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The Current State of Middle School (and other) Boys


carriede
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I have four children: DS12, DD9, DS7, and DS5. I have homeschooled from the beginning and DS12 is currently in 7th grade.

DH is concerned that our boys are not maturing socially. He says they all act a grade-level younger than they are and are too obsessed with video games. They currently have 1 hour of screen time a day spread between the Nintendo Switch and Minecraft. They do talk A LOT about those games with each other and friends. They will discuss other things if we bring up a topic, but all organic conversation revolves are video games and and stories they've made up around the characters.

DH would like to put them into public school. He's pleased with their book- learning education, but is afraid they will not mature at the same rate as their peers and I guess not be ambitious or successful adults.

A big piece missing from this puzzle is what is the state of middle school boys, their interests, their conversation points? I'm not confident that there will be LESS video game talk or MORE maturity. But I honestly have no clue what the landscape looks like.

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There will be more video game talk.   Even if they were 18 and a senior in highschool, there would be more video game talk.    Video game playing doesn't end for some guys, probably at least half of them.  The only reason dh stopped years ago (as a married man with a kid) was because his head started being affected by the movement in the game.    

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5 minutes ago, WildflowerMom said:

There will be more video game talk.   Even if they were 18 and a senior in highschool, there would be more video game talk.    Video game playing doesn't end for some guys, probably at least half of them.  The only reason dh stopped years ago (as a married man with a kid) was because his head started being affected by the movement in the game.    

This. I know a LOT of college boys who are seriously gaming, and many colleges have competitive gaming teams so the video game talk is not a sign of being less mature. There are many, many factors. 

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Your DH hasn’t met current middle school boys, then. Extremely immature, and yes, all they talk about is video games. Or tik tok and memes and things of that nature. 
 

Does he think these 12 and 13 year old boys are sitting down to discuss poetry and politics? A school I worked at had to have an emergency meeting to get them to stop vaping in the bathrooms, and for a while the bathrooms were locked. Be grateful they aren’t doing that, at least! 

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Puberty and time spent with positive role models is what will mature them, not a particular age or reduced exposure to video games.  IME, boys tend to act 10 or 11 until they hit puberty, whether that's at 12 or at 15. 

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My son's university has a gaming society (club). You can bet a good deal of his fellow computer science students will be joining. Lol

eta: DS dismantled his entire gaming PC to take with him to university— overseas. 🙂 

 

 

Edited by MEmama
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ITA with PPs. There will be MORE video game talk.

We told my ds that we loved him to pieces but when he began droning on and on about a game, I'd say "Talk to me about ANYTHING but games." And I'd listen. But not to video game talk.

You can say this too.

My ds needed more things to think about and talk about.

He got some pet pigeons we got a new dog, he learned origami, he attended Trail Life (til pandemic) he takes Tae KWon Do.  

If there's a void, he'll fill it with games and talk of games.  So I bring up other topics, politics, books, nature stuff, music, cooking, food, anything to keep him off video games.

I recommend your dh volunteer at scouts or church and get a taste of the rest of middle school boys world.

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I don't personally know any middle school boys, but ds (age 24) still plays video games with friends online & IRL, some quite a bit older than him. Also I don't think you can gauge maturity by grade level - that's comparitive disaster. 

I would consider there is more to this comment that age & video games. Per your signature, it looks like he's in Boy Scouts, so he has outside/outdoorsy  activities? I know some men are concerned that their boys will grow up to do traditional "manly" things - not in a chauvanistic way - but more not living in the basement at 25 kind of way. Ex tried to get ds into sports several times, kid just never was designed for sports, but he can program his way around a computer. 

Public school doesn't hasten maturity and there will be plenty of talk of videogames at that age anyway. 

 

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17 minutes ago, carriede said:

I have four children: DS12, DD9, DS7, and DS5. I have homeschooled from the beginning and DS12 is currently in 7th grade.

DH is concerned that our boys are not maturing socially. He says they all act a grade-level younger than they are and are too obsessed with video games. They currently have 1 hour of screen time a day spread between the Nintendo Switch and Minecraft. They do talk A LOT about those games with each other and friends. They will discuss other things if we bring up a topic, but all organic conversation revolves are video games and and stories they've made up around the characters.

DH would like to put them into public school. He's pleased with their book- learning education, but is afraid they will not mature at the same rate as their peers and I guess not be ambitious or successful adults.

A big piece missing from this puzzle is what is the state of middle school boys, their interests, their conversation points? I'm not confident that there will be LESS video game talk or MORE maturity. But I honestly have no clue what the landscape looks like.

