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Can we talk about priorities and trade-offs of educational choices?


lewelma
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I know I know.  Another deep topic, and one that is currently consuming me.

 

DH and I talked about putting my younger in school next year, not for my sanity, because I can and will get this right, but more for how it could help him.  The problem is, of course, that you gain and lose by going to school.  And I need to make sure I have my priorities clear in my head so I can weigh up the pros and cons.

 

We have two good school options within a 15 minute walk of our home (8th grade is high school here).  One is the academic/sporty school and was ranked the best in the country based on scholarship exams for all public or private schools.  And it is public, so free.  It is also rigid, gives a ton of homework, pushes competition, and is all boys.  The other school is the co-ed artsy alternative school that focuses on creativity, individuality, and collaboration.  Both are excellent in their own way.  But my son is strongly 2E and with *writing* being the problem, it really affects all subjects.  Homeschooling allows him to go at his own pace, learn in his own way, and develop his sense of self without peer pressure; but seems to make him more reliant on me and less willing to up his game because he has no sense of what is expected in school.

 

So here are some questions?

 

Can positive peer pressure help a kid achieve more academically?  So all kids are working in a room, so you work.  Or you see kids achieving so you want to up your game.  Or is a 2E kid likely to feel a sense of failure?

 

Can school help you develop more independence?  Having to track your own work, talk to the teachers, etc?  Or if a kid is not ready, can forcing executive function skills backfire and lead to frustration and a chaotic life?  (I've seen it so I know it can, but how do you judge?)

 

How do you weight up the mental health issues?  How do you decide if putting a laid back child into a intense environment will better prepare them for university and life by helping them develop skills to cope, or whether it will backfire and lead to stress and a lack of coping? (I have seen both outcomes, so how do you predict which might be the result?  Both poor outcomes I have seen up close are from kids with learning disabilities, one being 2E)

 

How can you decide if sacrificing academic success is worth the possible gains in independence and gumption?   

 

Just the first things that came to my head, open to other trade offs people have encountered.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Tried to control the quoting, but it's hard to answer questions otherwise.

 

 

Can positive peer pressure help a kid achieve more academically?

 

 

Yes.  We saw it with older DS when he headed off to a high-performing charter.  It can also go the other way - it depends on how your child responds.  It can drive maturity, or it can drive home a sense of being different.

 

For us, if that were the only concern, both kids would have been in a public setting all along.  We only pulled them because the schools had no support for them academically, which was causing them to act out and miss what little content there was.

 

 

 

 

Can school help you develop more independence?  Having to track your own work, talk to the teachers, etc?

 

 

Again, yes.  We didn't worry about forcing - we watched for it and embraced it.  With our older one, we have seen that the trick is to give him a heads-up - a sense of what is to come.  Then, when it came, he was ready to respond. 

 

I have worked with ADHD kids in a school room, and seen them do well with the right level of support.  I think that is the key - make sure the safety net is ready before they need it.

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So a followup question: what personality characteristics in a child would you look for to predict a positive or negative response to the school situation?  DS is 2E,  he is a deep thinker across the board with the inability to write or type faster than 10wpm. He is generally not a self starter in any subject or activity.

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He has not found them usable. His mind seems to go to mush when he just speaks into a computer, and the errors are incredibly distracting.  He is using speech to text mindmapping, then using a dictaphone app to record his ideas, and then typing them in.  His accommodations for school will include typing or a writer for exams.  Our focus right now is to get his typing up because you need to be like 1st percentile to get a writer in university, so he really needs to learn to type.  We are working on it, but he has an *encoding* problem which affects his typing too.  If he goes to school, the focus will be on accommodations not remediating his inability to write, and I'm concerned that this priority will affect him at university. 

                               

He does not have to go to school in 8th, this is not like some of those places in America where you can't transfer homeschool credit.  Exams start in 10th grade.  8th and 9th grade are fun at the artsy school where they build the collaborative environment, but they are hardcore at the academic school because they are preparing the students for exams in 10th.                                                                                                          

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Peer pressure was wonderful for my kids which is why we are willing to pay so much for outside classes. The ones in classrooms were even more effective for peer pressure than online. However mine are not considered 2E though both have some accomodations in classrooms. One doesn't talk and another has mild eye tracking issues.

 

I have two close friends with 2E kids. Both kids went to public school from Kindergarten so their LDs are well documented and they have IEP. One is autistic and one is ADHD (medicated). Both have great support from the school admins, the teachers and the school district in general. So for them it work out to have their kids in public school even though one is a SAHM with an only child and the other was a SAHM with two kids but now is a WAHM running her own small business.

 

It is really hard to tell how things would work out. I did see improvement in work within a term (3~4months) though. That was how quick the effect was. I would lean towards the artsy choice if both schools have proven track record of supporting 2E well. Else I would go with whichever has better support if I send.

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Personality characteristics probably don't matter in the long run.  Every personality comes with strengths and weaknesses, and those weaknesses can be met with compensatory skills.

 

He may require accommodations. Some of our friends like to keep the accommodations prepared, but not utilize them until it is clear that they are needed.  I haven't quite figured out what that point is...

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How do you weight up the mental health issues?  How do you decide if putting a laid back child into a intense environment will better prepare them for university and life by helping them develop skills to cope, or whether it will backfire and lead to stress and a lack of coping? (I have seen both outcomes, so how do you predict which might be the result? 

 

Note that my kids are much younger, so YMMV. To weigh those issues, I'd probably take my kid's opinion into consideration. If the kid wants to be there, it's probably more likely to have a positive outcome than if the kid doesn't want to be there.

