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Old 11-06-2008, 01:06 AM
6,051 posts, read 13,665,621 times
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My son is a 3rd grader in public school. He is an average sort of kid - he's not one of the wiz kids, and he's not one of the ones that requires lots of extra help, he's just... normal? Average? He's a typical run of the mill happy boy. He's well-behaved and does what's expected of him. He makes friends easily and doesn't have any behavioral issues. He's a really good, easy-going kid all around.

You'd think that a child like this wouldn't have any problems in school, but in fact, because he doesn't have any behavioral problems or learning issues - he spends most of his day being ignored. While the teachers and volunteers that come to the school to help out spend most of their time dealing with the kids that need extra attention, my son zones out and gets bored. He's told that he can sit quietly at his desk and read. He's given "What to do when you don't have anything to do" packets to work on - basically crossword puzzles, word searches, things that you might find on a children's menu at a restaraunt to keep kids occupied until their meal comes. He's allowed to play games on the computers. He's told to draw or write in his journal - a journal that is never corrected or looked over by the teacher.

I worry, because there are certainly things my son needs help with. His handwriting is awful. He's in 3rd grade and still has yet to be taught multiplication or division at school. They are using a "new math" curriculum (Investigations) and every year I'm told that the kids will learn all they need to learn in due time, and I'm told not to worry. I've tried not to.

Up until recently, I have tried to have faith. I have an older child, now in middle school, who has done fine in school. We homeschooled him until 2nd grade, and then tried two different private schools for 3rd, but he has been in public school since 4th grade and has done very well. He never seemed to be bored, always had work to do, kept himself busy and motivated. My two kids, however, have very different personalities. What works for one, doesn't always work for the other.

Last Summer (the Summer he was going from 2nd to 3rd grade) when he still didn't know his addition and subtraction math facts (because they don't teach or practice it in the classrooms in the traditional way) - we decided to spend the entire Summer doing "Summer Studies". I viewed this as sort of catch-up work. I spent the entire Summer - literally every weekday during the Summer for about 3 hours a day - teaching him basic math from a workbook, basically starting from ground zero. We also worked through a writing and reading workbook. I sought out workbooks that were based on traditional teaching methods. And guess what - they worked.

By the end of the Summer, he knew his math facts, he was reading with better fluency and comprehension, he was excited about writing, he was proud of his accomplishments with spelling, he was just really jazzed up and doing well. When school began, I brought the notebooks that we had recorded our work in as well as samples of our work to his new teacher. She barely glanced at them. I got the feeling that she thought I was one of "those" moms, the ones that were going to give her problems and nag at her all year about every nit-picky little thing. We only had time for a 20 minute meeting. She has 28 other kids to worry about.

I'm totally not one of "those" moms. I do understand the difficulty teachers face. I offer my help. I spend time reading and helping in the classroom with the students that need extra help. I volunteer in the classroom weekly. I like helping out for the sake of helping out, but I also like having the opportunity to see how and what my kids are doing in school.

While my older son was totally fine with working on his own, losing himself in a book, practicing math facts on his own, etc., as he's more of a loner, and prefers doing things independantly; my younger son doesn't do so well when left alone to fend for himself for long stretches of time. He gets anxious, bored, and just zones out. Today he was drawing faces on the back of his hand, and making flip-books with a pack of post-it notes. I mean this is great for at-home hanging out sort of stuff, but in school he seems to be wasting his time.

I don't know what to do. I'm not a teacher, but I feel as if my son's time would be better spent if he were home with me and we worked through a traditional curriculum on our own. But then I would worry that he would be missing out on other things. When we homeschooled our oldest son through 2nd grade, it was wonderful except for the fact that he was lonely. He didn't have any friends, it was so sad. We joined homeschooling groups but there weren't any kids in our neighborhood that homeschooled. Also, we are not a religious family and at that time most of the homeschoolers we did meet were very much into their church. Once they found out that we were not religious in any way, we felt as if they began to snub us. It wasn't very fun. The social issue coupled with my feelings of doubt regarding schooling my own children beyond 2nd grade led us to explore other options. Also, at the time, we were expecting little brother and I wasn't sure I wanted to take on homeschooling two children at two different ages/stages. It seemed such a daunting task.

Private school isn't an option. We've actually had experience with private schools (with oldest son) and they were no better, and in some cases actually worse, than public schools - and they are just too expensive. We are not crazy with the ego and attitude of many of the families we met when we were involved with private schools. It's just not the sort of environment we want our kids brought up in.

