HE for introverts?(25 Posts)
Great article, Saracen! I'm all for giving my DDs a say, my 2 (and I guess most children?) need control over their day to day activities. If they're co-erced into things they'd rather not do you can see on their faces how upsetting they find it. I have to remind DD1 quite frequently that it's ok to say no. She's such a people pleaser, probably another reason why she's exhausted after school!
ilove - its about more than what DD1 says to me, I can see 'it' written all over a face as she comes out of the school gate. A whole range of emotions flitting across it, most of them not positive ones. Yes, she is hungry when she comes out of school but her general mood doesn't lift until a week or so into the school holidays. I'm not saying that she's miserable all the time or I would have done something about it before now. But there comes a point where you wonder how much she's enjoying her life (where the majority of it is spent in a place she doesn't want to be) and how much you should expect a child of 6 to cope when she obviously doesn't suit the school environment?
saracen - interesting you should say that about your dd's teacher, we've had a similar situation this year. Although DD likes her teacher but she's very strict so the only way of getting on with her is to get your head down and not step out of line. She's caused other girls to have nightmares and bed-wetting! Not that DDs teacher is the reason we are pulling her out of school, but it just goes to show that what suits some, doesn't suit others!
I agree with you, Lucy and ommmward, that there is no reason to doubt the word of a child who says she doesn't want to go somewhere. We don't tend to do this in other situations: if a child said she wanted to stop going to Brownies or soft play or a friend's house then a parent would take her at her word and not make her carry on going.
The only reason to question the situation would be if you have a strong feeling that school really is the right place for her and you want to invest heavily in making school work. But it seems that is not the case here, so why drag things out with trying to make school work?
As an aside, I once read a great book about what parents can do to try to reduce the likelihood of their children falling victim to sexual abuse. One key recommendation was that if a child wants to stop going somewhere or being with a particular person, that wish should be honoured even if she cannot or will not articulate the reason. Apparently an abusive situation typically develops gradually over time, with the would-be abuser pushing boundaries further and further. The child is likely to get bad vibes early on, and may be able to prevent things escalating if she is empowered to opt out of the situation. My niece stopped going to chess club without giving any reason, but later said to her mum that the coach was "kind of weird" and that his behaviour made her feel uncomfortable. She wasn't able to explain why; it was just a feeling he had. Several years later, he was convicted of numerous counts of child abuse. This is in no way intended to imply that Lucy's daughter is being abused at school. I mean it as a general statement about the advisability of taking children seriously when they say they want to avoid a certain place or person, even when the reason isn't clear.
And here is psychologist Peter Gray on the importance of the freedom to leave when something isn't working: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201304/the-most-basic-freedom-is-freedom-quit
Lucy, if you have made your mind up about taking your daughter out of school, there is nothing to be gained from subjecting yourself to any more, especially since you feel you aren't good at making yourself heard in meetings anyway,
Since you are keen to keep on the good side of the school, you might say in your deregistration letter (or a separate letter, if you've already put the dereg letter in) that you have no reason to be dissatisfied with the particular school, you simply feel that your daughter would be better suited to learning outside of school. That's what I did when my dd decided to leave school after one term. I genuinely felt they had done their best and that it was a very good school as schools go, and my dd loved her teacher, but it still didn't hold a candle to home ed as far as she was concerned!
...mind you, just last week I learned that some new HE friends of ours had fled from the very same teacher in the same school after having a miserable time with her. My dd then recalled that though the teacher had been very nice to her, the teacher had been quite hopeless at dealing with boys in general and active boys in particular. Which just goes to show how subjective a judgement about "a good teacher/school" can be!
Ilove, if the child says they aren't enjoying school and is grumpy and volatile and overtired, then why on earth would it be worth a second thought? Home ed is a legal and socially and ethically vald alternative - it's in no way an inferior option! I'm really hearing this bit about the mask slipping. People can manage to glean some enjoyment from all sorts of situations which aren't optimal. If a less suboptimal situation is on offer, grab it with both hands!
Perhaps the head wants to meet up because she knows your DD really enjoySchool? Is she just bad after school because she is hungry? Is she saying that she misses you because it's what you want to hear? My daughter says it to me, but it doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy school. It just strikes me that because of your bad experiences you might automatically think the worst.
FionaJ, she actually goes to a prep school so yes, the school gets lots of money for my DDs place! However there is a long line of children waiting to join the school so I'm quite impressed that they want her to stay. I did stress to the head that it wasn't to do with her school in particular but she didn't seem to listen and I wonder if she's worried it will look bad if we leave...? Who knows why she wants to keep talking about it, it certainly wasn't my choice to meet up, but I want to keep on her good side just in case HE doesn't work out and we have to beg our way back in
ilove, they're not keen on allowing parents into the classrooms at our school. I know she is a different person at school anyway, the head told me she was. It's the pressure on her to put on that different 'school' face that I think is wearing her down. Its like she gets in the car, takes the 'mask' off and is exhausted / angry / tearful.