 

I got to pick what secondary school I wanted to attend (secondary school started in 7th grade). That said, I hadn't been homeschooled and homeschooling wasn't an option in NL. Which doesn't mean you have to let your son decide - just wanted to point out that some people do let their kids decide at those ages - of course, some kids are more likely to make reasonable decisions than other kids.

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/snip

 

So here are some questions?

 

Can positive peer pressure help a kid achieve more academically?  So all kids are working in a room, so you work.  Or you see kids achieving so you want to up your game.  Or is a 2E kid likely to feel a sense of failure?

 

Can school help you develop more independence?  Having to track your own work, talk to the teachers, etc?  Or if a kid is not ready, can forcing executive function skills backfire and lead to frustration and a chaotic life?  (I've seen it so I know it can, but how do you judge?)

 

How do you weight up the mental health issues?

 

 How do you decide if putting a laid back child into a intense environment will better prepare them for university and life by helping them develop skills to cope, or whether it will backfire and lead to stress and a lack of coping? (I have seen both outcomes, so how do you predict which might be the result?  Both poor outcomes I have seen up close are from kids with learning disabilities, one being 2E)

 

How can you decide if sacrificing academic success is worth the possible gains in independence and gumption?   

 

\snip

 

 

 

wrt peer pressure- Depends on the personality of the student. My DD doesn't seem to be affected to a significant degree; positively or otherwise. She has changed many schools, some schools had high achievers across the board and some didn't. FWIW, she is doing better in a school with a fuzzy focus on academics. The academic focused schools were extremely rigid about flexibility and teachers would insist DD stays at the pace of the class. The current school, although not as academically strong, has far more accommodating teachers.

 

 

Yes. In our case, her B&M schooling has lead to immense independence. Primarily because *I* have taken a backseat, and her teachers have moved to centre stage. I think a good analogy would be learning to swim by jumping into the deep end of the pool. Although the learning curve is steep, IMO, children are more resilient than we give them credit for. It *will* be frustrating initially, as all life skill learning usually is; everything does settle down by the end of the first year.
 
Trial and error. For us, changing schools is always an option if the school environment isn't compatible with DD's personality. In fact, we are debating a move to a more relaxed school.
​wrt: Mental health issues…she was highly anxious as a baby. This has improved over the years, especially so after entering B/M school. Yet, anxiety and its related issues are always simmering in the background.
 
I don't know if one can predict anything with certainty when it comes to human beings.  ;) We went out on a limb and like all life choices, we have made mistakes (as parents), but *none* of them are *irreversible*.. We chose to make that sacrifice (academic vs social/emotional) 3 years ago; but we can always  (1) either change schools (2) homeschool; if we find her getting toooo relaxed or toooo competitive, iykwim.
 
Your (read: family) values and priorities will drive your decision making so YMMV.
 
 
 
ETA: DD's opinion/comfort has always been a factor in school choice. 

 

ETA 2: DD is a novelty seeker. School changes leave her unfazed. What works for her might not work for children prefer predictability and the comfort of the familiar. 

 

Edited by ebunny
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I find it amusing that I've got a lot of pro-school comments and no pro-homeschooling comments, given this is a homeschooling board and all.  :001_smile: You guys seem to be walking egg shells around me.  You must have read my 'I'm going to crack' thread. :tongue_smilie:  Argue with me. (but still be nice. ;) )

 

Perhaps this is the wrong place to post this, being the accelerated board and all, but I'm having trouble splitting between the learning challenges board and this one.  (there is a private social group I'm asking different questions on.)

 

I've asked ds directly tonight, and he doesn't really care too much.  Generally feels like homeschooling is good, but might want to go to school.  Basically, I could swing him either way without much effort.

 

 

Edited by lewelma
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I'm not attempting to persuade you into choosing B/M school!!!  :001_smile:  Just offering my experience and thoughts. Make of it what you will. I am pretty much neutral wrt a B/M school. On the fence regarding homeschooling too. (I guess my perspective is coloured by the country I live in? shrug)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hmm.  I can see a case for enrichment, based on the specifics.  E.g., use MCT just for the multi-level sentence analysis, and Killgallon to learn the patterns.  I wouldn't grade them - simply use them as tools.  They will probably be (and should be) challenging for him.

 

On your other point, home schooling is always going to be the path with the most flexibility to meet his needs.  But, there is clearly value in having the "school" experience that other kids have.  I would never mock either choice.

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I don't know much about dysgraphia or w/e your son has got. What are the plans to get him up to speed by the end of high school?

 

The academically advanced school will probably leave him too worn out to do much writing/typing therapy stuff. The other school might be fine. Homeschooling obviously will leave you with as much time to work on writing/typing as you want.

 

You've mentioned the possibility of your older son going abroad (Australia?) for university. You could consider doing that for your younger son, if it would give him better accommodations in college. That said, he probably should increase his writing/typing speed as most careers do require some amount of writing/typing.

 

FWIW, I think people didn't say much about the pros/cons of homeschooling because you probably already know the pros/cons.