Lunch is also a problem. He only has 15 minutes for lunch, and he's not exactly a fast eater. He's one of those people that takes his own sweet time for just about everything. At home it's not an issue, but at school this means he rarely has time to finish even half his lunch and by the afternoon he is emotional from being so hungry.

My heart is leaning towards homeschooling my youngest, but my mind is uncertain with doubts and fears. I'm torn. He has asked if we could try homeschooling, which took me by surprise.

I'd love to hear others experiences, ideas, wisdom, thoughts... feel free to pm me privately as well if you like. Thanks!

Last edited by haggardhouseelf; 11-06-2008 at 01:20 AM..
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Old 11-06-2008, 05:12 AM
Location: Maine
650 posts, read 2,020,858 times
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It sounds like you already know what you should do. You have experience with homeschooling your older son, so I think you know that homeschooling can work. The public school doesn't seem to be offering your child what he needs, and since you are also against private school, I think homeschooling would be your best bet.

You also mentioned how you had to "summer school" your son to help him learn basis math facts, so you are already homeschooling on some level.

Whatever your decision, good luck to you. We are a homeschooling family, so obviously that is what I lean toward when I hear a story like yours. It can be a tough decision, though. I know you want to do what will be best for your son.
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Old 11-06-2008, 06:37 AM
2,482 posts, read 8,228,831 times
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OP, you are the type of parent America needs more of. You realize the deficiencies of school so you try to fill in the blanks, as opposed to let the school system raise your kid for you. Don't let the standards at school be the standards for your son. If he wants to excel in some areas, he can. If he's falling shor tin other areas, keep doing what you're doing.
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Old 11-06-2008, 06:49 AM
2,838 posts, read 9,294,003 times
Reputation: 2891
As a homeschooling mother who has both received and given encouragement to and from other homeschooling mothers, I urge you to go for it! Read all that you can about homeschooling, including the methods that you think could "never" work for you... as your homeschooling journey progresses, you might find yourself depending on those very methods. Join a homeschooling group, and an online homeschooling forum for support.

You've already seen the tremendous difference in your child's abilities after just a couple of months of working at home. Why send him to school for 6+ hours only to have to put the same amount of work in at home anyway, and reteaching all that he's "learned" in school? If you are able to homeschool, you can get his work done in a few short hours each day, and he can use the rest of his time to follow his interests and dreams.

Best wishes to you! If you'd like some recommendations on excellent homeschooling books to read for information, I'm sure lots of people here can refer you to some great books and resources.
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Old 11-06-2008, 06:57 AM
Location: Pennsylvania
5,726 posts, read 10,460,219 times
Reputation: 9755
Do you have a sense if this year is an anomaly? Did he have the same feelings last year or was he sufficiently challenged? If things don't seem like they would be significantly different in future grades, and he's bored in 3rd grade, consider what might happen by the time he's in 7th grade. If he's really interested in learning it would be a shame to see that extinguished.

He obviously enjoyed and felt engaged by the work you did with him this summer, which might be why he is now asking to be home-schooled. Consider what kind of social activities would be available for him if he was home-schooled (art classes, sports teams, etc.), and make your decision.
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:41 AM
Location: Chicagoland
5,722 posts, read 9,124,609 times
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Haggardhouseelf, I feel for you. I have had similar experiences w/ the schooling of my children. Unfortunately, we bounced between public school, private school, charter school, and homeschool. Finally, we picked up and moved into an excellent district and are finally having our needs met. Although I see the academic benefits of homeschooling, I also had the EXACT same negative experiences as you did. We did not fit into the fundamental Christian homeschool network in our area and my child missed having that large peer social group around him (and he was lonely and sad from this).

The best option for us was to move to a different school district. However, I did have a possible back-up plan: partial homeschooling. I know this is becoming more popular, particularly in California where some schools even have a "homeschool liason office." I could not find examples of this in Illinois though. Maybe others on this forum have tried this?

When my child was in 2nd grade he was advanced in math and very bored. Since the teacher was unable to give more challenging work, I told her I would pick him up every day from 1-2:30 (their math time) and administer his advanced math curriculum either in the library or off campus if necessary. I honestly did not mean this as a threat. I just thought this was an excellent way to have my child's needs met as we live close to the school and I am practically there everyday as a volunteer anyway. Luckily, the teacher was open-minded and allowed me to do this for several weeks until she came up with another solution. She would move my child and a few other advanced students to another grade for math (BTW, the parents of the other students really thanked me for "shaking things up" this way). So I guess I have been "one of those" parents. But I think I presented the solution in a very positive way and it was to the benefit of the school and our children.