My public schooled 11 year old and 9 year olds do nothing but talk about video games, Pokémon characters, and Percy Jackson characters. They also write fan fiction about all of the above.  When they’re with their public school friends this is what they talk about too.  
I think your husband is out of touch with current middle schoolers.

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I can tell you that my 13 yo homeschool dd has had trouble with friends at activities because she does not have an interest in video games and she does not have tik tok or YouTubers she follows. So my dd is totally out of synch with her schooled peers. So I don’t think school is going to help this situation. And it isn’t even just the boys. 

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I would frame whether someone is socially maturing appropriately differently than the "what do they talk about" question. I have a 10th grade boy and a 7th grade girl, and the discussion is all about video games, til tok, influencers, and a bit about sports.

The questions I would ask are:

1. Can your kids be comfortable going into a new situation and making friends?

2. Can your kids handle age appropriate tasks (laundry, dishes, etc.)?

3. Can your kids manage their own schedule and belongings? My 12 yo manages her books, laptop, gym outfit, homework assignments, etc. all independently.  She can be taught a lesson, and then work independently. I homeschooled her last year during covid and she's back this year in public school--the expectations from elementary to jr. high are somewhat elevated in public school terms.  Your kid should be making a similar jump.

4. Can your kid turn documents in via google docs, make a slide using google slides or the Window equivalent, and manage files and links? From jr. high all the way through college, these things are all being handled online.

5. Can your kid navigate basic places independently? Can you do a drop and run at activities? Can he run basic errands?

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Granted, I live in a large urban city environment that does not have access to all the farm animals and large backyard spaces that many of you are fortunate to have, but middle school boys here are not getting lost in the woods for hours at a time. They are in programmed activities, if their parents have the money to pay for them, or they are spending a ton of time on screens watching videos or gaming. It's not like middle school boys are roaming around the neighborhood on bikes or skateboards in packs, looking for friends to play with, or playing a game of pick up hoops or soccer at the park until the street lights come on. That just doesn't exist in most neighborhoods, even before the pandemic. It's even worse now. 

That's why parents are desperate to find anything else for their kids to do after school, much of which can be quite pricey in my area, because middle school boys just don't do a lot of organic socializing apart from gaming. It's a very difficult situation for parents to navigate and I tell my kids that adults struggle with the seduction of the internet as well, so they may as well start to learn a balance now vs me setting miniscule screen time limits that I could never abide by myself. It's just the new normal of parenting the digital generation. There is no guidebook on how to handle this stuff.

But, no, your boys are absolutely not unusual in their non-stop gaming chatter. Especially throughout the pandemic, online gaming with friends/cousins and connecting via Discord has been a vital social lifeline for my boys. They also build a ton of skills by gaming. I try to focus on those positives instead of having my usual panic about it. You are definitely not alone. The struggle is real.       

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😂🤣🤪🤩😅

You just said mature and middle school boys in the same sentence.......sorry, I can't stop laughing.

I work with middle school kids all.day.long.    They all develop differently in the middle school years and you can be assured, they all end up maturing by around age 35.  Ok, I exaggerate......kind of......🤣

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Have your dh visit a scout meeting with the intent to sign up the 12yo.  They are ALL like that, public school or not.  They're silly, wired, hyperfocused on video games.  And they're a bunch of weirdos.

By 14, more of them settle down and are mature enough to be young adults at time, but the 11-13yos are crazypants.

 

I worried so much about my oldest before another parent at scouts helped me just stop and look at the room as a whole instead of focusing on my kid/his behavior. It was eye-opening.  And it did help me relax and not worry so much.  Now 11yo ds is in the same nonsense at his scout meetings and it just is going to be this sort of thing for a few more years.

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A couple of things here:

I agree 100% that middle school and high school boys talk about video games, Netflix series, YouTubers and tik toc *forever*; that is the normal social landscape. The more-difficult thing is how to help your kids be part of the culture if they *dont* like or do those things. 
 

However. As someone who homeschooled for 16 years and doesn’t anymore, I will say that *I personally* did not realize how homeschooling impacted my kids until years later, in the social realm. At the time I was glad, because my kids didn’t even *know* about certain games or social media platforms, much less use them/play them. But when my two oldest kids went to school for high school, there was a bunch of stuff they were super naive about and it affected them more than I realized at the time. My son in particular suffered a lot for realizing his interests were seen as odd (he was learning to play the Ocarina) and he didn’t know what it took to be “cool.” He was tormented about feeling like an outcast throughout 9th grade; I did not know this. I thought he was perfectly fine, as mamas are wont to do. 
 

