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"Did you do school today?"


AmandaVT

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My mother in law, while initially excited for us to homeschool DS this year, has been acting increasingly skeptical recently. I've been very patient and am trying to help her understand what homeschooling is all about. But I'm constantly getting questioned when she's in town. Does anyone have good tips on helping grandparents understand what homeschooling is all about? Here are some examples. 

 

Christmas Eve - "I didn't want to call earlier because I thought you were doing school today" ..... "Oh, you didn't do school?" ..... "Christmas cookie baking was school?" ...." yes, I know the public schools are out of school for vacation, but I thought since you do homeschool, you'd still be in school today"

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I've gotten this recently:

 

"what do you mean, school only took an hour today? I thought school gets out at 3:30?"

 

me: Well, he's in K. There's typically not a lot of seat work in K. We worked on math for a little while, did a fun science experiment and then read books. We would be going out to meet up with friends, but since you're in town, we'd rather see you.

 

"Oh. What about homework?"

 

me: um, he's in K.

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Last week she was in town for a few days, so we went extra light so we could visit with her. Every day, she questioned me, like I wasn't doing enough. Every day, I reminded her that he was in K and we were doing a little less than normal because she was in town and we wanted to see her.

 

This week she came back (it's school vacation week for public school). She was horrified that we were doing school because it's vacation week.

 

But then she reversed course. Friday, we spent the day a few towns away with friends. We took the kids bowling, went shopping, had lunch, the boys played. A nice day. She came over yesterday and asked why we didn't do school on Saturday since we "skipped" Friday. I told her that we did a field trip and had a good social day and that was school. Her reply - "well....if you say so" with raised eyebrows.  

 

I asked her yesterday if she had any concerns about homeschooling that she wanted me to answer and said that I'd be happy to talk about it. She said she was fine with it and had no concerns. Her next sentence: "I thought the local public school has a good reputation?". I answered that yes it does, and that seems like a concern of yours, talk to me. Her: "oh, no I'm fine"

 

 

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to get a few examples in here. I'm sure some (many?) people here have had skeptical family members.  :-) Any advice?

 

Thank you in advance 

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Did you do school today?  The answer is yes, always yes.  Your child is learning all the time, doesn't matter if it meets her specific idea of what learning is.   

 

Did you finish before 3pm?  Oh no!  We worked all day (again, he is learning just being with you......that is all he needs.  She doesn't need specifics!)

 

Does he do homework?  Oh yes!  Can I get you some coffee?

 

NOTHING you say will satisfy her questions......answer them the way that will make her stop asking......don't engage.  It isn't worth it, unless you wish to have this same conversation for the next 12 years.  

 

Dawn

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Do you follow a traditional school year schedule or do you school year round? One thing I told my mom and MIL was that since we school year round, we don't have to spend as long on school each day. We don't take the same breaks as public school because we have the fun to do school whenever we want to.

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Tell her that you don't follow a traditional school schedule. Every time she brings up what the public schools do or don't do, remind her that he doesn't attend that school,so their schedule is irrelevant.

 

Don't get into specifics. Did you do school today? Yes. The end. Or no, we have a school holiday. The end. Don't try to justify what school means, or what qualifies. If she wants to imagine that all the little children were sitting in a circle while the mommies read them the alphabet at your playdate, let her.

 

"All of his work is homework." This get a the point across that you are not playing by the old, familiar rules. 

 

My in-laws were a bit skeptical at first. Now they are just happy that we can visit for lunch on Wednesday, or they can spend Thursday night, and they don't have to wait until 4pm or Saturday to see them.

 

 

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Also agree with Dawn, but also, have your husband ask her if she has any concerns.  She may be reluctant to outright complain or appear to criticize you but she may be more forthright with her concerns with her own son.   

 

Some people don't get it and never will.   That's just the way it is.  You will get used to it. 

 

 

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That makes sense. She's asking DS, so I need to coach him a bit in what "doing school" means. DS will answer yes or no, and then I'll clarify. Usually when we "do school" in James' (ds) eyes, we write our schedule for the day on a white board. That kind of sets the tone for the day, I'm thinking maybe we'll start doing that for every day regardless of whether  we do any seat work that day.

 

I used to think she was just making conversation because when DH gets home, he always asks about school and my parents frequently ask when they talk to him as well. But the tone of the questions is different and I've noticed her questions changing from curious to skeptical over the past few months. There are some other family dynamics at play which I think are really at the heart of her questions - questioning us on HS because she can't on the other stuff if that makes sense. 

 

I think less info may have to be given, in the beginning she was actually interested, so I was excited to talk with her about school, but now I just get the impression that she thinks I'm a crappy mom. I'll keep the exciting fun conversations with my parents and coach up James a bit. 

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Did you do school today?  The answer is yes, always yes.  Your child is learning all the time, doesn't matter if it meets her specific idea of what learning is.   

