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First Timer, Excited/Nervous

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Whew, 2 weeks until we officially start! Until near the end of last school year, we had planned to homeschool DstepS11 and keep DstepD9 in the charter school... but stuff started looking up for him socially in the last couple months of school, and he ended up telling us he wanted to "see what middle school is like." OK by us, we hadn't bought any materials yet, and I don't see the point of homeschooling a kid who wants to be in school. THEN we got report cards... the charter school gives 2 grades per subject, an "effort" grade and a "mastery" grade. DD has perfect scores in the "effort" category... "mastery" is down at C-minus level, particularly for math and science. When we talked about it, she explained that she doesn't understand what's being taught, because math and science are the subjects being taught in Chinese for 3rd grade. (It's a Chinese immersion school.) As it turns out, she's struggling socially as well--her little group of girls has kicked her out. So, we bit the bullet and took her out of school! And received a 20-pound box of materials from Rainbow Resource yesterday, yay  :biggrinjester:


And... now the anxiety has set in. I'm really excited to get to spend so much time with DD, and she's a bright, happy kid who's a pleasure to be around and eager to learn. But man, people sure have opinions don't they? Her grandma (birth mother's mom, who still sees them regularly) apparently flat-out told her that homeschooling was a huge mistake, her school was really hard to get into in the first place, kids need a classroom, and she's going to fall behind because there's no way to measure her progress. Who the heck criticizes a family's parenting choices TO THE KIDS? I know that those opinions are BS, but they've made me nervous anyway because it's made me realize how closely I'm being watched. If it takes a while for DD to catch up in the areas she's lagging, it's now going to be considered my fault.  :(


And what about friends? I'm a little nervous about this specifically because this is a very sociable kid. There aren't any other HSers in the immediate neighborhood and until we get a second car, I won't be able to get her to HS groups during the daytime... enroll her in an evening activity, like community theater?  :confused: 


Just looking for some encouragement, commiseration, hugs, whatever... :D

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Congratulations on making this decision and welcome to the club!

This is my first year also and the anxious nervous excitement is universal. But box day was so exciting!

I absolutely would say something to her grandmother. If you question our choices, that's fine. But addressing it directly to the child is manipulative. Also, how does her birth mother feel (if she's still in the picture at all)? It would be easier to stand up to grandma if all 3 parents are on the same page. And remember, no one knows what's best for your kids better than the parents. Although plenty of people will offer unsolicited advice.


If it takes a while to catch up, it might be 'your fault.' But if your DD sails ahead and thrives, that will also be your fault!


I would definitely look for some activity for a sociable kid. Something once or twice a week in the evening should be just fine for now. Is she interested in theater? Or a book club at the library? Maybe craft classes on the weekend or a sport? Be careful not to overload yourself in the beginning, though. Find your rhythm and then start adding extras.


And these boards are great for encouragement on those what-the-heck-did-I-get-myself-into? days.


Welcome and enjoy the journey!



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1.  Yes, you are going to be scrutinized.  


2.  Yes, I agree with trying to talk to the grandmother and be pleasant but firm that the choice to homeschool topic is NOT to be discussed with the child.  I was wondering, though, if you might try talking to her directly about the reasons why you want to homeschool, and possibly show her some positive articles on homeschooling?


3.  Socialization suggestions:


  •  If your child is very social she may have a serious adjustment period to no longer being around peers daily.  She may need sort of a detox period.  Don't get defensive or hurt if she complains that she is lonely or bored.  It should pass, but definitely do everything that you can to help her find outlets for hanging out with other kids on a consistent basis.  
  • The beauty of homeschooling is that you can get academics done pretty quickly at that age and there shouldn't be homework to take up the evening so she theoretically will have MORE time for socialization, rather than less.  In school real interaction can be limited.  It does mean you will have to be more proactive in providing her those opportunities.
  • If there are local homeschool groups, even if you don't have a car, check them out.  They may have some great resources for you, possibly a library, a book club, some field trips/classes/play dates that you might be able to tap into.  (DD takes a drama class from a former homeschool mom who trained in theater.  The class is in the evenings because she teaches but it has given DD access to a lot of great kids and has really improved her ability to speak in public.)
  • Maybe ride the bus to wherever you need to go?
  • Check out the library offerings and any community classes/drama clubs/book clubs/robotics clubs/sewing clubs/art classes.  Write out several options and figure out what will work best for your situation.  
  • If she does have an opportunity to meet other homeschooled kids, consider inviting them to the park for a play date in a neutral location so everyone can get to know each other better.  
  • Are you a member of a church that might have social opportunities?


