater show I was in. Came close a few times, but I always managed to make it on stage. (A lot of directors sweated about this, but cast me anyway in smaller roles and independent performances that could be cut if necessary.)

A truancy officer came to my house nearly every year. They talked to my mom and doctor, checked out my home, knew my brothers went to school with perfect attendance and that my parents showed up to conferences....so they shrugged their shoulders and went away until the next year.

In high school, you couldn't miss more than 24 days per semester and be allowed to graduate. I missed exactly 48 days of each year of high school. LOL. The year I graduated, my guidance counselor called me into his office and said he'd discovered something remarkable. He'd added up all my missed days K-12....I'd missed over two and a half school-years.

I graduated in the top ten of my class. My friend (who would be my sis in law) was our salutatorian. Went to college and did better...but still had hard days with anxiety, so I visited student mental health services (something my mother would have been horrified by). They prescribed my first antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication...(I think it was Paxil, I've tried several different ones over the years. I know Paxil worked for a long while around that age, but there might have been a different one before Paxil)...and it was like putting shoes on for the first time in a world of broken glass and rocks. This amazing place where no one struggles, where things aren't impossible, where sudden onsets of panic don't sabotage things you WANT and NEED to do. I couldn't believe normal people had life so easy. It was just amazing. I loved college. I didn't miss classes, and I did very well. And then I loved working. I never missed work.

Everyone always asked me "What do you DO all day at home???" And you don't know how to answer that as a kid, but when I think about it now...the answer is that I educated myself. I watched science films, I loaded up on books from the library, I did creative projects and built things, I did chores for my mom in an attempt to make a mends for worrying the hell out of her. I spent a lot of time outside, taking photos, looking at things under a microscope, keeping journals, writing stories, solving problems. And I begged to be home schooled. Seriously, Mom, I can do it myself. I can teach myself anything if we can get the books.

And my mom helplessly said..."I would if I could. But I don't have a teaching certificate, and it's illegal."

So there you have it. This story could be....

1. A cautionary tale about taking mental health issues seriously in kids.

or

2. An illustration of how much better homeschool would have met the (mental/emotional/academic) needs of one particular student....who wasn't allowed to...because it was illegal.

or

3. An endorsement of anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication from a crazy lady.

LOL. However you look at it, I guess it is what it is:)

beachbum
12-30-2014, 09:30 PM
Bored .... as....hell!! The ENTIRE 13 years! I got horrid grades too because I just didn't give a crap. I was actually bored to tears in college too but because I was 1. paying to be there and 2. it affected my future career I actually did the work and got good grades.

KittyP
12-31-2014, 02:27 AM
Honestly I can't fit it ll in to one category, so I picked 'meh'. The first two years I homeschooled and I don't remember much about it, then private school which I realize now was a very bad experience, but at the time I thought that's just what it was supposed to be like. Sixth grade was in public school, which was more or less hell, then seventh made sixth look like a cake walk as I struggled with my parent's separation, my own budding puberty, losing friends as I switched from public back to homeschooling, then back to the private school which had completely lost its nut. Eighth grade was amazing, back in public school with real friends and amazing teachers. Ninth grade we moved but both schools were great public school experiences, then moved again for sophomore year back to the first school. Junior and senior years were in a private boarding school that deserved to be burned to the ground and a few of the teachers should have been in prison, not teaching teenagers. But I met my husband there, so not all bad.

Compared to Kiddo's impression of school? He still has a hard time wrapping his head around why his public schooled friends aren't home at noon. Or what this homework thing is, doesn't everybody get to build legos for school?

inmom
12-31-2014, 08:18 AM
Bored....bored....bored. As a result, I never really learned how to study. It smacked me in the face when I went to college for a physics degree. Went from an all A student to being happy for my B's and C's. Took freshman year to figure out how to learn.

Kiddos were bored too, but in elementary school. I didn't want the same thing to happen to them.

PoppinFresh
12-31-2014, 08:42 AM
I went to public school in a small town for grades K - 12. The town was rather well off but my family was not - I was a free lunch kid. I was teased constantly. I didn't fit in with any group. After a while I collected a small group of loners and we became friends, had our own fun, and we are still friends today. I wouldn't go back to high school if you paid me.

Starkspack
12-31-2014, 09:01 AM
I said meh - I certainly wouldn't classify it as the best years of my life, but I mostly enjoyed school. I was a good student, didn't get into trouble, was medium-popular (so not a target from either end of the popularity spectrum), and I was a band geek. I worked hard and took advanced classes, but definitely would say many times I was bored.