 

Did you finish before 3pm?  Oh no!  We worked all day (again, he is learning just being with you......that is all he needs.  She doesn't need specifics!)

 

Does he do homework?  Oh yes!  Can I get you some coffee?

 

NOTHING you say will satisfy her questions......answer them the way that will make her stop asking......don't engage.  It isn't worth it, unless you wish to have this same conversation for the next 12 years.  

 

Dawn

 

:iagree: :iagree: :iagree:

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I finally had to have The Talk with my mil, after I discovered that she was having younger dd do math flash cards whenever she visited without me or Mr. Ellie. :glare: I told her that my dds didn't need her "help," that they were doing just fine, and that she needed to trust her son and me to do the best for our children, the same way she and Mr. Elie's father did for their children.

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Saw a few more replies after I posted. 

 

We started in August, so pretty traditional, but I intend on doing year round school, with a lighter schedule in the summer. I don't want to stop math and we've always done a lot of reading, but I plan on taking advantage of the nice weather and spend a lot of time outside! I'm sure she'll have a good flip out when she figures out we're still doing some school in the summer. She was horrified that my BIL was going to send our nephew to the school vacation camp this week and drove up so he wouldn't have to be in school during vacation. Meanwhile I'm sure he would have loved spending the week doing fun stuff with his buddies at school with no homework!

 

I will ask DH to speak with her, but he's not on great terms with her at the moment and has been pretty distant with her. She's not coming until the end of next month, so we've got some time to get prepared for the next visit. :-)

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I don't know the tone, so I don't know if she's asking in an accusing way, or a curious way or a making conversation way. My mom (a former public school teacher) was very upset when we decided to homeschool. Now, 6 years later, she fully supports it. I refused to get defensive and I talk about all the things we do. I explain our curriculum, etc. No, you don't "owe" her an explanation, but you may want to show her your curriculum, or something. Just a suggestion. Now, I do stick to a pretty strict schedule, but it is not the ps schedule (we do 9 weeks on, 1 week off), so I explained that to her. You probably won't win her over in a conversation, but over time, as you continue in friendly conversations why you are homeschooling, why your kids are getting a better education ( my mom can't argue with the quality of our kids' education ) and they see they are doing fine socially, and as you call attention to what's going on in PS that is negative (yes, in our district kindergarteners do have homework, which my mom is really against, she taught kinder for years) she'll probably come around.

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Many people who aren't very familiar with homeschooling expect it to look like ps and expect that you have to be doing what the kids at ps are doing at any given time. It requires a shift in thinking that may be beyond your ability to explain/ their desire to grasp.

 

In that case, I would say what Dawn suggested.

 

I used to try to engage people who had these kinds of questions, but I don't anymore. It's a losing battle. Now, I tell them what they want to hear, without lying.

 

I would genuinely like certain family members to understand what we do here and see that it's good, but their prejudices don't permit them to. Some people are just not open minded.

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I have an aunt who is like another grandmother to my kids, and she does ask about school a lot. In her case, she is just a bit worried and nervous. The only homeschooling she has known was one family who were non-schoolers, and my mother, whose planning was, uh, quite sporadic and can't give a clear answer to the question of how my youngest sister is going to graduate high school (she's doing a satellite school, but even I can't figure out the details very well).

 

I try to make sure to mention details about what we're covering with her when she calls, "Oh, we just started multiplication, and we're studying reptiles this week in science."  I did try saying a few times that he is working above grade level, he went to an accelerated-K and is already done with most of what this state covers in 1st, but that was no good. Another nephew (who is a year younger) was grade skipped. so that kind of upped the ante. It is an issue of both bragging rights and a valid concern that he doesn't fall behind where he could be.

 

 

 She came over yesterday and asked why we didn't do school on Saturday since we "skipped" Friday. I told her that we did a field trip and had a good social day and that was school. Her reply - "well....if you say so" with raised eyebrows.  

 

Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." I know your kids are young. I also know that some H.S. physics classes take field trips to an amusement park, but I think most people (wrongly) assume that those field trips contain some actual teaching. Nonetheless, that sort of answer will only increase the worry. A better answer would be "With homeschooling we can be flexible with vacation days and school days. Don't worry, he's still on track to finish his curriculum this year."

 

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That makes sense. She's asking DS, so I need to coach him a bit in what "doing school" means. DS will answer yes or no, and then I'll clarify. Usually when we "do school" in James' (ds) eyes, we write our schedule for the day on a white board. That kind of sets the tone for the day, I'm thinking maybe we'll start doing that for every day regardless of whether  we do any seat work that day.

 

I used to think she was just making conversation because when DH gets home, he always asks about school and my parents frequently ask when they talk to him as well. But the tone of the questions is different and I've noticed her questions changing from curious to skeptical over the past few months. There are some other family dynamics at play which I think are really at the heart of her questions - questioning us on HS because she can't on the other stuff if that makes sense. 