4.  Don't stress about her being "behind" in science at this age.  Find fun experiments to do, watch some fun documentaries and educational shows to expose her to vocabulary and concepts, read some biographies on scientists, etc.  Easy to make this interest led and still cover a lot of ground.


5.  Math.   This is where you definitely need to be proactive.  I encourage you to look on the amazing "relaxed math" thread linked below for some great ideas to liven up math.  You can use whatever you ordered as the spine but incorporate one or more of the resources on that thread to make math more meaningful/interesting/fun/exciting.  Get her engaged as you work to help her fill in gaps.  Don't make this all about drill and kill.




6.  Read to her quite a bit for exposure to vocabulary, grammar, concepts, etc.  Fiction and non-fiction.  A bit above her reading level.  If she needs to be moving while you read, read to her while she eats or plays with play dough or legos or draws or whatever.  Some kids retain better when they move and listen.  Cuddle with her if she is into that.  You might see about audio books on the side for her to listen to for fun (you can pre-select to make sure she has age appropriate selections) that she can select herself when she has down time and you are busy.


7.  Don't force the day to be the length of a standard school day.   Sometimes new homeschoolers think that since a regular school day lasts from say 8 - 3 that homeschooling must match that or they must not be covering as much ground.  Not even close, actually.  In a classroom setting there are a TON of things that take up time that you won't be dealing with at home (just for reference, most of my family are teachers, and I have also taught in a classroom setting).  Depending on where your child's strengths and weaknesses are, and what material you have chosen, at this age you could probably get through core material in a couple of hours or so.  Science and history can be rotated if that makes your life and scheduling easier.


8.  Keep her physically active.  Maybe martial arts or swimming or dance.  There are some fun exercise/diet/yoga programs for kids that might be enjoyable for you both to do at home as well.


9.  Work on life skills in a fun way.  Maybe do an apprenticeship where you "train" her for a chore that may be a bit challenging.  Do it while she watches (talk her through what you are doing and maybe play some fun music in the background), then do it with her, then let her do it with you watching and encouraging, etc.  Talk her through why you have things done a certain way.  Is it necessary for safety reasons or a personal preference or...?  Be very encouraging and very specific in your praise.  Don't nit pick.  Focus on what she is doing well or at least improving in.  Give her plenty of practice while you are there to help her, and if it takes days or weeks for her to master the chore, no biggie.  Give her that time.  Encourage her to ask questions if she isn't certain of something.  (I have found that often my own kids were negative towards certain chores that seemed simple to me because they actually DIDN'T seem simple to them and they were afraid they would fail.)  Celebrate with her when she can do it all on her own and tell her she has now attained Journeyman status.  Maybe print out a certificate.  Put that chore in a rotation with other things she can do.


10.  Mainly, while people will be looking over your shoulder, remember that she is a child and she needs love, and time to play (kids are hard wired to learn through play) and lots of positive learning experiences.  


Good luck and best wishes.  :)

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Wow, thanks for the lovely detailed responses! These will be super helpful as I start to work out how to "actually do" this homeschooling thing  :laugh:


Unfortunately the kids' bio-mom is not safe for them to be with. She has no custody rights, isn't involved in the educational decisions at all, and is actively hostile toward DH and me. It would be way easier if there could be a united front on this and many other issues, but there simply isn't. Her family members (including Grandma) don't speak to me directly. They make plans to see the kids thru DH, who is a veteran battle-chooser and feels it isn't worth making a fuss about this particular issue with Grandma. I'll ask him if he would mind telling her something along the lines of what lanalouwho suggested, though. It sure would be nice not to be undermined by the ex-wife's in-laws.


I love the "life skills apprenticeship" idea. Maybe I'll train her to take over the meal planning  :lol:

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