Why don't you go into the school and observe your child in action? My four year old always said she hated nursery. I popped in one day to drop something of and it was a revelation - she was charging about, shrieking with laughter.The staff couldn't believe that my dd said she hated nursery.
The school gets money from you for your daughter's place. The money will stop if you take her out (presumably with a term's notice?) The school which is getting the money tells you everything is fine. Not sure why you need to keep talking about it to the school, if I were the school I'd be having a go at talking you round, and I'd think you were in two minds about it.
Yes I see what you mean. I've got another meeting with the head next week, I think she wants to make sure that I'm absolutely certain. She talks with such authority and I'm not very good at getting my point across. I will have to write a few notes out this time so I can deal with it better next time. Thanks ommward
The problem is - and you are going to need to a) grow a thick hide and b) get very good at saying how splendid schools are for lots of children but it's not right for your family just now - the problem is that you removin a child from school is taken by many as an implied criticism of their parenting choices, their value system, their career path. You have to be wrong because the alternative is too threatening
Haha ommward, you're right! I felt so confused coming out of that meeting but I'm feeling a bit calmer now. Head obv talked with all of DDs teachers to see if they had any clue as to DDs unhappiness. The only suggestion came from her music teacher who wondered if she might have hearing problems. Firstly, I had to stifle a giggle at that as DDs singing is pretty bad, secondly, I did start to think that maybe she was right and I have been missing some sort of physical problem. Arrghhhh don't know why I just didn't stand up for myself! Now I've agreed to take DD for hearing test?! Don't know what I was thinking of.
Just lost a long post.
Short answer - normal normal normal. It's a very rare school that says "yes it's a far cop, we have been letting your child down"
Now I'm having a wobble.
Just been for a meeting with DD's head teacher. She was utterly flummoxed as to why DD tells me she's unhappy at school as she sees a happy, confident, child in class. When I told her that DD soldiers on, puts a brave face on, does/says what she feels others want to hear and then collapses at home sometimes with exhaustion/anger/tears she didn't seem to buy it? She doesn't seem to see that DD puts one face on for school and another on for home. Now I feel like I'm the one missing something?!
I know that I know DD inside out and I'm in the best position to decide what's best for her but now I feel unsure of myself and whether I've made the right decision! Have I over-reacted by removing her from school?
Please help I'm so confused!
Thanks for your responses everyone, they gave me hope that I will be able to cope with home ed and get head space too! The more I read into HE the more it convinced me that it is the right way to go. I have now managed to convince my DH and although he had reservations about the social side (!) he was willing to go along with it and so I handed our notice into the head teacher!
Further to this, last night DH came home and said he realised that the people he worked with all went to school and were incredibly unsociable, which made him realise you didn't need school to be socialised! Hurrah!
"whether I'll manage without a break from my girls. As much as I love them I really need my own head space. I'd be interested to hear how you all do it?"
Part of the answer (probably only part!) is that when your girls have access to you for much of the time, and when they aren't stressed out from having to cope with school, they become less needy, less in-your-face.
By the same token, because you will be satisfied that you are giving them quite a lot of your time and attention overall, you will feel no guilt whatsoever about saying sometimes, "I need to be alone for a while now. I am going to set this timer and I don't want to be disturbed until it goes off."
I don't suppose that is very easy for you to do right now. You recognise that after many hours away from you in a challenging environment, your daughters have a desperate and urgent need to unload their anger, drink deeply of your affection, and revel in your attention while they can. In the face of such obvious neediness, you might not feel able to prioritise your own need for time alone.
Once you've taken them out of school so their needs are being met better, they will loosen the barnacle grip on you somewhat. Not completely, I'm sure, because they are quite young, but it will get better.
I'm only answering one part of your post here but I am an introvert Heing an Introvert (who displays very extrovert behaviour at home but nowhere else...) and I really need my head space. Although DH works FT so I do the Lion's share of being present with the kids, he gives me my much needed headspace by: getting up early with our early riser so I can wake up and do my own thing before coming down in the morning - I really cherish this; taking care of the evenings and bedtime two nights a week when I go swimming; and usually I have Saturdays to myself, and then sundays are all-the-family-together day. I am lucky because DH doesn't crave time alone like I do, but it works when everyone's getting what they need. And Saturdays usually switch between him taking them out so I get to sort the house, get on top of stuff, DIY etc or him having a homey day with them and me buzzing off to enjoy other things with my friends or alone.
What I like about HE is the flexibility and that you take a problem solving approach to it all - education, parents needs, kids needs etc and you end up with a formula that works, and if it stops working you can change it.
The best thing about H.ed is you don't need to keep to any particular hours, timetable etc.
