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Failed Public School Experiment - Need Advice


NineChoirs
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So my boys went to public school this year. My oldest is in High School (9th grade) and doing great. He is in the AP classes and involved with "preppy" sports. He is now getting involved with mock trial, which he loves. He also is pursuing other activities and groups to join.

 

My youngest son is in 6th grade. We only sent him to school for the sports. He is a natural athlete and needs to stay active. We happen to live in one of the better school districts so we were very hopeful.

 

It has failed. He is sliding by without learning anything. Afterschooling isn't working because by the time he gets home he is exhausted and crabby. State standards want him to write essays and 5 paragraph book reports (3 book reports a quarter!). He is in sixth grade!!:confused: When I called his teacher to ask how he was supposed to write an essay before he had mastered the paragraph she said it was okay if his paragraphs were only 2 or 3 sentences each. :001_huh: (Why in the world not just require one really good paragraph summary?)

 

I think his teacher is great, I really like her. But she is locked into following the state standards. This becomes more of a checklist of things to be handed in rather then actually teaching real skills.

 

Another thing we have realized is Middle School kids are worse than High School kids. They are mean, inconsiderate, and unruly (my husband says they learn this from their parents). My husband and I realized that in High School you have more freedom to separate yourself from the troublemakers. You can easily find like minded kids to hang out with. The AP and/or Honors classes even allow kids to be in classrooms with more academically minded, parent involved students.

 

In middle school all the kids are herded around together. My son's teacher even told me he was one of a small group of children (in her class) who were well behaved. She said she felt bad for these kids because they had to deal with the chaos caused by others. My extroverted son now wants to be homeschooled again. He is tired of the bullies, teasing and noise. He also feels like he falling behind in academic areas. The book reports have him baffled & frustrated and he went from being an avid book lover to groaning at the sight of a book.

 

So we have decided that he will not be returning to school after winter break. We will continue homeschooling him till High School.

 

He will be coming home in the middle of the school year and now I am scrambling to get ready for that. Has anyone else started homeschooling halfway through the year? How did you catch up, and decide where to start your students in their books? I don't want him to have to do school in the Summer since both his brother and sister will be finished up. Any advice/input at all is appreciated! :bigear:

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We sent our oldest to 7th at the ps this year and found it to be similar. My dd wants to stay though because she is in the school play and she has a new best friend there that is in all of her classes. I'm not sure what will happen next year when they likely won't have the same schedule again. The kids have been very mean and my dd is not used to it.

 

We've almost pulled her twice now and I think what I would to is just have her do that same work her sister is doing who is 2 years younger. They'd do separate Math and LA but the History/Science they'd do together at this point just so they'd finish together.

 

"Essays" for my dd's 7th grade LA class consist of 5 paragraphs but the 2 dd has had to do for the entire year were less than a page typed and she got As on both so I assume they are similar to what others are turning in. They have 1 project for LA each quarter but that's the only challenging thing I've seen from that class. Other than that it's week after week of vocab words and little else. I don't think my dd has learned much all school year aside from Math. That class has been great but the others she can get by with doing very little. I wanted to afterschool too but dd is too tired to be adding more onto her schedule so we haven't really done any of that.

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Start him where he's at and keep going. If you feel you must "catch up", then try to do more than what is scheduled for the week.

 

Really, middle school is (imo) our last chance to get that foundation really solid before moving on to high school. If I haven't done well with lower grades, I'm going to try real hard to make it happen in middle school. So, with my 6th grader I'm making sure he has those basic skills. I've backed up a bit in math and language arts because I need to. But I have a plan. And my plan is working, I'm making that progress. With math, at least, I'm doubling up on lessons, so he's doing two lessons per day, and it's going fine, because he's not over his head with it, he's learning the stuff, it's getting in there. Yay!

 

So, work on those paragraphs, and have fun with it. Save the essays for later. He'll get it. He will.

 

Find out where his levels are, and just go from there, don't worry about whether you finish a book or not. There have been years when I have started a new year in the same book I used the previous year, we just continued on. No worries. But you have to step back and take a bird's eye view from time to time to ascertain where you are compared to where you want to go.

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What you describe about middle school is exactly why I pulled my DD out a few months into 6th grade, my son in January of 5th grade: mean kids, no learning.

We knew where our kids were academically, and just took it form there. I am sure you have an accurate picture of your son's level, particularly since he attended ps only a short time. So just start where he's at and progress according to his abilities.

We are just working hard, and throughout the school year. At Middle school age, I do not stress out about an unfinished book etc.

Good luck.

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Not much to add but wanted to say that your experience isn't unique. I have a good friend who has allowed her kids to go in and out of public school. She has one rule: they must stay home for middle school. Everything else was negotiable.

 

I second the whole 'pick up where you left off'

 

I am sorry he had a difficult time and I am glad your older son is getting what he needs.

 

What are "preppy" sports?

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Thanks so much for the advice & supportive replies! It is good to know others feel the same way and have had similar experiences.