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As someone who is 2e (identified in the PG range years ago) and has disabilities affecting writing, although not as severe as your son's, what I did through school was, basically, to use a lot of my strengths to balance those weaknesses. In my case, speed is less of an issue than fatigue, so typing, which takes less effort, is much easier than writing, but when I went through school it was hard to type anything but major assignments. Even using it on tests was an issue. It's not like now where I can carry an iPad in my purse. So, for example, I couldn't take notes-but had/have an excellent phonographic memory, which actually got me in trouble with one teacher, who had a tendency to start essay questions in exactly the same words he'd used in lecture (and who read his lectures)-and, for me, that's enough to trigger recall of not just ideas, but exact words, with the result that he assumed I HAD to be cheating, since, after all, I couldn't possibly have remembered everything word for word without even looking at him (for me, I remember better if I don't have conflicting information, like notes on the board, going in at the same time. So I often stare at an empty page, or at the wall, or close my eyes if I really need that information. If I needed to write, I did everything mentally and worked it out first, and then wrote the minimum.

 

I also didn't take the hardest classes in all subjects. Because I was so reliant on NOT writing, that meant that if it was a choice between an essay based class and one with all multiple choice tests, I was going to take the multiple choice tests. I had real difficulty in math because not only do I have difficulties in writing, but I have visual-spatial perception that scrapes the bottom of the barrel), and math simply is much more visual than auditory. The result was that even when I could figure it out mentally, I often couldn't get it on paper. This resulted in my being placed in a lower math track in high school than most of my peers (I was in a school-within a school math-science high school-a really BAD place to be a kid with specific LD's relating to math, but also the best placement overall). I think one reason why I gravitated so strongly to music, and, especially, baroque music, was that, as I didn't discover until grad school, I actually have extremely good mathematical reasoning skills, and music is just auditory math. But I was sure that I stank at math, that I was dumb, that I couldn't do it, and that I didn't really belong in the school I was in because I wasn't smart enough (it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that, statistically, I was probably the person with the highest IQ in the building. It was just that so much of my energies were spent on compensating that I couldn't fully show it). However, I tested quite well-I broke 1200 on the SAT and got a 29 ACT with no accommodations. Once I was given extra time and hand scoring of the test book, so I didn't have to transfer stuff from the book to the answer sheet, I ended up with a score over 1500 on the SAT and a 35 composite ACT. I was a very sad kid on the borderline of an eating disorder, who read every book on mental illness I could find and was convinced I was going to have a psychotic break.

 

I hated school and wanted out. In 20/20 hindsight, when my elementary GT teacher and the educational paychologist had suggested the Mary Baldwin PEG program, because it would be easier for me in college than in high school, they were right. I ended up doing a summer program at the college level that offered conditional acceptance to start college early for high performing students, and doing so. In college, it was easier to get accommodations, or to just make them myself. I lugged a portable computer around with me on a luggage cart, and learned to type notes-discovering that looking at a computer screen still let my internal audio recorder work pretty well. I found people to share notes and study with for math-the ideal study partner being a Blind student, because then I could use HER accommodations, which presented material in audio and tactile form. And I took the bare minimum math required-but still ended up with a score of 760 on the GRE math test.

 

In grad school, after I burned out on music, I switched to education, and was offered a graduate fellowship if I'd do a math Ed specialization, since my GRE math score was so high. I also had a reevaluation at this point, and for the first time, had someone tell me I wasn't poor at math, wasn't making careless errors, wasn't just not trying-that, actually, I was extremely capable given my degree of impairment. I'd never known that. I'd known about the physical stuff, but except for one high school math teacher who was dyslexic who had given me a few tricks to use, like graph paper and highlighting parts of the problem, no one had ever explained that, clinically, I had both physical and learning disabilities. I focused on mathematics remediation, and it ended up being very healing for me. All those manipulatives and the three stage structure made sense in ways that bypassed that poor visual-spatial processing, and I was able to use the skills and put them together. What's more, I understood the emotional side-how it was possible to truly be able to do something one day and not the next, how it was entirely possible to understand the whole thing in your head-until you saw it on paper and then have it fall apart, how the barrier could be getting it on paper. The world made sense, finally.

 

I guess what I'm saying is, whatever route you take, help your son to understand that the world makes sense. That he IS smart, is capable, that the barrier is in getting the stuff on paper, not in his mind. I'm sure there are a lot of other frustrating situations out there-but getting the message that you are not living up to your potential, not trying hard enough, not working hard enough when your brain and your body just don't let you show what's inside is pretty awful. Especially during adolescence.

 

Based on your options, for me, the arts school would have been a better fit. It would have valued my strengths more and my emphasized my weaknesses less. That's essentially what I got when I went to college as a music major. I expect homeschooling would have worked well for me as well-but possibly not with my parents, who are both on the STEM side themselves. The academic high school was essentially what I had-and was a nightmare.

 

I didn't really understand that I was gifted until after DD was born and I started down the path with her. My IQ had always been something to live up to-with no understanding that high IQ causes struggles in it's own way, and that 2e doesn't average out to normal. I think that's one reason why I jumped to homeschooling so readily.

 

I don't know if this helps at all.

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My son is 2E with dyslexia and ADHD.  He was homeschooled from grade 2 to halfway through grade 10 when we put him in a very small private school.  The school allowed him to have almost all of the accommodations that were listed in his evaluation report, most importantly double time for tests, which ended up being the only one he really used.  When he left the school halfway through 11th grade and dual enrolled at the CC, he was given the same set of accommodations and, again, only used the double time.

 

During our time homeschooling, there were several things that it seemed as though he absolutely could not do.  The first was to actually finish tests within a double time restriction.  He would take 4+ times longer than what you would expect a typical student to take.  I was seriously worried that he would never finish the SAT/ACT even with a double time accommodation (that I was pretty sure he wouldn't get).  I was also sure he would never be able to take notes or write a coherent paper.

 

The first thing that happened was that he was able to finish tests *much* faster.  In fact, he never once had trouble finishing in the allotted (double) time.  He still couldn't take notes and needed serious help to write a passable paper, but the test taking thing was huge.

