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HE for DD? Even when we drive each other nuts sometimes?

(23 Posts)
FigsAndWine Tue 13-Sep-11 12:50:04

I apologise for such a rambling post, but I'm trying to get some things straight in my mind.

I'm considering home educating my DD, who's currently 8. I always said that if she wasn't happy at school (I loathed it, and I don't think the system of schooling works all that well) then I'd HE, and have done a bit of reading about it. It's not that she's unhappy at school, exactly, but she doesn't seem to particularly enjoy it, and she doesn't want to go on many mornings. I've always felt wrong about forcing her to go to school when she's feeling ill or even just off colour and exhausted. The crunch point came when she started back to school last week. She was happy to go to school and was coming out of school cheerful, but I noticed a massive deterioration in her mood and attitude otherwise; very volatile temper and tears, rudeness, insolence, grumpiness and insecurity. She had two huge meltdowns in a week with hysterical tears and upset. I put it down to having to get back into the rules and routines of school, and interacting with the other children (she's not the most socially adept child. But then I thought 'Why? Why should she have to adapt to such a forced situation? Why should she have to go somewhere every day that makes her stressed and upset?'

There's so much about HE that makes sense to me, and the more I read about it, the more excited I feel. This section of MN and all the links and info given is brilliant! smile I think that DD would thrive on one-to-one attention and could make good progress on what I see as the 'core' academic stuff, leaving plenty of time for her to pursue what interests her and awakens her passion for learning.

BUT, the problems I can forsee are all about me!
I'm not a naturally patient person, in fact, I can be spectacularly irritable. I am a terrible control freak too, although I try not to be. DD is a very strongwilled child, and we have always clashed because I have a fairly authoritarian style of parenting, and she kicks against that authority. We have quite an intense relationship (I call her my angel-devil child), and when it's good it's very very good, but when it's bad it's horrid...

The older DD gets, the easier I find her to deal with; when she was younger I found trying to teach her anything to be quite frustrasting - she just seemed to resist me every step of the way. She was a late talker, and I feel like I spectacularly failed to teach her anything as a toddler. She came on in leaps and bounds when she started nursery at almost 4. Now that she's older and I can have a proper conversation with her, I find her more and more fun to be with, and really enjoy discussing things with her and learning with her. But I'm concerned that me teaching her and us being together all the time will be too intense and claustrophobic, and that I'll get impatient and irritable with her. When I'm helping her with homework or teaching her something (I love teaching her about anatomy and physiology, for instance, as it's my pet subject), I feel that the main barrier is her thinking that she can't do it and being unwilling to try. Once she stops panicking/guessing/resisting, then she picks things up very quickly. But sometimes I do feel frustrated with her, and with her reluctance to learn new things.

I guess what I'm asking is whether any of you have 'challenging' (at times) relationships with your DCs, yet still successfully HE them? How do things work when they're teenagers? I've been dreading DD's teens since she was a toddler, as she's so strong willed, but the thought of HE did give me a glimmer of hope that then she wouldn't be as subject to all the peer pressures of our sleb-obsessed vacuous consumerist society as she would be in mainstream education. How have you found the teen years in terms of rebellion, attitudes to discipline, learning, peer pressure?

Many thanks for reading this far! smile

ommmward Tue 13-Sep-11 13:51:54

I'd be working on your relationship with your daughter really intensively, and trying to lose the authoritarian style. I find it hard to imagine a child being raised in a really controlling environment who is going to relish spending a lot of time with their mother, frankly.

Find out about less coercive parenting styles?

ommmward Tue 13-Sep-11 13:52:33

That three in a bed woman - deborah jackson maybe? has written a fab fab fab book whose subtitle is "letting go as children go"

<wanders off looking vague>

LastSummer Tue 13-Sep-11 14:08:51

I feel for you! And you can be absolutely sure of this: If you home educate, you and your daughter will go through one awful, angry, guilty, black hell of an experience until her mother finally and completely accepts that her child's happiness is all that matters, not how quickly or how well her child assimilates knowledge or responds to her mother's imperfect teaching. You and your daughter can come out this with a far deeper, far more resilient and far more secure and mature relationship that will serve you both extremely well as she encounters adolescence and womanhood. But be aware of what lies ahead if you home educate and that Mum, if she's naturally edgy, impatient or didactic, will need substantially to reinvent herself. Will home educating break or make your relationship with your young daughter?