I would encourage you to look into this "partial homeschool" idea as it may be a good fit for you. If at some time my child's school needs aren't met, I'd revisit this idea in a minute. Let us know what you end up deciding. Good Luck!
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Old 11-06-2008, 10:43 AM
6,051 posts, read 13,665,621 times
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Thank you all so much for the response and support. I really do appreciate it.

GoCUBS1 - Partial homeschooling sounds ideal! It never occurred to me that you could do something like that. And good for you for forging your own path and helping other students and families as well! I am going to begin checking into the possibility today.

I have always liked this elementary school, and it's not that I want him out of school altogether. It does offer some wonderful learning opportunities for my son, as it did with his older brother. I just want him more challenged and do not want to think of him sitting around bored all day when he could be making better use of his time, learning more, working more, and also having more time to explore his own personal interests (and also enjoy a decent lunch ). The teacher's are great at the school, with a staff that is genuine and truly cares. The principal is lovely and energetic, and the school is in a great neighborhood and offers lots of extra-curricular activities and programs. We also have a wonderful university here and many of the university students also spend time at the school providing support. But, there are just so many kids here with behavioral problems and learning issues, and also three students in the class who are autistic and also require extra help and create distractions. The behavior issues, especially, seem to take up much of the teacher's time.

These are problems I have seen for years, since my oldest was in elementary school. Behavior problems, especially with boys for some reason, seem to really be getting worse each year. Every year there seem to be more and more kids, mainly boys, acting out. Yelling, being disrespetful, hitting, punching, running around the room, throwing things around the classroom, not listening, etc. I'm just really glad my boys don't have these problems, but they have both expressed frustrations with simply having to share a classroom and sometimes sit next to these kids.

With my oldest, however, all these distractions didn't seem to pose much of a problem over the years as he was more self-guided. He is highly self-motivated and doesn't need much outside help. Even as we were homeschooling the first few years (prek-2) of his schooling, he would often begin the days studies without me. He would wake up early, and just start to work. To this day he works the same way, rarely asking for help other than having me check over his work and circling things that need to be fixed or corrected. My younger son is different in this way, in that he does need a little push, and definitely needs someone there guiding him along. Otherwise he sort of drifts off into his own private la-la land. My youngest is more "artsy", like me, and we both have very active imaginations, we both are dreamers. We both need direction, otherwise we tend to get distracted. This is why when we did our Summer Studies, and when I homeschooled my oldest son, I was very careful to stick to a schedule and keep notebooks and records of what we were doing. I knew that if I tried "unschooling" or a more casual approach to homeschooling, I would be putting ourselves at risk of getting off track. I and my youngest son both need a schedule to stick to, and a "things to do" list everyday to check off, so that we stay on task.

Anyway - so maf763, yes... this is something that has been happening for years. I didn't worry much with my older son because of the way he is, but it's not working so well with my youngest. I kept thinking things would get better, but I just am losing faith. It's time for a change.
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Old 11-06-2008, 10:49 AM
Location: Texas
8,669 posts, read 20,847,518 times
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I really wished I had considered more seriously homeschooling my son. At the time, I felt that neither he nor I had the temperament for it. With your son asking to be homeschooled, and with your experience in it, sounds like to me it's at least worth a try.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:46 AM
12,870 posts, read 29,506,883 times
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haggardhouseelf (great screen name!)
It does sound like your son would be a great candidate for homeschooling. It's popular in my area and I know quite a few families that will homeschool for one year or for just middle school and often just one child because of a special learning style or needs. Our district welcomes home schooled kids for instrumental lessons, band, chorus and orchestra as well as sports at all levels, perhaps yours does as well. Those would be good social outlets and keep your son in touch with friends. Cub Scouts, if he's not already involved, also seems like a good fit.

I wonder if you've considered homeschooling for just the second half of the school year, if that would make it more appealing to you. You could take the time between now and January and investigate what the homeschooling scene is like in your area now. I would guess it changes every few years as the kids move up, new families start doing it, etc.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:59 PM
14 posts, read 29,694 times
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I'm a homeschooler so you can guess what I'm going to say.

A child that is bored at school is a child that is waiting to get into trouble. Why risk it?

If he isn't getting much out of school then it's your responsibility to do something about that.

You look like you've pretty much made up your mind and just need a push.

Can I suggest a quick read of this essay by John Taylor Gatto
http://www.spinninglobe.net/againstschool.htm (broken link)

I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were...
and here is a link to his book "The Underground History of American Education"


Last edited by toobusytoday; 11-06-2008 at 03:19 PM..
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