 

While he was at the CC, he suddenly learned how to take notes.  At first he was just writing down what the instructor had written on the board, but I was thrilled with even that.  Eventually, he started putting other things in the notes as well.

 

He also took two writing courses at the CC.  He got As in both.  I read some of what he wrote for these courses, and I probably would have given him a C, but apparently his work was far superior to most of the other students in the class (he told me that the other kids that he could see around him were not getting As).  This experience boosted his confidence in his writing ability, and somewhere during his gap year after high school, his writing ability took off.  Last year, his freshman year in college, he did very well with all of his written assignments.  I read some of them, and they really were well done.

 

All of this is to say that I really believe that at some point, with some kids, the flexibility of a homeschooling environment stops serving them well.  

 

In our case, my son never learned to take tests in a timed environment because he didn't need to.  Whenever I tried to impose a time limit, he seemed as though he absolutely could not finish within it, so I would relent because I wanted the test to test what he knew, not how fast he could go.  

 

He never learned to take notes because he never needed to, and when I tried to get him to learn using Teaching Company lectures, I realized that those people go much faster than most college instructors would, because they're trying to jam everything in.  So he had to pause the video constantly to keep up, but the whole point of taking notes is to be able to do it in real time.  So, that was a bust.  

 

As for the inability to write coherent papers--I think that there were several things converging there.  The first was that I was asking him to write about things that were right at the edge of his ability to understand because all of our work in our homeschool was done at that level (to accommodate the gifted part of the 2E thing).  At the CC, they were writing about things that were easier for him--not all personal essay stuff, but it was never about difficult things he had just learned.  Another issue was that since I had no clue what sort of writing I should expect from a young teen, I was looking for perfection.  I didn't realize that what he was producing was actually not as bad as I thought.  It took someone who had seen a wide range of student work to give that perspective, and that had the added benefit of giving my son the confidence he needed to move ahead with his writing on his own.  I don't think he ever would have gotten that with me.  

 

So that was our experience.  One difference for us is that my son has been able to type well since he was about 12 or so.  That has been a huge help.

 

 

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The first thing that happened was that he was able to finish tests *much* faster. In fact, he never once had trouble finishing in the allotted (double) time.

...

All of this is to say that I really believe that at some point, with some kids, the flexibility of a homeschooling environment stops serving them well.

 

In our case, my son never learned to take tests in a timed environment because he didn't need to. Whenever I tried to impose a time limit, he seemed as though he absolutely could not finish within it, so I would relent because I wanted the test to test what he knew, not how fast he could go.

...

One difference for us is that my son has been able to type well since he was about 12 or so. That has been a huge help.

Test taking problem was what we had with DS10 until we outsourced test taking. Paying test fees was so worth it to get a much better idea of where he is at.

 

However this kid is also easily distracted. So a clinical test room works a lot better than doing the same test at home. So if I were to book a meeting room at the library and get a friend to give him a practice test, the scores would be lots higher.

 

Typing helped my DS11 a lot. He typed since 6 with four fingers. For him it was because his writing hand is not strong enough for the amount of writing so he had to stop whenever his hand hurts. It is worse for drafts because of rewriting the entire thing while editing on laptop is much easier.

 

ETA:

OP,

 

For my kids, hard consequences are what drive the message home. Like getting a bad grade because they were fooling around and then needing to redo the end of course exam or redo the course. They love testing boundaries and they prefer firm boundaries. The less leeway the less confusion for them. It is part age (I am still a kid), part defiance (but I am almost a teen) and part personality (too much grey is confusing).

Edited by Arcadia
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I'll think out loud for a moment...  Right now, it sounds like the biggest issue is output.  If he can't demonstrate output on paper, or output on paper is severely limited in volume for practical purposes (time/effort involved), then school does not seem a sensible alternative unless and until you can be sure that accommodations will be made.  Then there is the can of worms of what possible accommodations would solve or ameliorate the output problem, etc.  (And, on the home end, how to improve the typing, how to even begin to break down this "coding" problem which sounds like some sort of sequencing issue or naming issue or... interesting to think about from a brain perspective but it must be a huge pain for you all)

 

I'd have questions about the types of instruction at the two schools and the volume of work, is the volume doable, is the type of input/instruction and the type of work/output likely to be efficient learning methods for him, is it likely to prepare him for the types of work he would see at college in terms of learning to compensate.

 

I'd also compare technology use common at the two schools, with more technology being a better fit to the extent that it makes it easier for him to produce and turn in output.  

 

Last, if possible, I'd try to compare the types of peers and how they might fit your ds - maybe they are similar at the two schools or maybe not.  Is he more likely to find sympathetic peers at one of them or the other - either shared interests, or 2e.  If I had to choose peers with similar strengths or peers with similar weaknesses, I'd choose strengths, from a motivational standpoint.  (e.g. my dd is an art-lover but was surprised to find out how many of her fellow artists hate/struggle with/aren't interested in academically-rigorous math.  other ds13 gets impatient when he perceives all or most of the other kids are much further behind him; he will probably end up at the rigorous private high school even though we don't know about 2e ds13 yet.)

 

Example of a comparison between two schools for my 2e kiddo:  in January we moved our ds13s from the Montessori school they had attended for years to a STEM-focused school.  For writing instruction, the old school was much more open-ended and volume-oriented, with a philosophy of wanting to get the kids writing lots and lots, with refinement to come later, in 8th grade.  Writing for the old school was a challenge in that he never knew what to write even though he had interesting, big-picture ideas; he would sit before the blank page for hours with only a sentence or two written.

