Jump to content


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


Recommended Posts

There are some princioals that like homeschoolers but I think to a lot it is a swipe at their profession.



That's a shame.   I understand why they might feel that way, but sometimes it really does make their lives easier not to have to deal with the outliers.  Especially if the school is on a tight budget.    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.


I am struggling with this same issue for my rising seventh grader right now.


Public school giveth and public school taketh away. If you put him in, my advice is to have a very clear idea of what you want him to gain and how you will be able to tell if he is gaining it or not. Try to have a measurable goal and a time frame. Seriously!!!


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.


I would go with the artsy school since being 2E makes your son more "individual" than most. But I would also talk them first to see to see which of them can be more flexible with regards to accommodations and go with that one. 


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?


Yes and no. Peer pressure helped my sons follow directions and do the work that was required of them in class. That evaporated once they came home and homework was always a battle. On occasion, when my sons' EF issues cropped up in class and they were unable to do the work, they experienced stress and alienation. Luckily, this was in elementary school and the teachers noticed the problems.  In middle school, I think the kids have less of a sense of how well others are doing due to changing classes., but also that teachers are less likely to notice if a problem is subtle. On the other hand, I've seen kids get really excited about mastering the "system" of middle school and take off academically. 


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?)


Yes, absolutely! But you know the saying, "You can lead a horse to water..." It is up to the child. The environment will encourage organization and self-advocacy; it will give the child tools and teach what the expectations are. That doesn't mean the kids actually approach the teachers, organize their backpacks or use their planners. If the kid isn't ready, it doesn't happen.  It helps if the teacher posts assignments online; a lot of them do now. Then at least you can monitor whether work is getting completed from home. This can lead to frustration, but the biggest issue I've seen is that it's a lot more work for the parent when they have to manage the backpack, homework, etc. at an age when kids are expected to be more independent. Of course, you haven't said that your son has EF issues, so it may be just fine!


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)


It's so hard to tell. I try to talk to the teachers and administrators as much as I can to get a feel for the school, (it's never enough info, but it's something) then go with my gut instinct. If he struggles, will he fall through the cracks or will someone there go to bat for him? Willingness of the staff to accommodate differences is HUGE, and imo, should be a priority. Overall though, I would not put a laid back child into an intense environment. I would look for a school that meets him where he is right now. 


Regarding mental health, I kept a sharp eye on my oldest. He is always exhausted by ps--definitely a major trade off for us. So I would gauge when he came home: is he tired but relaxed? Or is he edgy and irritable? Does he want to go every morning? Or is it getting harder and harder to get him there? Is he having positive interactions with other kids? If he complains to a teacher, is the problem addressed? Is he being challenged? Does the work feel meaningful to him, or pointless? 


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


Still struggling with this one. I know it is a trade off I will be making. I never assume that my kids will learn anything at all in ps, which unfortunately has been mostly true. Which choice will prepare him better for adulthood right now? 


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


Ruth in NZ


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I,m reluctant to answer you because I was dealing with less giftedness and less disabilities, but I am going to anyway because I remember SO clearly agonizing over what you are facing - would school help or hurt? Challenge and encourage independence? Or overwhelm and encourage giving up? Or not challenge enough and encourage laziness? It was really difficult to predict. I still don,t know if we did the right thing. With three children, we chose school for one and no school for the other two. None of them was successful at college until they were older. At least three years older. Writing and executive skills were very slow to develop in all three. At least three years slow. My youngest is 22 now and I STILL don,t know if school would have speeded up the process for the younger two, or whether it delayed the process for oldest. I can say that non-academically, school was a disaster for oldest and staying home worked out great for the younger two. I worried myself sick over them all, especially over study skills, organization, and output. If I had been a better teacher, would they have picked it up quicker? Would they have been more motivated with a good peer group? I still don,t know. If I could do it again, with the greater knowledge I have now about teaching and with the knowledge that my children are late bloomers in the output department, I would keep all three home. They still might not have taken off academically until three to five years later than their peers. My husband and I were late bloomers, despite public a school. So. There might not really be a right answer. It might remain a tradeoff. Personally, I would trade emotional health for academic health any day. Sacrificing emotional health is a really bad idea. (I don,t mean just struggling with a healthy amount of stress, failure, and challenge. You need some of that to make you grow and develop strength, i think.)


Good luck!



ETA i should add that we didn,t really make the decision to send them to school or keep them home. They made that decision for themselves for high school (a few years older than your son). I was relieved in middle one,s case. He is the one who is wired the most differently, the most 2E, and by 9th grade he had found a good way of learning about the world, one which going to school would end. It seemed like a bad idea to exchange that for school, which might teach him academic skills but nothing else. At least, some of the time it seemed like a bad idea. As he got older, I questioned that more and more.

