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having difficulties, need advice

(14 Posts)
puddinmama Wed 02-Sep-09 13:34:21

hi everyone

I seem to only be in this part of mumsnet when am in difficulties, but i appreciate the support i get here.

basically my ds is 6 goin on 7 so he would have been primary 3 this year in northern ireland, i deregistered him last november after doing lots of research about homeschooling.

i really want to home educate my kids, but i feel like am failing miserably, my ds just cant be bothered at all and will whine and moan, about any little thing, now you might say ok home ed him autonomously, but my dh will not even hear of that, and would put him back into school at the mere mention of it, and i suppose i like to do a bit of school work with ds as well, although really i dont demand much from him, a bit of reading some writting practice and some math and we alternate science, history etc

the local school is right over the road and dh keeps making comment like 'oh all the other kids are back at school' and the dreaded ' are you doing school with him today'

this isnt the only thing i have to deal with right now, my mum is sick and I'm her main carer and have been out of the house quite a bit with her so for example i wont be doing any school with ds as i know it as am going into a&e with my mum so now i feel guilty and am constantly thinking, 'he could have been in school right now doing all his learning and school work'.

also on top of this i am finishing of a degree with the ou and really need to get out to work at some point this year, which again is suffering as my mum is ill right now, she goes up and down throughout the year.

so am so confused and thinking whats the point and why am i bothering right now when ds wont even co coperate on the days when he had my full attention, its as if he just doesnt want to learn and i know that if he was in school he would have to learn right.

whata m i gonna do its all getting me really down and i just felt like i wanted to cry yesterday

please advice asap, before i have a nervous breakdown

Yurtgirl123 Wed 02-Sep-09 14:12:11

Hi puddin sorry you are having a tough time right now

I submitted our de reg letter today (Eek that was scary!) The head said they are almost oversubscribed now so if they want to return to that school they probably wont be able to - they hated it there but Im still freaking a bit! (All the other schools in town are oversubscribed as well!!!!!!!!!!)

What did your ds think about school?
What were your motivations for deciding to Home Ed?

Sorry questions questions - it just helps to get an idea of where you are at!

Its hard when you have lots of people and issues pressing on your time for you

ommmward Wed 02-Sep-09 15:44:37

you poor thing! It never rains but it pours.

"my ds just cant be bothered at all and will whine and moan, about any little thing, now you might say ok home ed him autonomously, but my dh will not even hear of that,"

OK, my 2p worth is that your son might really really do better taking more control of what he is doing, because the adult-led thing doesn't sound like it's suiting either of you at the moment. But obviously you need to be able to cover your back with your dh.

soooo.

First, I would announce to your dh that you've got an awful lot on your plate right now, with hospital visits and OU courses to finish and thinking about finding paid work around everything else. So you and Ds are going to take a fortnight "off". There will be no "school" during this period. Noone is even to mention "school" during these 2 weeks. And during them, find ways to have a lovely time with your Ds - think with him of some really fun things to do in hospital waiting rooms, just be with him and take an interest in whatever he's doing without judging or pushing, answer whatever questions he asks you as fully as he wants.

Before you go to bed each night, think through the day, and think about the activities you did and the things you talked about, and think about what your son was learning while they were going on - not "school" learning, but just - what connections was he making, what human behaviours was he seeing. Keep a diary.

Before you restart "school", have a really good look at that diary, and show it to your Dh, and that might help you to value what your son learns just by living his life. If there are gaps there (er, we did not mention a single number once in two weeks! grin as if...) you can either address that through reintroducing school-y type stuff, or by finding opportunities to bring such things into conversation, or by asking your son if that's something he's like to spend time on and, if so, how. Or if he'd like to leave it a while.

Can you get help with your mum? how about claiming carer's allowance? that might make it possible for you to concentrate on family rather than worrying about outside paid work for a bit.

"i know that if he was in school he would have to learn right." you know that's not true, yeah? School provides an education, but whether your son learns or not is up to him. Noone can make someone learn.

musicposy Wed 02-Sep-09 16:38:37

Firstly, I think ommmward's idea is absolutely fantastic - better than what I'm going to suggest, but as I work from a semi- structured approach (and have one child with really good application and one moaner and whinger) I thought how I do it might help you.

Firstly, although my eldest moans a bit, she's quite glad underneath that she has the structure (I know this because in her better moments she has told me!), so if you can stand the whinging, I wouldn't let it put you off too much (I'm sorry autonomous people, I know I'm coming from a slightly different viewpoint here).

Secondly, I get my girls up and started with work early -really early. It's a rare day they aren't started by 7.30am. This happened not by design but because I have pupils coming for piano lessons from 7.45 onwards, often through until about 11am - so I am not available for the girls, and I need them quiet, so it's an ideal time to get work done. I couldn't cope with having to start at 11 and spend the rest of the day helping with their work, so it has evolved this way - and it works for us. I talk through with the girls what they need to do, and explain anything that needs explaining. They then work at it alone in their rooms until I am finished teaching when we get together and talk about what they've done.