If you have a friend, dp/dh, extended family who you can leave dc with then this can help. I wondered how I was going to fit appointments in, but you manage it either with dc or without them.
I also found that after a couple of months my dd started to self motivate with learning, choosing what and when she studied.
At first I panicked and still do sometimes, but generally I think she has improved really well in some areas.
Don't forget, if you try it for a while and it doesn't work out, you can always register again.
tag-team parenting. I look after the children for a few hours each day when I'm not at work to give Dp time "off duty". Honestly, family time with all of us together is pretty rare, but it's a necessary pay off for maintaining everyone's sanity.
Thanks for your feedback everyone! In my gut it feels like HE is the right way to go, I feel excited about it but I have one doubt: whether I'll manage without a break from my girls. As much as I love them I really need my own head space. I'd be interested to hear how you all do it?
As regards how it affects your relationship with the children - it is fantastic. It was a reveation to have him back and to see how far we'd grown apart when he was at school for 8 years. It was like recovering my toddler, at age 11, who wanted to spend time with me. He saw me once again as a parent instead of someone who organised the house.
It was all good.
"how good a teacher do you need to be?"
Not at all. The main thing you need is to be interested in engaging with your children, answering their questions, helping them find ways of achieving their goals, offering enough benign neglect that they grow in independence and confidence. remember that you wouldn't be doing anything like a school teacher's job at all - because their role (and hats off to them) is to try to juggle the interests and needs and challenges of a large group of children, while getting through what the national curriculum requires for that age group. There's a lot of skill in persuading people that what you want them to do is what they actually want to engage with. As a HE parent, you don't have to do that much if at all - instead, you have to work out what a very few children want to do, and find ways of facilitating it and avoiding WWIII breaking out between them.
"How does it affect your relationship with your children?"
Can't answer this because we've never used schools as a contrast. I think it might affect the relationship in a family that does a lot of formal sit-down curriculum-based, adult-led home education. But in an unschooling family like ours, it's basically like the summer holidays every day (without the sunshine)
"Is it too extreme to pull her out of school because of a lack of interest?" No. Being bored is grim. One of the big contrasts between my children and the schooled children we hang out with is that my home educated children never ever ever express boredom or require me to come up with the next activity - they haven't lost that preschool-like independence and ability to make their own entertainments. They very often pressure me to join in with whatever their glorious idea for the next activity is, and they'll often join in with great gusto if I suggest something fun, but they just don't wait for adults to tell them what's next.
Coming out of the expectation that adults will regulate their boredom levels is one of the most exciting things to see with children who are taken out of a schooled environment.
<steps gingerly down off soap box>
Your DDs sound like they have a lot in common with mine. Mine are 4.7yo and 2yo. The eldest hates crowds and doesn't do well in groups of more than about 7 or 8. She also hates being away from me. Our local school has 60 children in each year group so we decided a long time ago not to bother registering her until she was ready to go.
You don't need to be an amazing teacher. Some people do structured work like workbooks and sheets, others learn as they go about their daily lives. There are so many ways to HE that you'll be able to find a way that's right for your family. Every child learns in a different way and as their mother you're in a good position to figure out what works best for each of your DDs.
I don't think it's extreme to pull her out of school if you think HE would suit her better. School doesn't have to be the default; you can pick the method of educating that best suits your child and your family. It's not a permanent decision either, you can review it every term or every year or whenever.
Hope that helps a bit
I''ve been reading this HE section with great interest! We have 6 and 4 yo DDs. Our 6yo is very highly introverted and has always found the school environment stressful and tiring. She still performs well but she sometimes comes home and unleashes a lot of anger which i guess is the only way she can cope with the amount of stimulus she's taking on board during the day. We decided to send her to a private school, largely due to the smaller class size and the school we chose has a very caring and kind approach to the children.
Our 4yo also goes to a private nursery, again this is primarily for the higher staff:child ratio we chose for DD1 and our younger DD (who is more balanced between intro/extrovert) has just followed in her footsteps.
Both of our girls are home bodies, they love each other's company, they love activities at home and general family life. They both complain/cry about having to go to school and say they miss me. Neither of them enjoy being there, or particularly enjoy being with other children. I sort of took this for normal as I hated school too and figured all children do!
Recently though my 6yo has said to me that she doesn't find anything at school interesting. This worries me a bit as the one thing I had hoped was that she was at least getting a 1st class education (my school was appalling) while in the nicest possible environment. Now I'm thinking: what's the point in spending all that money on a private education if she doesn't want to go and isn't interested in lessons?
I know she would be delighted if we were to do HE as she has said quite often that she wishes I was her teacher! If I were to do HE with my older DD then I would just follow suit with my younger.
I do have doubts though, like how good a teacher do you need to be? How does it affect your relationship with your children? Is it too extreme to pull her out of school because of a lack of interest?
I hadn't considered HE as an option until a few days ago. I would love to hear your thoughts on my situation.
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