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Afterschooling: how much is too much?


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#1 Wabi Sabi

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 07:41 AM

My 7th grader decided that he really wanted to go to middle school this year, and he started last week after getting a spot at a local charter school with a long wait list. He wanted to go to school primarily for social reasons, and it was clear from day one that he had found his niche in this new school. Despite years of being heavily involved with homeschool groups and taking homeschool classes in the community, he just never really found his people until now. 

Socially he has found what he's been craving, and in many ways this school is the perfect fit for him with their emphasis on art, music, theater, community service and project based learning. However, I do slightly fear that maybe they aren't quite as academically strong as I would like. 

He has taken WTMA classes the last two years, including the ancient and middle ages history classes. Months ago I told him that if he chooses to go to school this year that's fine, but that I would still like him to finish the history cycle and take the next two classes in the series, so I signed him up for it this year. Now he's starting to give me an awful lot of pushback saying that he doesn't want to take it, that it isn't fair, it's too much work, etc. 

He's gone for school from 7:30-4:00 daily. In addition to whatever homework they give (homework hasn't started yet, so we don't know what to expect) we need to make time for a weekly piano lesson and daily practice plus his sport/physical activity is Mon/Wed nights for 2 hours each evening, plus the time necessary for the WTMA class if I don't pull him from it. I guess I do worry that it could be a little too much, but at the same time I really think the WTMA class is very beneficial for him academically. When homeschooling he also did online Skype sessions with his foreign language tutor, and I've already reluctantly let go of that, realizing that we just can't do it all, and I'm hoping he can pick the language back up again in high school.

Thoughts? Where would you draw the line? How much is too much when trying to balance school vs. after schooling with having a social life (which is HUGE to him), music lessons, sports, etc? 



#2 Ravin

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 07:54 AM

That's a lot of work. I would not like those history classes on top of his middle school schedule! What I would do is keep an eye on his middle school social studies/history and have discussions about it, particularly if you see troubling biases in the curriculum. If they are letting him down in math or language arts, that might be worth the time/energy for afterschooling, but not content subjects except for counter-indoctrination purposes.
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#3 Wabi Sabi

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 08:21 AM

That's a lot of work. I would not like those history classes on top of his middle school schedule! What I would do is keep an eye on his middle school social studies/history and have discussions about it, particularly if you see troubling biases in the curriculum. If they are letting him down in math or language arts, that might be worth the time/energy for afterschooling, but not content subjects except for counter-indoctrination purposes.

To be honest, I don't think they really do any history at all, but the school does do a lot with social justice and projects that tackle issues within the community, so any bias he's getting from there is probably the direction we tend to lean in our own homeschooling as well. My thought with the WTMA class is that it will help fill in the gaps from the lack of history taught at the school and more importantly, give him more practice at academic writing (the last two history classes he took were fairly writing intensive). I could be wrong seeing as we're still new to the school, but I get the impression that their writing is more free-flowing, "all that matters is you try your best," and not necessarily much emphasis put onto academic writing. In other words, they're very laid back. 



#4 Bluegoat

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 08:30 AM

I totally understand your feelings about history.  Mydd12 went to grade 6 this past year, where they have social studies rather than history.  She loved history - she came home one day and told me social studies "isn't about anything".  They covered "culture".  

 

And I just had a look at next year for grade 7, jr high - I was hoping they might have some history she'd enjoy. No such luck - the ss focus for the year is "empowerment".  

 

It's so stupid - they are supposedly learning all these concepts about empowerment and culture but they aren't actually learning about any narrative histories that would show them these things.  They study bits and pieces entirely within the concept of the topic - women's empowerment for example. I'm not inclined to conspiracy theory, but it feels a lot to me like spoon-feeding them the ideological perspective they want without giving them the information they'd need to really think about it themselves or be in any way critical thinkers.

 

But - OTOH - I am hesitant to give much extra work - dd already has piano and violin, she'll be in immersion, and she needs time for being active, homework, friends.

