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VioletBeauregard

What public schools do/what parents must always do

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This might be better for the Afterschool board, but I am not (yet) an afterschooler.

One of the complaints parents have about pubic schooling is that it comes with so much homework.  That's one reason some parents choose to homeschool;  if they are going to teach, they'd rather do it at 9:00 AM then while they're rushing to make dinner (or after).

We're having a homeschool "moment" -- a long moment in which it seems as though homeschooling is not going that well.  As I turn to the possibility of public schooling, I am wondering if I am turning to a solution or simply to a new set of difficulties.  Could I use help?  Yes, I could use someone dedicating a good portion of her time educating my child;  I'm having a rough time doing it right now.  However, when I think of the specific problems I am having:  a child who will quietly (or not so quietly) goof around instead of doing her work, a child who pretends not to know things so she doesn't have to move ahead, etc., I wonder if public schools really have good solutions for these things.  Do they?  If a child quietly sits pretending not to know what a ones column is, does the teacher detect this and provide a solution?  If so, is the solution to send a note home to me?  (This would be fair enough, but it puts me back exactly where I am, so I'd might as well stay here if that's the case.)

I've often wondered, too, how in the world teachers monitor handwriting in anything other than general terms -- e.g., overall neatness.  If a child starts her nines at the bottom, and the handwriting curriculum says to start them elsewhere, would the teacher even notice?  I don't think I would, with twenty students.  That's probably still coming home to me, right?

I guess my general question is what burden, exactly, public schooling lifts off of the parent.

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I had those exact questions for my oldest. And I came t to the conclusion that I’d be trading one set of problems for another. So we muddled through. 

And then she was old enough for virtual school and I enrolled her and she blossomed. I was not a hands off virtual school mom but it took just enough of the day to day grind off of me so that I could focus on the two or three things that she needed.

and gave us both a break from the intensity of her personality that caused conflicts

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It really depends on your public school district. Each district has different needs and different strengths/weaknesses.  My district is about social/emotional...very easy to get a mental health appointment on campus, very easy to have psych support groups  and OT/PT.  But....the academics aren' t there.  Parents are on their own for math, reading, penmanship, tech, and music instruction as what is offered is either two years behind grade level or nonexistent. Most transfers are happy..it has a playground, and they can come after school and use it.  There is remedial, so they don't have to hold back their child, he can stay in the same grade he started in.  Most people who aren't transfers are afterschooling for academics or they moved to a district, private school or home school where on grade level is offered.  

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2 hours ago, VioletBeauregard said:

  However, when I think of the specific problems I am having:  a child who will quietly (or not so quietly) goof around instead of doing her work, a child who pretends not to know things so she doesn't have to move ahead, etc., I wonder if public schools really have good solutions for these things. ...  If a child quietly sits pretending not to know what a ones column is, does the teacher detect this and provide a solution?  

I've often wondered, too, how in the world teachers monitor handwriting in anything other than general terms -- e.g., overall neatness.  If a child starts her nines at the bottom, and the handwriting curriculum says to start them elsewhere, would the teacher even notice?  

I guess my general question is what burden, exactly, public schooling lifts off of the parent.

 

It depends on the teacher and the child. Both my kids goof around but the teachers did one to one testing with them three times a year for elementary school as they ran on a trimester system. Their teachers know where they are actually at academically and knows how to call their bluff 🤣

As for handwriting, the teacher does walk around a lot in kindergarten and can monitor handwriting in not only language arts worksheets, but also in math worksheets. The teachers can monitor on any written work, not just the handwriting workbook/worksheets. It really is up to the teacher how much monitoring is done, some teachers are also more observant. A teacher next door to my kid’s classroom is generally a slacker but she is very observant and tells me lots of stuff about my kid because she observed him during combined class activities and during recess. 

My kids thrive on peer pressure so public school provided that as well as free babysitting (I need me time else my health suffers drastically). When homeschooling, we end up paying for brick and mortar outsourced classes to provide peer pressure and babysitting.

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It's probably a little help and a bit of a trade off. It really depends and may vary from year to year.

The peer pressure/herd mentality thing is real--my older son would've largely been un-schoolable if he'd not gone to school for K-2, lol! 

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Answering as a public school parent (although I teach special ed, which is a little different, and right now I'm on leave) and a parent who sends 2 of my 3 kids to school (although Catholic, which is again, a little different).  

Teachers have lots of strategies for these things.  The best teachers definitely have their finger on the pulse of what's going on.  They might start a math block with a mini lesson where kids are writing answers on white boards, so they're easy to see from the front of the room.   They're noticing, who is getting it all the time? Who didn't get it at first and does by the end? Who still doesn't get it?  When they dismiss the group to work at their desks, the kids who didn't get it by the end are the ones called to a table in the front, and work together with her (today, tomorrow, she'll pull the kids who need to be stretched, or some other group, so there's no stigma).  After she's retaught them, she's made a note that Johnny still didn't get it, and she'll start planning for him.  It's an ongoing cycle of assessment, and response.  