 

In contrast, the new school has a very specific, extremely rigid paragraph structure and essay structure (7th grade - not sure yet what will happen in older grades).  While I am still a little annoyed with the rigidity of the writing program at the new school, the rigid structure was a good thing for him - there was more guidance on topics and once he came up with even the most general idea for an argument, the structure required him to find the supporting points and quotes and after a little adjustment he didn't have as much trouble with this.  (He still procrastinated until late at night but had less trouble knowing what to write - knowing what the parts ought to be.)  Ultimately, he was getting better instruction at the new school, particularly in really understanding outlining, taking his jumble of thoughts and sequencing them.  They used various other writing tools sometimes, like webs and such, but ultimately ended up with an actual outline.  I am very certain that the change in writing instruction is great for him.  It is so much more explicit.  Plus, there is the enormous logistical bonus that all assignments are turned in online, even for math, which as we've discussed involved doing the work on the graphing calculator and then typing his final answer into the website kinda like alcumus.

 

For us, high school is a separate question from middle school due to the available options.  I may be unrealistic but my goal is to have him attend a more traditional, rigorous private high school - everything depends on what happens in the next 6 months and if we don't have improvement we will need to get an updated ed psych eval and possibly talk about time accommodations.  It was a ton of work on my end to get him to get his work done, though I did see improvement over the course of the semester at the new school and he ended with great grades.  (needing the grades to keep the private high school door open was a huge motivator for both of us.)  My thinking is that he'll need to be on his own for high school, however.  Next year, I feel like I should get a t-shirt, "I survived middle school with ds" or something.

Edited by wapiti
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I don't know the answer to your questions.  I can see it going either way--he could get very stressed, very behind, and feel horrible, or he could push forward, be excited to please others, and be a star performer.  I certainly think with his situation your caution is valid.

 

My only suggestion is that finding this out now is better than finding it out later.  I don't know about NZ, but in the US, kids get more stressed as high school goes on.  The stress in Junior/Senior years being the worst because of college applications.  So if you're going to try it, I'd try it as soon as possible to avoid the added stress kids are under in those years.

 

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How long do you have before you need to make this decision? I'm not sure how the NZ school calendar works. It sounds like you've always known this kid is smart but had a "thing" and have felt he wasn't working up to potential. Then you found out how big a deal his "thing" was and are trying to figure out how to best help him. Please keep in mind my complete lack of experience as a parent of older children, but it seems to me the decision might be easier after you've had some time to work with him now that you know about the encoding challenge. If working with him several more months lets you figure out what he will likely need as far as remediation/therapy as well as accommodations and helps you to determine where he's being a bit of a slacker (and thus might be pushed by peer pressure) and where he's hitting a wall, then I think you'll be able to look at the school choices from a more informed position. 

 

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I am inclined to think that university is four years. Four years. I would want to teach him accommodations that he can use NOW so that he'll be proficient in life and on the job. Universities might change their policies by the time he's there to offer more accommodations. He could study abroad someplace that allowed more accommodations. He might be able to limp by without accommodations for four years at uni, but probably only if in the meantime, he's had a chance to work to his potential and get that preparation for university (academically) under his belt with the least amount of stress possible. After university, he's going to work, and work is going to want him functional, not split hairs over whether or not he should type in a meeting or has to take notes by hand. 

 

Also, on a side note, have you considered a Livescribe pen? You can take minimal handwritten notes, but the pen can play audio back that accompanies those notes--audio of a lecture or audio that he could speak into the pen, I believe. Depending on the model, it can type the audio out for you. 

Edited by kbutton
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Another random thought: you could do a year 7b; do intensive writing & typing remediation and let him follow his interests the rest of the time, and maybe have him do a bunch of job shadows in a variety of fields. And then decide what to do about high school at this time next year.

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Wow guys, these stories and ideas are super helpful!  I don't know even where to start to answer all the questions.  So many insightful comments!  

 

Unfortunately, I can't respond to everyone now because I have to start the school day.  But I will keep all these points in mind as I work with him today.

 

Be back later....

 

 

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I'm following this thread with interest.

 

Questions for you to consider:

 

How does he do with other peer group situations? Do interactions with his age peers energize him? To what degree does he care about what others think? That might give you a clue about how he'll feel socially.

 

Does he rise to challenges or do they overwhelm him, cause him to be apathetic, or react negatively in some other way? How does he deal with frustration?

 

Does content motivate him? If so, homeschooling may be a better choice since the content in school won't likely be at his level.

 

Are there other options (co-ops, tutors, outside classes, etc?) that might give him and you a chance to see how it might work?

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We have homeschooled our 2E son 7th-9th grade, after public school K-6.

1) Every 2E kid is unique. Hard to make comparisons, and you know your kid best. Our son doesn't struggle with writing.

2) Keep your eye on the prize. What do you want for your child when he's 18? 22? 30? Worried (like us) that he will be unready for college in every area BUT academics? Gap years (extra year between high school grad and college entry) are more popular than ever, though reasons for it vary. We believe our son is CURRENTLY best being prepared for adulthood by US, not by a group of kids and adults who won't likely understand him. I know that's a strong opinion, and don't want to trigger a socialization/overprotection debate here.

3) For our son (who overcomes deficient executive function with his massive, agile brain), school would be a disaster right now for many reasons. He needs to be let loose on learning pace and complexity, and encouraged and helps with efficiency of completing tasks on his own. Classroom environment seems at odds with both of those.