 

So - my discussion with her has been that I'll offer her some books to read.  She can always use them for school where she is allowed to choose.  I'm not going to require any output - she has plenty of that already.  But she does need something more in terms of their history/social studies choices.  I'm tempted to do the same thing with literature, but I am going to resist, at least for this year.



#5 Bluegoat

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 08:34 AM

Oh, as far as writing - this may become an issue we have to address too.  I've decided to hold off for now.  Dd is a logical thinker and I don't see her struggling with formal writing, so I think we will address this if necessary between jr high and high school.  Either working at home, or a private school here offers a short math and writing camp in summer.  I think that might be a good way to polish up some skill before getting into the higher level work.



#6 SKL

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 09:23 AM

My kids recently started giving me push-back too.  It's not so much the work quantity as the fact that it's age-appropriate for them to have control over how they are going to spend at least some of their time.

 

I would also say his day is pretty long already, especially if he gets any significant amount of homework.  That doesn't mean you can't do any afterschooling at all, but I would be very selective about it.

 

I would look for creative ways to supplement without it being a whole course.  For example, perhaps he could read the books (or listen on audio in the car) and only do those activities that you consider vital.  Maybe skip the writing and just discuss things.  Perhaps find age-appropriate classical fiction that touches on the history in a less formal way, or even movies.  Or, could he possibly do the course next summer when he has more "free" time?


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#7 Wabi Sabi

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 09:31 AM

My kids recently started giving me push-back too.  It's not so much the work quantity as the fact that it's age-appropriate for them to have control over how they are going to spend at least some of their time.

 

I would also say his day is pretty long already, especially if he gets any significant amount of homework.  That doesn't mean you can't do any afterschooling at all, but I would be very selective about it.

 

I would look for creative ways to supplement without it being a whole course.  For example, perhaps he could read the books (or listen on audio in the car) and only do those activities that you consider vital.  Maybe skip the writing and just discuss things.  Perhaps find age-appropriate classical fiction that touches on the history in a less formal way, or even movies.  Or, could he possibly do the course next summer when he has more "free" time?

 

The required writing and outlining is the entire reason I actually want him to take the course, not necessarily the content itself. We could cover the content in any number of other more relaxed ways.



#8 SKL

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 09:48 AM

Well, you could try to have him do the writing on weekends (is that an option)?  Otherwise I would really save it for summer (if that is an option).  Most adults would consider it enough to commute / work from 7:30 to 5:30pm (I'm saying 5:30pm because if you're lucky, he'll "only" have an hour of homework on average, plus a half hour of music practice).  You will also want him to have time for independent reading.  There will be times when dinner and sleep are compromised even without afterschooling.  (Just take my word for it. :) )  If he were an adult, he might decide to do all that plus an evening course, but at least then it would be his choice.


Edited by SKL, 14 August 2017 - 09:49 AM.

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#9 Heigh Ho

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:48 PM

We just used the hw slot. 7th grade is 70 minutes of hw daily often the kid had nothing but FL, so that was where we slotted afterschooling. Call it SAT/ACT prep if you get pushback, and tell him he needs to score high for scholarship dollars. I refused to not afterschool, part of the agreement to allow the child to attend was that he had to do the material the school skipped with me or an online provider.

Edited by Heigh Ho, 15 August 2017 - 08:50 PM.


#10 Arcadia

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 11:28 AM

What is his music and sport commitment like? Last year I met an 8th grader who is auditioning for the local youth orchestra and he plays school level competitive but seasonal sports. So he is involved in one sport per season instead of year round competitions. My high school neighbor drop youth orchestra because the workload was too high with both school orchestra and youth orchestra. School orchestra was a lighter time commitment compared to youth orchestra.

For a 7th grader, I would concentrate on "mending the holes". Many of my husband's colleagues are concentrating on gaps in their middle school age kids education after finding that their oldest child has shaky spots in math in 9th grade which affects both math and science. English was easier to shore up over the summer while patching all the math gaps is more tedious.