FigsAndWine Tue 13-Sep-11 16:30:18

Thanks for your replies.

I've had a look at the Deborah Jackson book on Amazon and will probably order it. I certainly don't intend to hothouse her, nor have I ever done so.

"naturally edgy, impatient and didactic"... yep, that would be me. blush

I try constantly not to be controlling and impatient, with varying degrees of success. I take ADs for long term depression which keep me on a mainly even keel. I am quite self aware but sometimes I'll show my irritation, realise, then apologise, rather than (ideally) catching myself beforehand.

I am authoritarian as in I won't put up with a rude/insolent tone of voice or expression from DD, aimed at me or at anyone else. That is not going to change; her manners are really important to me. I won't put up with her arguing on and on after I've made a decision (she can argue the hind leg of a donkey; great debating skills wink ), although we discuss most things first. Do you think this style of parenting is incompatible with HE? I try to give her more and more choices as she gets older, and will continue to do so, and I don't have a problem with letting her be independent - she's always been an independent spirit and much prefers to work things out for herself than be shown or told.

I wouldn't be comfortable with completely autonomous learning. There are core subjects that I feel she would have to learn, in the same way as she would if she were at school. I hope, though, that these could be covered in far fewer hours than it would take in school, and that we would then be led by DD and what she is interested in and passionate about. I would be led, as far as possible, by how DD wanted to cover the core subjects too. I know that she will need to be chivvied into doing some subjects, because she's not good at transitioning between activities; never has been (and nor am I!). An example is when she was off school before the hols for over a week (contagious but not ill). I said that we needed to do some school work, or that she could learn some Spanish with me from my audio course. Despite enjoying it the first time, she needed to be prodded into it the subsequent times ("no I'm not in the mood, I'm busy" etc), but when I said "we're doing it now " she really enjoyed it once we settled down to it, and we had great fun. I realise that this is contrary to the ethos of self-directed and autonomous learning, but surely there's not just one way to HE?

I discussed the possibility of HE with DD yesterday and this morning and she was really excited and enthusiastic about the idea. One concern, though, is that her school is very oversubsribed. Presumably if I de-reg her then the space will be filled immediately, and if it all goes pear-shaped then she won't be able to go back to that school.

"Will home educating break or make your relationship with your young daughter?"

That's what I'm worried about! sad

I appreciate your opinions. Any more gratefully received. smile

SDeuchars Tue 13-Sep-11 17:05:02

There is not one way to HE - you need to find what works for you as a family.

If you are also prepared to learn, then it is not necessarily a problem that you are currently finding yourself in a tense situation with DD. When there are fewer other things to negotiate (e.g. school), you may find that it is easier for you to let go a bit. You may find that she is less sensitive about "learning" once she gets used to not comparing herself with others and just does things as she did when she was a toddler.

My DC have been HE from birth and I certainly had a hard time with DD (over and over - it changes as they grow up). We did not, however, have standard, "expected", teen rebellion.

If I were you, I'd decide to give it a good shot. If you decide that you will review it and reconsider school next May, for example, you will remove some of the pressure. OTOH, if you stagger from week to week thinking "she can go back next week if it doesn't start showing results", you'll both be under pressure and will not get the most out of HE. The results of education are not measurable in the short term.

What are your non-negotiable core subjects? Many of us cover English and maths in everyday activities (writing shopping lists and letters to grandparents, cooking, craft, board games, etc.). At 8, learning does not have to be made into a chore - it will happen anyway. Perhaps you might want to consider continuing with Spanish. She would not be doing it in school but it has a specific use and you are doing it anyway (presumably for a reason... not because someone else thought it ought to be on your curriculum...).

FigsAndWine Tue 13-Sep-11 19:02:16

Thanks for your reply SDeuchars.

I am absolutely prepared to learn. I also love the idea of learning things alongside DD; us learning subjects together.

