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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Recently back from the EU - we are FED UP in GA and are ready to homeschool

    My name is Catherine, we moved to Georgia about a year ago, and my children are Porter - 11 and Juanita - 9. We began schooling in Atlanta when the kids were younger, at a private school, but my husband was then transferred to London when the kids were 5 and 7. Whilst there the kids went to public schooling that cared for the child as a whole being, not as a grade on a paper. In London the children had an education based on Project Based Learning with term projects due. Although I felt the work load/homework was certainly too much for their ages, I was happy that they were not going to be considered a "grade."

    After two years there he was transferred to Sweden, where the children LOVED going to an international public school called Vittra. For those who do not know, Swedish education is very healthy and outdoor based with one truly important test, given around the age of 12 that simply sees where you are in your education. At that point you have 3 years to work on any subject you need extra help with. The classes vary in age and necessity with the older kids offering mentorship and the children given the freedom to be responsible for themselves. My children thrived there. Then, due to Swedish Visa requirements, we were forced to return back to Atlanta when the business my husband worked for became acquired by a new company. This was devastating to us. However, we returned home and worked for seven months to purchase a home in what we thought was going to be an amazing school district based on the goodschools.org rating.

    I can say that I have not been very happy. My daughter was constantly told she was "below level" as she came into the school speaking Swedish. Too often, when children are bilingual, they are considered behind as their brains are constantly trying to decode which language they should be reading/writing in. They immediately called to tell me she as going to "FAIL" 2nd grade (my kids were placed in 2nd and 4th with about six weeks of school remaining in the year) but was "TOO TALL" (she is currently 9 and 5'3") to be held back. Then they began Early Intervention Program for reading, they wanted her to be "tutored" after school 8 hours a week for three months leading up to the GA Milestones, (we told them absolutely not) and are always "amazed" when she reads at a higher level then they expect her too (regardless of how many times I tell them that she will be fine). Needless to say, I've been in the school talking to her teachers and the principal about this forced education. I am the parent who reads all the reviews and returns them when they are factually incorrect. I am the parent that reads all the test questions and returns them when I find them to be arbitrary or factually incorrect. I am the person who drives the teacher's crazy when I constantly ask "WHY do we do this?" and "I do NOT care about grades." To the point that my daughter has all A's, 1 B in LA and 1 C in reading and they still consider her to be "behind." That's not a joke. While I don't believe in grades and think they do not tell of the whole person, I am always amazed that I am lead to believe she is not "getting it." She is "getting it" in terms of, I rewrite everything and produce it in a way that she understands and that is why she can pass every test.

    After our last meeting, where the principal flat out admitted to the fact that she was brought in for extra tutoring because she "won't do good on the milestones" and NOT "because she's really working so hard and needs this extra help" we realized things needed to change for our daughter. Juanita learns at her own pace and cannot be forced to take timed multiplication tests, and should not have to sit and study for hours, which naturally leads to a melt down. Just last night I had to sit with her for hours to fill out a huge test review sheet for math where she clearly was not taught everything that was going to be on the test in two days. Then we had to read because there are two more tests on historical figures, do another math worksheet where the problems went from being simple to hard for my 5th grader within a few "examples" and fill out this ridiculous "complex sentences" worksheet where she basically just re-wrote passages without thinking for an hour. There was nothing taught on this worksheet - it was simply busy work seemingly to fit some "homework" quota. This poor girl is in 3rd grade!

    Anyway, we have had enough. I've been reading books upon books and know that I fall somewhere between Classical Homeschool and Unschooling. I know that the system is flawed. I see it every single day. I have donated 100s of hours this year to my child's school and still am frustrated with what I am seeing. They are forced to do so many things that take away from their ability to simply be children. This American view that children should be tiny adults and are always fighting to prove that they are worth more than a grade, that they are not guilty until proved innocent, is that much harder for me after living abroad. The amount of times I have heard "That is THEIR responsibility" not "let me see what I HAVE DONE" from the teachers is more than I can count. If I hear "it is because of the GA Milestones" one more time....!

    My son is able to accept what is required of him at school and he reads at a higher level and can memorize things quickly. Therefore he isn't on anyone's radar but I know that he does enjoy child-lead education. It is almost too easy for him at school and so he has become complacent. I had the principal compare my two kids to insinuate "See PORTER is doing so well here..." to which my reply was, "The ability to memorize facts and spit them out on a test does NOT mean the education he gets is beneficial." However, my son loves the idea of middle school starting next year and has asked that he be allowed to "try it out." My husband will be harder to convince regarding homeschool for him because he doesn't technically struggle. I could pull him out for a year and let him work on being child-led and he would be able to very seamlessly enter back into the public school system.

    So, at this point, I feel that I am basically sending my kids to school for six hours to bring them home to homeschool them while we rush through dinner and sports because there is always a test or quiz or something that has to be memorized.

