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lineymom
04-27-2016, 06:45 PM
I am an infrequent poster here, but I find this site very valuable and I am here again looking for help/encouragement.
I homeschooled my boys all the way through until this year (5th and 7th with a girl in 1/2 day K). We moved to a new area with a "great" school. They went to school for the first time this school year.

The 7th grader came back to homeschool a week after the second semester started. He did ok in math (B), went from an A first 9 weeks to a D second 9 weeks in English (teacher left, new hire and no explanation). He really struggled in science, (a lot of note taking and long answers required on tests) as well as Spanish (challenging teacher). Generally, his teachers complained of him being a slow note and test taker. He hated the social drama and having homework after a long day.

Kindergarten has been great for my girl. She is super bright, but was extremely antisocial. School has really brought her out of her shell. She actually plays with other kids now and loves the teacher and helpers.

My 5th grader has a personality that he craves being with other people. I am a dry and boring teacher, which is fine for my oldest, but this one needs fun and people. However, being homeschooled all his life the transition has not been smooth. He is really sensitive, the other kids are always hurting his feelings.
He is behind academically, especially at this school, one of the state's top schools. The things the school requires of them seem over the top to me. An essay everyday... and the rubric they use.... awful. I helped him with an essay at home, it required a lot of deep thinking to respond to the prompt correctly. Despite a lot of help from me, he gets the score of barely meeting grade level.
I don't know if this is normal, but instead of using a lexile level in reading, they use the "accelerated reader program." According to that, he was under 4th grade level at the beginning of 5th grade. Everyone is not an accelerated reader, and he has always been behind, but way to make a kid feel worse! I have wanted him to come back to homeschool for awhile, but he has stuck it out.
Today, the principle stopped me in the hall and asked to talk (small school, which really is a pro). She asked me what we were planning for next year. She couldn't stand it that I was leaving it for the individual kids to decide. She then expressed that she would hate for my 5th grader to fall so far behind if he were to go back to homeschool after the school had worked so hard to try to get him caught up! She also implied the same for my little girl.
I know in my heart that my kids will be fine happy people with me as a teacher, but way to rub someone's face in the dirt! I can't help but constantly doubt myself, so here goes... How much writing do your kids do at home? That seems to be my biggest "failure" according to the school. My kids aren't writing a complex essay everyday in a quick fashion with perfect handwriting for multiple subjects. Also, I am a pushover for letting my kids decide their own fate (with my guidance and, lucky for them, ability to give them the choice.)
Thanks for letting me rant, and for any input!

ScienceGeek
04-27-2016, 07:37 PM
Wow, that's really insensitive of the principle. That school sounds like its trying wayyyy too hard. An essay every day!! There's no way I would do that. My 10th grader has written ONE paper this entire year and it was like 2 pages long and took three weeks. My 13 year old writes movie reviews on his website (that he created all by himself) but he maybe does one or two a month and they are just a paragraph. Sometimes he takes a few days to write it because he's mulling it over. We've always been really light on the writing because I hated it so much in school and as my 16 year old says, why should I waste my time writing something that only one person is going to read. When they do write its fine so I know they can do it so I'm not going to make them hate it more by insisting they do it all the time.

TFZ
04-27-2016, 08:56 PM
AR is just the name of the program. It doesn't mean anyone is accelerating. Here is an AR to Lexile conversion chart to help you you compare: https://curriculumtechnology.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/ar_lexile_conversion1.pdf
Keep in mind that AR tests comprehension - so reading and talking about a book could be vastly different than reading the book and then recalling details or facts, events in order, or other aspects of a book. It's not unusual for a kid to be on a different grade level in AR and still be able to perform on level in a reading class. This is because AR is completely independent and they have support in class either with a teacher or a cooperative group of classmates. AR tests give a teacher an idea about what areas to focus on with individual readers. I wouldn't put too much worry into it. It's just an assessment tool.

