Those homeschooling or contemplating it (FLYLEFT???)

spacificMay 13, 2006


I wanted to ask you over in the etiquette post, but didn't want to disrupt the discussion....

You mentioned a homeschooling forum... could you post or email me the info?

Is anyone else here homeschooling, contemplating it, or did it in the past? I'm so frustrated with the disparity of how easily and interested my son is in learning things when he's home and so distracted and bored in school...

I've been over on the School and Parenting forums here, but they're not very active. There's not an active group in my immediate area...

Any and all tips would be appreciated.



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reno_fan has homeschooled, if my memory serves me correctly. Hmm, did sweeby, or did she just consider it?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 10:41PM
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Susan (Garden of Darwin) also can find her a lot in the Ikea thread.

And check your e-mail :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 11:54PM
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And MaddieMom homeschools, too.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 11:47AM
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Thank you for all the resources to start with. Happy Mother's Day to all.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 12:45PM
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And I WAS homeschooled, in the 50's and early 60's, so I can look back on it, if that is useful in your deliberations.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 5:49PM
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Ann, no problem -- hope they help :)

housekeeping, how cool! Your family was one of the first trailblazers!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 4:05PM
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I haven't tried it -- but might someday, and have enormous respect for the folks who do.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 5:45PM
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I homeschooled my children starting with my daughter in 7th grade and after that year, pulled my 2nd and 3rd grader out. My daughter graduated valedictorian and a year early, my 18 year old son moved up from 4th to 6th grade and graduated early and my 16 year old is graduating this year. I posted on the homeschooling thread, if you check there you can get a little more detail. If you have any particular questions, let me know.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 9:43PM
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We also homeschool. What's really wonderful today is that you can get lesson plans on virtually any subject right off the internet. You don't necessarily have to spend money on curriculum.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 12:57AM
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So what finally made you all decide to go ahead with homeschooling? Did you follow a structured program or do a more unschooled approach? How involved are you in group social/educational activities?

My DS is just finishing kindergarten. We've already had numerous parent-teacher meetings because they say my son just isn't progressing with the others... it's kindergarten and they're already concerned he's not like the other kids. To me, he's got amazing gifts... bright, interested in everything, a total sponge for learning and retaining; to the teachers, he's distracted, unfocused and can't tell a 'b' from 'd'. He already seems to tune them out.

Overall, I think we'd do fine homeschooling... but the two concerns (excuses?) I keep coming back to are:
1. how to juggle working at home (already working most nights now after DS is asleep) with DS at home all day as well.
2. wondering if my unconforming nature is driving this more than what's clearly best for DS. Overall, DS is fairly happy to go to school and happy about his day at the end.

I apologise for the rambling. Thank you all for chiming in here. I'm still not sure what questions to ask, or how to go about this.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 2:36AM
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So Molly, I know one answer won't be a decider, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether or not being homeschooled made you somewhat of an outsider amongst your peers. Did you mainly keep friends who were also homeschooled? Did you have siblings that were also homeschooled at the same time? Do you have children? Did you homeschool them? If not, why not?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 2:50AM
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I don't know a lot about it, but my 12 yo nephew is being homeschooled, so I can just describe what I observe.

My SIL chose to homeschool her son because his schedule was filled with a lunch and 2 study periods in addition to his other classes. She thought it was a waste of time his just being there doing a lot of 'nothing' throughout the day.

She also used to work at the middle school where he would be attending and doesn't think too highly of it. That is a purely subjective opinion.

My issue doesn't seem to be with homeschooling, but with the NYS curriculum. It doesn't seem to require a whole lot of effort or time from my SIL to get his learning in for the day. The school district only requires a quarterly report based on what parents submit, and state required testing. He does very well on those tests, but he may be just a good test taker.

I think it's a good opportunity to teach your kids well beyond what public schools teach. You will have plenty of time after what's required to do that.

One downfall I see is that there isn't a strict phys ed requirement. It seems good enough for a parent to just keep a log of physical activity and submit it, again, quarterly. There are no guidelines. What my nephew does is just walk with a pedometer and submit the miles tracked.
I think this is lacking, as there is something that could be gained from learning a sport, whether it be it individual or a team sport. I am no jock by any stretch of the imagination, but I think some traditional phys ed curriculum is a good thing, especially for a a sedentary kid as he is. He's not one of the reported obese, he's quite skinny in fact, but he could use some activity other than video games or web surfing.