 

By "Preppy" sports, I mean the ones the less athletically gifted can participate in. In my oldest son's case that includes soccer & swimming. He actually managed to letter in soccer because most of the high school students here play (American) football. The team wasn't big enough for a JV team so my son was promoted to Varsity. Anyone who can swim is allowed on the swim team, and everyone gets to swim. Preppy is a term I used because my son sort of gives off a preppy vibe. I hope it didn't offend anyone, just my son has no natural athletic ability at all (God gave him smarts instead) but he really wants to stay active and in shape. :001_smile:

 

Interestingly enough there is actually a list of "preppy" sports: Among the more common sports played by preps are badminton, equestrian sports, skiing, fencing, shooting, tennis, golf, rowing, field hockey, sailing, croquet, squash, lacrosse, polo, rugby and cricket.

 

I couldn't help but notice soccer and swimming weren't on the list... but in my son's case they fit the bill. :lol:

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There are several grades I would not want my dc in public school. They are grades k-2 and 6-8.

 

K-2 is when a dc learn the basic 3R's I don't trust public school for those early learning subjects.

 

6-8 is more like a holding pattern for many dc. They are all over the board as far as maturity. You can have girls that are physically and emotionally mature in class with boys that are very "young". Middle schoolers are very "hormonal".

Many students are ready for more independent learning and many still need to have daily assignments sent home for mom to sign off on. Grades 6-8 are very difficult to teach because of this.

 

Student start to level off more once they are in 9th grade. They also have a better idea of who they are and why they need (or don't need:001_huh:) to be in school.

 

If I wanted to use public school I would only do it for grades 3-5 and 9-12.

 

I bet that if you took you dc out of middle school and kept him home until high school you would see a BIG difference.:D

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There are several grades I would not want my dc in public school. They are grades k-2 and 6-8.

 

K-2 is when a dc learn the basic 3R's I don't trust public school for those early learning subjects.

 

6-8 is more like a holding pattern for many dc. They are all over the board as far as maturity. You can have girls that are physically and emotionally mature in class with boys that are very "young". Middle schoolers are very "hormonal".

Many students are ready for more independent learning and many still need to have daily assignments sent home for mom to sign off on. Grades 6-8 are very difficult to teach because of this.

 

Student start to level off more once they are in 9th grade. They also have a better idea of who they are and why they need (or don't need:001_huh:) to be in school.

 

If I wanted to use public school I would only do it for grades 3-5 and 9-12.

 

I bet that if you took you dc out of middle school and kept him home until high school you would see a BIG difference.:D

 

This is such good advice, thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for the wonderful replies here and in private! We have actually decided to remove him from school after Thanksgiving break. It doesn't seem wise to wait longer than that, no good can come from it.

 

I am a bit concerned about bringing the fact we are homeschooling to the public school system's attention. The school they were originally in before we started homeschooling many years ago was a private school. The administrator of that school was very pro-homeschooling. I am using the form letter recommended by HSLDA as a withdrawal letter. I am still a bit nervous.

 

I was also wondering if we should send a note to the teacher. The withdrawal letter is supposed to be sent to the principal. But his teacher really his very nice and my son likes her quite a bit. I thought it would be nice to send her a thank you note. My husband isn't sure it's a good idea. Any thoughts?

 

Thanks again for all the advice, I shared all of it with my husband and it is really helping us in the decision making process. We have decided to ease him back into homeschool work gently. Our primary focus is going to be to reignite his love of learning.

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Start him where he's at and keep going. If you feel you must "catch up", then try to do more than what is scheduled for the week.

 

Really, middle school is (imo) our last chance to get that foundation really solid before moving on to high school. If I haven't done well with lower grades, I'm going to try real hard to make it happen in middle school. So, with my 6th grader I'm making sure he has those basic skills. I've backed up a bit in math and language arts because I need to. But I have a plan. And my plan is working, I'm making that progress. With math, at least, I'm doubling up on lessons, so he's doing two lessons per day, and it's going fine, because he's not over his head with it, he's learning the stuff, it's getting in there. Yay!

 

So, work on those paragraphs, and have fun with it. Save the essays for later. He'll get it. He will.

 

Find out where his levels are, and just go from there, don't worry about whether you finish a book or not. There have been years when I have started a new year in the same book I used the previous year, we just continued on. No worries. But you have to step back and take a bird's eye view from time to time to ascertain where you are compared to where you want to go.

:iagree: on all counts. :-)

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I don’t know what state you are in but in Oklahoma it was quite easy when I pulled my dd out of ps. We used the same letter format from HSLDA and no one even contacted us. I had to call the school to make sure they had even received it. Every state is different. In Oklahoma homeschooling is a protected right in our state constitution, which is probably why I got no response. I’m sure you aren’t the only one in your state that has pulled their child out of public school to educate at home. I think you will be fine.

Personally, I think the thank you note to the teacher is a nice thought. They have a hard job and I really think most do the best they can. Its the system that is failing...not necessarily the teachers fault.

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I pulled my daughter out last year in October. I just went in to the school on a Friday with a withdraw letter and took her home. I did not like her teacher much so I did not send a thank you but if you have had a good realtionship with his teacher I think it would be nice to send her a quick email or note. I feel for teachers whose hands are tied to teach to the test so I think she would appreciate knowing that it wasn't anything to do with her personally. We live in PA which is considered a highly regulated state but the school did not give me any problems.