I'm glad that your daughter is enjoying school. I'm sorry that the transition has been difficult with the other two. It sounds like writing - essays, test questions, notes - is where the difficulty lies. I've read a lot of discussions in here about homeschoolers struggling with writing and the pace and frequency of it when homeschoolers transition to ps. Hopefully someone will be able to chime in on that.

It sounds like the transition has also been hard on you. Please try to keep communication open with the school. I understand it's difficult, especially when you feel they aren't supportive of homeschooling, but the people there are working to help your kids, too. It will be to everyone's benefit if you try to work together. It must be really difficult to hear that your kids are struggling - from them and your kids. But if this is the best of the best there's probably a method to the madness. Maybe setting your opinions of teachers aside and simply trying to move forward with them by opening up lines of communication would be helpful.

When I started teaching I did a long term sub job for a teacher that was diagnosed with terminal cancer. To students and parents she seemed to just disappear after spring break. But she did not want anyone to know about her personal health and wanted to spare the kids from having to deal with her death. I was instructed to just say that she was not returning and not answer any questions about her. I'm not saying that's what's going on with your teacher, but I'm trying to point out that there might be a lot going on behind the scenes. Parents and teachers disliked me and students openly defied me because they thought id stolen their teacher's job. It's a difficult situation coming in the middle of the year - for whatever reason. Try not to take it personally when things change at school. It's a workplace like any other.

Anyway, I hope whatever you decide works out for all of you. There are several people here with some kids in B&M schools and others at home.

Avalon
04-27-2016, 10:12 PM
Frankly, it sounds like a fairly "academic" school, which doesn't necessarily make it a "great" school, or even a good school for your kids. There are a lot of alternative programs available in public schools around here, and they each focus on something different: arts, academics, science, sports/athletics, etc...

Your kids aren't necessarily "behind" in writing essays. They just have not learned the skill yet. An analogy: I'm not "behind" in piano playing, I've just never learned how to play. If I wanted to play with a local band, I'd have a huge learning curve to be able to get to where they are. In order to fit into the class, your son has to work hard to gain a skill that the other kids already have. It does NOT make him "behind." I'm sure he was doing/learning other valuable things that the kids in school were not.

My daughter started high school this year, and she is definitely on the slow side with note-taking and essay-writing. She hasn't had as much practice because it doesn't fit in to a child-centered homeschooling model. Now that she's in school, she is adapting. If your kids decide to stay in school, they'll most likely also adapt. If they come home for a while and then go back, hopefully you'll be able to find a school that is a good fit.

Miriamhokie
04-28-2016, 06:56 AM
My son attended a "great" school K-4 until I pulled him out for 5th grade to homeschool. He has always loved to write! He used to dictate books to us before he could write well enough to do it on his own. In school, they did daily journaling in the early grades (a couple of sentences responding to a prompt). In the later grades they would do one big writing project a year. By "big", I mean, the school made a big deal out of it for months, and then it ended up being a one-week activity to get a one-page hand-written biography done.

I, honestly, was appalled at the lack of note-taking skills he had when we started homeschooling last summer. It is something we have worked on throughout this year. As for essay-writing, we do about one a month. We look at how to write different types of essays, read some examples of a specific type, and then do a couple of hand-written drafts before typing the final version.

Since starting to homeschool, I have met a lot of parents whose kids hate to write. Everywhere I look, there is curriculum geared toward "struggling" writers. So maybe it's another stereotype about homeschooled kids that they just can't write. And maybe the teachers and principal at your kids' school have their perception colored by that stereotype. Have you ever asked to see other students' essays and notes (without names, of course) to see what your kids are supposed to measure up to? I used to teach middle and high school and most kids (from "great" public and private schools) would not measure up to the writing standards you described.

Elly
04-28-2016, 08:34 AM
Well, I'm an academic and I don't think I could write an essay every day! A good essay is the culmination of work, thought and study. It's pretty obvious to me when I'm grading my students work who has sat down with a textbook and worked from that to write an essay and who has read widely and synthesized that information. Of course, I'm talking university level, but I don't think it's a useful skill to downplay the background reading and thought that is required before writing, and there's no way you can do that writing something daily. I suppose part of it, though, is that it is a format that gets easier with practice, but it does help if people understand what that format is as that might be a place to start.