My nephew does have a small circle of friends, none of which are other homeschooled children, but kids he befriended from the previous year's attendance in public school. He spends an awful amount of time on the internet, but I fault my SIL for relying too much on internet research for his assignments.

SIL should really make an effort on developing his social skills. When I say social, I don't necessarily think it's just being popular and having friends, but learning about classroom dynamics, following instructions from someone other than a parent, or even just being exposed to a culturally diverse setting, among others. This is up to SIL to provide, and she's not doing that.

I don't know what state you're in. It may be a state where the curriculum is not as robust as it should be. If you get the required learning out of the way and absorbed well, you have a great opportunity to append it. It takes a lot of skill, creativity and commitment to do so. I don't think my SIL is able to do it and take full advantage of the true benefit of homeschooling. I've tried to diplomatically address this, and neither she, nor her husband or my MIL who lives with them even see what I am talking about. My husband sees what I am talking about, but he is 'different' from the rest of the family :)

They just think that as long as my nephew meets state requirements and passes those tests, he's doing just fine. I personally believe that education - in or out of the classroom - is more than that.

Sorry for the rambling. This was just casual observation, so take it for what it is.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 9:36AM
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spacific, could his curriculum be just plain uninteresting? Is he intellectually past kindergarten but socially in the right place? Sounds as if he is really bright and they are teaching 'to the middle'. If so, no wonder he is bored. Do they 'sit' a lot and cut and color? This drove my son crazy- he said "We don't DO anything important!"

It's been a long time since I had a kindergartener, but I seem to remember that it takes awhile for the 'b'/'d' and 'p'/'q' discrimination to kick in.

Have you considered sitting in and/or researching other schools with other teaching methods?

I'm not discouraging homeschooling at ALL! but it wasn't for us, so we didn't explore it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 10:01AM
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We homeschooled for 3 years. (Good memory, Pecan!)

My kids excelled academically and socially. In our area, there is a HUGE homeschool community, so there were always classes and activities to plug into. We bordered on doing *too much* socially!

The socialization argument always bothered me. My kids never had any problems acclimating to other non-homeschooled kids, and yet were VERY well trained to be around adults. We got comments wherever we went about how well mannered they were.

We put them back into public school because it just felt like the right time. They did slip academically. That was hard to watch. They went from being advanced by a few years to being right on par with the rest of the kids. But, I had to follow my gut instinct, and my gut was saying it was the best thing for them.

I will say this:

If you believe to the fiber of your being that you're supposed to homeschool, its a wonderful experience.

If you waver at all wondering if it's the right thing, it can be a nightmare.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 10:06AM
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I think the curriculum issue is that school (not just this one, but most schools in general) is taught in a piecemeal, sequential fashion. For the right kid, it's academically quite strong. But they do lots of repetitive work to learn numbers, letters and small words. He's bored because they don't present the whole picture, why the bits are worth breaking down. For example, he loves to create books (create the story, illustrate it, then dictate it to me to write down, then copies the words himself), but he still struggles with some letters. I found this website (by following one of the homeschool sites, thank you Flyleft) that really describes him well. School just doesn't fit him well. He's in a Montessori school, which should be very hands-on, whole-picture oriented, but this one is in a wealthy neighborhood that is very pressured to teach to a strict academic curriculum to compete with the public schools there. Our local public school is downright scary. I do sit in, I'm a library mom, I volunteer leading many of the art projects, but it's just doing more of what doesn't work for him. His real learning is totally outside of school. Working with me in the garden, reading and writing books at home, taking a real art class where he has creative freedom rather than cutting and pasting pre-printed paper form, composing music for the fish to swim by.

Hmmm... I think I'm answering my own question.

Lilathabit, you make some interesting observations. And it made me self-evaluate whether I'd be able to provide the things you see your nephew not getting. It is true, that what is academically covered in a given day in school is miniscule compared to the time spent there, so I'm not surprised that the curriculum your nephew has takes only a small amount of time.

