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    Joined: May 2009
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    Our DYS DS9 has been in an independent Quaker school for K-4th. During that time, we have watched him transform from a boy who could not get enough to a boy who does only the bare minimum, balking at anything that resembles a challenge. He has lost his spark, and it is breaking our hearts.

    We kept hoping we could make something change. We could not. We have decided it is "now or never" for homeschooling, so I intend to start in September. Strange as it sounds, the hardest part of this is going to be telling my son. Although he does not have loads of friends (or even someone he calls a "best friend"), we (as a family) have enjoyed wonderfully close relationships among several of the families in his class. Also, our son really loves the idea of school and the community that goes with it, though I believe he also knows that he has never worked hard at anything in school - except perhaps learning cursive handwriting(?).

    Making this even more difficult is the fact that our family is heavily invested in the school - and not just in terms of paying tuition. My husband is on the board of trustees, and I have been immersed in volunteering: parent association officer; endowment and annual fund committees; many and various event committees. When we consider all of this, along with the fact that we have been unsuccessful in advocating for our son's academic needs, we simply have to accept that they are unwilling (if not unable) to address his needs, and it is time to move on for DS's sake.

    At last, this brings me to my questions/request for advice from those who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. Mostly, I am concerned about the timing of telling my DS. I suspect that even if he gets excited about the prospect of being homeschooled and all the possibilities it brings for learning, etc., he will still focus on leaving a community he loves. I worry that knowing now will upset him and cause distress through the end of the school year. However, I also think that ordering materials (yay, books!), planning workspace, and being able to work on all of this openly and with his involvement would be a great way for him to fully embrace it. Any thoughts on a kiddo who really enjoys being at school but whose attitude toward learning has deteriorated? Thanks for reading all this in any case!

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    Your post has interesting timing for me because a couple of years ago, I had my heart set on sending my DD to a Quaker school in our previous state of residence but don't have the option here. It's been on my mind the last couple of days because my DD's interest in school is sinking fast (4 more days until vacation after today!) and I thought "if she could only have a school like that instead...")

    It's very interesting to read about your experience. I guess I should stop sulking now!

    Do you belong and participate in the Friends community at large or was the involvement strictly for the school? I guess if your son is on board with the learning at home and can keep in touch with his former school friends through other things like scouts and sports that would ease the transition, assuming they handle it nicely. Then you'll probably be joining a local or regional home schooling group and will try activities with them. It'll transition over and if he is excited about all the learning he can be doing with his time he'll just transition over to this new phase of his life.

    When I took my DD out of K ˝ way through the year she was only 5 and was so happy and relieved to get out of the toxic environment. But 5th grade is so different because they’ve bonded for a longer time with their age peers, but I would think your son would like to have a say in putting everything together.

    I possibly have a similar situation on the horizon with taking my DD out of the public school and probably just home schooling until the middle school transition where I think some private school options could be appropriate, and we should know more about what she needs from a possible 2E perspective by then as well. I would be leery of popping her out of this public school and into a private without some "unschooling" in between to recover and catch up.

    I think we might give them one more "semester", fall of 4th grade, after trying at the end of this year to get some more robust accommodations in place, and if it doesn't work by Dec., and she's as miserable as she's getting to be as this year moves along, we'll take her out. This would be very odd for her because the neighborhood is very geared toward this school (it's all about the rankings). But we've met some other people lately that have taken their HG+ kids out of even the high ranking schools (or possibly, because they are high ranking they just focus far to much on the state assessments) and because we're meeting these kids out in the community and she has such great conversations with them, she might feel less loney with this community of people than she does in school.

    This is our first year with the state assessment experience and I'm getting a very strong appreciation of the whole "teaching to the tests" debate. I could appreciate it in theory until now, but to see them learn absolutely nothing but the bare minimum that will be on the assessments and go over it and over it and over it...I just can't believe it!! School rankings by scores on testing have taken on a whole new dimension for me.

    I'm currently reading "The Well-Trained Mind" and even if you're not doing the Classical Homeschooling it's a good book to read and there are sections about starting half-way through the child's schooling experience, and the things you have to deal with that are different than just starting from the beginning (never sending a child to school at all).


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    Originally Posted by Golfer26
    Our DYS DS9 has been in an independent Quaker school for K-4th. During that time, we have watched him transform from a boy who could not get enough to a boy who does only the bare minimum, balking at anything that resembles a challenge. He has lost his spark, and it is breaking our hearts.

    We kept hoping we could make something change. We could not. . When we consider all of this, along with the fact that we have been unsuccessful in advocating for our son's academic needs, we simply have to accept that they are unwilling (if not unable) to address his needs, and it is time to move on for DS's sake.

    Any thoughts on a kiddo who really enjoys being at school but whose attitude toward learning has deteriorated? Thanks for reading all this in any case!