4) There's never been a better time to homeschool a 2E highschooler, and, in my opinion, at least where we live, never been a worse time to have him in public (or private) school. I don't think he's sacrificing anything in academic quality. So many online resources available. I know these are not all free; but not all are expensive, and some ARE free. (Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware, etc.)

5) We used an English co-op for 7-8 grades. It was good for him. For 9th, a mix of self-directed textbook, self-directed online, and online paced work with accountability has been a win. I'll spare specifics to avoid endorsement and rabbit trail discussions. However, I did need to step into the mix in March and give him a day-to-day schedule to help reach his goal of school completion by May 27. He stayed on target with his paced online classes, but got behind on others.

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Can positive peer pressure help a kid achieve more academically?  So all kids are working in a room, so you work.  Or you see kids achieving so you want to up your game.  Or is a 2E kid likely to feel a sense of failure?

 

Can school help you develop more independence?  Having to track your own work, talk to the teachers, etc?  Or if a kid is not ready, can forcing executive function skills backfire and lead to frustration and a chaotic life?  (I've seen it so I know it can, but how do you judge?)

 

 

Just on my first cup of coffee for the morning, so not much to say only that we found putting our son (2e, including major problems with Executive Function) in school (admittedly boarding school, but talking about academics here) he fell way back, and couldn't cope. Positive peer pressure quickly became negative peer pressure, felt he was failing, so even less motivated to work hard. Rather than fostering independence he had exactly the frustration, chaos and feeling lost you mention. Of course your son is not my son, and he is older, but I do know that the positives are not automatic in this situation IYKWIM.

 

I feel for you - my son is turning 12, things are getting a bit difficult here both around academic expectations and generally coping with this kid. I often try to rationalise in my brain how school would be a better choice. In our case it really is not, but that is not to say it won't be for you. Have you asked either of the schools about flexi-schooling? The more artsy one might be open to it. Even if for the first few years to ease your son in to it?

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He has 5.5 years until graduation.  Here in NZ it would be no big deal to delay that by a year and have him go at just 19 (birthday in December for Feb start)

 

 

High school starts next Feb, so decision for him to start with the new cohort would need to be made by January.

 

8th and 9th grade here are EASY at the arts school with no testing to speak of. It is all about clubs and there is no homework. Very social, all about collaboration and building the desire to learn.  10th grade has exams but they don't count for university entrance.  11th and 12th grade count, but you could get away with only doing 12th grade exams if you want (my older is doing this).  

 

 

 

Edited by lewelma
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I am inclined to think that university is four years. Four years. I would want to teach him accommodations that he can use NOW so that he'll be proficient in life and on the job. Universities might change their policies by the time he's there to offer more accommodations. He could study abroad someplace that allowed more accommodations. He might be able to limp by without accommodations for four years at uni, but probably only if in the meantime, he's had a chance to work to his potential and get that preparation for university (academically) under his belt with the least amount of stress possible. After university, he's going to work, and work is going to want him functional, not split hairs over whether or not he should type in a meeting or has to take notes by hand.

Edited by lewelma
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I would not give up on working on typing yet. What I would look at is incorporating other tools into typing, like word prediction software, something for math, and just increasing efficiency and stamina. Typing takes so much less strength and energy than writing, and it's so important in communication right now. At his age, I'd also actively work on texting/typing on a phone for social reasons, and also because it's such a useful, portable tool. Really, a cell phone has made most of my official accommodations universal (except for that "not having to transfer answers to an answer sheet" thing, which eventually computer based testing will make universal.)

 

My personal goal, and the one that I encourage parents and have fought for on IEP meetings, is to give kids tools that will be available throughout their lives. The ability to type and to use the tools on a cell phone is a lifetime tool. Having someone scribe for you isn't-it's a stopgap to get through this season of your life. Don't drop working on a useful tool until it stops improving or is to the point that the utility is realized, because it will be there when the stopgap isn't. I have basically carried a digital device with me to aid in written communication since the late 1980's, and they've gradually gotten smaller and more socially acceptable and easier. The skills have transferred readily.

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Random thoughts:  how permanent or flexible is the decision on school - is it possible to homeschool for one or two more years and then go to one of the schools, or start at one and then homeschool, or start at one and then switch to the other one?  Or is this more of an all-or-nothing choice?

 

If he attends the art school, how hard would it be to see that he gets what he needs to continue developing his math talents?  You know more than just about anybody on that LOL.  If the art school would still be good enough for whatever university he might aim for, then that would make the most sense if the output volume is lower than the other (more rigorous?) school.  On the other hand, as I'm about to mention below, output volume can be... therapeutic if it's kept to a reasonable amount.  If the art school would be too boring, that might give me pause.

 

I would be really encouraged by the recent progress with the typing dictation.  Really, really encouraged!  Would it be possible to continue the typing dictation after school while attending school?  Maybe at the arts one since it has no homework yet?  Different kids will have developmental spurts at different ages but the next year or two seem especially ripe for more of that.

 

He may continue to improve throughout his life if he continues to practice writing via typing.  I saw a lot of progress in ds13's writing over the course of the past year, and in particular, his ability to spit it out in a somewhat better condition the first time around, which naturally is way more efficient.  His ideas are still a lot bigger and more mature than his awkward sentences suggest, but forward progress is all I can ask for.  And actual punctuation.  Things were different when I was growing up as we didn't type on computers until college and still not all that often, but when I oddly ended up writing for a living as a lawyer, the massive amount of writing (and reading) was literally therapeutic - I changed how I write, writing in a far more linear manner, and I was an adult!  I remember one summer in my late 20s in particular when my brain hurt, like I could feel the two sides of the brain making more connections, with the ideas on the right side and the sequencing for output on the left, theoretically.  (Since I haven't worked in 15 yrs, I have seen this skill slide back.  Thank goodness WTM forums allow editing).