Reno_fan, I'm glad to hear that you homeschooled then brought them back into the school system. That was one of my questions... I'm sensing that part of it now is that I want to keep Zeke excited about learning and to help him establish his already budding self-directed learning habits. I envision that we'll all want "regular" school at some point and was wondering about the transition.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 11:12AM
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The one thing I can say about homeschooling is that it's as varied as the people doing it. There is no one opinion to have of it, no one formulation or experience of it--to attempt that would be like the blind men and the elephant, all making proclamations based on a very incomplete perspective. One family's walking as PE is balanced by another family's fencing, swimming, track, soccer, skating... One family's sitting home with workbooks is balanced by another family's world travel (I wish) or another family's intense ongoing community service learning involvement.

And reno, I agree with a lot of what you said (I could add more about socialization, as in studies concluding that hs'ed kids suffer not at all in the socialization department when compared to public-schooled kids, etc.), but I just wanted to say something about your last line. I have seen families who have stepped very apprehensively into homeschooling and a few months later joyously wondering, "WHAT was I worried about?!" So in your line about it *can* be a nightmare--the word "can" is crucial, because it's not that it *will* be a nightmare if you're unsure about it, it's that it possibly might be and possibly might not be. Heck, anything in the world "can" be a nightmare. Even public school. Or the most expensive private school in the area, such as I was forced to attend as a child.

We drifted into world learning (what we call it here) partly because of my intense belief in learner-led education (vs. curriculum-led), and partly because I preferred the natural socialization that comes from living life to the artificial atmosphere of a school. From seeing her playing with other kids, taking classes/doing organized activities with them, both ps'd and hs'd, no one would ever think my daughter is lacking in social skills...I will say doesn't agree with or play along with the antagonism toward the teacher and wanting-to-get-out-of-work humor that she's come across in activities with a lot of institutionally-schooled kids. But the only time anyone guesses "homeschooled?" is when she's asking really deep questions about something or is looking at something calmly and intensely to figure it out. Hsing gives her *time* to pursue her own questions and reason things out for herself.

Homeschooling is just *not the norm*, so people want to contain it into a neat package that they can evaluate from all angles in comparison to the status quo. But as I've learned by watching many families along their journey, it's just not possible to pin down "homeschooling" because it's organic and authentic, not a artificial construct; it's living and learning with one's family and community, and no two people's families and communities are the same.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 11:56AM
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Good point, Flyleft.

I need to clarify what I meant! I meant that if you're already homeschooling, and you're beginning to have doubts about it being the right thing, *then* it can be a nightmare. (As is any endeavor, when you're unsure of your next step.)

I felt to the tip of my toes that we were supposed to do it for a time. Towards the end of the 3rd year, I could not say with certainty that continuing hsing would be the best choice for us. That's the time that it could have become a nightmare; when you're still faced with the challenges of hsing, yet you don't really think you're supposed to be doing it.