Now, those are the best teachers.  Other teachers might not do it so perfectly, but generally they should have a plan for ongoing assessment and intervention.  

As far as noticing something like the 9's.  It depends.  In Kindergarten, they'll be watching every kid write at some time.  Later, if kids are turning in things with wobbly letters and numbers, or they're complaining their hand hurts, or they're slower than the group, a teacher will notice and check it out.  If a kid has figure out how to write fluently and neatly from the bottom up, then it might fly under the radar.  

Now, is it perfect?  No.  Is there too much homework in public school?  Often.  But there are systems and they do work a lot of the time for a lot of kids.  

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Guys, this has been enormously helpful.  Thank you.  I'm still really hoping to get homeschooling right, but it does sound like some teachers are able to offer solutions that would seem too difficult for me to offer on a 1 to 20 basis.

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Though it was for completely different reasons than what you are dealing with right now, my older kids went to public school after being homeschooled for most of their elementary/middleschool years. To me, it really was just a six of one, half dozen of another situation when it came to homeschooling problems vs. public school problems. It wasn't any easier or harder, it was just different.

I went to a Spalding school when I was a kid and even as late as 4th grade I can remember being graded and watched on how I formed my letters and numbers. But in the middle school grades, they relaxed a lot on the Spalding instruction (K-8 elementary school but by 7th grade we did do Spalding in class anymore) I remember anytime I was bored in class or just killing time, I would experiment with different handwriting styles and try to mimic other's handwriting that I admired. I still can write using perfect strokes as described in WRTR but my regular daily handwriting is very legible but not perfectly formed every time.

With my own kids, I teach them the proper way to form letters and numbers in K and first grade and insist on them doing it correctly. That's part of why the younger grades are so teacher intensive, you are instilling good habits and that takes time and consistent practice. I teach cursive in third grade if I didn't teach the child cursive first. But I don't force them to use cursive if they don't want to. If they can write in cursive and can read cursive, that's enough for me. I start letting them decide around 3rd/4th grade as long as they can write neatly and legibly, how they want to perfect their handwriting. Now if their handwriting gets illegible, I will remind them and make them practice the "right way" but if I can't tell by looking how they formed the letter or it is acceptably neat even if they didn't form the letter "the right way" I let it go after 3rd grade. It's just not a hill to die on for me as long as their writing is legible and I'm not willing to nag them over it. That's just my experience, FWIW.

All my kids have gone through a phase or 3 of feigning forgetfulness to get out of doing work. First I assess why they are trying to get out of the work. Are they overtired? Over excited? Stressed? Anxious? Basically, is there some outside reason they are not wanting to do their work? If the answer to any of those is yes, then we might go back and do a review lesson and not new work or pull out a game to play for that subject instead of a lesson or if it is something that is really affecting them adversely, we might call it a mental healthy day and not do any more school at all.

If I can rule out all of those outside factors as not being the reason, I take a look at the lesson itself and reassess whether or not they are really ready for the material. Even gifted kids hit road blocks and sometimes we just need to wait and practice skills they already have until their brains are ready to move on and there is nothing wrong with that but I found in my kids that feigning forgetfulness was sometimes a sign that the material was moving too fast and we needed to slow down a bit and let their brain catch up. Conversely, sometimes the opposite was true, they were bored to tears and didn't know how to tell me that they understood the concept and just wanted to move on. In that case, I assign a few problems and tell them if they can execute it perfectly without my help then we can skip ahead in the lessons. Or we trade roles and I have them teach me the lesson. If they can explain it to me (and I purposely make mistakes for them to correct me on) then they obviously know it and we can move on.

If none of the above seems to be the problem, we have a talk about our roles and how we have to work together. I don't want to make them do things they don't want to do but I have a responsibility to teach them the things they need to know and they have the responsibility to learn them. Being difficult with each other just makes people irritable and an unpleasant experience for everyone. We decide together what needs to be done and what are appropriate consequences for being willfully difficult and not doing your work. This is not to say all my kids were obedient little angels that realized they were in the wrong and apologized and promised to work harder, far from it. But things did tend to go more smoothly when they felt listened to and their wants and needs were taken into account.

Homeschooling is hard. Period. Spending all day with your children at home, where they are most comfortable and feel safe acting out their feelings is physically and emotionally draining. But at the end of the day, even on bad days, I still feel like I am giving them the best possible chance to be successful adults by homeschooling them, so I put my big girl panties on each morning and keep on trudging through each day.

 

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On 8/20/2019 at 8:20 AM, VioletBeauregard said:

This might be better for the Afterschool board, but I am not (yet) an afterschooler.

