Light bulb moment, need to be brave, where to start...

(56 Posts)
JuicyShops Thu 08-Aug-13 14:39:58

My DS has been unhappy in a school environment for 3 years and to cut a long story short is under the Mental Health team for a few reasons.

He Detests school. Lighbulb moment came when I realised how happy and unanxious he is now it is the school holidays, then today we had a long and sensible discussion about school. This ended in him desperate to go to secondary school (he has one more year at primary school). I have been so much happier and so has he.

It is an OK school, but I just think he would hate any school!! Any!! He is very bright, but hates work and being under pressure> He has been bullied and his teachers have tried to accommodate his needs but are failing.

My instinct tells me to take him out of school for the final year. I know we can do this. Where do I start and how do I explain it to everyone? Is it worth trying the final year? Loads more questions, I will read the forum later, and sorry for the rambling nature, just snatching a moment!

Also, I have 3 other children, who will all stay in school> Does anyone else have a similar situation?

runningonwillpower Thu 08-Aug-13 14:44:09

Before I went down the home schooling route, I'd want to know why he thinks secondary school will be better.

Could be he has unrealistic or idealised views of secondary school that will disappoint.

I'd be very careful about taking him out of school before I could be sure that re-integration into secondary school is viable. Could be you are setting yourself up for years of very difficult home schooling.

JuicyShops Thu 08-Aug-13 15:27:40

He has been bullied at his current school which has put him off school and yes he thinks secondary school will be better as he has seen his siblings so happy there.

Saracen Thu 08-Aug-13 16:45:19

It's entirely possible he has unrealistic views of secondary school and may eventually change his mind about wanting to go, or that he'll try it and dislike it.

Given how unhappy he is about his current school at the moment, there seems no point in continuing with primary next year. Let him have the year off and then have a look at whether trying secondary school is a good idea. You'll also be on much firmer ground as far as having some home ed experience under your belt, so you and he will be in a better position to know whether longer-term home education is right for him.

You don't have to make a decision about the entire rest of his education at this moment. Just find the right option for the next year.

JuicyShops Thu 08-Aug-13 17:26:20

I think you are right. I guess I had coped by convincing myself all shall be well when he starts secondary, when actually the hard graft and problems usually start then! It has just been so stressful, traumatic and confusing, and only now we have space we have perspective on the situation.

He does a lot of sport and activities with 'school' friends which I would hope he would continue. It really is the school environment he can't cope with, and the pressure. The severe anxiety issues, which he suffers all the time are made a lot worse by the school environment and pressure.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 08-Aug-13 17:37:34

Hello Juicy.

If he is so unhappy at school I would definitely miss y6 especially as you mention he doesn't like the pressure of work. Some schools really put the pressure on for SATS in y6 and even my friends dds school who don't felt pressured by other influences.
Then if he wants to try High School let him try, although he may not settle after the freedom of H.ed.
My dd is 9 and says she wants to go to highschool and I pretty much know now she wouldn't last a term of y7. grin
I'm not sure if you realise but the after school activities organised by the LEA are open to H.ed children. Obviously the schools own aren't because of deregistration but all other groups are.
Our reason for H.ed was not the same but came about from the same light bulb moment, they are usually the best thoughts and decisions.
Good luck, whatever you decide. There are many knowledgeable people on these threads so do ask any questions you have any.

milk Sat 10-Aug-13 17:25:48

I was bullied all during primary school. Got to secondary and everything was fine.

In hindsight I wish my mum had taken me out of primary while I was being bullied, and then sent me to secondary.

Caster8 Sat 10-Aug-13 17:31:15

One thought. [I have never Home Ed btw]
You say he hates work. [that will partly explain why he is liking the holidays!]
Would he work, school work, while at home with you?

Saracen Sat 10-Aug-13 18:57:13

He wouldn't have to, Caster.

There are many ways to home educate. Some of them bear no resemblance at all to school. There does not have to be any "school work". Some children enjoy that sort of work. If the OP's son doesn't, there's no point in forcing him to do it.

I know it is hard to get your head around. Most people imagine home education is similar to school, because that is all most of us have ever known. But it isn't. It can be a whole different world!

Caster8 Sat 10-Aug-13 19:55:49

Describe some ways that he wouldnt have to "work" at school work. Wouldnt he have to eg do Maths "work" for example? [he couldnt do it all by "lets go shopping and tell me whether to buy orange juice 3 for 2, or would the 2 for £4 be cheaper"]
Surely he would have to do some "work"?

Caster8 Sat 10-Aug-13 19:58:14

If her son hates work and being under pressure, will he take all the extra pressure that his mum will have to do? Or not? Maybe not, not sure I understand this.

ommmward Sat 10-Aug-13 22:35:41

Hi Caster8, try googling "unschooling" or "autonomous home education".

I've never done anything with my children that is billed as "work" at all. Not ever. They choose what to learn and how to learn it; I facilitate that learning, by answering their questions, providing them with resources when needed, giving advice when sought. Basically exactly the same as what most of us do with our toddlers, but extending as far as we feel like instead. It is a terrifyingly efficient and effective way of educating someone, because their minds are ALWAYS ready to learn what they are learning.