Thanks for pointing out how my statement could have misled.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 2:35PM
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Question for the homeschoolers -- How much of your time does it take every day? I imagine there's some flexibility, but I'm also trying to work from home... And how is the parent-child dynamic affected?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 2:41PM
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sweeby: I think I have seen your name on kitchens, right? You are a brave woman too. You have to remember that when homeschooling there are so many options. I happened to be able to connect to the local school district in our town who had a community school set up for homeschoolers and Montesori children. We had the option of doing a total home study, one day per week or two. I choose two days per week because I was able to homeschool my other children on those days without having to have them all home at once and they could attend to get labs where I didn't want to dissect a cat with my highschoolers. Even when they were at home together, I just planned to study, say Science together. Even if you have older children and younger ones you can coordinate their studies on different levels. It works. You just have to keep in mind that they are not in a typical classroom setting where there are tons of others that the teacher has to attend to so you can get things done much more quickly. If you take a day and go to a Science museum, all ages can attend and benefit from that. See what I mean? It's just a whole other way of teaching. Don't let it scare you. I had an 8th grader and a 3rd and 4th grader at the same time. It was fun. You get to be creative and make it fun and interesting for them at their levels. When it came to studying plants, we could grow, watch, record, write a report and draw diagrams. We started early in the morning and tried to finish up by noon each day. Then we had the rest of the day for sports, theater practice, dance, tennis lessons, etc. It works. Dyamics between my oldest daughter was a breeze. Same with my middle child, my son. My youngest son was a bit difficult because he is so strong willed and ALWAYS had a mind of his own, so in 8th grade I put him in a private Christian school. He just couldn't take direction from me anymore. He wasn't willing. So sometimes you have to make the best decisions for each child. But I will tell you that my children are now 22, 18 and 16 and we are so close. They have no hangups about being different. Remember, what they grow up with will be normal to them and as long as they have friends and are involved in life they will do great. My kids never went through the I don't want to be seen with my parents thing because being around us and other families who homeschooled, it was normal. They are strong people, independent and smart people who learned how to learn. In fact, my daughter just thanked me again for doing what we did. She realizes the benefits and how it gave her the opportunity to grow into the person she is today without having been brainwashed to be just like everyone else.
I did not work so that made it easier for me, so you will just have to schedule your time differently and not vary too much in your schedule in order to get it all done. But you also have the option of weeding out the BUSY work and give them what is important in their studies. So much time is wasted in traditional school. When my daughter was in 1st grade a parent actually sat in the classroom and timed their learning time...1 1/2 hours total. By the time they had finished cleaning up, being disciplined, handling other children and their problems, etc. learning time was shortened considerably. Sorry, I am rambling on, but finally, it was put in my heart to homeschool. It is NOT for everyone. You must be dedicated to them.
I don't know where you are located, but if you want any more info, like the other poster said, there is so much on the internet, just start reading. As far as books etc.,
I purchased all of my own curriculum even though I could have used the district's but I wanted my children learning from a Biblical perspective. It was costly but so worth it. We even used the Bible for teaching. So whatever your preference is, I think it is worth checking it out. If you have any other questions, you can email me. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 9:03PM
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I teach 4th grade and art in a private school.
My own children went to public school. I don't buy the "I'm bored" excuse from children. I believe you get out what you put in. Of course, you need a good, challenging school system.
When my own children were in elementary school, I tried to enrich whatever curriculum they were learning. For example, when my son was doing a science project on tunnels, I called the Lincoln Tunnel (NY/NJ) and arranged for our family to have a private tour inside the tunnels and the air vents, and we viewed a special movie about the tunnel being dug. In other words, we made the tunnel project real for him.
Another time we had a cardiologist friend over to dissect a heart with him and a couple of friends- hands on!
We would make up scavenger hunts for the kids when we went to art museums, etc.
We never home schooled, but our home was an extension of school.
Worked well for us!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 10:15PM
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"I'm bored" can definitely be an excuse, but when you see your child completely absorbed and interested in classes at the local aquarium, and in art workshops and at home studying anything and everything about nature and how things work and cooking and even cleaning the house, and then you see the glazed over eyes when you ask about his school day or you when you ask him about the work he did at school, and you have to realize something's wrong.

When he first started Kindergarten, he often told me that school was boring. I reinforced that it was up to him to find interesting things in life, and not for others to entertain him. But now, he no longer says it, he just tunes school out, already at age 5. That's far beyond just being an excuse.

I agree with you that there are many ways to enrich a child's life beyond school, but then we're finding that it so easily turns into well-intentioned extra-curricular overload.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 12:41AM
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My sentiments exactly spacific. Too much of a good thing can also be a bad thing, right? Artteacher, sounds like you SHOULD have homeschooled and you would have been great at it. We did sort of the same thing to enrich, however, we went to Boston, Salem, Pilgrim's Plantation, etc., one summer, vacationed and did homeschool while we were there. They didn't know it of course, but one had just finished studying American History and the other was getting ready to start. Worked perfectly. Had fun and learned but not overwhelmed. If you really think about it, and I don't know about you all, but I learned more homeschooling my children then I learned in high school. I was interested, but had many teachers who weren't. Shame. I still have to ask my husband about our nation's previous wars, why, where, etc. But, ask me anything about American History, world history (not wars), etc. and I can tell you AND I learned it all from my children!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 1:00AM
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Spacific - You wrote "We've already had numerous parent-teacher meetings because they say my son just isn't progressing with the others... it's kindergarten and they're already concerned he's not like the other kids. To me, he's got amazing gifts... bright, interested in everything, a total sponge for learning and retaining; to the teachers, he's distracted, unfocused and can't tell a 'b' from 'd'. He already seems to tune them out."