One of the complaints parents have about pubic schooling is that it comes with so much homework.  That's one reason some parents choose to homeschool;  if they are going to teach, they'd rather do it at 9:00 AM then while they're rushing to make dinner (or after).

We're having a homeschool "moment" -- a long moment in which it seems as though homeschooling is not going that well.  As I turn to the possibility of public schooling, I am wondering if I am turning to a solution or simply to a new set of difficulties.  Could I use help?  Yes, I could use someone dedicating a good portion of her time educating my child;  I'm having a rough time doing it right now.  However, when I think of the specific problems I am having:  a child who will quietly (or not so quietly) goof around instead of doing her work, a child who pretends not to know things so she doesn't have to move ahead, etc., I wonder if public schools really have good solutions for these things.  Do they?  If a child quietly sits pretending not to know what a ones column is, does the teacher detect this and provide a solution?  If so, is the solution to send a note home to me?  (This would be fair enough, but it puts me back exactly where I am, so I'd might as well stay here if that's the case.)

I've often wondered, too, how in the world teachers monitor handwriting in anything other than general terms -- e.g., overall neatness.  If a child starts her nines at the bottom, and the handwriting curriculum says to start them elsewhere, would the teacher even notice?  I don't think I would, with twenty students.  That's probably still coming home to me, right?

I guess my general question is what burden, exactly, public schooling lifts off of the parent.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a classroom this small!

As to other issues of motivation, sometimes kids work better for others.  My kids do 🙄. However, don’t completely eliminate the possibility the student actually does not remember the thing you’re asking about.  Kids don’t always know how to express their struggles and sometimes, out of uncertainty or embarrassment, it comes across as silly.  Best wishes!

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I can only say my kids held their pencils correctly at 5 (at 3 for ds10) but by 7 after 2 years at school their grip had been destroyed and I still haven't managed to correct it.

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My experience has been that you are on your own for handwriting. My oldest graduated ps, and for a very long time, he held his pencil very weirdly until it was pointed out. His cursive writing looks like a 5th grader's, although he has practiced his signature so that looks a bit nicer.

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I believe that being with peers who are generally progressing is an incentive to progress - or at least it reduces the tendency to question whether or not they want to progress.

When they are not doing it "for you" (in their mind) they are less likely to rebel in that particular way.  Then they will rebel in other ways, LOL, but hopefully not ways that have lifelong impact.

As for handwriting - I honestly wonder why anyone cares how kids form letters any more.  They are going to type most of everything eventually.  I write my 9s different from most people.  My kids write their letters differently.  The schools after grade 2 or 3 really do not bother with it at all.  And I'm glad they don't.  (I might have bad memories from having to "do over" so many papers due to handwriting as a kid.

In general, if there is something you have a serious problem with them learning or not learning, and the school will not change for you, then yes, you will have to work on it at home.  But pick your battles.

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You can send your child to school and do the minimum, and the teachers cannot pick up the slack, but grades won't really suffer for it until high school or college. Like, handwriting can simply be awful. Grammar can be lacking and math can be lacking. Your child can even get through high school not knowing basic math facts or even reading a chapter book or really knowing much about anything. The teachers cannot and will not monitor this. If the parent values the education, the parent will add in a lot on their own time. 

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On 8/20/2019 at 8:15 PM, sweet2ndchance said:

In that case, I assign a few problems and tell them if they can execute it perfectly without my help then we can skip ahead in the lessons. Or we trade roles and I have them teach me the lesson. If they can explain it to me (and I purposely make mistakes for them to correct me on) then they obviously know it and we can move on.

 

What a great idea...I think these two tactics could help me immensely in dealing with my sometimes obstinate 7-year-old. Thank you for putting that out there. I think your kids are very fortunate to have a mom who takes the time to listen and deal with their feelings and not just their counterproductive behavior. I know intellectually that is almost always the right way, but while homeschooling I often react out of this sense of pressure to get things done/keep the lesson going, and it's as counterproductive as the kids' bad behavior, if not more. Your post helped me realize that. Thanks.

 

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Thanks to everyone for the additional input.  I like sweet2ndchance's ideas too.  What I did while I was absent from the board was ask DD7 what questions she had about math;  I sat down and basically made that question to her, the lesson.  She then asked me, more or less, to explain what it felt like I had already said 100 times, except this time, because it was her question, she paid attention!  I also enlisted her help in writing some of her own math problems (of the type we are working on, but with her choice of numbers) throughout the week.  The week ended very well.

I am sure my trick will not be the be all/end all.  Nothing ever is.  Shortly after I come up with any solution, and mention it to my Mom friends, it stops working, but it is now another tool in my tool box.