This has had a couple of great benefits. The one that counts the most from their point of view is that my youngest (10, just going into last year of primary) is almost always finished by 10 o'clock, when she is free to do as she pleases. My eldest is secondary and her stuff is a bit more involved but it's rare she's not done by midday. So they feel they do very little "school" and will tell you they are mostly autonomously educated, whereas in fact, they cover much more than they would in a school day. The other benefit is to me. Because they do the bulk of their work on their own (as would be the case in school; the teacher has a whole class so there isn't much individual time), it's very easy for me and means I have time to work as well.

So I was just thinking if you really feel you need to do "school" work (and I'm not saying one way or another on that - everyone works differently and suits different things), then to start early, set work and be firm about it being done, with the added carrot of it being finished with the whole day left to himself, might just work.

The other thing is, your work times don't have to be school work times, so you shouldn't feel guilty if you have to do stuff with your mum during the school day. If it bothers you, make it up in the evening, or on a Saturday. The beauty of HE is, even if you have a structured approach, you can set your own work hours, work days and term times. When I first took DD2 out of school at 8, we followed a 4 day week, and often a 3 day week. That was enough - she covered all she needs to in that time. My eldest is studying for GCSEs so that's not practical for her - she can't cover it in the time - but my point is, we do what we need, when we need it. Don't feel pressured by the fact you see all those kids in school. I was a primary school teacher for many years, and believe me, lots of those hours are spent in assembly, answering the register, doing show and tell, giving out books, getting the whole class to listen, repeating something 6 times because someone still didn't listen....you get my drift. You could condense the actual learning into a very short time.

I have a DH who is very supportive of HE, but does expect them to be working, IYSWIM. Often he will ask why they aren't doing work - then I list all the things they have done already that day and he is amazed! I think writing down all the educational stuff you do - whether structured or autonomously can be an enormously useful excersise for any doubting family, and for your doubts too!

I hope some of this helps. Feel free to disregard the whole thing if it's not right for you!

FlamingoBingo Wed 02-Sep-09 16:44:42

Ommward has some great points! Do them!

And look at the national curriculum online and see where you can connect all the things you've done to points on the NC. I bet you'll find your DS has learnt more than enough to satisfy your DH.

Can you get hold of a copy of How Children Learn at Home by Alan Thomas and get your DH to read it? Would he be more swayed by a real piece of research?

If not, and if Ommward's idea doesn't get the results you want, could you say to your DH that your DS is so far ahead, that you feel you could sacrifice 6m (or whatever) to experiment with autonomous education and see how it goes, and what your DS learns?

ommmward Wed 02-Sep-09 17:12:08

Off Topic: how are you doing flamingobingo? I keep meaning to email you to say hello!

[big non-mumsnetty hug your way]

and I like everyone else's ideas a lot!

weegiemum Wed 02-Sep-09 17:22:06

Are you in touch with other HE families face to face who might be able to help? I know some people who HE, though in Fermanagh, so might be too far from you? I am sure they are part of some HE groups though (certainly a tennis club?) which might be helpful to you. SHe has 2 boys close to yours in age so might have some pointers for activities in NI that could help.

puddinmama Wed 02-Sep-09 17:43:53

Hi everyone

I just wanted to say a big thank you for all of the replies, on here, am struggling not to cry in front of my mum right now

I have to say that I liked all of the ideas and will be trying to implement them all, especially the best one which was that school doesnt have to be in school hours it can be earlier or later or on week ends if needs be.

when you say, yoiur kids are free for the day when they finish school what do they do, i feel like i need to be constantly doing something with them and then when i dont or cant i feel guilty about that.

yurtgirl, my motivation for home education was that i wanted my children to experience a different kind of childhood, one with me and in thier family home and with a different approach to learning, i also didnt like that fact that most of my childrens childhood was spent with a teacher, that probably sound very stupid, these are just the main reasons i can think of right now, i did have many more, but when your feeling demotivated and like a failure you kinda forget most of the important reasons.

ommmward it is seriously pouring on top of me right now, and everyone else in my family seems to be living thier dandy lives, my bro and his wife are off on holiday for over a month leaving my mums care all to me, and yet managed to ring me today and give out to me for not ringing him every hour to let him know how my mum is lol see what am dealing with here, anyway thats a totally different topic, i think yes i need to find a way to make it all work, there isn't much point in me melting down now.

i just dont want the kids to suffer thats all

thanks

any ideas on how to teach a primary 3 curriculum in a couple of hours i think someone mentioned that they were a teacher, i know it probably gets annoying people picking your brains all the time, but something just to let me know am on the right track and help m feel confident would be a huge huge help

thanks again

puddinmama

Yurtgirl123 Wed 02-Sep-09 17:59:25

Hi puddin - those are great reasons (as I am just starting out I am very nosy about other peoples reasons for choosing to HE) I am because both my kids dislike school with a huge passion!