Let me start be saying I'm coming from a different place, since both of my sons have learning disabilities. But it sounds to me from your observations and the teacher's comments that you son's learning style is not at all typical, and that his learning profile is very different from the average child's. If true, this would make him a chronic "square peg in a round hole" kid who just wouldn't 'fit' in a typical school. I'm not suggesting he's not bright - to me, it sounds like he's *very* bright, and that might be part of the problem. There might also be some attention issues. It just sounds like he's not in the right setting. Maybe a different Montessori School that's more 'exploratory'? Or a school for gifted children that uses different teaching methods.

My suggestion is to have him evaluated in depth by an educational psychologist to determine his strengths and weaknesses, learning profiles, aptitudes, etc. You may want to wait until he's 7 or so, since I hear the tests can be less reliable before then. But finding a school that he loves and thrives in -- either outside or home -- would be one of the very best things you can do for him.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 8:54AM
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You're right, he is the proverbial "square peg in a round hole" kid. He did really well in his Montessori pre-school. In fact we stopped by there yesterday to see his old teacher who DS adores. Unfortunately it doesn't go through elementary. We started him in Kindergarten at the local public school... a disaster. We've checked out all the other private schools in our area (either outrageously expensive uber-academically oriented or religious-based... neither of which fit).

We are going ahead with his teachers' (and your) suggestion to have him evaluated. I struggled whether or not to do it as I don't want him labled, but if it means we can have better information as to learning styles, then if we keep him in school, we can go back to his teachers with suggestions on how to help him learn.

Part of me just thinks "he's not even 6 yet, relax" yet part of me knows he's a bit different (gifted or LD, not always easy to tell the difference...)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 10:33AM
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Spacific -- If you know he's a bit different, then go with your gut. Mom's just know. If the tester and tests aren't the best, they might not be perceptive enough to pick up on the exact areas of difference -- but again, go with what *you* know. If the test fits, use it. But if it doesn't ring true to you, dig deeper. (I couldn't even begine to count how many doctors told me my younger son was 'perfectly normal' when he was very young, when I absolutely knew deep in my soul that he wasn't.) Again, I'm coming from a rather different place.

What I really wanted to say was not to worry about 'The Label'. There's widespread fear of getting 'a label' on our kids -- like everyone who meets this child will somehow 'know,' and that he'll never be able to get into a good private school or college someday if there's 'a label' in the file. Well, maybe your schools are better, but in our public schools, not even all of the child's *teachers* know if he's labeled. (They're supposed to, but it often doesn't happen.) Most colleges never ask (why would they?) and if it turns out the label doesn't fit - either ever or anymore, you can ask that it be removed from all records and the school needs to comply. In fact, the only thing a label is ever used for is to get a child extra help if he needs it. So don't fear the label --

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 11:06PM
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You're a voice of reason. I appreciate the words and I'll keep it all in mind when we go through the process.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 12:48AM
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My son went to a small private school that used the Direct Instruction approach. Just Google Direct Instruction, and you'll find lots of info about it. It was a really fantastic educational experience -- Small groups geared to individual learning ability -- No one was ever bored -
The kids really really liked going to school and learning. A guy by the name of Sigfried Engelman, I think it is, is one of the founders of this program. The teachers at DS's school all had to go to training seminars to learn how to teach this way, and came away from it all saying what a great concept it all was. Anyway, fantastic method of learning. From 1st grade on, the kids actually changed classrooms and met with various teachers throughout the day. Kids HATED when they were sick and had to miss school --
All the teachers were so positive and upbeat and really instilled this in the kids -- No kid was ever made to feel bad about themselves -- the round peg kids found round holes to fit into -- EACH child was taught !! No teaching to the middle -- No kid ever fell through the cracks, and no one was ever made to feel they were in a "low group", or bragged about being in a "high" group.
Kids, for the most part, always tested above grade level, and this was done without any undue stress. It was all about kids succeeding and feeling positive about themselves. Study habits and organization were a big part of it all, too. To this day, DS has the best study habits !!!
Before the kids finish Kinder, they're actually reading.
Kids in Middle School are doing high school math --
and comprehending it. All year long, subjects are built upon subjects. Once a test is taken, it's not forgotten, but incorporated into the learning all year long. Generally, in class discussions, there were no wrong answers, so kids weren't hesitant to raise their hands and offer things -- If an answer was "wrong", it was discussed as maybe another way to look at things. Kids who tended to be shy absolutely blossomed.

Anyway, food for thought . . . something you might look into.