So: your dh is not necessarily wrong. I just don’t think video game incessant chatter is a hallmark. 

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What matures boys into men is WORK, not school. So begin lining up work activities and structured requirements (get up at this time, do this by reminding yourself to do it, etc.) and you'll probably see what he's wanting to see. And frankly, that's on HIM if he's not having them work and grow into their manhood, not you.

Also, if *all* your boys are "behind" then it's also possible you've got some ADHD type stuff going on (which will present that way). School would provide structure and (sometimes) more opportunities for leadership and competition, which can help. Your dh is not crazy on that. 

A lot of people make the shift from homeschooling to traditional school in that middle school range. I think you could *consider* the option for you oldest and really think through what your dh is seeing, what he's not putting into words, and what the options are to deal with it. My dh has been stepping up a LOT with our ds12. Like me, I can kinda roll with no alarms, get it done eventually. He's like nope, ds will be out the door with an alarm by 6am, he's gonna go hunt for 1 ½ hours, then he'll come in and WORK. And on Saturdays they WORK. And during the week when we have time he'll have ds WORK. 

So men intuitively know what it takes to push the boys to be men. I wouldn't undercut that. But there are lots of ways to get there. Competition, opportunities for leadership, and structure are very important. Some of what people view as immature is also executive function (that ADHD thing) and that responds to structure. You want to see things like meeting deadlines, having delayed assignments, etc. 

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3 hours ago, elegantlion said:

I would consider there is more to this comment that age & video games. Per your signature, it looks like he's in Boy Scouts, so he has outside/outdoorsy  activities? I know some men are concerned that their boys will grow up to do traditional "manly" things - not in a chauvanistic way - but more not living in the basement at 25 kind of way. Ex tried to get ds into sports several times, kid just never was designed for sports, but he can program his way around a computer. 

Public school doesn't hasten maturity and there will be plenty of talk of videogames at that age anyway. 

 

He's very involved with his scout troop. He camps almost every month with them, goes to weekly meetings. We also camp as a family and just got back from a long trip to Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone.

I think you've pin-pointed DH's concerns - he wants his boys to be capable. DH isn't worried about DD because she is very capable, though she too talk about video games with her brothers. I think girls SEEM more mature too as they have more social interests.

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3 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

What does your dh expect your boys to talk about?

What did he talk about when he was in middle school?

I've asked him this. He wasn't as into video games at the same age - he was into sports and music. But he can't seem to tell me what he would TALK about with other boys. He's more of a doer than a talker though.

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3 hours ago, DawnM said:

😂🤣🤪🤩😅

You just said mature and middle school boys in the same sentence.......sorry, I can't stop laughing.

I work with middle school kids all.day.long.    They all develop differently in the middle school years and you can be assured, they all end up maturing by around age 35.  Ok, I exaggerate......kind of......🤣

When I step back and try to get a big picture, this is what I'm thinking. They're middle school boys, what do you want from them? I just wanted to make sure I'm not off base in thinking this.

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

However. As someone who homeschooled for 16 years and doesn’t anymore, I will say that *I personally* did not realize how homeschooling impacted my kids until years later, in the social realm. At the time I was glad, because my kids didn’t even *know* about certain games or social media platforms, much less use them/play them. But when my two oldest kids went to school for high school, there was a bunch of stuff they were super naive about and it affected them more than I realized at the time. My son in particular suffered a lot for realizing his interests were seen as odd (he was learning to play the Ocarina) and he didn’t know what it took to be “cool.” He was tormented about feeling like an outcast throughout 9th grade; I did not know this. I thought he was perfectly fine, as mamas are wont to do. 
 

This has been my experience, too, though we only homeschooled for 6 years. I thought my kids were doing great because they could talk to adults and peers. They did great academically. What I didn't realize is that the slightly protective culture (which was more protective than we thought at the time) we had at home made it difficult for them when they transitioned to public school. They didn't know what their school peers were talking about when they discussed tv shows and games. It caused them a lot of discomfort, which I didn't realize at the time.

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3 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

It's not like middle school boys are roaming around the neighborhood on bikes or skateboards in packs, looking for friends to play with, or playing a game of pick up hoops or soccer at the park until the street lights come on. That just doesn't exist in most neighborhoods, even before the pandemic. It's even worse now.  