 

I think less info may have to be given, in the beginning she was actually interested, so I was excited to talk with her about school, but now I just get the impression that she thinks I'm a crappy mom. I'll keep the exciting fun conversations with my parents and coach up James a bit. 

 

I'm telling you--don't do stuff to placate your mil. It will not satisfy her.

 

Of course, it doesn't hurt for *you* to understand that every.single.thing you do with your ds is educational and therefore "school," even if you don't open a textbook.  :-)

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Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." I know your kids are young. I also know that some H.S. physics classes take field trips to an amusement park, but I think most people (wrongly) assume that those field trips contain some actual teaching. Nonetheless, that sort of answer will only increase the worry. A better answer would be "With homeschooling we can be flexible with vacation days and school days. Don't worry, he's still on track to finish his curriculum this year."

 

I have to disagree.  Bowling is a perfectly acceptable social and physical activity with rules that must be learned and followed.  I think it could be counted as "PE".

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Saw a few more replies after I posted. 

 

We started in August, so pretty traditional, but I intend on doing year round school, with a lighter schedule in the summer. I don't want to stop math and we've always done a lot of reading, but I plan on taking advantage of the nice weather and spend a lot of time outside! I'm sure she'll have a good flip out when she figures out we're still doing some school in the summer. She was horrified that my BIL was going to send our nephew to the school vacation camp this week and drove up so he wouldn't have to be in school during vacation. Meanwhile I'm sure he would have loved spending the week doing fun stuff with his buddies at school with no homework!

 

I will ask DH to speak with her, but he's not on great terms with her at the moment and has been pretty distant with her. She's not coming until the end of next month, so we've got some time to get prepared for the next visit. :-)

This puts a different flavor on things for me.  The questions themselves could go either way - they could be just clueless, just concerned conversation or meddling.  But. . . she's already meddling with your BIL.  So I vote for meddling with you - the beginning parts of it anyway.  Don't engage and set boundaries.  It doesn't really matter if she's horrified.  

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I have an aunt who is like another grandmother to my kids, and she does ask about school a lot. In her case, she is just a bit worried and nervous. The only homeschooling she has known was one family who were non-schoolers, and my mother, whose planning was, uh, quite sporadic and can't give a clear answer to the question of how my youngest sister is going to graduate high school (she's doing a satellite school, but even I can't figure out the details very well).

 

I try to make sure to mention details about what we're covering with her when she calls, "Oh, we just started multiplication, and we're studying reptiles this week in science."  I did try saying a few times that he is working above grade level, he went to an accelerated-K and is already done with most of what this state covers in 1st, but that was no good. Another nephew (who is a year younger) was grade skipped. so that kind of upped the ante. It is an issue of both bragging rights and a valid concern that he doesn't fall behind where he could be.

 

 

 

Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." I know your kids are young. I also know that some H.S. physics classes take field trips to an amusement park, but I think most people (wrongly) assume that those field trips contain some actual teaching. Nonetheless, that sort of answer will only increase the worry. A better answer would be "With homeschooling we can be flexible with vacation days and school days. Don't worry, he's still on track to finish his curriculum this year."

 

 

You're right, I should have thought of an answer that was likely to lower her worries, not increase them. Her prior concerns have been about socialization, so I was hoping that by letting her know that we include social activities during our days, that would help alleviate those concerns, but apparently not. I was trying to explain too much I think, and will save my homeschool excitement for my parents, particularly my dad. He is loving homeschool to the point where he e-mails or calls me when he comes across something that he thinks we'll like to learn about and has asked if we want him to teach DS programming (he's a computer engineer). 

 

I have mentioned details too - let her know we're ahead of plans in certain subjects or filled her in on new interests, or a new skill. DS has happily told her about books he's read, explained the inner workings of the digestive system and taught her how to add up the yahtzee dice quicker, so I'm starting to think that time will be what helps the most here. 

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Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." I know your kids are young. I also know that some H.S. physics classes take field trips to an amusement park, but I think most people (wrongly) assume that those field trips contain some actual teaching. Nonetheless, that sort of answer will only increase the worry. A better answer would be "With homeschooling we can be flexible with vacation days and school days. Don't worry, he's still on track to finish his curriculum this year."

 

And yet public school students do things like bowling as part of their p.e. curriculum. In fact, private schools in California (which includes homeschools) are supposed to do 200 minutes of p.e. every month (although they don't have to prove those minutes). Why wouldn't homeschoolers count it as school?? :confused1:

 

ETA: That's 200 minutes every 10 school days. Sorry.

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:grouphug: it depends on the person.  with some folks, there is no winning for losing, kwim?  flip side, there may be things that help.

 

eg. i messaged our families with links every time there was a local school lockdown/violence/drug bust/shooting

i didn't comment about homeschooling, but would comment about how awful it was.

 

i sent emails when there were important milestones, as long as they were timely or earlier than in the public school system.  