A lot of the tension between us is school related, actually. Having to hurry her in the mornings, my stress at having forgotten money-for-this or pe-kit-for-that or where her reading record/jumper/left shoe is... grin Also how grumpy she is when she gets home from school, and the tone of voice and attitude she seems to pick up there. I find her much easier when she's at home with me or during the holidays.

We had a talk about her reluctance to learn and to try new things, and I asked if it's because she's afraid she won't understand it or be able to do it. She says that it is. sad She also told me that today at school she did a swing round the somersault type bars (don't know what they're called) in the playground and two girls in her class "taunted" (DD's word) her saying that she did the easiest swing and that it was babyish. sad I don't want her to be afraid to experience and learn new things in case she's laughed at. angry

Good point about setting a date for review if we HE, rather than thinking about it week to week. It did occur to me to approach the head and ask if we could flexi school for a trial period. I guess I'm thinking that it would be a way to keep her place open if it doesn't work out, but maybe it's just not committing to HE.

Core subjects... well, for me english is really important. DD's reading is excellent, and she's very articulate. It's an area in which she shines, and I'd like her to give her space to develop there. I want her to have loads of time to read (she already reads a lot), and find books that she enjoys which challenge her a bit as well as entertaining her. Writing and other literacy skills too, but I agree that, along with a lot of maths, these things do come up on a daily basis in the course of normal life. I do want her to do some maths on the internet or in workbooks as well. Her dad can hopefully ignite some interest in her there, as he really enjoys maths (I don't!). She's crazy about playing monopoly at the moment, and I get her to be banker so that she's practicing her maths. She used to have a bit of a block with wanting to do maths, but she's really come on lately and doesn't seem to have the fear of it so much now. For me biology is a really important subject; I think everyone should know how their body works! I've been teaching her that for years though.

The Spanish came about because I'm learning it on an audio course (Michel Thomas), and whilst DD was off school I thought it would be a way of getting her away from the computer screen for a while and hopefully having some fun. She's less keen on the actual audio course than looking up words so that she can insult me in Spanish ('you mad old hatter' was her most recent one grin ), but she sees the value in learning how to structure sentences and tenses, so that you can slot the nouns etc in. She picked up the audio course really well, and learned far more in that week or two than she did on a Spanish after school club a year ago. When we were talking about how HE might work for us this morning, DD said the thing she enjoys most about learning at school is the topics. I said I thought that being able to do whatever topics we chose would be one of the advantages of HE. She asked for an example and I suggested a 'Spanish week' where we immersed ourselves in all things Spanish; speaking Spanish, cooking and eating Spanish food, learning about Spanish history and culture etc. She excitedly added that we could learn about which animals are found in Spain, and then suggested a sea life topic (one of her favourite subjects) where we learned about sea life in a certain area, visited an aquarium and the beach, got books from the library etc. She was so enthusiastic! smile

So yes, learning a language is a core thing for me. All the other things can be a bit more ad hoc. We talk a lot, so lots of things just come up in conversation. TV programmes on history, geography etc would be good. She loves all the David Attenborough dvd sets, and natural history is a big interest in our family. Her dad is very musical, so he can handle that side. He lives in London, so he can take her to lots of museums and stuff too. As long as she is literate, numerate, articulate and continues to love books, all the other stuff can develop as we go. If HEing DD could also go up to her DGPs more often, where she lives an idyllic country farm girl life!

I was feeling a bit despondent earlier about all my personality defects, but writing this has got me all excited again! grin

FionaJNicholson Tue 13-Sep-11 20:22:37

Sounds like you are evenly matched, not that she is cowed or anything. My son was very high maintenance and argued about nearly everything but actually it got easier by the time he was a teenager (possibly because he'd sort of ALWAYS been a teenager)

FigsAndWine Tue 13-Sep-11 21:13:54

Ah thanks Fiona. smile

grin at the idea of DD being cowed, and you've hit the nail on the head; DD has been a teenager since she was around 18 months old! She's got an answer (or ten) for everything - pushes me way beyond my capacity for reasoned argument, which I suppose is why I often end up bellowing 'because I'm your bloody mother and I said so!'. blush

hugglymugly Tue 13-Sep-11 22:30:37

This comment: "Also how grumpy she is when she gets home from school" rang a bell for me. My DD in her early years (she's in her thirties now) was challenging because she never was like the babies/toddlers as described in the books. She loved playschool/nursery/YrR, but going through Yr1 she became more and more moody and difficult by the end of the school day. I eventually found out through trial and error that giving her something that was intellectually stimulating (from memory it was the Nelson English & Maths workbooks) gave her what she hadn't got at school and what she craved.