Good luck with it all -- it's hard !! You just want to the best and right thing for your son !! I've always so firmly believed that the first couple of years is what makes it or breaks it for the rest of the school years.
A bad experience right off the bat is hard to overcome sometimes --


    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 12:39PM
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Sorry, I forgot to come back here and check after I posted, so I missed your question.

My sister and I were both homeschooled through large parts of grade school and jr high.

Our parents worked overseas (in various places) where the school opportunities were not terribly good. For that, and a variety of other reasons, our parents chose to home school us. Since we were technically not under any particular jurisdiction, at least officially, my parents had tremendous freedom to teach what and when they felt was appropriate. (No busybody state regs to bother about.)

I can't answer the socializing question, because as ex-pats in very remote places there weren't really other kids anyway, and generally no organized kids' activities as you might find in suburban US. Since we were completely used to this, I don't think we felt we missed out on much. I keenly missed having access to a library as I was, and am, a voracious reader.

What we did for schooling was very loosely based on some text books we took out with us. But to be candid, once you learn how to read and write and do arithmetic, geometry and basic algebra, you've kind of got the whole elementary school thing done. Our school "days" lasted for a couple of hours a day, maybe 3 to 4 days a week for a several months per year. Mostly it was modulated by when we were staying in one place vs traveling (mostly driving). There were periods when we traveled continuously for 3 or 4 months driving around SE Asia, or Europe or South America, so even the semi-organized classes didn't happen during those times. What did happen, constantly, was languages, geography, social studies, history. Art history and science also happened all around us, daily as my parents were an engineer and an artist, by training.

Home-schooling was one of the most significant things in my life. As a hs kid I got the idea that if there was something I was interested in knowing, or had to learn, then I should just jump in and find what I needed: the people, books, situations, resources, etc. I am constantly amazed at how strongly kids (and most adults) have the idea they need the mediating effect of a teacher to learn something new. I'm well into middle age, and the habits of curiosity and self-directed learning have stuck with me, and I consider that direct-from-homeschooling attitude one of the blessings of my life.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 1:32AM
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I just saw this thread and wanted to share our story with you. Your descriptions sound similar to our experience. My DD, now 12 yr, is gifted (IQ at 132 - so the "low end of gifted), is ADD and has a slight learning difference. Identifying her specific needs in the public school system was the BEST thing for her. Much like your DC, she didn't advance as quickly in Kindergarten, couldn't "get" some letters and numbers ("b" and "d" are classic letters to juxtapose for LDers as well as wrote 3's and 9's backwards. We knew she was bright but, she wasn't really excelling at a regular pace. We had her tested in 2nd grade. Looking back, I wish we had done it MUCH sooner, but we didn't know if it was a LD or just developmental at the time.

Beginning in 3rd grade, she participated in a pull out learning support program in elementary school and then a resource room type support in middle school. With the correct support network, your child can advance to their own level. My DD is currently in 6th grade, is in above level math and participates in the gifted program. She has straight A's. B/c of her learning support teachers, she has much better study skills than her older brother who has no "learning issues". School isn't about "labeling". It's about making sure your child has the resources they need to be successful and operate at their potential.

Kindergarten is about letter recognition and sound association, beginning reading, and learning to be in a group. It's also about doing what you have been asked to do, rather than what you choose to do. In our area, many Montessori pre-school students have a very tough time their first year out of Montessori b/c they aren't given the "choices" they were given in pre-school. It's a transition year for them.

If your son's teacher is telling you something isn't right, please listen. Your son sounds very bright. Something however isn't clicking. Go through the steps to identify what that something is. Have the school provide the accommodations your child may need to meet his potential.

Good luck on your journey.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 9:32AM
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I homeschool my three kids. They just finished 5th, 3rd, and 1st grades. They have been exclusively homeschooled except for my oldest (DS) who went to public school for kindergarten.

Our decision to homeschool was based on a few things. First, I like having my children with me. Secondly, my DH and I have pretty specific views on a myriad of issues and we wanted to make sure our children were not taught things contrary to our beliefs. We are able to expose them to different schools of thought without them being taught as fact, like a public school might do. Also, my middle daughter had some "focus" issues when she was younger and I was concerned about the labeling and whether a teacher with a number of other students to teach would be able to give her the attention she needed.