 

All this to say, the small improvements he has shown recently should give you hope that much improvement is still possible for many years going forward.  I agree w/dmmetler that typing output is likely to be critical to his success later on.  I would not accept the current skill level as being forever - it is too early for such a determination.

 

(Total aside that has probably already occurred to you but it just crossed my mind - back in 8th grade when I learned to type, it was on an old-fashioned mechanical typewriter, the kind that you really had to strike the key to make it type.  Something sticks in the back of my mind about that motor activity as possibly having importance for a person with sensory motor stuff going on, kinda like the importance of practicing on a real piano vs a digital one, the motion is different, the sensory feedback is very different.  Just a random thought on a possible therapeutic angle...)  (and speaking of piano, am I remembering wrong or do your kids learn piano?)

Edited by wapiti
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(Total aside that has probably already occurred to you but it just crossed my mind - back in 8th grade when I learned to type, it was on an old-fashioned mechanical typewriter, the kind that you really had to strike the key to make it type. Something sticks in the back of my mind about that motor activity as possibly having importance for a person with sensory motor stuff going on, kinda like the importance of practicing on a real piano vs a digital one, the motion is different. Just a random thought on a possible therapeutic angle...)

Ooh! Good point! For many, many years I kept a stockpile of old IBM PC AT keyboards because I could type better on them. They had springs and took more force to make a key actually register, which was easier on me. I've gotten better on different devices with practice, but the keyboard can make a major difference.

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lewelma, what is your son good at?  Does he like cooking? or building things?  I'm just curious if there is a path for him in life that involves less writing and more of something he's good at.  Would you feel better if you knew that he would be gainfully employed if you focussed on that path?

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Another thought - it could be useful for you to separate out the skills you are working on in writing.  I know a number of people who have enjoyed using "Editor in Chief" books to have children learn about writing, and they don't have to write things out, they are editing.  http://www.criticalthinking.com/editor-in-chief.html  I have not used it, but have heard good things.

Edited by Incognito
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I think from various threads, I had not pieced together that you'd moved on to this particular strategy--if it's working that well, I think you should continue and see how far it takes you. Typing is the kind of life-long skill I'm thinking about--it's both an accommodation and a skill. It sounds like it's clicking in important and helpful ways.

 

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Ah sigh,  I just lost my post.  One more time....

 

Thanks everyone for all the comments.  Let me answer the questions:

 

Keyboard: he doesn't seem to care too much.  He uses a chromebook and likes it.  He has a special fountain pen which has a grip.  This forces him to hold it properly and not push down.  He can't really write with a ballpoint. 

 

School: The artsy school is artsy, it is not an Arts School.  So it runs the standard NZ curriculum and has all the subjects including math and science.  In fact, too bad ds is not into physics, because its physics club keeps winning all the national awards and travels internationally to compete. He is allowed to try it for any length of time he wants.  If it is just for a month, we don't have to reapply for the homeschool exemption.  After that, we do and it is a pain in the neck for a high schooler and would take about 60 hours probably.  But we could do it. 

 

 

 

As for a job.  DS is interested in leadership and teamwork.  He really likes what his dad does -- IT project manager.  There are jobs, they pay well, you get to work in a team.  So his focus in high school would be business studies and digital technology.  The NZ system is a lot like the UK system.  To graduate you need 4 exams at the high level (like AP sort of) and 2 courses at the low level (11th grade material).  So DS would probably do Business Studies, Digital Tech, English, and Math at the high level, and music and maybe a science at the low level.  All courses in NZ have a large writing component, including math.  So for Business studies in 11th grade, one of the assessments is to research a realistic business idea and write a 20 page business case for implementing it.  Really good stuff, but ds has to be able to write. 

 

As for the typing: I timed him yesterday just to check on progress given what people were saying on this thread.  And both of us were really pleased.  He still struggles to spell words like funny and little.  He will get them, and then there is just a brain hiccup and he forgets again.  Usually, he will just sound them out, but this takes time, so drops his typing speed, and makes it hard to remember what he was going to say, thus the dictaphone app. 

 

Ok, got to run and actually teach, Thanks for all the help!  Lots to think about and consider. 

Edited by lewelma
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I think from various threads, I had not pieced together that you'd moved on to this particular strategy--if it's working that well, I think you should continue and see how far it takes you. Typing is the kind of life-long skill I'm thinking about--it's both an accommodation and a skill. It sounds like it's clicking in important and helpful ways.

 

I've been thinking some more about the timing of all this.  I got the edu psych's report about 6 weeks ago.  Posted on the learning challenges board and someone there suggested typing dictation rather than handwritten dictation.  So I implemented that about 4 weeks ago, I think.  Right away I noticed that he could take in more instruction while typing.  So with handwriting, he would say "just tell me the punctuation."  He was unable to try, at all, to figure it out himself, and would get quite cross with me if I did not help him with every last detail. With typing, I can say 'what goes in the pause' (period, comma, or nothing) and 'why.'  And he is willing to work on it.  So I'm guessing that with handwriting out of the equation, I might be seeing a large increase in how language is put together because he can actually focus on it.  I timed him yesterday just for this thread, and he and I were quite pleased with the result. 

 

So basically this one small change may make a huge difference to him.  I say let's focus hard until November and see where we are at.  It might be his attitude about the rest of his work improves as the typing gets easier and with our new changes to be more 'school at home'.  