This was a big part of his childhood. He has a younger brother and similar aged friends next door. They would play street hockey in their spare time and swim in the pool (Florida). I send my kids out to play every day. But it's JUST THEM, and according to DH that's part of the problem - no same-aged peer competition/support.

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3 hours ago, theelfqueen said:

What signs of social maturity is DH looking for that he perceives the kids are lacking? 

DS12 - just the fixation on video games. He's in scouts, he likes swimming. But in his free time his mind goes to games, even if he's not playing them.

DS7 - same sort of things about always thinking about video games. He's naturally curious and asks tons of questions all the time. He's bouncy and has a hard time sitting still and not contorting while doing school work. But he's smart, can read about grade level, and has a mind for analyzing. He's definitely a future engineer, but he just can't sit still. Which I think is typical of the age...

DS5 - has had speech issues but has improved by leaps and bounds this past year. He has some behaviors issues related to not being verbally understood that I believe have become habits now. So there's issues with behavior we're working through.

They would all benefit with more structure, I'm sure.

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LOL - agree there will be MORE video game talk.  And kids mature at different rates, which is all fine and normal.   There are socially quirky kids at school too.  I was one of them.  

That said, this is the age where getting my kids out and involved in more was very important.  It was important to them socially and emotionally.  I felt like the middle school years were more about social and getting through puberty than it was about academics.  My kids are academically GT and we did probably rigorous schooling, but they were definitely more stagnant academically those years and they become much more interested in social life, connecting with people, being out in the world, etc.

SO, I do think if you think maybe homeschooling through high school isn't for you maybe it is time to think about a change or a transition if your child isn't making good social connections and you don't have more opportunities.  It is just very intensive but less fun and warm and fuzzy than homeschooling younger kids.  For the right kids, I do think it can be worth it,.  We did/are doing it.  However, my kids are involved in very intensive extracurriculars that would take way too long to explain and type out.  AND we get 2 (up to 3 now I think) free years of dual enrollment.  We toured high schools, they made the choice.  My kids have always had lots of neighborhood and schooled friends, we live in a diverse community, we had a teen co-op,etc so in their case I don't think they missed out.  In some ways they got broader opportunities.  But I think it's much harder to do well with some kids and in some locations than others.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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2 hours ago, Quill said:

My son in particular suffered a lot for realizing his interests were seen as odd (he was learning to play the Ocarina) and he didn’t know what it took to be “cool.” He was tormented about feeling like an outcast throughout 9th grade; I did not know this. I thought he was perfectly fine, as mamas are wont to do. 

 

So: your dh is not necessarily wrong. I just don’t think video game incessant chatter is a hallmark. 

I don't think he's necessarily wrong either. Which is why this is tricky. But I'm not as confident that the grass is greener on the other side. I think it's that "oddness" you describe that DH is concerned about.

2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

So men intuitively know what it takes to push the boys to be men. I wouldn't undercut that. But there are lots of ways to get there. Competition, opportunities for leadership, and structure are very important. Some of what people view as immature is also executive function (that ADHD thing) and that responds to structure. You want to see things like meeting deadlines, having delayed assignments, etc. 

Yes, I think they would all benefit from more structure - that's hard to accomplish homeschooling 4 different grade levels and attending to children's needs. I'm willing to admit that lack. That's a main reason why he started Scouts. He's getting in a groove with that though.

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1 minute ago, FuzzyCatz said:

SO, I do think if you think maybe homeschooling through high school isn't for you maybe it is time to think about a change or a transition if your child isn't making good social connections and you don't have more opportunities.  It is just very intensive but less fun and warm and fuzzy than homeschooling younger kids.  For the right kids, I do think it can be worth it,.  We did/are doing it.  However, my kids are involved in very intensive extracurriculars that would take way too long to explain and type out.  AND we get 2 (up to 3 now I think) free years of dual enrollment.  We toured high schools, they made the choice.  My kids have always had lots of neighborhood and schooled friends, we live in a diverse community, etc so in their case I don't think they missed out.  In some ways they got broader opportunities.  But I think it's much harder to do well with some kids and in some locations than others.  

This is indeed another piece of the puzzle. If I don't want to homeschool high school, I'd like to get him "into the system" before grades start to count.

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14 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

LOL - agree there will be MORE video game talk.  And kids mature at different rates, which is all fine and normal.   There are socially quirky kids at school too.  I was one of them.  

That said, this is the age where getting my kids out and involved in more was very important.  It was important to them socially and emotionally.  I felt like the middle school years were more about social and getting through puberty than it was about academics.  My kids are academically GT and we did probably rigorous schooling, but they were definitely more stagnant academically those years and they become much more interested in social life, connecting with people, being out in the world, etc.