 

and i told the children that it wasn't a healthy relationship move for them to answer questions that were knowledge quizzes.  they could ask for my help, or they could tell the person that for homeschooling it was important to have "family time" as well as "school time" and this was family time. 

 

however, the thing that worked for both my mom (retired public school teacher) and my MIL (who i would have placed in the "no winning for losing" category before this) was:

when they visited, i would ask each of them to teach one or more of the subjects.  for my mom, i would just hand her the curriculum.  for dMIL, i would hand her a curriculum that was pretty much scripted, and their workbooks/notebooks.  for mom, she got excited.  for dMIL, after the first two days of a week-long visit, she said "maybe its better if you teach them and i will play games with them later".  and that was that :).

 

fwiw,

ann

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Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." 

 

Sorry, but you aren't the administrator of the OP's homeschool, nor do you get to determine what she counts as "school." We went bowling in high school as part of our PE requirements.

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Sorry, but you aren't the administrator of the OP's homeschool, nor do you get to determine what she counts as "school." We went bowling in high school as part of our PE requirements.

 

I really appreciated that answer. She's right. It's not what people generally think of when they think "school". However, DS has some social anxiety as well as  some anxiety when around loud crowds of children. So, in our case, bowling during school vacation week is the best school we can have because it's another opportunity to work with him on the social stuff while doing something fun with a friend. Which was the point I was trying to make with MIL, but now I'm not thinking it was the best way to go about it. 

 

DS is a bit accelerated for K - we're halfway through MM2A, almost finished AAS1, have read dozens of books this year, followed interests, have ongoing science projects, but I've really tried to take to heart all the suggestions here from more experienced HS'ers to not push and to enjoy the early years. So we don't get to everything every day. But today is Sunday and DS asked to work on math because he's enjoying it. In addition to bowling, we listened to an hour of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in the car to and from our friend's house, discussed the book, worked on the anxiety piece, he beat me in a couple of yahtzee games, and we took turns reading aloud from the Boxcar children. But the bigger point that I'm starting to understand is none of that matters to someone who isn't approving of what we do. MIL knows all this - we've talked about it ad nauseum over the past few months, but she's going to feel how she feels and my job is going to be to insulate DS from any of her concerns and to channel my inner ninja to deflect and redirect the conversations with her. :-D

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She is way too entitled in her mind to intrude into the education of her grandchildren. It is time for kind but firm boundaries. I would say "I have it under control." a few times. Then, I would tell her to stop questioning how I'm homeschooling. If your dh has a strained relationship w her, perhaps there is a very good reason for that. I would be especially miffed if she was doing this in earshot of my child.

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 Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." 

 

Somebody better notify all the brick and mortar schools that count it as a school day, then! Along with trips to the mall, the movies, and so on. ((and, bowling is actually a choice for PE in many, many districts))

 

I'm telling you--don't do stuff to placate your mil. It will not satisfy her.

 

 

This, a million times. Move the emphasis away from trying to explain specifics and address concerns, and toward 'we know what the requirements are, and we've got them covered.' 

 

So, if she asks why he isn't doing school on a Saturday after missing a weekday, simply say, 'We have to have 180 days of school total, and we've got it covered!'

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Some folks who are dear to us were terrified of our homeschooling. However, they are also lovely people with whom we have a great relationship, and they tried very, very hard to be supportive and to try to understand our bizarre choices. Nevertheless, we have had some of the same conversations you describe, where you can see the stress and worry (and yes, judgment). You know, where they are trying to be nice but still communicate what you *should* be doing.

 

It never stops either. It actually got a little worse when we chose to homeschool dd for high school. Just this past year they were horrified when they learned that I was writing dd's history tests. They were so shocked and dismayed. They couldn't believe I wasn't following an official curriculum, and the fact that I was writing the tests and assignments was akin to cheating in their eyes.

 

There were two factors that made the conversation even more surreal. One was that dd was shocked at their reaction. They made it clear (oh so politely and sweetly!!!) that my tests couldn't possibly be as good as an official curriculum. How could I write tests without any teacher training? Dd told them point blank, "Mom's tests are waaaaay harder than any test I've taken from a curriculum." (Yes--that's why I write them!!) It didn't matter, though--they could not stretch their minds around the idea that my unqualified tests could be better.

 

The other factor that makes these types of conversations surreal is the fact of our success. Both of my kids have scored quite well on standardized tests. Both have won awards. In addition, I am in demand as a teacher. Each year for several years now I have had to turn away students who want me as their writing coach. My co-op classes have been filled to capacity and in demand for years. When I moved last summer, there were numerous families who asked me to consider teaching via Skype. (I did choose to continue with some of my favorite families just for writing.) The history class I taught last year, that these people were so skeptical of, was widely praised. One of the parents who was so enthusiastic about my class has a history degree and is currently working in politics. Not to toot my own horn--it's just weird to experience success within one circle and be viewed with such suspicion and skepticism in another.