Another idea - why not get your ds involved in the chores you have to do every day

Your mum needs a sandwich for lunch - ds can 'help' to make it
The washing needs sorting out and putting away - ds can help with that
Get him choosing a recipe for dinner - when you go shopping he can find the ingredients and then help you cook the dinner

Tell him its part of his education in being a fantastic husband

Also dont feel you have to entertain him all the time - today mine have been largely undirected all day. This morning we went to tescos (ds used a calculator to give me a running total on the cost of the shopping!) This afternnon we have made dinosaur fossils using playdough and plaster of paris - push dinosaur into playdough, remove, put a cardboard circle round it, pour on plaster of paris et voila dinosaur fossil

Right now dd (5) is using wooden blocks to make a house for her zebra
Ds is tracing maps of the world from his atlas

RE helping you to know you are on the right track - there are websites detailing all the national curriclum levels (try googling?)

Got to go the dinner is burning blush

Yurtgirl123 Wed 02-Sep-09 18:10:24

This might be helpful!

puddinmama Fri 04-Sep-09 11:53:35

Hi

I just wanted to thank everyone for the support, am starting to feel a little bit better and have managed to try and get things back in order, we starting to bit by bit.

thanks

puddinmama

musicposy Sat 05-Sep-09 23:34:44

Hi there!

I'm not sure being a teacher has helped me a lot with home ed, actually wink, but we do broadly follow the national curriculum - in a couple of hours a day for my primary aged daughter.

Firstly, we cut out all the dross. We don't follow NC for PE, Art, Music, PSCHVE (or whatever), ICT, RE etc. That's not because I don't think those things are important. It's because we cover them anyway in our everyday lives (dancing, singing, home ed gym and ice skating groups, going on the computer, drawing).

That leaves, maths, english and science, with maybe the odd bit of history and geography (although, once again, we found ourselves covering a lot of that anyhow).

This is how I do it. I've bought workbooks for the three core subjects and she does a bit each day. We've had Bond No Nonsense Maths and English, CGP books, Galore Park books, WHSmith books and AE tuition books, according to what suited us at the time. She just works through them. Science once a week, with maybe an experiement based round what she is doing. Maths each day. Workbook English 3 times a week and other writing the rest of the time (letters to people, emails, shopping lists, recipes, nything relevant).

To my alarm when we first started HE she covered the maths curriculum for the year in half a term. I panicked, what next? That's why we've got through lots of books. But you honestly do so much, so quickly on a one to one. She came out of Y4 and she couldn't tell the time properly, this week she would be Y6 and we are starting the secondary curriculum, jsut because I have nowhere else to go with her. That's how efficient it is.

Each term we loosely choose a history or geography topic and study that alongside the maths, English and science. Our first one was romans, she loved that and we had lots of trips to places. We did erosion (lots of beach trips), rainforests, victorians, weather and this term we are going to do world war two. These are all national curriculum age 7-11 topics but we haven't been very prescriptive over them, just studied them in a way that interests her and sparks her imagination.

So that's it (I sound much more structured on paper than I feel I really am, lol). NC covered in 2 hours a day.

As to what they do when they've finished, that's up to them. My youngest is always into something terribly interesting, of her own accord. She's been through origami, astronomy, brainteasers, suduko, drawing cartoons, reading, sewing, cooking, you name it. This didn't happen at first, but has been a product of hours with nothing to do! I never hear her say she's bored any more, ever, yet she has more free time than ever before.

My eldest is interested in a games forum and is on there just about all her spare time. It doesn't worry me; her spelling has improved beyond all recognition and she has learnt all kinds of computing skills (she's currently teaching herself to hack into her wii games - though I'm not sure how honorable that is as an LA aprroved activity! )

musicposy Sat 05-Sep-09 23:40:03

Grr, it missed a bit!

Also, I think it's good for children to have down time with nothing to do (I guess this is where the autonomous part of me comes in which is why I say I'm semi-structured). They very quickly learn to amuse themselves, and I think that's really good, for them, and for later on when they have to self direct their study to a certain extent. It's easy to panic about what they are doing or not doing in their free time, but actually, it doesn't matter, and I often think my girls learn more from their free time than their "work" time!

I can link any of the books I mentioned if it helpsgrin

puddinmama Sun 06-Sep-09 16:05:27

Hi

I just wanted to say a big thank you to musicposy, that was really excellent and I feel a whole lot better now concerning what we do, which is sort of similar to what you have written above.

yes I would be very grateful if you could link some of the books that you used, right now for this year, we are using explode the code, the jolly phonics book of grammar and singapore maths, we do this daily a bit from all of the books which takes us around a couple of hours and then we are usually free to do what we like for the rest of the day. So you can see how its reassuring for me to hear that am on the right track or at least I can be comfortable in the choices I have made and not let pressure get to me.

one thing I love about home education, is that my kids know how to play, when ds1 was at school it was as if he'd forgotten what toys were for, now there isn't a toy in the house that isn't used for games and imaginary play which is excellent i think and worth him not going to school, as i think childhood should involve more play. I very rarely get the 'am bored' routine which works out great for me.

thanks everyone again

puddinmama

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