We are very pleased with our decision. I'm able to tailor things to each child's individual needs. We can work at a pace that ensures they will really understand what they're learning before moving on to the next thing. If something doesn't work, we scrap it and try something else. We have an excellent homeschool group in our area. They hold classes twice a month, take field trips, put on plays, and have a number of other activities. We all really enjoy participating with the group.

When I first started, I was fortunate to know a number of people who homeschooled, so I asked a lot of questions and learned from them. There are homeschool groups at They are usually divided by state so that might be a good resource for you. I'm adding a link to an organization called the Home School Legal Defense Association. They have a lot of info there, including homeschooling laws by state.

I wish you the best with your decision!

Here is a link that might be useful: Homeschool website

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 3:09PM
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Please don't worry about a label. My DS was tested, no definitive diagnosis then, but in my opinion he is autistic, highly functional. He had two years of pre-school special ed and one year of transition kindergarten. He is literally a genius, but got through school with a b-c average. He is now in his second year of college to become a mechanical engineer. He has loads of friends both through school and his six years at his job at the local hardware. Everyone tells me how smart and helpful he is. He fixes his own car, our plumbing and electrical - there's nothing he can't fix. He has done so well only because of his 3 years of special ed. He would have become an angry destructive first-grade drop out. I feel such a heavy debt of gratitude to his first teacher. She said in her opinion, he had to "learn how to learn" and not all kids know how. Hope your son can get appropriate testing and education, too.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 10:38AM
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I homeschooled my son from 6th grade through graduation. We associated with a school in Michigan called Clonlara, so he does have an "official" diploma. We started out with textbooks... but ended up unschooling. I took him out of school because he was being bullied and not doing well academically. After I took him out I realized the situation at school was MUCH WORSE than I had even thought... and was sorry he had been subjected to it for so long. I was a very active proponent of public schooling before that time... on the PTA board year after year... and a volunteer at the various schools my children attended. I tried to resolve the problems through official channels before I decided to homeschool him. I was originally a mom who was horrified at the thought of homeschooling and having the kids around all day! Now I think back and wonder how I blindly sent them all off, starting at the age of 5 - to a place so institutionalized.

My two daughters went all the way through public school, and did wonderfully. One is a National Merit commended scholar, and the other is a National Merit scholar. Both my girls wish now that they had been homeschooled and feel, that although there were some good points associated with regular school, that the benefits don't necessarily outweigh the bad points.

The discussion of homeschooling versus government schooling versus private schooling, etc., is huge... and endless. You can see it just in the discussion here. has some very interesting, and VERY controversial views on the subject. You can read his book online.

If you homeschool - you will have to be a lot thicker skinned than if you continue to use regular schools. People are rarely hesitant to let you know exactly what they think about your choice... and while a lot of feedback is positive... some is vitriolic. If you homeschool... the responsibility for any successes or failures lie with you.

You mentioned that you would not be homeschooling for religious reasons. In my area (and from talking to people online for many years... it seems this is mostly true countrywide) a lot of homeschooling is from a Christian perspective. Many groups require a "statement of faith" before you can join in their activities.

The laws vary widely state by state. Some states laws make it simple... some are very restricting.

In many areas there are lots of opportunities for activities outside of school. My son was active in Civil Air Patrol, a church youth group, and a blacksmithing group (where he was by far the youngest member for a while!) He took music lessons and hung out with his peers in the neighborhood.

As a young adult (now 19) he is glad he homeschooled but feels he did miss out on a bit by doing so. No solution is perfect!

I tend to overdo everything I do... so I went crazy investigating homeschooling. I bought too many books in my quest for what would interest my son. Our family tends to buy too many books, anyway (my oldest is now a librarian) so it wasn't just a homeschooling thing. I agonized over all the different methods of homeschooling... what if I did it wrong?

I no longer agonize over methods. Kids learn. Period. They learn. Did anyone teach you to walk or speak? No... because "kids learn"

Do what feels right to you and don't worry about what other people say (easier to say than implement!)

Diane in FL

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 12:10PM
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Hi! I was just looking around the Garden web and came across this thread. I've never posted over here before.

Spacific, my son had trouble with his letters when he was younger. I took him to an opthomologist and it turned out he needed glasses. I was really surprised because I had never seen any symptoms of a vision problem at home. Once he could focus his eyes on the material, he learned his letters within days. Next thing we knew, he was reading!