 

It does help that we have a good relationship and that we truly love each other. Often I soothe their fears with explanation. Other times, I simply say, "Homeschooling is nothing like public school."

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Why does she visit so often for so long? DH's relationship with her is strained? I would not try to placate her or soothe her or any of that. She sounds awfully invested in this, and the kiddo is in kindergarten! Bowling was a PE course in college, so the idea that it shouldn't "count" for kindy is laughable. She's already interfering with BIL's choices, and his kids are in public school. Nothing is going to satisfy her, and the more information and access you give her, the more she will intrude.

 

Maybe if she interrogates during this visit, you can say, "You know, you're right. Your visits are distracting us from school. We're going to be schooling year-round, so we will have to look at the calendar and let you know when the next convenient time to return is."

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My mom asks this all the time.  To the point the kids now tell her something completely bogus and then walk away laughing.  She will phone and ask them what they learned in school today, the last time she asked ds15 answered "I quit school, I am going to play video games for a job".  dd14 answered "I learned a day too late what a condom was, I think next week mom is going to teach me how to take a pregnancy test" (dd is a virgin with no boyfriends etc but loves to push gramma's buttons).  ds10 answered "what's school? " and dd6 announced "I made a headband, made a fire, and eat some bread" (that day in konos we were studying natives, we make a leather headband, practiced laying a fire and made bannock lol )  Gramma demanded to speak to me rofl

 

For nearly a year she grumbled how ds10 didn't know how to read and that it was due to a lack of my teaching.  Until he sat down finally and read her a chapter from Boy vs Beast the early chapter book series he loves.  He absolutely was being taught to read while also getting treatment from SLP and OT.  He has learning disabilities but she doesn't believe they exist and figures they would poof if he went to school.

 

If your mil is actually being critical of your homeschooling nothing you say will make her change her tone, we are into our 8th year of homeschooling and it is still the same comments/attitudes since the beginning. Even now with the teens doing online classes without outside teachers, she is still critical if they take an afternoon off to do a clay workshop, or hang out on the farm of a friend rather than work right until 3pm etc.  Most recently was her belief she knew how to teach the dance portion of the phys ed curriculum. I have read the required outcomes, I know how to cover it, but because she talks to coaches/PE teachers as part of her job she figures she knows better than I do.  I asked what each one was doing, all were different, one was doing ballroom dance, one was doing line dancing, one was doing cultural etc...so I said "oh you mean that as long as they follow the outcomes they can cover that unit any way they choose?" to which she finally acknowledged that maybe I did have that covered.

 

People like that will never "get it" they will forever be comparing to the ps's they remember, to the grandkids of their neighbors and friends etc.  I am hopeful that when my teens head off to college, something the ps's told us was impossible to ever plan on for ds15, she will finally at least acknowledge how beneficial homeschooling was for them rather than continueing to comparfe them to others and compare me to schoolroom teachers etc.

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My parents, especially my dad, ask my kids this all the time, but they are strictly making conversation. They were mildly concerned at the idea of homeschooling at first, but now that we are in our fourth year and can see the progress the kids have made, they are completely on board. In fact my mom told me the other day that my dad thinks our kids are getting a way better education at home than at school! I just about fell over.

 

My advice would be to be patient with MIL. If she asks, answer conversationally. "Yes, DS is really coming along with writing his numbers. Isn't this lovely weather?" or whatever. I'm not suggesting giving her a report, just some glimpses of what school looks like for you. Chances are she will come around as time goes by and she sees that he's thriving :)

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ROFL. He's in kindergarten. An hour is totally fine.

 

I've found that relatives have become much less anxious over time. Once your child is reading fluently and can do a few show off math problems, grandma will back off. The proof is in the pudding! Just try not to go nuts in the meantime. :)

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My parents were loving but questioning when we started homeschooling (ds was in 1st grade). Because my dad is a rule follower to a T and they didn't understand homeschooling at all, I wanted them to get some fact from me instead of everyone else. 

 

We simply outlined that:

 

1. homeschooling was regulated by each state and we were following state guidelines - sometimes older people need to know there are at least rules or accountability to someone. In our state we have no notification, but we still follow the rules - this helped my dad. 

 

2. We had friends or mentors or professionals we could seek guidance from - WTM, this board, coops, etc. We're not running off willy-nilly making this up as we go along (okay sometimes, but ;) they don't need to know that part). 

 

3. We examined our options and felt like this was the best option for ds' education. We're the parents, we get to do that. 

 

4. Flexibility is a perk of homeschooling. We are not tied to a traditional school calendar (add something about required days to placate the issue), and we will take off days to spend time with you as we can. 

 

5. We take this seriously. Elementary school didn't take long each day, especially with one student. We have a plan, it will be okay. 