My kids have seasonal allergies so we have to factor that in when afterschooling.

Edited by Arcadia, 16 August 2017 - 11:29 AM.


#11 Hilltopmom

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 02:38 PM

A bit OT- but can you tell me a bit more about their project based learning?

Our district will be using that for the first time this year & I'm curious how it's implemented in other places :)

For your Ds, I'd go about history in other more relaxed ways to cover the content but not do another class... Maybe Great Courses for those times periods? You don't want to burn him out & you want him to have time for sports or the theater stuff plus hang out time too with his new friends

#12 winterbaby

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 02:47 PM

I would think actually being enrolled in an academic class would be too much, especially while getting used to being in school. Afterschooling has to be responsive to the weight of other obligations, above all school and homework, and a formal class with obligations of its own doesn't give you that flexibility (unless I'm misunderstanding what's involved in a WTMA class). It might be OK if you had the school routine mastered and knew for sure that the homework burden is very light. But without that knowledge and experience you risk overloading him. I am dealing with an academically weak school that requires me to supplement a lot, so I sympathize, but I think you're better off DIYing so that you can dial back the expectations in tune with the ups and downs of school life.


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#13 Wabi Sabi

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 12:55 PM

What is his music and sport commitment like? Last year I met an 8th grader who is auditioning for the local youth orchestra and he plays school level competitive but seasonal sports. So he is involved in one sport per season instead of year round competitions. My high school neighbor drop youth orchestra because the workload was too high with both school orchestra and youth orchestra. School orchestra was a lighter time commitment compared to youth orchestra.

For a 7th grader, I would concentrate on "mending the holes". Many of my husband's colleagues are concentrating on gaps in their middle school age kids education after finding that their oldest child has shaky spots in math in 9th grade which affects both math and science. English was easier to shore up over the summer while patching all the math gaps is more tedious.

My kids have seasonal allergies so we have to factor that in when afterschooling.

 

He is on a recreational/non-competitive rock climbing team that is two evenings a week from 6pm-8pm. In addition he takes piano lessons one day a week after school and needs to practice daily. 
 

A bit OT- but can you tell me a bit more about their project based learning?

Our district will be using that for the first time this year & I'm curious how it's implemented in other places :)

For your Ds, I'd go about history in other more relaxed ways to cover the content but not do another class... Maybe Great Courses for those times periods? You don't want to burn him out & you want him to have time for sports or the theater stuff plus hang out time too with his new friends

 

To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure since this is our first year with the school. My understanding is that the students have their regular math, art, and music classes, but when I asked his teacher responsed, "the classroom offers an integrated curriculum where the reading, writing, science and social studies content is presented in the context of a year long project."I do know that every year the year long project changes. Last year the kids designed and built yurts. The year before that they set up a large aquaponic system in the classroom in which they raised fish and vegetables together. This year they will be doing something with urban homesteading and while I don't know exactly what the project will entail the teacher said that they will likely learn about issues regarding immigration, farm labor, worker's rights, unionization, etc. within the context of the project.

 

I would think actually being enrolled in an academic class would be too much, especially while getting used to being in school. Afterschooling has to be responsive to the weight of other obligations, above all school and homework, and a formal class with obligations of its own doesn't give you that flexibility (unless I'm misunderstanding what's involved in a WTMA class). It might be OK if you had the school routine mastered and knew for sure that the homework burden is very light. But without that knowledge and experience you risk overloading him. I am dealing with an academically weak school that requires me to supplement a lot, so I sympathize, but I think you're better off DIYing so that you can dial back the expectations in tune with the ups and downs of school life.

 

I did ask his teacher about the homework expectations and he said that they give as little homework as possible because they realize that many of the students have other activities outside of school and because parents have differing abilities to support their child in academic endeavors. 

 

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Edited by Wabi Sabi, 22 August 2017 - 12:56 PM.

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