We subsequently moved her to another school, but back then the concept of home edding was in its early days so that idea never occured to us.

What I've learned here (among a whole load of other things) is the maximum that an LEA would provide for a child who is at home/hospital to ensure they keep up with the educational basics, and I think that's 10 hours per week, so 2 hours a day. Many HEdders point out that it's perfectly possible to cover the basics in that kind of time-scale rather than the 9:00 to 3:30 schedule.

Maybe you could run through with her all the possibilities and see if she can come up with a daily timetable that would cover the basics in, say, two or three hours in the morning, leaving the afternoon for whatever she finds interesting.

Although you say she was a late talker, I wonder what might have been the reason for that. By the sounds of it she's very bright, and I wonder if you were supplying her intellectual needs from an early age such that she took that inboard and only later expressed that outwards, if you see what I mean.

Certainly you're right to consider your own personality, but maybe a trial of HEdding might help to clarify what really is going on here, both for her and for you.

LauraIngallsWilder Tue 13-Sep-11 22:47:21

Hi FigsandWine
You remind me of me quite a bit blush. Im not a patient person (Im learning to be!) and I do prefer to be in charge with things done 'my way' (again Im learning to sit back.........)
I have HEd for the past two years (and will likely continue for the duration)
My ds is also very strong willed and has lots of opinions (so we clash quite a bit)
The way things are working for us atm is that ds has a whole loads of projects that he is working on -but we also do a load of what most would think of as 'school work'
As he has a dx of aspergers (and Im similar to him) if I didnt set out some sort of plan he would literally do nothing much except draw maps (endlessly often of the same town over and over again) for months and months and months without ever getting bored.
So we do maths, english, science, history, geography, art etc (some of which he likes, some he says he dislikes but then he gets into it and later that day will be doing some sort of activity inspired by the mornings 'disliked' activity)
So its a sort of 50/50 deal - we do structured stuff, we do autonomous it is working for us. I have tried an entirely autonomous approach. As he rarely looks to me for inspiration and dislikes it if I suggest ideas and activities without warning it resulted in a fairly depressed and pointless 'me'.
He is much much better this way - we all prefer the rhythm of some structure.

The hardest thing is often the worry if HE turns out to be a bad idea - we feel that locally there is no option of return to school. There isnt one ds or dd would consider and they are only 10 and 7 - but I knew that when we started. Its a big commitment but not one I regret smile

I am in awe of Ommward,SDeuchars and Fionas entirely autonomous approach - very inspirational!

FigsAndWine Tue 13-Sep-11 22:54:52

Thanks huggly I think I'm going to gather as much information as possible and then I may approach the head to see whether he would be willing to authorise flexi schooling for a trial period. She's average or above average in everything, so I don't think she'd lose out academically if I were able to do that.

Her talking late was always a bit of a mystery; she only had a word or two by 2 years old, and was barely speaking in sentences by three. Yet she was on the G&T register at her infant school for 'linguistic intelligence' (whatever the hell that is! grin ) aged 7. I think it was partly that it was just her and me most of the time, and she could make her needs, likes and dislikes perfectly clear without words. She used to jabber away in a language that she considered perfectly clear. Also I was never very good at moderating my language for her being a baby, and have always talked to her in the vocabulary I'd use with an adult. Maybe she just took longer to pick it up, and decided to speak back to me in the gibberish she considered me to be using? grin

MagicFingerGoesPop Tue 13-Sep-11 23:18:52

Watching with interest. I would love to HE and think my children would enjoy it. But I too think I would struggle with the impatience. And not doing things my way! I would also like a structured approach rather than completely autonomous.

We are seeing how things go this year with our oldest, and then will review. While not being completely against it and always assuming dcs would go to school, DH has now come around to the idea that perhaps HE would be the way to go should their current school not be up to scratch.