 

I don't think everyone needs it this spelled out for them, but my parents deserved more than a pat response. We've now been homeschooling ten years and they fully support us. We still take off days to spend with them, but sometimes we can't. High school is different than K. They get it, they're happy. 

 

With your MIL - she might be meddling, she might just need more information. 

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I have to disagree.  Bowling is a perfectly acceptable social and physical activity with rules that must be learned and followed.  I think it could be counted as "PE".

I had a bowling class in college.  :001_smile:

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 She's asking DS

 

I would nip this right in the bud.

 

A kindergartener shouldn't have to deal with justifying his schooling to anyone. She should know better and respect that. Any questions put to him should be polite, kind, and curious.

 

:grouphug: It sounds like this is stemming from other issues between your families, which makes it doubly important that a boundary be set.

 

Cat

 

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You could also decide that you and DS are only available to be with her when ps is not in session. She can follow the ps schedule if she likes and afa she's concerned, you ARE doing school those days and hours. Always. Of course!

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It's tough when there is family tension.  It can make innocent interactions seem almost sinister.  I don't have any answers for that.

 

What you might consider is filling up that white board, and putting the 'why' next to the activity. Let grandma know you would be happy to have her help. Maybe this could win her over when she sees how much learning is actually happening.  (I don't know what you use for materials. I am trying to think of activities that little children enjoy that also look like 'learning' to others.) For example:

 

- Card Game of War.   Penny Math, --Math  (Put a jar of pennies out, to count, place in groups, add subtract.  - Math  She can play cards with him. Maybe Mancala  if that's more up her alley.   Maybe ds  can dictate to grandma simple math problems,. She can write them down. She can also help him sort the pennies, or keep track of his counting/grouping.)

 

Make playdough - Science, reading, fine motor development. (Have the recipe written out on a piece of poster board, and have her read each step. You can note the half cups and tablespoons etc. If he can read and wants to, let  him do that.)

 

Read aloud/Dictation-   :Language Arts   (Have your child retell the story in his own words, while she writes it down. If you staple some paper together, he can make a book and illustrate his words for her to keep.)

 

Collage work - Art, Fine Motor, Creativity, Planning.  (Maybe you can read an Eric Carle book and make a Carle -type collage.)

 

Watch Liberty Kids.  - History   (lol She may not know  such a program exits)

 

 

And whatever else you do.  :)  She only knows one way of schooling. It's possible you could help her to see other ways.  Not sure it will  help, but if you have to spend time with her anyway. lol   Oh, if you go to the market, and he likes to, have him count the apples you're buying as you put them in the bag. Let him weigh them.  If out to lunch, talk about letters and sounds from words on the menu. Would he like to keep a little journal on what he does with grandma? He tells you, you write and read it back to him. Maybe Grandma wants to add to the journal.   Etc., and whatever...;)

 

PS. Throw a couple of museum visits in there if you can.  Perhaps write up a little list for a scavenger hunt for them to check off.  Dinosaur skeleton, a certain painting or sculpture,  the turtle exhibit...

 

By sharing with her, and showing her how you operate, you might be able to glean some additional information about what is going on in her brain. If she still remains critical, the ball has to go to your dh.

 

 

 

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Sheer, diabolical genius! I'm putting this one in my file...

 

however, the thing that worked for both my mom (retired public school teacher) and my MIL (who i would have placed in the "no winning for losing" category before this) was:

when they visited, i would ask each of them to teach one or more of the subjects.  for my mom, i would just hand her the curriculum.  for dMIL, i would hand her a curriculum that was pretty much scripted, and their workbooks/notebooks.  for mom, she got excited.  for dMIL, after the first two days of a week-long visit, she said "maybe its better if you teach them and i will play games with them later".  and that was that :).

 

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It was helpful to my ILs for me to explain the state law on homeschooling as we were getting started. They were a little shocked at how much leeway the principal has.

 

In my family, all kids ages 4+ are expected to make conversation with relatives about school, and DS is the only homeschooler. I remember being quizzed on my times tables by both sides of the families. It's not that they didn't think I was learning; they just wanted to hear me do it.

 

That said, if you feel like you've provided all the information they should need and the questions are getting on your nerves, the next step is setting boundaries.

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I get the impression as some others do that she is looking for a reason to be critical and is overstepping her boundaries. I get the impression from you that she doesn't mean to be this way, that she can be very loving as well. If this is the case, I would address it in a hopefully calm, polite phone conversation BEFORE her next visit. Something like...