 

this was the age range when I made finding other people important. My dd did 4H, and several weekly "Things" along with getting together with a friend informally at least 2 times a week. 

The weekly things were piano lessons, 4H horse club, homeschool book club. These things helped us maintain a structure that she (and everyone else) needed.

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My ds is in 9th grade and he lives and breathes Minecraft.  He’s at the point now where he’s learning to code and make mods for the game.  He’s hoping to start selling mods and such online.  He’s average maturity for his age and is involved in other activities with peers.  I don’t think the gaming has messed him up.  Actually, I think the online community (he plays on a server with friends) helped him deal with the Covid shutdown last year.

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I want to say my kids are now 17 and 20 and STILL socialize playing minecraft online with friends.  I really don't think there is anything wrong with that.  It's actually a very creative, open ended, open world game with endless possibilities.  I think for certain kids, it's a decent creative and social outlet if they aren't abusing the technology.  

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The (8th-grade) boys in DS's patrol talk about video games in the down time at scout events. *shrug*

Is each of your boys becoming more competent at tasks like self-care and chores, increasingly able to do routines with less supervision? Do they treat people well? These are areas you can work on at home that will build maturity.

My BFF's husband teaches middle school and reports that boys doing TikTok challenges are wreaking havoc in the bathrooms.... and this is in line with a lot of things that can go on in middle schools generally, in that bad ideas are highly contagious.  I would be hesitant to look to school enrollment for improvement in the area of maturity.

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1 hour ago, carriede said:

"oddness" you describe that DH is concerned about.

 

1 hour ago, carriede said:

DS12 - just the fixation on video games. He's in scouts, he likes swimming. But in his free time his mind goes to games, even if he's not playing them.

Ok, I'll tell you my story and you can think through what of it may or may not apply. With my first dc, I decided to kind of go with the flow, whatever she was did was her "normal" and so on. I didn't want to be one of these hyper-worried parents, so I was like fine she doesn't like this, she does that, that's normal for her. By the time she was 11/12, that just really wasn't cutting it anymore and we ended up getting evals. Then I realized that norms on things were there because there are patterns and that being really different can be a red flag.

So I don't know *how* different we're talking here. I could read that and go ok lots of boys (and girls) are into video games. Or I could read that and see one of the DSM criteria for spectrum. Let's just say there's a RANGE there and that the more you're saying he has restricted interests, the more you're seeing red flags.

Then when your dh says he's *concerned* and that something is odd or off or just concerning him, as the wife I'd be wanting to slow down and ask what I'm missing, what I'm not seeing that he's seeing.

1 hour ago, carriede said:

he just can't sit still. Which I think is typical of the age...

Or it could be some retained primitive reflexes and ADHD.

2 hours ago, carriede said:

according to DH that's part of the problem - no same-aged peer competition/support.

Absolutely! My really low tempo dd THRIVED on competition when we started her in online classes, etc. You can get that competitiveness between the boys, with school peers, with online classes, with sports. He's really spot on about this.

1 hour ago, carriede said:

DS5 - has had speech issues but has improved by leaps and bounds this past year. He has some behaviors issues related to not being verbally understood that I believe have become habits now. So there's issues with behavior we're working through.

Is he getting therapy? My ds had moderate/severe verbal apraxia and did therapy for that for 10 years, sigh. He still gets speech therapy for language (pragmatics, narrative, expressive, syntax, etc.). 

I have no clue what's going on in your home and whether everything is within the realm of normal or not. The most conservative thing would be to touch base with a source that could assess each of them IN PERSON and give you data to determine what is in range and what is not.

That's a can of worms, so I'm thinking about each child and what you could do. 

12 yo--Look at the criteria for some things and be really honest about whether something might be going on. https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=social-thinking-social-communication-profile  In addition to the DSM criteria, I particularly like this article that shows the social thinking profiles and how the skills come together functionally. You can see what his profile is and what it might indicate to you as potential weaknesses. 

7 yo--Some peds will do a sustained attention test that could give you *data* to see whether his "can't sit still" is in range for his gender and age or not. You could get referrals for an OT eval to see if something like Zones of Regulation would help him. You could look on youtube for tests for retained reflexes (or look for an OT who knows how to test for them). 

5 yo--Technically a 5yo should be 100% intelligible. Not meaning perfect articulation, but he should be *intelligible*. If he is not, then your speech therapy services are not adequate. (says the woman who is obsessive on this) Being underserved is very common and you will not like where it goes if things are not addressed. You mention behaviors, and it could be that he has more needs going on than what have been identified.