Our decision to HS DD didn't have much to do with OUR experience with school. Rather, it started with my not wanting to be away from her any more than necessary, and interest continued when I started paying attention to the problems in schools today. Now with the freedom we enjoy with no "school", I can't imagine life any other way.

fastweedpuller
12-31-2014, 09:44 AM
Excepting middle school, I was a private school kid, small classes, I did well. Loved learning, especially loved reading. But, sure, I was bored. So I said "meh" too...I did not expect school to be the be-all end-all (college or grad school either)...they were means to an end. I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to have a party upon high school graduation. I thought that was weird: was this really an accomplishment, graduating from high school?

Private school was the route for DD too until it didn't work for her. Public is not an option 'round here, she'd flounder. So homeschool it is. And we're learning right alongside her, which is SO COOL. "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."

RTB
12-31-2014, 10:05 AM
I also vote "Meh". I was never that into school.

I really wanted to be home with my mom in elementary school. I would have done well in homeschool then.

Middle school was terrible. Mostly bullying issues.

High school, it was ok. I can't really say I learned all that much (at least it felt that way), nor was I inspired. Most of my teachers were nice and approachable. Socially I enjoyed high school, but not enough to go to any reunions or anything.

When I got to college I felt well prepared (so I must have learned something anyway). I was lucky that the HS I went to was rigorous, despite being a PS. For the most part, I enjoyed my college classes and internships. Plus the fact that I had a ton of fun helped!

Tanaqui
12-31-2014, 10:10 AM
Elementary school I mostly read under my desk and was bullied.

Middle school I mostly read under my desk and was bullied horrifically.

High school I alternated between reading under my desk and being very much out of my depth (because years of reading under my desk had not prepared me for classwork I didn't immediately grasp and because the highly prestigious, test-to-get-in school I was in didn't really have a good safety net for failing students - still doesn't, afaik, and I actually got a better education AFTER transferring out, not that people who weren't in that school believe me) and was bullied pretty badly (but not quite as badly as middle school).

From middle school onward I never quite managed more than four days of school in a week, but I didn't get calls home until 9th grade, which is the year I started consistently missing about a month in winter, every year. (That month in winter was probably caused as much by seasonal depression as the existing school refusal, though.)

I'm extremely skeptical of proclamations that schools take bullying more seriously now. It seems to me that it's got to be a lot easier to say you're bully-free than to actually take the steps required to be bully-free.

TrayKay
12-31-2014, 11:52 AM
Wrote about my public school experience and the "socialization" I received in this post:

unSocialized - Tired of the Socialization Issue (http://unsocialized.net/pt/Tired-of-the-Socialization-Issue/blog.htm)

Thankful my children have escaped, through home ed, the dismal and often dangerous environment that I experienced in public school.

Jeni
12-31-2014, 12:02 PM
It wasn't quite as dramatic as needing therapy. I didn't hate every second. K-mid 2nd was good, then we moved across the country and from mid 2nd - 8th it pretty much sucked hard. High school wasn't AS bad, the later years when I met my (now) husband, had a job, and could drive were a lot better. I was bullied and picked on a lot. I fell behind academically and didn't have the educational support at home. I had a lot of social, emotional, and physical issues at school that I didn't realize until looking back as an adult were from what was going on at home. Abuse and poverty played a big part in those years of suckieness. Teachers knew what was going on, but nothing was done to help us until I was a senior in high school. They helped get us into a shelter and start the ball rolling that got us safely away.

My kid's experience is 100% different. Obviously the homeschooling, having siblings close in age, having parents invested in their education and willing/able to learn if they don't know something. We are money poor but family rich. My kids don't live in the poverty I did. They have happily married parents who love each other and them too. Of course we make our share of mistakes, we get frustrated in a way a traditional teacher probably wouldn't. But overall, I think they will have a much more positive experience then I did.

MNDad
12-31-2014, 01:42 PM
Interesting question. I was looking for "None of the above" in the options.

K-8 is a blur. Can't recall anything too special about it. Always felt like something better had to be coming up the next year.

9th grade was unequivocally the worst year of my life. Shy, skinny, athletically ungifted, self-conscious kid in an enormous high school where football ruled. I felt like a Martian. A depressed, dysfunctional Martian.