Whether you homeschool or not, a trip to the eye doctor may be in order. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 7:48PM
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I haven't been on this site for a while, so I was surprised to see my old question back up at the top. Thank you again for all who responded the first round and those who brought it back up.

It's now a year later and here's an update for us...

We did go through the testing last summer and early fall. As I suspected, he was extremely strong in many areas, especially visual-spatial thinking. And he had weaknesses in processing speed. Other than those really strong variations, everything was within the norm/advanced for his age. The biggest discrepancy was the rating for AD/HD. The teachers rated DS as very high AD/HD for every possible trait. So the bottom line was that the teachers felt it confirmed he was AD/HD and since we refused to go the medication route, they were completely unwilling to make any changes in their approach to assist him.

My DH and I essentially began a more concentrated "homeschooling" approach, even though we kept him enrolled in the school. We took a couple of month-long breaks to travel and meanwhile, got him caught up with all the academics so that he is now reading at/above grade level and is excelling with his math work.

Sweeby, last year you wrote: "Let me start be saying I'm coming from a different place, since both of my sons have learning disabilities. But it sounds to me from your observations and the teacher's comments that you son's learning style is not at all typical, and that his learning profile is very different from the average child's. If true, this would make him a chronic "square peg in a round hole" kid who just wouldn't 'fit' in a typical school. I'm not suggesting he's not bright - to me, it sounds like he's *very* bright, and that might be part of the problem. There might also be some attention issues. It just sounds like he's not in the right setting. Maybe a different Montessori School that's more 'exploratory'? Or a school for gifted children that uses different teaching methods."

Well, to make a long story short, we were able to get him evaluated by our local public gifted math/science magnet school and he was accepted there for the fall. I have met with many of the parents and the 2nd grade teachers and am confident that they are very comfortable with using a huge variety of techniques for the "square pegs in round holes" kids.

In the end, we decided that full-time homeschooling is not right for us at this time, but I continue to keep up with a couple of homeschool groups. They are a wealth of knowledge and insight and I'd recommend to anyone contemplating homeschooling to access the many online resources (thank you again flyleft).

And I've learned so much from the other ongoing thread in conversations on learning disabilities and rights so I feel much more confident that when DS is in public school, I will better understand how to work within the system if necessary.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 2:13PM
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Busymom... Re your note about the opthomologist... One very good suggestion that the psychologist had was to have DS evaluated by a developmental optometrist. As it turns out, he had a really tough time with his ability to keep focused even though his standard vision testing was fine. Through vision therapy, he has really improved and I think that's made a huge improvement in his reading ability and willingness to read for longer periods of time.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 2:20PM
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Oh my! I did not realize that this post was a year old when I posted. I looked at the dates and I posted one day plus one year after the post before me. Oops. I don't remember digging into the recesses of the discussions gallery. I thought it was right there, up at the top of the page. Live and learn. Learn to check the year of the post!!

Regardless, I'm glad to hear that your son found a home that is better suited to him and his learning style. Great news.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 6:48PM
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spacific, how wonderful that you found a situation that fits your son's needs so well! When the individual learner's best interest is truly taken seriously, whatever steps happen because of it are all a spectrum, really, a continuum, not black-and-white clean-cut complete differences...

and wrt Visual/spatial: did I send you, all that time back, anything on right-brained learning styles and methodologies? Would you like some links/leads or do you have enough already? Our daughter is definitely in that category as well, and it's been an eye-opening "learning opportunity" for me, but one that's actually very exciting because I see the same aspects, but to a lesser degree, in both DH and myself, and it sure does explain a lot, retroactively :) It's a tremendous gift, now that we know a little bit more of what to make of it.

For a start: Have you read _A Whole New Mind_, by Daniel Pink? This isn't about learning per se, but it gives a fascinating overview of the implications of acknowledging that our right-brains can contribute something to society too...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:55AM
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Hey flyleft,
Thanks for the book suggestion. More links are always welcome! I always seem to find something useful. It's amazing how a small suggestion can make a huge difference in learning. For example, DS was having lots of trouble with weekly spelling tests. The teacher would have the kids write them three times every night. No matter how hard he worked, he'd get maybe half right on the test. Then a suggestion on the site mentioned not to drill over and over, but have the child spell the word out loud forward, then spell out loud backward. We tried it. He now consistently gets all the words right.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 12:50PM
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