2 hours ago, carriede said:

I think they would all benefit from more structure

I wouldn't make any radical changes without data. I mean, if you tour your school options and love something, go for it. Some schools have excellent services and could make happen the things I've mentioned above (Zones of Regulation, social thinking, pragmatics evals, speech therapy, etc.) fluidly as part of their school day. Some schools now are doing AMAZING stuff. I always look at what schools are doing now, because some of it is GOOD. 

What I would not do at this stage, with a dh saying he's concerned, is blow off anything as oh just boys or oh homeschooling is better or oh they'll outgrow it. I would take his comments SERIOUSLY. If he can't get it into words, that's ok. The question is only how you get the information and data to know what you're dealing with. Does he want to pay for private evals? Would he like to go through the ps eval process? Are there things you've *suspected* need to happen that aren't happening? Are there things going on that you have known needed support but you don't know how to connect to the resources/help and were too tired/overwhelmed to make them happen?

It's a hard thing when you're already busy and then someone says hey let's throw more at you. Sometimes the point of a school enrollment is to let you shift from being TEACHER to being ADVOCATE. And I don't know if that makes sense to you, but sometimes data gathering and making things happen for kids is a LOT OF WORK. And sometimes when it rains it pours, like one needs something and then it turns out more need something. 

You might think about some in-between options, things that you could make happen right now. For instance, would you have access to a grandma, a retired teacher, a friend, someone who would have time to *help* you with your school day? If you could bring in someone 3 hours a day and get their extra energy, everything they do would let you put that time/energy into researching these issues, making appointments, making things happen. That could bring an immediate change. 

6 hours ago, carriede said:

stories they've made up around the characters

I LOVE this btw. That's such a good thing because it reflects their narrative language developing! 

So don't despair. You've clearly got a lot of good things going on and now you have a prompt to learn what the weaknesses are. It will turn out to be a good thing as you embrace it and get good information to guide you.

Feel free to post on LC if you end up pursuing evals and need help with that. 🙂 

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2 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I want to say my kids are now 17 and 20 and STILL socialize playing minecraft online with friends.  I really don't think there is anything wrong with that.  It's actually a very creative, open ended, open world game with endless possibilities.  I think for certain kids, it's a decent creative and social outlet if they aren't abusing the technology.  

I also work in a middle school and spend all day with middle school boys (then I come home and parent one). DS loves Minecraft and Mario sports games too. The difference I see with the kids in ps, starting as young as 5th grade  - I assume 4th as well, but they start in 5th at our school - is they're playing Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and other games for 18+. Also, their activity on Tic Tok, Snapchat, P*rnHub, and other lovely sites has to be addressed on a  regular basis between inappropriate searches, cyber bullying and kids following Tic Tok challenges like the current "wreck the student bathrooms and steal stuff from school for fun" challenge. 

 

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2 hours ago, AmandaVT said:

I also work in a middle school and spend all day with middle school boys (then I come home and parent one). DS loves Minecraft and Mario sports games too. The difference I see with the kids in ps, starting as young as 5th grade  - I assume 4th as well, but they start in 5th at our school - is they're playing Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and other games for 18+. Also, their activity on Tic Tok, Snapchat, P*rnHub, and other lovely sites has to be addressed on a  regular basis between inappropriate searches, cyber bullying and kids following Tic Tok challenges like the current "wreck the student bathrooms and steal stuff from school for fun" challenge. 

 

This is exactly what I would expect in a public middle school. Kids are more worldly because they are exposed to more age inappropriate stuff. I don’t think public school is going to make any difference maturity wise. Finding opportunities for the boys to take on more real responsibility as they get older whether that is leadership positions in their ECs, volunteer or paid work, real contributions to the household, etc may help with maturity whether they are at home or at school. If your husband thinks they need more same age peer competition and support, they should be able to get that through ECs, play dates, outside classes, etc.

 

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Have you thought of intentionally cultivating other interests and pruning video games?

 After our oldest son, who loved online gaming a bit over-zealously, we haven’t allowed it. We’ve never had an x-box, play station, etc., but banned computer gaming. We saw no useful benefit and significant negative impact. 
 

I’m not sorry. My second has a very addictive personality, pretty serious ADHD... time outside, physical work, a lot of volunteering, Trail Life, athletic endeavors - it spread his interests wider and put him in contact with a wider age range including adults willing to invest in him. 
 