Some families DO do things that look more like formal education, with sessions each day for maths and literacy and whatever other areas the family are pursuing at that time. Sometimes that's on an adult agenda and sometimes it's the child who demands to be guided in their learning that way.

There doesn't have to be any pressure in any of this home ed malarky. That's why the famous Grit www.gritsday.blogspot.com often tags her posts "Smug Home Educating Bastard"

Caster8 Sat 10-Aug-13 22:48:18

Will look up those links tomorrow. Just to let you know, that my kids have now gone past school age, so there is no chance of me doing Home Ed. I was just curious.
I have known 3 families do Home Ed. 2 were a disaster. 1 probably wasnt. Not sure. But I think that the 1 who was probably successful did it very much in the school mode.

What if the kids dont want to learn the first day, or the second or...? Is that ok? Perhaps those questions are answered from the links.

ommmward Sat 10-Aug-13 23:39:57

They learn every day. It might not look like learning to someone outside the situation, especially someone steeped in school-based ideas about learning (where the agenda is very very rarely set by the person doing the learning), but I promise you that children learn all the time.

I think that the parent's role is to give them an environment in which they are happy and confident, because that's what optimises their learning - if you are scared or bored, you mostly learn about what it feels like to be scared or bored rather than what the teachers think you're supposed to be learning.

ommmward Sat 10-Aug-13 23:42:39

Also... When home ed looks like a disaster, it's important to think about context. Had the child already had a traumatic time at school? That can take years to recover from. Was it the kind of child who wasn't going to have looked like a success in conventional educational terms in any environment? If so, then can home ed be said to have been a disaster if it prepared them in some way for independent adult life? Was the child ill? Etc etc :-)

Caster8 Sun 11-Aug-13 08:20:54

I am not buying this, sorry. Thanks for explaining.
For one thing, children get the non school learning all the many many hours that they are not in school.

Not saying that Home Ed may not be right in very exceptional circumstances.[and yes, this op may be wise to keep her son off school for a few months and Home Ed] But imo would also need a parent able to give time and also very dedicated to, yes, teaching, proper teaching, at home.

maggi Sun 11-Aug-13 11:05:20

Hello Caster
Like yourself I used to think HE was a matter of creating a school in the house. Some people do. They have a specific room for learning and plaster it with posters. Some "ignore" teaching and let the children teach themselves entirely. You can see both these types of parents in regular schools too (with varying sucess in both school and HE).

The majority of HE draw a middle line between the two extremes. The adults guide the children into areas of Maths and English (or music or whatever the priority is in the household). Then the adults observe the children for signs of interest in broader areas and facilitate those. The adults provide resources or trips within the topics the child likes and the parent then expands the child into new areas by discussion and questioning or activities. With a little thought the average HE parent can expand any interest into aspects of any named lesson from school.

Challenge me - tell me something a child may be interested in and I'll explain how to make it cover all the school subjects without ever sitting the child at a desk and lecturing them or getting them to copy notes. The best part is how much more the children recall and apply using this technique of teaching - because they are interested and the teaching is tailored to them.

Hello everyone
Can anyone find some statistics relating to the success of homeschooled children? I only half remember an example about the proportion of HE in the general population compared to the proportion of HE in the top 100 earners in this country - there being a very large number of HE people in this sucessful group of people.

Saracen Sun 11-Aug-13 11:50:10

I know it sounds implausible, Caster8. Why would be be teaching children for so many hours in school if they could just learn things themselves? But it's true.

To take your maths example:

Insofar as maths actually is an essential subject, it surrounds us in our daily lives. In that case, it would be difficult to reach adulthood without having been exposed to maths constantly and getting a decent grasp on it. Few of us set out to teach our babies to talk through a formal programme. We know that they will hear language from the day they are born, and will learn to talk spontaneously. The same is true of maths.

But what about calculus? It isn't likely a child would acquire a mastery of that subjects through daily life, so surely we have to teach it to them? The answer to that is, if calculus isn't a feature of the child's life then he doesn't need it yet, so there's no need to force it on him. If he finds he needs it later (for example because he's decided to be an engineer), he will learn it then. He'll learn it willingly, because he sees the point. He'll learn it efficiently, because he can use it immediately in the context which interests him.

My husband, a roofing carpenter, decided in his 30s that trigonometry would help him in his job, and learned all he needed in a few weeks. He's quite competent at it as he uses it almost daily. My class at school spent an entire year on trigonometry; I doubt that many of my classmates now remember anything of it or that they have ever used it since. What use was that year to us? It only taught some of us to fear and dislike maths. For the few who were interested, it was very slow going because we were learning alongside people who didn't share our enthusiasm.

Here's a psychologist who thinks he's found evidence that introducing formal maths too early is a waste of time and even impedes children's mathematical understanding: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201003/when-less-is-more-the-case-teaching-less-math-in-school

This echoes my experiences at school and at home. You ask why schoolchildren don't learn huge amounts from their out-of-school experiences. They do, but sometimes less than HE children because compulsion at school actually makes many of them switch off. In "How Children Fail", the schoolteacher John Holt described the primal fear reaction which he observed in many children in his class. Their objective was not to do the maths correctly, it was to escape from the situation they were in with the least pain possible.