Giving her the opportunity to do what I call "testing out" (proving she knows something and moving on) has been helpful, too, and has had more than short-lived benefits, though I do need to be careful that she doesn't try to "test out" of types of work that simply require practice, even if one is already pretty good.

I will definitely try asking her to teach me some of the things we've been working on.  That's a great idea!  I remember hearing from college instructors that the best way to learn something is to have to teach it.

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On 8/20/2019 at 7:20 AM, VioletBeauregard said:

This might be better for the Afterschool board, but I am not (yet) an afterschooler.

One of the complaints parents have about pubic schooling is that it comes with so much homework.  That's one reason some parents choose to homeschool;  if they are going to teach, they'd rather do it at 9:00 AM then while they're rushing to make dinner (or after).

We're having a homeschool "moment" -- a long moment in which it seems as though homeschooling is not going that well.  As I turn to the possibility of public schooling, I am wondering if I am turning to a solution or simply to a new set of difficulties.  Could I use help?  Yes, I could use someone dedicating a good portion of her time educating my child;  I'm having a rough time doing it right now.  However, when I think of the specific problems I am having:  a child who will quietly (or not so quietly) goof around instead of doing her work, a child who pretends not to know things so she doesn't have to move ahead, etc., I wonder if public schools really have good solutions for these things.  Do they?  If a child quietly sits pretending not to know what a ones column is, does the teacher detect this and provide a solution?  If so, is the solution to send a note home to me?  (This would be fair enough, but it puts me back exactly where I am, so I'd might as well stay here if that's the case.)

I've often wondered, too, how in the world teachers monitor handwriting in anything other than general terms -- e.g., overall neatness.  If a child starts her nines at the bottom, and the handwriting curriculum says to start them elsewhere, would the teacher even notice?  I don't think I would, with twenty students.  That's probably still coming home to me, right?

I guess my general question is what burden, exactly, public schooling lifts off of the parent.

We've moved in the opposite direction, from school (public then Catholic) and this year to homeschooling. 

Are you sure the class would only have 20 kids? My daughter's 3rd grade class had 29 kids. 

I don't think a child in a classroom full of their peers would pretend not to know something although I'm sure there are kids who do it as a joke. Kids are hard on each other and no kid wants look stupid in front of the rest of the class. There is some benefit to peer pressure. 

In our experience, the good teachers had techniques learned over the years of working with many different types of kids. However, the child has to notice that something is wrong and that is difficult in the average elementary school classroom. There are simply too many kids and every class has a few kids (usually boys) with disciplinary issues. 

We did public school and then transitioned to private school. The public school was a good school with good test scores compared to the state and the district. The district is the best in the state, although this state is ranked pretty low in all measures related to education. There were a lot of distractions in the classroom. Kids came and went throughout the year so the class list was always changing. 

Things were much stricter in Catholic school but there were always at least 2 or 3 kids in the class who were always getting into trouble. 

My daughter is a quiet, "good" kid in school so she was simply overlooked much of the time. She didn't require as much attention from the teachers who had their hands full with too many kids, kids who truly struggled with the material, and kids who could not behave in the classroom. The average American elementary school classroom requires a lot of sitting, paying attention, and being quiet. Some kids (usually boys) simply cannot handle that kind of environment so they act out multiple times every day which takes attention away from the rest of the children. 

I've found that homeschooling my daughter can be frustrating but homework and dealing with the school was also frustrating. It's a different kind of frustrating, pick your poison. With homework, I never knew what our evening would be like until I saw the homework folder. There were patterns, e.g. spelling and math every day, religion on this day, etc. But I never knew before we began the homework what was on the homework. Things skipped around. I tried buying the math book to keep on top of what my daughter was doing in math but gave up. With homeschool, I know what we're going to cover before we start, at least. 

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On 8/22/2019 at 7:51 AM, knitgrl said:

My experience has been that you are on your own for handwriting. My oldest graduated ps, and for a very long time, he held his pencil very weirdly until it was pointed out. His cursive writing looks like a 5th grader's, although he has practiced his signature so that looks a bit nicer.

 

I used to know a young man who only knew how to print, and even then only upper case.   I thought highly enough of him that I got him hired at my company.  Of course, he went to school in Chicago.   But, by some grade, P.S. seem to stop caring about handwriting as long as they can kind-a figure out what the kid was trying to say.   And of course, that they can properly fill in the bubbles.  

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A friend enlightened me about the handwriting instruction of her dc's supposedly "excellent" school district. In kindergarten she saw that her dc didn't know how to form letters correctly and brought it up to the teacher. Teacher said he'd learn letter formation in 1st grade; in K they were just concerned about recognition. When he went to 1st and still didn't learn handwriting, she brought it up to that teacher.  Oh, no, they weren't covering that in 1st.  They'd learned letter formation in K.  She called to ask me what we used, and she bought that for her dc to do at home.  She did a lot of afterschooling through the years.  

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