 

"We are excited to get to spend time with you next week, and _____ (insert son's name) is looking forward to your visit. I always enjoy you coming and am glad you are lovingly involved in your grandchildren's lives. However, I am new in my role as a home educator. You may not mean this intentionally, but when you question my judgement of when and with what content I have school, I feel uncomfortable. I so want you to come visit and for us to have a wonderful time together. But please trust that I have researched the law's requirements regarding homeschool and I am following them. Education in public school is different today as it was when your sons were growing up. Also, homeschool is very different than public school. I will be glad to provide you with credible specific information with curiosities you have about the difference between homeschool and public education if you would like. However, when you come next week, please do not ask ds or myself about school unless it is out of the intention to share in our excitement about the things we are learning in a non traditional way. We want you to continue to have visits in our home, especially to continue the close relationship you have with ds that we thankful for. However, if you continue to question ds or me about the credibility of his education with a skeptical tone, we have no choice but to ask you not to speak about school at all." (If mil does not receive this well, you can express regrets, and maybe ask dh to have a heart to heart with her that while you want her to be able to continue to visit, sadly she won't be able to visit until she decides to honor your request to stop meddling in your family choices especially regarding education. Dh or you could add that it is fine for mil to not agree with the way you homeschool, but it is not fine to express that to you or dh, that is something she will have to keep to herself. I would hope it wouldn't get that far.)

 

Your other choice would be to continue to dread her visits due to the criticism she has towards you, even if it passive in the way she presents the issue. She must have some insecurity issues herself and feels validated by criticizing her children's families. I would give her grace, in that her reason for being this way has to be rooted in some insecurity. I would not take it personally. However, I would set a clear boundary line where a conversation is abruptly ended when she is critical of you or ds in any way (be it school, what time you wake up, what you serve for breakfast, how you do or don't do laundry, etc...). My suspicion is even if you had your son in B&M school, she would have something else to be critical about. I am facing a situation where I will eventually have to be direct and confront a close friend in a way that I will be risking cutting off ties with her if she takes offense. That is difficult, but I have been passive too long in this situation. Being direct with a family member you love, and your ds loves, is multiple times more difficult. Sadly, I feel in your situation you will eventually have to be more direct than you were when you had the conversation offering to answer her questions about homeschooling. I wish your MIL would have taken your hint that you want her to drop the skeptical tone when you tried very well to get her to come clean with her attitude towards your homeschool methods.

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Some people cannot at all get the paradigm shift of not needing to sit at a desk for six hours a day, five days a week to be learning. Nothing you say will change her mind; she'll just have to see some results to become accepting, if that even works. One thing I said to doubters often those first few years was, "that's one thing that is so great about hsing! We aren't boxed in to doing the same boring desk work all day long when we could be doing real-life things, like planting out the garden and baking cookies and singing at the nursing home!" (Big, cheerful grin)

 

I dealt with several doubters in my family. When I began hsing, we lived in one of the top school districts in the entire nation. There were a few who could NOT make sense of that at all!

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To all those with ruffled feathers - Wow, over-sensitive much?  :huh:

 

 

 

To the OP - was your MIL aware that your kid was so accelerated when you began homeschooling? If not, that may explain her growing skepticism. Homeschooling a "normal" kid is, well, okay. Homeschooling a not normal kid, though? Wait, don't you need to be a special professional or something for that?

 

Part of my aunt's concern stemmed from the fact that my kid is a bit accelerated. "Why don't you get him tested? Can't he be grade-skipped? Isn't there a special school he can go to?" People who don't have school age kids just see the news stories about magnets, charters, and all the cool kids who go there and all the neat things they do. By homeschooling you're missing out all that. And then maybe their grandbaby won't reach their full potential!

 

Reality, of course, is quite different from that, but it's hard to explain that in a way they will believe.

 

From your OP, your MIL seems irrational, which I take to be a sign of nervousness. But only you can judge if it's that or nosiness. If it is nervousness time and signs of progression will solve it. I try not to think badly of people who are concerned, but under-informed.

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To all those with ruffled feathers - Wow, over-sensitive much?  :huh:

 

 

You made a pretty disparaging statement that was obviously pointed at those of us who believe that everything is learning, including not only bowling but field trips to places which don't meet your own educational paradigm. You continue in that same vein by referring to "ruffled feathers" and "over-sensitive."

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I have to disagree. Bowling is a perfectly acceptable social and physical activity with rules that must be learned and followed. I think it could be counted as "PE".

My kids are in a charter school and at our last meeting we talked about having gone on a bowling field trip with a local homeschool group which during a rainy spell and it was totally pe.

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Well, I agree with your MIL here. Bowling isn't "school." 

 

When I was teaching in a school, some years we had an arrangement with the bowling alley up the street and took kids for PE once a week in winter.  And it was a wonderful thing.  The teachers decide what is "school."  Period.  Not you or the OP's mil.

 

OP, I would sit her down and say that while you appreciate her interest and concern, you're in charge of your child's education, not her.  And her comments and questions are becoming intrusive.  She needs to trust you.  Her role is to be fun grandma and not worry about this stuff.  That's one of the blessings of being a grandmother.

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Many schools that have PE requirements are interested in daily physical movement and the other benefits of physical skills.

 

In K they have an entire unit of "skipping" (jump rope) and a unit of "playground games" (such as hop scotch, tether-ball and various versions of tag).

