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Gobblygook

WWYD: 8th grader in PS and negative influences

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Our oldest son was homeschooled for 4th grade onward, until he asked to go back to public school in October for social reasons. The plan had been for him to go back to school, either public or private, in 9th grade. 

I’d hoped that being in school would help him strengthen some executive functioning skills that are harder to teach at home. He’s still struggling with some of that but his grades are overall good - As and a few Bs. The academics are just OK - there is so much wasted time and a lot of apathy on the part of most students. My main issue is the negative social influences. DS has gotten into trouble at home on three occasions now for using social media in inappropriate ways that violate our family values — and for lying to us and encouraging bullying behavior of his friends. These are things he admits he would not have done as a homeschooler. We’ve taken his devices indefinitely. The next step will be to take away extracurricular activities and possibly take him out of school altogether. 

He is adamant that he does not want to be homeschooled again. He is somewhat open to transferring to a small, Christian K-8 school that feeds into the high school he will attend - but does that even make sense with only half the year left? Or should we just stick it out with the ps with restrictions on privileges?

Edited by Gobblygook

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Middle school years are hard.  You want to protect them from bad choices, but now is the time to let him make the bad choices in a controlled setting. 
I would not remove him from school or make him change schools with half a year left.  For one, the Christian school may not be better.  Just because a school teaches ideals doesn't mean the students follow them, kwim?  And two, it doesn't address the underlying problem of teaching your son to be responsible for his actions and learning how to make good decisions when he feels pressured.
We kept social media access to an absolute minimum when our oldest was in middle school: only wi-fi enabled devices (cell was talk/text only), no devices in his bedroom, computer in the main room of the house.  And..........he still made bad choices.  Our job at that point was to come in, hold him accountable, and create new structure.  And, to start asking him questions to keep him on the right path: "what are your goals today?" "how are you going to accomplish those?" Things to keep him thinking about where he wanted to be, not where he was.

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Reframe the restrictions to 'when you have grown personally' you may have 'privilege x, y, z'...which will include phone use and driver's ed.  He'll keep pushing boundaries, but holding steady and explaining rationally helps him internalize the whys and move towards being the kind of person that takes personal responsibility for his actions.   If he doesn't have a job or some responsibility via his ecs where he can learn to lead by using his powers for good, he needs one. I would only remove ecs that are preventing him from developing personally due to poor adult leadership or ones where he is choosing to violate the code of conduct.  

With just a semester of grade 8 left, no need to transfer.  High school for us became easier as the apathetic and those sneering at the achievers  realized that there is no longer any social promotion and they have to pass each class. Still, the ever present 'why be a fool and work for an A, you only need a pass' persists. Do some planning now for post-high school so that he can see the path to get there involves achieving.

Edited by HeighHo
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I would likely keep him in school and really start some character building discussions with bible studies about how we are the company we keep, etc... Seems like you are already there.

As for the phone, I use the FamilyTime app and we use Google's Family Link to restrict and monitor a lot of things. Some parents feel this is snooping, but I feel that it is parenting. My kids know the apps are there and are monitoring. It is no different than my monitoring their behavior in real life. I call this virtual parenting. As they get older, I can gradually release the restrictions. FamilyTime (among other things) allows you to decide who can and cannot contact your child and you can monitor every text. We use FamilyLink to block access to settings so that they cannot disable any of our monitoring apps ... though these apps will send a message if they have been disabled.

After seeing some of the things that my ds was able to get into through his phone, I considered myself negligent for giving him the cellphone with no oversight. Even with wifi-only, kids are able to meet people through game apps like chess and checkers. They can chat through those games and exchange personal information and you'd never know it as long as it stays within the game. If anyone knows how to disable this feature, let me know...until then, I only allow download of games that do not have this feature.

I didn't take the phone because I feel - in this day in age - learning to be responsible with technology is a required skill that I would like to gradually develop as they age.

Sorry --- went off topic.

Edited by RenaInTexas

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I think I would pull him from social media, but not necessarily from public school.  I would be looking to maximize his academic progress, opportunities, and achievement, if what he is currently being offered is "just okay."  It's kind of a shame that the teen years are exactly when kids sometimes want to leave homeschooling for social reasons, but also when it's time to start focusing more on an academic path to college.

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He's been in school less than 4 months and you've seen direct consequences of negative social influence, an apathetic academic environment, wasted time, and continuing struggles in areas you'd hoped would improve.  I would pull him without question.  In our home, children have some choices with their studies but they do not decide where they will attend school.  Pull him and try to salvage the year.  Are you against homeschooling high school?  If so, use this time to find a better option for 9th grade.  Just my two cents.  

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