You son can still play sports at the public school. Our school district has made a lot of extra curricular activites curricular to keep out the homeschoolers like music, band and drama which my oldest is interested in. Still not worth sending her to school! Good luck!

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Thanks for the input! Most of the schools in our area refuse to allow homeschool students to participate in music or sports. The state law leaves it up to the superintendents. They are pretty stubborn about saying no (probably because if they say yes they are required to provide transportation). We do live in one of the "easy" homeschooling states, so hopefully there won't be any backlash.

 

When we pulled our kids out of public school when they were younger to put them into private school, my youngest son's speech teacher actually tried to stop us. It was very strange, she said he needed the public school learning environment to thrive :001_huh:. She told me on the phone that she was going to petition the school district to stop us from removing him. I basically said "good luck with that" and hung up on her. I didn't think about it again until I got a letter in the mail a few weeks later. The letter stated that the teacher made a petition to stop the student transfer. It also said the teacher had verbally tried to tell the parents it wasn't in the student's best interest. It concluded that the teacher was severely reprimanded for her improper conduct :lol:.

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Oh you are not alone!! I am pulling my previously home-schooled kids out of ps tomorrow morning. Actually instead of them showing up to school, it'll be me with the paper work to withdraw them. My little second grade dd has picked up some pretty terrible social behaviors that I can not tolerate! My ds has gone backwards academicly since the first day of school. Plus, the curriculum is a bust, it's just an awful piece-meal of random facts that someone (?) decieded all kids should know at each grade. NEVER AGAIN!!

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Thanks for the wonderful replies here and in private! We have actually decided to remove him from school after Thanksgiving break. It doesn't seem wise to wait longer than that, no good can come from it.

 

I'm glad to hear that!

 

I am using the form letter recommended by HSLDA as a withdrawal letter. I am still a bit nervous.

 

As long as you're following the law, there's nothing to worry about.

 

I was also wondering if we should send a note to the teacher.

 

I think that would be a sweet thing to do -- otherwise, she might wonder if she'd done something wrong. If you don't want to send a note, you could always stop by the school and speak with her, or just give her a call and let her know what's going on.

 

We have decided to ease him back into homeschool work gently. Our primary focus is going to be to reignite his love of learning.

 

Sounds perfect!

 

Cat

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I have a couple of thoughts as a mom who enrolled her son in PS 6th grade for the first time ever this year.

 

First, I'm sorry it's worked out this way. I was really braced for middle school yuckiness and it hasn't happned. Maybe because he is mainly in PreAP and has found good friends in orchestra it hasn't been so bad.

 

However, our English experience is similar to yours. They are double-blocked in ENglish (meaning over 1.5 hours each day in that class), and they spend about 90% of their time on literary analysis. Grammar instruction is minimal and what there is is about 4th grade level. Writing instruction - terrible. It's not the teacher, it's the state standard. This is the only class I feel is not up to par, so we are afterschooling, but it is hard to fit it in between homework, soccer and orchestra. I would be happy to have him come home, but he is thriving and a very responsible young man, so at this point I want to honor that by allowing this choice.

 

BUT, if I were to bring him home, I would do it today, and not mid-year. I don't understand waiting once you've made the decision. If you're sure, why not head up there in the morning and withdraw him?

 

Then, as far as where to start, just pick up where you left off last year. You don't have to finish a curriculum by and arbitrary date. Work until your summer break, put the book away, then pick it back up in the fall. That's what we have always done anyway and it has worked just fine.

 

Good luck with your decisions. And congratulations - it sounds like BOTH of your children are very thoughtful about their education and that is thanks to you!

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Thanks for the wonderful replies here and in private! We have actually decided to remove him from school after Thanksgiving break. It doesn't seem wise to wait longer than that, no good can come from it.

 

I am a bit concerned about bringing the fact we are homeschooling to the public school system's attention. The school they were originally in before we started homeschooling many years ago was a private school. The administrator of that school was very pro-homeschooling. I am using the form letter recommended by HSLDA as a withdrawal letter. I am still a bit nervous.

 

I was also wondering if we should send a note to the teacher. The withdrawal letter is supposed to be sent to the principal. But his teacher really his very nice and my son likes her quite a bit. I thought it would be nice to send her a thank you note. My husband isn't sure it's a good idea. Any thoughts?

 

Thanks again for all the advice, I shared all of it with my husband and it is really helping us in the decision making process. We have decided to ease him back into homeschool work gently. Our primary focus is going to be to reignite his love of learning.

 

When I withdrew my daughter (after 4 days) I was worried about having put us on the radar, too. They asked me to come in and sign some paperwork. I was very hesitant and not sure that I would sign anything. But basically there was one computer printout saying she was officially withdrawn on such and such a date. NOthing about homeschooling or private schooling. Then they gave me a packet of papers from the Texas Homeschool Coalition website :D, and I thought that was very nice. Nobody looked at me crosseyed.

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