FigsAndWine Tue 13-Sep-11 23:46:47

Hi Laura, it's so comforting to hear that you are a recovering impatient control freak yet are successfully HEing! grin Maybe there's hope for me yet?

My DD would spend hours (days...weeks...) on her favourite website games if left to her own devices. I really don't think an autonomous approach would work for us. Something similarly structured to your routine would suit us much better, I think.

I'm signing off for tonight as MN is excruciatingly slow for me this evening; pages just won't load. angry

ommmward Wed 14-Sep-11 07:47:47

there are plenty of structured home edders! It's probably mostly just that us autonomous types have time to be faffing around on mumsnet rather than preparing tomorrow's lessons grin

It's funny reading about a child who would draw maps happily - the same maps - for months on end. I tend to go with that flow. If repetitive map drawing is where we are, then it is clearly performing some crucial function to do with intellectual development or emotional wellbeing, so let's see what happens. And the outcomes are staggering, and usually totally unexpected. I can't tell you how one of my children's drawing and writing developed after spending weeks and weeks and weeks on miniclip Sketchstar (with them carefully deleting all the animations they made. I got no sense of educational product emerging until the medium shifted to paper, at the child's volition).

FigsAndWine Wed 14-Sep-11 09:52:28

ommmward left to her own devices, DD would spend all day playing cutesy animal based internet games (bella sara and Facebook's happy pets and happy aquarium). I think the draw for her is the feeling of control she has over the animals. I strictly limit her time on there. What do you think, as an AEer, would happen if I let her spend as long on there as she liked?

I used to let her play wii Endless Ocean for hours, if she liked, and she has got an encyclopedic knowledge of sea life (and a great passion for it). But brightly coloured animated animals which bear no resemblance to reality? I'm less keen... grin

FigsAndWine Wed 14-Sep-11 23:58:20

ommmward that wasn't a facetious question, btw - I really would like the autonomous educator's take on a 'pointless' (only my interpretation, I suppose) computer game?

FionaJNicholson Thu 15-Sep-11 06:29:20

You might end up getting a different answer from every different autonomous educator. Some people will say that children are able to self-regulate and that it's entirely up to the child and if the child chooses to play then the child is getting something out of it. Others - who are blessed/cursed with obsessive addictive compulsive traits, might say that some people (adults and children) are going to carry on doing something because carrying on with things is what they do, rather than because they actively want to. Additionally, some autonomous home educators don't make any value judgements about the worthiness of one activity over another (or feel that they "shouldn't") whereas others don't have a problem with it. We didn't have a computer at home till my son was 11, though he had access to a very old PC at his dad's house (no internet, no shiny games) That's another solution some autonomous home educators favour, never having XYZ in the house, or else taking children out A LOT (we don't call it "get off that PC now" we call it "ooh, lets go out to the woods and find conkers" or - at a pinch - "we ARE going out, because else I'm going to get a headache". It's similar to "he can eat anything we have in the house", having shopped for the adult's range of preferred choices. Basically it's up to you!

ommmward Thu 15-Sep-11 07:37:02

what fiona said smile

there are times when i will try to persuade a child off a computer on my agenda (bedtime for e.g.) and i don't leave a child passively there for hours if they might have got stuck, but what they do when they are on the computer is up to them. if they need control over imaginary creatures, give them plenty of time to exhaust the possibilities of that world. imo.

FigsAndWine Thu 15-Sep-11 14:58:18

Thank you. smile

vividgingerchilli Sat 17-Sep-11 22:28:22

Why don't you wait until the school holidays and then try it out and see how it goes, the summer holidays would have been ideal and then you know what it will be like before you de-register her.

FigsAndWine Sun 18-Sep-11 09:15:36

vivid DD tends to be away for most of the holidays visiting DGPs and her dad. e.g. the summer holidays were week dad, week with me, fortnight with DGPs, week with me, week holiday with dad. You are right though of course; that would be the best time to try it out.

vividgingerchilli Sun 18-Sep-11 10:11:01

That's a shame, it really takes away from her time with you. No doubt it's good for her though to have that special time with the extended family.

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