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I don't know what NZ's business studies encompass so I can't compare. My friends who went into business management had found taking Economics and Accounting at Cambridge A levels useful for college and later MBA. I had both subjects as compulsory college subjects in school of engineering.

 

Luckily there is a lot of people skills in project management and less physical writing. My ex-boss had his secretary help typed the reports, she knows shorthand :)

 

Link is to the A level syllabus for the two subjects as a FYI.

http://www.cie.org.uk/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-international-as-and-a-level-economics-9708/

 

http://www.cie.org.uk/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-international-as-and-a-level-accounting-9706/

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If the schools are in session right now, I suggest that you and he visit them and get a feeling for them at this time.

 

My guess would be that an all boys school might be a better fit than an artsy co-ed school unless he is very artsy himself. But visit(s) to the actual school(s) would be a big help, IMO.

 

I am also facing a decision about schooling next year for a 2E boy. In our case we have already agreed that my ds will go to our local public school and are down to what grade does he go into and what classes does he take decisions.

 

I sort of wish I had already put him into the school last year. It was not a very good year homeschooling even with excellent co-op classes and some other good things that happened. My frustration at having to fight with him to get him to do all the basics such as math really hurt the whole experience and was also not good for our relationship.  The hard parts of 2E plus moving into teen attitude and behavior was... well, I did not see your thread about crash or whatever you refer to, but let us just say that there is no way that I want to homeschool this ds next year. And he does not want to be homeschooled, so luckily it is unanimous.

 

I am looking forward to being able to just be mom, not main teacher. I think he thinks that I was too demanding and that he is going to find school super easy. I doubt that will be so, even just because of all the executive function demands, but who knows, maybe he will be right.

 

 

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Have you talked to a speech/language therapist about the encoding issues? I think I recall someone mentioning that a speech/language therapist helped with that, though you've have to find the right one... not one that specializes in articulation or w/e.

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One other thought to mention is that I've seen some kids "typing" with just their thumbs on little tablets more rapidly than on keyboards--and some of the little devices (iPads, Androids) suggest whole words to use which can be helpful sometimes.

 

Our local school offered, but ds did not want to do, that he could enroll for just the last month to see what it was like, get used to the kids, with little pressure. Maybe one or the other of your schools would offer that and you could have him try it out for a length of time that would not interfere with your homeschool designation. Though if they start at 8th and he isn't there yet, maybe that would not work.  Or maybe he could "shadow" at each for a week as a prospective for next year.

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I would be very very encouraged by the improvement in typing as well. I think you'll continue to see this improve (maybe not linearly as you suggested ;); and the improvement will probably be from internal motivation. I'm wondering if his physical writing might improve as he experiences greater success at combining all the language skills through typing. I'd suspect it might be a year or more behind, but I wouldn't give up on the writing speed. It's good that he's continuing to keep this up as you certainly don't want it to go backwards.

 

I suspect he would do well at the artsy school, and gentle peer pressure would improve his internal motivation. Certainly being around a wide variety of personalities and working with them in various group settings would be informative and helpful down the road if he continues down the career path you described. Plus, if he's already good at that stuff, it would be a nice time during his developmental years to feel good about something. I think you can continue to afterschool math and other topics of interest. You could then ideally be working on the 'fun part' of learning and the school could be working on the 'hard part' of improving his output.

 

That said, it's so hard to make these decisions when you don't know the outcomes ahead of time. I would try the artsy school, knowing that you can always bring him back to homeschooling at any time it sounds like. I also like the idea of him sitting in the classes for a couple of days (probably without Mom) to see what he thinks. I think it would be hard for him to evaluate without seeing it firsthand.

 

*hug*

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would talk to the principals and get a read on their attitudes. The principal at ds9's school for example is a well known anti-homeschooler who thinks homeschoolers are irresponsible parents who fail to teach properly then dump the resulting mess on the schools. This would be bad in your situation. Honestly i don't see it working based on personal and friend's experiences with NZ schools.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just came back to apologise for being so negative.

 

If anyone can make it work YOU can. You have the experience and skills to negotiate and keep on top of things.

 

Year 9 is a settling year and academically there is no harm in giving it a try if your son wants to.

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No worries.  I love having all sides argued so I can make an informed choice, and I think your comment was spot on and exactly what I was expecting from the schools actually.  Luckily, this past month has been the best by far we have ever had.  This is because we have implemented School-At-Home, with buzzers, and 4 minute change-classes breaks, and morning tea, and lunch.  And it is working!  His attitude is better than it has ever been.  He told me he needed structure, but I had no idea that what he really wanted was rigid structure.  :001_smile:   We have also switched to curriculum with defined daily goals so there is no arguing.  We started WWS which I thought he would hate because it was so controlled, but he *loves* it.  I have upped the level of work for math and science, but doing it together, and this has been a very positive outcome.  Overall, the changes I have made have been awesome. I think he just needed very explicit, objective goals with clear timelines. So much for my unschooler self.   :001_rolleyes:  If I can keep him and me happy at home, his educational outcomes will be far superior; but we must *both* be happy.

 

 
Edited by lewelma
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Sounds like a change for you both. My youngest seems to like worksheets at his own desk by himself where oldest likes direct instruction with plenty of discussion - education via YouTube is not really his thing

 

There are some princioals that like homeschoolers but I think to a lot it is a swipe at their profession. I know a lot of people who send their kids to school an 'leave it to the professionals' and it works for most but obviously not all.

 

Hope it keeps going well.

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