    Hi Golfer 26
    My DS is only just 6 and we are in K so I don't have much to offer beyond sympathy. But I am curious, you didn't share much about what you've done to advocate but do mention how invested your family is in the school. Does the school know that you are prepared to leave since they have not addressed his needs? I would be hesitant to use the threat if you really aren't prepared but since it is private, they might be more open if the choice is to make some accommodation versus losing you - they may not be and you might have already done this, but it did strike me that they need to know this as part of the advocating process, especially since you all like being there, which is not usually the case when the fit is bad.

    DeHe

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    Hi Golfer26!

    We are in a similar situation with our DS who is also in 4th grade. He was in our neighborhood public school for K-3, transferred to a private school for 4th, and will be homeschooled in the fall starting 5th grade.

    The change from public school to private school was difficult. At the time, he begged to be homeschooled instead, but "I" wasn't ready for it. We assured him that he could maintain his friendships with his friends since we were still in the same neigborhood. It took a while for him to accept it, but he adjusted to the new school.

    Just last month we told DS that he would be homeschooled in 5th grade. Again, he did not like it. For DS, the difficulties were with the change and feeling the loss of his friends. We explained to him that his "school" would be different, but that he would still be involved in the same activities and again, that he could maintain the friendships he's made.

    When we explained what homeschooling would be like, he quickly got on board! We felt we needed to tell him earlier rather than later, so that he could prepare himself emotionally.

    The reason why we made the first change was because in 3rd grade DS was losing his love of learning. He loved going to school because he got to be with his friends. School met his social needs, but not his academic needs. Although friendships are important, we did not want them to be DS' sole desire for going to school.

    Fast forward to 4th grade, DS has quickly made new friends, but his issues with dysgraphia have made school miserable for him. He absolutely hates school and his friends don't seem to be a motivator for him to want to go to school anymore. A typical morning goes like this, "Time to wake up (jostle, jostle)!" DS replies, "I don't want to go to school today! Today is Thursday. I HATE Thursdays!!! We have to do comprehension questions on Thursday (moan and groan)!" We have to drag him out of bed every morning because he dreads school. This is a boy we NEVER had to wake up before.

    Hopefully, homeschooling will be a better fit for him so that we can meet DS' need for academic challenge as well as make the necessary "accommodations" for his dysgraphia.

    I don't know if I answered your questions or if I just rambled wink.

    You know your son best and how he handles things emotionally. If he needs time to prepare, now would be a good time. Perhaps a Friday would be better so that he has the weekend to process the news. If you wait until summer vacation, you could still involve your son in the preparation for homeschooling. You could do all your background research and planning now, and then in the summer, bring your son into the process.

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    Thanks, all, for giving me some good things to mull over. Lost my first attempt at responding (argh!), but finally now have a few minutes to redo.

    @DeHe - Thanks for your thoughts. I started to include the saga of our many meetings/attempts at advocating, but in the interest of time/space, took it out. Alas, a bit more backstory on that would have made it easier to understand how we came to our current position. The abbreviated story: Although we knew our DS was not typical (e.g., he was a self-taught reader at 3; had a phenomenal memory; had great number sense), we did not realize how atypical he was until he was tested at the end of 1st grade. Behavior problems that cropped up that year (the solution to which was the teacher allowing DS to go off and read by himself during class) resulted in the school recommending various testing. After the testing, we became involved in the DYS program and brought to the school recommendations from the psychologist for acceleration. We were placated masterfully by the administrator of the lower school. Vague attempts at differentiation and enrichment were not enough for DS. There were numerous exchanges/meetings, etc., but the bottom line is that our son was idling and losing his love of learning while he might have been soaring. The school is already aware that we are considering homeschooling, and we have a meeting this week to confirm our intentions.

    @bzylzy - I wouldn't want to suggest that all Friends schools would approach a HG+ kid's needs in a particular way. We were drawn to the school because the Quaker influence is so meaningful to us. (How could we *not* want to have our child educated in an environment that promotes peace, kindness and tolerance?) Certainly, though, there are issues of resources and personal philosophies of administration and faculty that enter into the equation when you talk about curriculum and scheduling. In the end, I am not angry; I am deeply disappointed that we could not achieve the level of accommodation/acceleration our son needs. Honestly, I am not sure any school - unless it was filled with similar kiddos - would be a great fit DS. We really hoped we could make this one work -as evidenced by the number of years we stayed.
    And yes, we are members of a Friends meeting (the meeting that oversees governance of DS's school). That is one way that our son will remain connected to schoolmates, and we are grateful for that.
    BTW, I am happy to have just read The Well-Trained Mind too. It will be the framework I will use for homeschooling DS next year.
    Ugh. I am out of time just now, though I wish I could address everyone's comments! For now, many thanks to you all again for taking the time to respond.

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    I hope your homeschooling journey this coming fall goes well. We too will be homeschooling our DS8 (he will be 9 just shortly after 5th grade starts this summer) after the last 2 years have removed his love for learning and motivation to do anything other than read.
    Best of luck!