Edited by Nan in Mass
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, it seems as if I never get enough time to post.... but have some ideas on the questions you posed, lewelma ...


Is DS someone who watches other people and learns from their behaviour? Does he respond quickly to properly modelled behaviour, or do you have to really work at providing many examples over a long period for him? 


IMO for peer pressure to make a gifted kid work harder you need 2 things: a high-functioning peer group, which you can't guarantee outside a gifted program, and you need your child to be the kind who learns from/analyzes other people's behaviours. 

My youngest can memorize the way people speak and can connect with them easily by adopting their speech patterns... that is a (strange) example... he never gets ready to leave the house until I have my shoes on.... he can sense which way the wind is blowing before others and can predict which sport will be the next hit in the schoolyard. To me, these show how he watches others, predicts their behaviours and it is important to him to learn from them. Luckily, he is not easily drawn in to kids behaving badly.

BTW, neither of my kids developed 'gumption' at school.. one was born with it, and with the other we continually encourage it.


Does he often mimic other people when they are behaving badly? 

At school my kids are sitting next to the kid who throws chairs when he's having a bad day, or next to the kid who plays adult slasher video games all night and obsessively talking about it. I haven't had issues with this, but many kids are fascinated by, and adopt the bad behaviours from classmates.


The worst eg. of bad behaviour was last year when the health teacher explained to my son's class that pot is not a harmful drug, is about to be made legal and the only reason people make a big deal about it is because it is a gateway drug. Luckily, my son asked me about this lesson, only because we've talked about harmful drug use in the past (after numerous politicians here were in the news.) He already had the value system ingrained and knew the teacher had got something wrong. Guess how many other kids mentioned this to their parents? I asked... only one other kid did but the parent didn't quite understand what the kid was saying, so never followed up.


If you have an older child who has a very good sense of self, this isn't an issue.


Are you willing to put the time into someone else's flawed system?

I didn't go to the principal about the pot-head health teacher because there are so many problems in the public system that you have to carefully choose your battles. You have limited kicks at the can, and you'll need them to advocate for a gifted kid AND a kid with LD's. Schools here claim they acknowledge 2E, but in truth you get to choose only one exceptionality to work on.

If I can't sort out something with the teacher, I have to let it go, or give up my high-level asks, like enforcement of Individual Education Plans, or funding for STEM clubs, or choice of school for congregated gifted class, or a say in next year's teacher.


I spend countless hours a week monitoring homework, coaching kids on self-advocating for their exceptionality, providing enrichment opportunities at home and volunteering so they happen at school. It's exhausting (and ticks me off!) that I'm the one making the system appropriate for my gifted kids.


Would he respect a teacher and their power regardless of their approach?

At school, my DS will respect a teacher if they are fair (in a reasonable adult way), polite and hard working. If they are not, he loses all respect for them (and is no longer inspired), but (thank god!!) still follows school rules and does his homework. (Obviously with less attention on those bad years.) He is very stressed those years, and requires help dealing with it, but has learned how to self-advocate in a very positive way... BTW did NOT learn that at school, was taught by us. So even on years where the teacher wasn't good, he could work around them to some extent. 


I spent JK-Gr.3 teaching him how to politely tell a teacher where to go (and to offer his alternative solution) when told, for eg. to do a report on a book 4 years below his level. He gets straight E's now in all 6 work skills but I think it is only because it isn't as offensive to have a grade 4 talk to you that way than a SK kid. 


My DD in grade 8 was STILL working on this issue this year at a new school, despite (after knowing her only 6 months) the teachers described her as being "the most capable self-advocate we've ever had". I managed to bite back the comeback that she has no other option but to constantly negotiate and advocate. Still have tons of issues related to giftedness at school (eg. teachers who react antagonistically to all gifted children, abuse of power with teachers getting gifted kids to do their paid work, abuse by kids who are doing badly in school and need someone to blame, the stress from extreme boredom -yes, that's a thing...) I guess by being in school she's had to get us to coach her how to get around all these roadblocks. She can now do it effectively with poise and grace. There have been some really good years, and the odd amazing teacher too. But that is what public school is to gifted kids most days. One endless roadblock to learning...  I can never decide whether I put them on the right path.


  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Change some details, and Pinewarbler's entire post also applies to special needs moms. 


 It's exhausting (and ticks me off!) that I'm the one making the system appropriate for my gifted kids.


I can't agree with this enough. I am thinking of returning my son to ps this year and the amount of time I will have to spend monitoring, coaching, remediating, advocating, and volunteering in order for it to work is making my heart sink. 


 Everything else mentioned is germane as well, but that particular quote struck a chord with me.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...