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Please help me figure out this school thing ...


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I could use some advice/thoughts/help thinking through this school situation. Warning -- could get long! The background is that we're in Europe, three gifted kids (one also LD) in local schools, afterschooling as best we can. Plan is to move in one year's time to country where homeschooling is legal and there is a better community of homeschoolers. So this is about the coming school year.


DDs are nine, twins, in fifth grade at local school. Local school goes through sixth grade and dh and I think it would be nice for them to finish elementary school. DS is just seven, in first grade, same school.


School is not great. School seems to be getting slightly worse (objectively, not just for my kids but in general, quite a few kids are moving). School is montessori, which means in theory working at own level but in practice that kids are left to their own devices and the teachers may or may not check that the do their work.


I am personally very attached to this country as it is partly my own and I am bilingual and want the children to be so as well (they are). This is my old school. I do NOT want to be in an expat bubble. I think that these factors are playing a far bigger role in my decision than they should be, so feel free to call me on it.


DD1 is the problem. In September the teacher admitted she was doing nothing. In April the teacher again admitted DD1 does nothing. In the interim steps were supposed to have been taken but weren't. I say DD1 is underachieving, which around here is a term of art and flips you into the "system" and gets you attention. School special ed teacher says doing nothing isn't underachieving.


School special ed teacher is in power struggle, I think, with us because I'm co-founder of group for parents of gifted kids at this school.


DD1 has headaches every day and stomach aches occasionally. She gives Kumon/Aleks, SOTW, Latin all a ten on a scale of 1 to 10 and her school subjects between 4 and 7. School is boring. She's learning nothing. Teacher is sweet and very young and not super-bright (will in twenty years be a very good teacher, but isn't there yet). Teacher is trying her best but admits F is beyond her abilities to mentor. DD1 is skipped one grade and is academically ready for seventh grade or more (she's not pg or anything, just highly gifted, so we're not talking about a child who is extraordinary). She likes the kids in her class and is socially making progress (with F, progress is made socially on a glacial time scale).


The agreement with school is that DD1 will next year do school by correspondence/internet but remain physically in school. School admits that academically DD needs more than they can offer but agrees that it's rough putting a ten year-old into seventh grade. We have a GREAT internet school that is in our country and gets the gifted thing. F will start an eighth-grade science course with them asap. F will do Aleks/Kumon at school and possibly Latin at school. I'm going to get help from the teacher/mother of a close friend who has 30 years experience teaching high school Dutch to help set up a language program for her as the internet one is more than 1000 euro's.


Problem is that school is not set up to do this. They cannot help F with her work. It will be purely an independent study. F will use school time to do her work but will not do schoolwork. So kind of like homeschool but I won't be there. I'm really worried that the school won't help out with this. They don't have wireless, so F is dependent on an internet cable connection. They're not going to ensure she does the work. F will be communicating with her science teacher, but I'm not sure how this will work. I'm worried that F will feel isolated by doing this.


I don't want to pull her out and send her to the British School for just one year because of the language and because of the expat thing. I don't want to leave her where she is because after four years of working closely with this school I don't trust them to do anything they promise. I would have to find a way to monitor the situation very closely. I don't feel like homeschooling because we would (almost certainly) literally end up in court. I know it's just one year, but I end up miserable because of the school. I'm worried that the headaches are school-related.


So, as you can see, I'm both long-winded and confused, as as DH is on a business trip, I'm asking you for objective advice. Do I try to get F into seventh grade? I've been making phone calls and have some leads. Do I send her to the excellent British School for one year and find a shrink to work through my own issues about this? Do I decide that this is not school but daycare and suck it up? Do I try the internet school and insist that the school live up to its end of the bargain? How do I get rid of the feeling that this has to change, that this school is not doing its job and that it must change? I feel so powerless to effect change, despite being in a group for parents like us and trying to make change.

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I'm not sure I understand the situation completely, but get from what you've written that homeschooling is illegal in the country that you're in (I'm guessing the Netherlands, but could be Germany) and that you'll be homeschooling full-time in a year's time in another country. I assume that your home-language is English although the children are being schooled in their second language.


So, without knowing your exact situation - I'm brainstorming here:

* Do you work in the mornings while the children are in school or would you be able to go to the school with dd? In that way you could supervise yourself whatever she's meant to be doing - even if only for an hour or two a day and then she goes back into class. Something like homeschool in the school building - if the school allows this?


* If dd is going to be schooled in English in a year's time, then the British school may be an option. I don't understand your comment about the expat thing. Is there a stigma to going to the British school? Learning in a different language and being in a new environment will bring its own challenges that may be what she needs to keep her engaged.


I'm not in favour of accelerating children into higher grades in a public school setting as the emotional development is always an issue for me. I wouldn't want to expose a child to peer pressure that they might not be emotionally and socially ready to cope with.


Feel free to pm me if you don't want to discuss your situation too openly.

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I agree with what Hannah has said here, and will toss this into the ring as well: if she's 10 and would place at a seventh grade level, and in a year you'll be out from under the legality situation, and "homeschooling at the school building" won't work... do as you said and view it as daycare for a year, continue to afterschool as you've been doing, and suck it up. It's temporary. YAY! :)



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