10-12: Saved by admission to a magnet school that had dual focus on academics and the arts. Suddenly surrounded by 100 kids who were just as quirky as I, or more. Discovered languages - Latin, French, Russian. Some of my favorite years there. They even gave me credit for a class I never attended in exchange for writing the code for the school's attendance and grade management system. This was 1981-1982; and I guess it never occurred to the public school admins that this wasn't most brilliant idea. Always felt I owed everything good in my life to one particular teacher there who even took me to France to spend part of the summer with their family. Huge debt of gratitude to this petite, selfless, inspirational, yet demanding teacher.

ejsmom
12-31-2014, 02:45 PM
School was fine, it was about grades, not learning, and I could pull A's out my ass with little to no effort. The "gifted" and "college bound" classes were a joke. I was involved in many activities, had friends and boyfriends, though was not in the "elite" at my school, as my family was too poor, too working class, and not college educated, and many of my schoolmates' parents were college profs. My family was also rather messed up, parents marriage imploding, one or the other leaving, putting too much on me, and expecting me to be far more adult than I should have been. I worked my butt off every spare second for cash to buy lunches, clothes, a car. My school mates went on to top colleges (Seven Sisters, and small private colleges), and there was no money for that. I was a waitress to keep a roof over my head and took classes here and there when I had the funds. K-12 was way better for me than my 20's. My child is growing up in a completely different atmosphere.

Avalon
12-31-2014, 03:05 PM
I was both bored and eager to please. I spent a lot of time reading novels in class, which didn't bother the teachers because at least I wasn't being disruptive and I got all my work done. I was quiet, shy, and was kind of the class "brain." I always felt awkward and out of place and experienced my fair share of bullying and "mean girls". My overall impression was that I hated school, but I desperately wanted to fit in and succeed at the same time.

I was very focussed on grades, so my marks were high, but when I graduated I felt like I didn't really get a proper education. When I started researching homeschooling and choosing materials for my kids, I felt very cheated, like I missed out on a real education. I have learned a lot through homeschooling, but I can't help feeling like things could have been different.

Aroura
12-31-2014, 03:12 PM
I picked Loved it! Best years of my life! Even though that isn't completely true. There is no option for I just enjoyed it and did well. They certainly weren't the BEST years of my life.

However, I always enjoyed school and I did do well. I went to a private Catholic school from K through 6, then regular public schools from 7 through 12. I had a couple of average teachers and only one bad one. I was never a social butterfly, I had a couple of friends from grade school that I kept, and a few new ones I made in middle and high school, but I was mostly a loner. I was more like Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter books. I know I was a bit of an insufferable know-it-all as a kid, and I had a personality (still have it, I suppose) that strives to do my best and please authority. I was often teachers pet, or at least a favorite.

I remember I had learned a song from some silly TV show that spelled HIPPOPOTAMUS. My third grade teacher was giving us a spelling test, and told us that if we worked hard, some day we'd be able to spell really hard words, like hippopotamus. I raised my hand and blurted out that I already knew now to spell that. I'm sure you can see Hermoine here. Anyway, I spelled it for him, and he said I was wrong, but I knew it from a song, and insisted I was right. He checked a dictionary, and then had to tell the class I was indeed right, and he had been wrong. He was very good natured about it, but you can imagine the kids.....not so nice. And stupid me, I was always like that.

Another time, first day of 9th grade Geography, the teacher tells us pop quiz! He just wants to see where we are. He asks us to write out as many states as we can think of. I had learned another song about the states, in alphabetical order. So I wrote them all out and handed in my sheet about 10 minutes into class. He looked at it, and then had to announce to the entire class that I had them all correct, AND in alphabetical order. My entire High School social life went up in flames.

But no, I still had enough friends to make it pleasant. So yeah, no bullies, no bad teachers, and I had the correct temperament for school.

Riceball_Mommy
12-31-2014, 08:42 PM
I had to pick meh. School was complicated for me, I enjoyed most of the work. I feel like I had some special experiences that I was lucky to have, but others where I feel I was let down, academically. I was picked on a lot in elementary/middle school. My home life was a bit of a mess all through school. High school got a bit better for me, but still a mix of experiences I feel grateful to have had and other where I wish there would have been more.

I'm really happy I went to art magnet, being able to hang out in the art hall made it better. Also there was a big population of creative types, so it was easier to find people to fit in with.

Deli76
01-01-2015, 12:15 AM
hated it. I hid under the desk. Ate by myself. Asked to be homeschooled, told no. (but it was offered to my brother...ugh) I skipped weeks in a row. I did like college though. Not for the partying, I took classes I liked. Go figure!