Great schools are not necessarily a great fit for every kid

Elly

pdpele
04-28-2016, 09:57 AM
Hi lineymom....so was the decision to send the kids to school b/c you had access to a "great" one and the thought was they'd get a better education/experience there than homeschool?

Now that they've experienced it - do you/your family/your kids think they will be better off (academically and/or socially, if that's a priority) at this school than homeschooling?

Those are the questions I think you/your family has to answer - for yourselves. And, yeah, with 3 kiddos, there might be different answers.

When it comes to the "behind" part - ok, maybe they are behind [though I like Avalon's point and agree with her - just to try to keep this short I'll keep using "behind"]. But that "behind" is according to this school/district/teachers' assessment - according to their timetables, priorities, curriculum, goals, and methods of assessing/testing. But does that assessment match you/your kids' values, goals, priorities, timetables, methods? If not, then - so what? Why allow that assessment to make you question you/your kids' abilities?

And then finally - schools are interested (mostly) in kids' academic progress - but you are interested in the big picture of their growth/development as people, and y'alls family life. A whole 'nother dimension than just academics. And another one in which the teachers/principal can't really give you much input.

Don't mean to sound harsh at all. I've got plenty of experience with the anxiety/self-doubt/panic monkeys that rear up from time to time. Just thought I'd identify a couple of questions for you to consider as you think through what to do from here.

lineymom
04-28-2016, 01:42 PM
Hi lineymom....so was the decision to send the kids to school b/c you had access to a "great" one and the thought was they'd get a better education/experience there than homeschool? .

Yeah, that and they had met some kids from the school and it seemed pretty cool. They enrolled in specials a year ago to get their feet wet and were excited about it.
It is definitely up to each very unique child! My oldest has no desire to ever go back. Youngest could go either way. There are so many benefits to her continuing next year because she really took the whole first semester just learning to get along with other kids. I hate to "isolate" her again and we have no other families to connect with here. I really would dread the long day for her, most of all. Half day is all any kid needs! I have plenty of confidence in my ability to teach her after going through these grades twice before, but will not deny there are things she would miss out on at home with me. There are pros and cons but either way, she will do great. She is my academic one ;)
It's my middle child that is conflicted the most, and likewise I am conflicted about.
He struggles academically, attention issues, gets bored with my teaching, butts heads with me, puts off school work etc. But middle school is next year. Kids will get meaner and school work tougher... Such a hard decision!
Btw, I think the teacher is easing up on the essays now, whew! They are on poetry now. From Jan to mid April, though, according to him, it was one a day. Prep for standardized tests... *eyeroll* Which was of course another thing the principle did not like... I opted him out. He had to do all the in classroom prep, though.

pdpele
04-28-2016, 09:21 PM
Lineymon I get what you are saying about your middle son - maybe if he does want to come back home or if you want him to, y'all could talk about what wasn't going well at home before and make a plan for moving forward, together so he knows that he helped make it. And maybe 'getting' to homeschool requires meeting some specified level of cooperation and effort on his part? Idk I got a bouncy boy (almost 9) with serious attention issues. We are doing ok (most days :p) now, but I could see the pre-teen years getting more...challenging.

Tareesas
04-29-2016, 05:43 PM
Well, you have to do what is best for you and your children. If your middle son loves being at school, let him. Flexibility is one of the joys of being able to homeschool. If the situation changes and he gets too frustrated, bring him back home.

My son HATED writing. Every writing project as a homeschooler was like torture for all of us. So, imagine my surprise when he started college and chose English as his major. He loves writing papers now. I honestly never made him write very much at home because he hated it so much, and I understand the pain because I've never enjoyed it either.

Someone else said the key though, he's not behind, he doesn't have that skill set yet.

Oh, and public school admin, as caring as they may be, have little to no regard for homeschoolers. Some think it's inferior, others see the dollar signs when you leave. Their opinion shouldn't matter to you at all.