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    Golfer, we haven't been in the same situation, but our ds was in a situation that had some similarities. He was in a lottery school rather than neighborhood for K-5th grade; we picked the school feeling it offered him the best chance of grade level differentiation/subject acceleration combined with interesting core project work. It didn't work out that way in practice, but we kept hanging in there partly because I loved what the school was *supposed* to be. I was very involved in volunteering at the school and served on the school's advisory board. I made a point of getting to know the teachers and helping out any way I could. Our ds had entered K just full of excitement over learning anything and everything, but that changed once he was in school. For the longest time we focused on a disability which became clear once he had been in a few years of school - and we tended to not notice that he wasn't being challenged in his areas of strength. Then in 5th grade my usually very quiet son just had had it, and he finally told us how beyond incredibly bored he was and that he wanted more than anything to change schools. We didn't choose to homeschool, but we moved him to a small private school. Like your ds, my biggest worry (and my ds' biggest worry) was the loss of friendships. My ds did not have a large # of friends, but he had two close friends he'd known since kindergarten. I planned to do my best to keep them in touch after the school change.

    Well, fwiw... ds absolutely needed the change, and he's been sooooo much happier in his new school (it's much more academically challenging, and he was given subject acceleration that was promised but never happened at his previous school). He has made two good friends at his new school... and we haven't seen his old friends since last summer. Somehow their importance in his life just vanished when he found his new happy place at his new school, and having new friends who are closer to his intellectual peers as well as who share intellectual interests has been such a good thing for him. I had spent so much time *inside* the world of his previous school that I hadn't realized there might be a *better* place outside of that world, and that better might include a different set of friends.

    Anyway, I'm sorry I have no advice about the switch to homeschooling specifically, but I thought it might ease some of your concerns re losing friendships to know that making this change is an opportunity to make new friends. And I suspect you'll be able to hold onto the old friends too if you make the effort to - for our ds, it wasn't worth the effort once he'd found his new groove.

    Best wishes,

    polarbear

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    Good luck Golfer26 (and triplejmom!) It's so good that homeschooling is legal in 50 states (thanks to all the homeschooling pioneers/advocates out there) because parents have the right to reclaim their child's education and love of learning, even if for a temporary time. For the more highly gifted children it really does seem to be a real struggle for so many schools to meet their needs.

    When my daughter was in K I read a sentence that went something like...there might come a time when you realize you are spending an incredible amount of time and energy on advocating for your child and that you might decide, if you have the choice, to spend that time and energy educating your child yourself.

    I love that sentence "We were placated masterfully by the administrator of the lower school." what priceless wording!! And I completely understand it.


    Last edited by bzylzy; 04/01/12 01:59 PM. Reason: awk! got to get that word right
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    I am looking at the same thing for 5th. I thought I found a school that would fit and it doesn't. Hence I am thinking, what I thought I would never think, HS for a grade 5-6 year.

    I am planning to use CTY as a framework, since she already uses it for math. And figure the rest out.

    Ren

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    What I find the most upsetting is how the whole school experience seems to such a detriment to her psyche and health and how much time and energy that we have to pour into her to boost her back up. If she were simply pooped out from working hard on an enriching educational experience, I could accept it a bit more. But when she is at risk of having to abandon enriching and educational acitivities at home and in the great after-school groups we are finding for her, in exchange for getting no education ... sorry that's just not a healthy thing.

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    We began homeschooling in October of 5th grade. We home schooled in the summer, so we knew we could do it, but we weren't committed yet. Then, 5th grade started, and the teachers started drilling the kids on -- wait for it -- math facts. Yes, the task was to complete 60 multiplication facts in one minute, and fully half the class couldn't, so the teachers remained on math facts for more than a month. This was in an "excellent" public school district in MA, and it was the last straw for us. We pulled DS for homeschooling, and he has been so happy, really a new child. No longer is he pale and exhausted after seven hours of dealing with boring work in a stressful environment, with hours of busy-work homework to go. He is happy, has plenty of time to practice and compose music, and is reading what he wants to read (now in 6th grade): Ibsen, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare. We take standardized tests every so often, and just this month, he tested well above the High Honors level for CTY in both math and verbal based on his SCAT, so clearly he is keeping up academically, and then some.

    There are definitely challenges in homeschooling. DS takes a number of music classes and is in music ensembles, so the social side is fine for the most part. Drama classes help too, and he spends all three months of the summer in various music and drama camps, so he gets a heavy dose of life outside the family. The major time sink is curriculum choice: there is no easy answer, and we have been disappointed by some of the curricula we've tried. Still, the great thing is that we make the choice: when Teaching Textbooks was too easy, we just stopped using it and switched to Singapore Math. When Mom's "brilliant" idea to read big swaths of Aristotle was too difficult, we switched to an above-grade-level history text and supplemented with smaller chunks of the Nicomathean Ethics instead. And so on.

    Best of luck to you!

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