 

I find it hard to believe that an actual organized sport like bowling is "off the books" for anyone's school requirements in PE. It seems ideal to me.

 

Plus, it has simple math (score adding) and complicated score functions (spares and strikes) that might even be above appropreate expectations for a K student.

 

K in public school: 1:00 to 3:30

 

1:00

10 min: hallway & cloak room

20 min: settling in, circle time, attendance, songs, calendar and weather

1:30

40 min: instruction, educational activities

15 min: snack & washroom

5 min: cloak room

2:30

15 min: recess

5 min: cloak room

30 min: instruction, educational activities

10 min: prepare for departure

3:30

 

Total instruction and ed activity time: max 1h10m. (Less if its a PE day and "PE" isn't "instruction", if they have to walk to another room (ie music, library), if they need an in scheduled potty break, or if they have to wait for individual help.)

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I have to disagree.  Bowling is a perfectly acceptable social and physical activity with rules that must be learned and followed.  I think it could be counted as "PE".

:iagree:  We went bowling almost every year at the P.S. I attended.... 3-10th grade.  It was either for P.E. or a field trip.  We also went ice skating(a lot in H.S. since the rink was across the road), hiking, swimming at the local pool, camping (in 5th grade for a week), and 1 time we went horse back riding.  We visited museums, and parks too.  So yep, bowling is a sign that your child attends a progressive school that is looking to shape and educate the "whole" child. 

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You made a pretty disparaging statement

 

Really? I was telling the OP what I thought. I didn't realize I wasn't allowed not to agree with you.

 

 

 

 

 that was obviously pointed at those of us who believe that everything is learning, including not only bowling but field trips to places which don't meet your own educational paradigm. You continue in that same vein by referring to "ruffled feathers" and "over-sensitive."

 

Everything is learning, sure. I even think bowling can be a sport. And it can even count as PE! But what the OP was describing was a casual day that included some family fun time with bowling. That's not "school" (notice the quote marks!!!!) that's what families do to hang out and have fun together. Even public schooled kids do that! And it doesn't mean that they get to skip school the next day because they already had "school"!!! (again! notice the use of quote marks!!)

 

 

Good grief.

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Really? I was telling the OP what I thought. I didn't realize I wasn't allowed not to agree with you.

 

 

 

 

Everything is learning, sure. I even think bowling can be a sport. And it can even count as PE! But what the OP was describing was a casual day that included some family fun time with bowling. That's not "school" (notice the quote marks!!!!) that's what families do to hang out and have fun together. Even public schooled kids do that! And it doesn't mean that they get to skip school the next day because they already had "school"!!! (again! notice the use of quote marks!!)

 

 

Good grief.

good grief indeed.  If students in ps have a fieldtrip day on a friday they certain do not show up on saturday to make up for it.

 

THis week the public schools have early dismissal on wednesday and no school on thursday or friday for teacher's convention.  They are not showing up on Saturday and Sunday to make up for those days spent with their families or at my daycare doing fieldtrips etc. So the Mil is unreasonable to think school should happen on a saturday just because on friday they didn't do formal seatwork, it would be just as unreasonable to expect a ps to do the same.  School hours and outtings are determined by the one facilitating the school program, so in the case of public schools that is determined by the school board, principal and teachers, in homeschooling it is the parent.  Which means if the family decides bowling is the PE for that day, and catching bugs at park day with other families counts as nature study in science and grocery shopping while discussing food choices counts as health that is just fine.  Especially in Kindy.  The ps kindy kids go to the grocery store out here with their class to learn about food choices, purchase produce and make a fruit salad back at the classroom.  The classes out here go bowling or swimming depending on grade as a unit in PE.  They actually take a field trip for science specifically to go catch bugs, look at wild flowers and/or pond dip in 1st grade.  So if these things all count as "school" hours in ps then they most certainly can count in homeschool settings.  She is not out 7 days a week doing nothing more than playing in the park, running errands etc, this was a fun day at the end of the week, a week that included using her chosen K curric with her child.  An hour in K is perfectly acceptable, as is a day of fun.  At what point did it become unacceptable for school to be fun for kindergarteners? It used to be that's what kindergarten was, now in ps it is often what grade 1 used to be.  But in reality days filled with finger painting, outtings, reading together, playing games, etc are all fully acceptable "school time" activities for K. 

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Also, hope for the OP - one day, after maybe 4 or so years of hsing, during which mt MIL saw the kids at least 3x a week, MIL was thoughtfully watching my kids working on something and said, "I think if I had it to do again, I would homeschool MY kids." You could have knocked me over with a feather! She was never disparaging about hsing, but clearly was very skeptical in the beginning. She was also one who couldn't believe parents in an expensive, coveted school district ( not to mention the district her kids had gone to) would opt out and take on that job themselves. But it was a miraculous day when she said that to me!

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