    If you're wondering why we do not utilize a private school, we are determined to return to Sweden in the next five years, and so we are not going to put any extra money into an American Education when we likely should be focusing on a European one.

    So that is my very long winded, very concise introduction to who I am and who we are. I did a small amount of core based (boring) homeschooling when we arrived from Sweden to get the kids ready for entering into an American school system. I had to teach them not to use the metric system to measure, what American money looks like and how to read the 12 hour not the 24 hour clock. So, there were a lot of little American things we had to focus on, least they be considered even more "behind!" So, although I have done it, it was very rushed as we were also trying to find and purchase a house and we were in temporary living quarters. Certainly not as fun and conducive to learning as being prepared to take it on full-time. I am a SAHM, so I can dedicate a lot of time to this and simply want the best education for my children. I need advice on extra curriculum areas (PE/ART/MUSIC) as well as any classes and groups that we can join. My daughter is highly social and LOVES everyone and so she needs to have contact with other children. That is one of the hardest things, taking her from her friends. However, I cannot continue to watch her cry regarding the stress of homework and tests. She went to bed last night at 9 because of homework. It is heartbreaking.

    Any advice on helping my husband come to the "other side" would be very helpful. He is factual based and although he is on board with our daughter, he worries I'll get burnt out. He also really feels that our son should go on to middle school, even though the education he will receive will be very different from the one we loved for him in Sweden. He quickly became reacclimatized to the American education system because our son is "easy" in terms of being able to achieve the high grades in public school. I am really at a loss of what to do for him.

    Lastly, those who pulled their children out before the end of the school year, did your children regret not being there for last day of school actives and yearbook signings? Even IF that means two+ more months of tears and "teaching to test?"

    Thank you for listening and for your support!

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  3. #2

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    Welcome! It looks like you see the picture of what homeschooling can do for your family.

    As far as waiting on what to do for your daughter, I see it this way: "My daughter is miserable but should we stick it out of her being stressed, tearful, and being told shes behind and below average for another three months, because there will be a couple hours of party at the end of it."
    For your son, it doesnt seem as crucial. If he is perfectly happy and compliant with the demands the public education institution is placing on him, why not focus on your daughter for a bit? Let him know that he can switch to homeschool whenever he feels like it.

    The first part of homeschooling would be to deschool your daughter. Shes hurting from 'school', so needs to heal from that. Lots of consistent advice here on how to do that. You see the value in a child-interest-led approach, how much could you burn out with that?
    And if you get tired of homeschooling, there is nothing preventing you from putting her back in public school. You dont have to commit for the rest of their school-years.

    It will be okay, you can do this. Ask questions. Dont buy stuff. Dont panic.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    Welcome. I also have an 11 yo boy with the same name as yours.

    Agreed with the idea of deschooling that Alexsmom mentioned above. If and when you dive in, take some time for everyone to adjust and get the bad experiences out of your systems (you too!).

    In terms of reasons for your husband, since the ultimate goal is to get back to the EU, you're way more likely to be able to provide the sort of education they'd get there by doing it at home. Also, having kids in different systems can be tougher - you don't get all the benefits of homeschooling unless everyone is on the same (more relaxed!) schedule.

    Good luck.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
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    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

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    http://simplify4you.com/

  5. #4

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    Oh, I'm jealous of Sweden! My son's godparents are from Europe so we envy their schooling system quite a bit.

    That said, I'm a GA girl as well, and our son HATED Pre-k so badly, and I got so annoyed with the sheer amount of busywork that seemed to be designed for no real reason, at 4!! that we walked away from public schooling and are homeschooling.

    If the goal is to be back in sweden in a few years, why on earth invest time and energy into the (flawed) American way of schooling? I agree with farrar that you should just provide the type of schooling they had in Sweden at home. It just makes more sense. As far as getting burned out, it seems like working with (or around) the public school system is quite a bit more exhausting than just doing it yourself. I definitely find it far less stressful to just do it myself than have mine go to school and then have to fill in gaps, or do the busy crap they require and THEN try to fit in the other stuff to actually LIVE and not just "school".

    (PS) if you are in a "good school district" in Atlanta, you must be on the North Side. There are a couple of REALLY active homeschool groups on the north side of Atlanta, and a field trip group that does a lot of field trips up there that would be SO much more fun than sitting in a classroom! There is also a secular homeschool co-op in Atlanta that i've heard good things about if you want your kids to still have that "school" atmosphere occasionally, and that might make it easier for your husband to see you son move over to homeschooling. Sadly, I'm on the south side, so I don't make it up to them all that often, but I keep up with them so we can catch things closer to us. PM me if you'd like. :-)

  6. #5

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    I think if your son is happy right now, why not let him have the adventure of an American middle school? He may prefer it for the peer interaction.

    Your daughter needs to he pulled out now.

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Recently back from the EU - we are FED UP in GA and are ready to homeschool