I remember helping some of my classmates who struggled with maths. There were questions they could not answer such as "4 x 1/2", and I remember wondering how it was possible for anyone not to understand such a thing. Anyone with four halves of chocolate bars in front of her would know how many she had altogether, so why could my schoolmates not answer the question? It was because they were in such a state of fear that they were unable to think, and because they had never learned to connect their daily experience with this abstraction on the paper... and then they had been presented with more and more paper-based exercises which confirmed them in their belief that maths was impossible.

My younger child cannot answer "6 + 1", but she understands that her six year old friend will be seven on her next birthday. She does not need to memorise "6 + 1 = 7". In time, when she is ready for abstraction, she will learn what "6 + 1" represents, and then it will be trivial for her as she will already have years of practical experience to fall back on. I am not going to risk switching her off to maths or confusing her by demanding that she master number bonds or use a number line now. Her teenaged sister can do all the calculations essential to her daily life because she has learned them through daily life. It really is that easy.

ommmward Sun 11-Aug-13 12:00:32

^ ^ ^ what Saracen said.

Caster8 Sun 11-Aug-13 22:22:03

There are some jobs which require a lot of somewhat intricate maths. May or not say what some are. Cant see how they could be done without quite a lot of maths training.

Caster8 Sun 11-Aug-13 22:24:19

Saracen. So how is he, and lets just take an engineer as an example, and the child decides he would like to be an engineer at 17, going to suddenly catch up with enough maths.
Presumably he would then have to enter university late?

ommmward Sun 11-Aug-13 23:38:06

It's a slight straw man. In my experience, he teens often get very focused at 14 ish or even before. That's when they start doing college courses, a levels, gcses, whatever is needed in order to pursue their special interest. If they have been autonomously home educated, they are very likely to know their own minds and not spend their teens "keeping their options open" (there's a great sarah fitz-claridge essay about how the keeping your options open approach isn't necessarily a good one somewhere on the Internet. Too hard to find a link on a tablet!!).

There's a huge difference between starting gcses at 14 because that's what automatically happens at this point in your school career, and starting gcses at 14 because you know you'll need them to get onto the training course/ degree programme of your dreams.

Suddenly deciding at 17 to be an engineer? It might be a stretch to get to a level maths and physics in a year. But not such a stretch in 2 years. And that would post you into university at 19, at the same age as all the privileged ex-public school boys who had a gap yah.

I have a good friend who followed the whole school -> top uni script, hated uni, dropped out, bummed around for years, and then finally went back and got the right a levels and is training to be a doctor in her late 20s. Life is not a race. The moment we realise there's something we really want to do is absolutely the right moment to do whatever is necessary to make that thing possible.

Caster8 Mon 12-Aug-13 07:46:44

Agree with some points and not others.
Your first 3 lines. You are probably right.
Definitely dont agree with line 4.

third paragraph. Made me laugh. There is a bit of an own goal in that one. The ex public schoolboys bit. If someone goes to uni at 18, they wil stilll be mixing with the ex public schoolboys who are 19 instead of 18!

True, life is not a race, very true. Personally 3 of mine have gone through or are in uni. And they are mainly friends with other uni students who are the same age. They seem to like that. [though obviously if their cohort is mainly the same age, then statistically wise, they are likely to have friends of the exact same age].

julienoshoes Mon 12-Aug-13 09:29:25

It is hard to imagine, when you are not seeing it happen in front of you.

I didn't buy into the autonomous education/living at all when we first deregistered the children from school either.
But 'school at home' didn't suit my children at all, so we became autonomous by default....and were astounded by how well it work.
Once we set off on that path the children didn't choose to do any formal work at all, until they chose to go off to college or to do an OU course.

It's not neglectful of their education, it's following their interests and facilitating them-so the child interested in mechanics, would probably always have had those interests, and we'd have helped him follow them...including maths puzzles and building models etc to his hearts content...and moving on and forward as he wanted to.

Mine all got to Uni level, one at the same age as her schooled peers and the other two a little later as it suited them to have life experience first-one of them had a course that required quite a lot of maths for statistics etc. he told me just the other day, he learned most of that from playing 'Magic the Gathering'
;)

I know loads and loads of home educated young people -probably numbers into the hundreds now, who have been educated in this way-totally informally. All are doing well now. At good universities or having just graduated from good universities. My FaceBook newsfeed has been full of their graduation pics.
The rest are doing very well at college, employment or self employment- not a single NEET (Not in ducation, employment, or training) amongst them.

Astonishing that formal schooling really is not needed to be successful I know.
But it's true.

ommmward Mon 12-Aug-13 09:40:50

I taught a seminar of undergrads one year where the oldest in the group was 21, having taken two gap yahs and having an early setember birthday, and the youngest was just 17, having gone throug school a year young despite the August birthday and having gone straight up to uni. Really, this idea that a socially cohesive university cohort will be people within a year of each others ages. I've also seen mature, as in late 20's or 30's and also mature as in aged about 60, have a fab time socially at university.

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