The first was very internally motivated, socially mature, and self controlled... he still struggled with mastering his time in this area. The second wold have no chance again the screen’s siren call. 😉 

No regrets here. Evaluate what the real issue is here. It sounds like home education is working but his pastimes and interactions aren’t. 

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1 hour ago, BlsdMama said:

Have you thought of intentionally cultivating other interests and pruning video games?

 After our oldest son, who loved online gaming a bit over-zealously, we haven’t allowed it. We’ve never had an x-box, play station, etc., but banned computer gaming. We saw no useful benefit and significant negative impact. 
 

I’m not sorry. My second has a very addictive personality, pretty serious ADHD... time outside, physical work, a lot of volunteering, Trail Life, athletic endeavors - it spread his interests wider and put him in contact with a wider age range including adults willing to invest in him. 
 

The first was very internally motivated, socially mature, and self controlled... he still struggled with mastering his time in this area. The second wold have no chance again the screen’s siren call. 😉 

No regrets here. Evaluate what the real issue is here. It sounds like home education is working but his pastimes and interactions aren’t. 

Kelly, 

When you take the banning approach, how do you teach self-regulation? The internet and gaming are such a huge part of boy/young male culture in our country, what happens when they turn 18 and move out? Not trying to argue -- I struggle with all of this too -- I am honestly wondering how you avoid rebelling at some point once they are on their own? Don't we all have to learn moderation in our lives, and isn't it easier to do so when we have our parents there to support us in the learning process vs when we are on our for the first time as young adults?

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I actually laughed out loud at this. For realze. 

First, gaming/minecraft/roblox/etc ARE the topics of conversation for middle school boys. AT least, those are the appropriate ones. Girls/sex are the other topics, and in my mind are NOT appropriate topics at that age in the way they are often discussed. I mean, boys are not chatting about respect and consent in a big group, most of the time, you know? They also talk about material possessions and brag on them. Also not awesome. 

Second, the BIGGEST reason I homeschool, after just liking being around my kids, is to let them grow up at a more developmentally appropriate pace. I think kids in public school often are forced into a false maturity, that is not healthy. That doesn't mean I want my kids stunted maturity wise - but that there is a time and a place to be a kid. They get to the same place in the end - and in some ways I think homeschooling made my son much MORE mature/adult in a lot of areas, but at the right time and in the right ways. 

But yeah, there are a zillion memes about boys and gaming...it's just how they communicate. Heck, that's a hot topic among ADULT men - just different games. 

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I tour situation I might tell my husband that I was willing to discuss it *after* he did some volunteer time with that age group so he could was more knowledgeable on what he was talking about.  Church, library, scouts, something more than TV representation and his own memory.  
 

Id also want a discussion about why maturing slower has a bad thing.  Kids allowed to mature at their own pace not due to social pressure might be less likely to be complete fools at 25.  

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Also, in public school he'd be around kids with unlimited gaming time, which is going to make regulating games even more hard for you guys. Trust me, there is NOTHING about public school that will make him less into gaming, lol. But instead of playing what he enjoys, he'll have peer pressure to play what everyone else is playing. And you likely won't want him playing those games. 

Also, I don't mean to downplay the game thing. My oldest had some gaming addiction issues for a while. (now, I will say, he was a top ranked player in the country and had he wanted to could have played pro...but that's not what he or I wanted for his life...so he did get some "achievement" from it). But he was using it as self medication for depression and anxiety. When we addressed those issues and filled his life with volunteer work that fulfilled him, the gaming fell to the side and became a hobby again instead of such an intense thing. He still games most nights with friends all over the world, but he also works full time, gets enough sleep, etc. 

But an hour a day? He'd be the one with the least game time at school. And as for topics of conversation, there are worse things. All I talked about in middle school was soap operas, lol. 

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4 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

Kelly, 

When you take the banning approach, how do you teach self-regulation? The internet and gaming are such a huge part of boy/young male culture in our country, what happens when they turn 18 and move out? Not trying to argue -- I struggle with all of this too -- I am honestly wondering how you avoid rebelling at some point once they are on their own? Don't we all have to learn moderation in our lives, and isn't it easier to do so when we have our parents there to support us in the learning process vs when we are on our for the first time as young adults?

This assumes the ability to self regulate stats the same if that makes sense? For example the argument could be - because we know a ten year old boy will want to play games, we could start them at two. 
 

So my argument is that video games are SO alluring, that I want them to fully and deeply develop and enjoy other passions when they are at home so that sitting inside on a summer day seems inadequate to the love of being outdoors that we intentionally fostered. 
 

People will always develop tastes for things we don’t like. I like sushi. My kids do not. But by intentional and repeated introduction, I can introduce it, normalize it, and potentially foster a like for it. 
 

We unintentionally fostered a love for computer gaming. If Christian had his work done, he could game online. What was the big deal? But it became two things - first, get your stuff done SO you can game and second, “I’m bored... so I’ll game.” But take the unhealthy option of the table. What else might they do?

Tim (#2 boy) bikes and bikes the local trail. He took apart pallets and built the little kids a play house. He’s learning car repair.

 

 Just because kids will inevitably encounter something doesn’t mean we introduce them nor advocate it. Junk food is a prime example. We know if you eat junk, you crave more. We know junk food is unhealthy. We know they’ll eventually eat it. So what do we do? We develop healthy eating habits. We don’t foster a love for it. We teach the ramifications. 
 

We talk about unhealthy screen habits. We try to teach the habits of moderation and self control in all things. We talk about the perceived dangers of video gaming and why we don’t indulge. We intentionally develop healthy hobbies and interests for when they’re bored. I don’t choose to bring in video games BECAUSE why would I introduce something that ends up undermining what I’m trying to do? Essentially I know I don’t want to be the hall monitor of something addictive like video gaming. I don’t want to police it. And I’ve not yet met the ADHD kid who does a great job of self policing. My hope is that by raising kids who listen to audio books, read, spend a ton of time outside, have hobbies, play sports, know useful things like house care, car care, hard work... that video gaming will, if they choose, never become something they are passionate about and instead use their time to enrich their lives. Knowing what we know about a healthy mind and body, video games won’t be something I foster. 
 

I will say that my oldest son has a great grasp on it. His roommate introduced him to gaming stations in college. He holds down a job, did mock trial at the collegiate level for three years, now is in ROTC, and graduates next year. However.... ugh. Shudder. Gaming. 
 

Here’sa question, for those of you with kids and ADHD/extreme love of screens and an impulsive nature, did having screens teach them to self monitor? Or did YOU create the rules? The ways to monitor it? And do the kids, without reminding and prodding, become t total self monitored?

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I will also add though, I have the luxury of a husband who doesn’t game at all. 
 

i know several women who get frustrated because their husbands “unwind” by checking out on a game while mom makes dinner as opposed to conversation or playing with the kids. 
 

If I can help my future daughters in laws and grandkids to have an active, involved, engaged dad/husband, I’m on board. 

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6 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

Here’sa question, for those of you with kids and ADHD/extreme love of screens and an impulsive nature, did having screens teach them to self monitor? Or did YOU create the rules? The ways to monitor it? And do the kids, without reminding and prodding, become t total self monitored?

Absolutely not.   I had to regulate his use.   One of my regrets is allowing video games in our home at all.   However, as an adult, I have seen where ds has developed friendships with the people he plays with online and he did learn to self regulate once he had a full time job.   But still, I'm not crazy about video games.      
That said, video game play and talk is totally normal and age-appropriate (for really any age above tween or so).   

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12 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

I will also add though, I have the luxury of a husband who doesn’t game at all. 
 

i know several women who get frustrated because their husbands “unwind” by checking out on a game while mom makes dinner as opposed to conversation or playing with the kids. 
 

If I can help my future daughters in laws and grandkids to have an active, involved, engaged dad/husband, I’m on board. 

I know several women who are in online gaming groups with their husbands.  And others who call themselves “fishing widows” or “hunting widows” because their husbands are off doing their outdoor activities every weekend without their families.

 

It’s not the specifics of the hobby that determines whether it takes away from family time.  

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Video game interest is not age related. Although I have seen that interest in specific video games does vary by age, but interest in video games doesn’t mean a kid is doomed to anti-social behavior and living in mom’s basement until he is 35.

My DS was on his high school’s first e-sports team. Two years later he is a volunteer coach for the current team. Last school year he was also a volunteer coach and the team got 3 place in the state finals.  One of the members of the team last year has gone on to participate Amin e-sports at the college and got a small scholarship for it. 

 

While I know that there are kids and adults who are unhealthily obsessed with video games, that ain’t always the case. Different people have different interests. Spending lots of time on video games as an adult isn’t necessarily any worse that people who spend the same amount of time  and money on an other interests. 

I don’t understand why video games are worse than motor cycles, hot rod cars, fishing, boating, hunting, quilting, or anything else  people obsess over.

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