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Nov 27 2011

So how DO you let go?

Oh, the much-too-brief Thanksgiving break is over. And the winter break is much-too-distant. Between now and then are events of the holiday sort, of the business trip sort, and of the elementary school sort. Report cards come out this week, with our followup IEP meeting at the end of next.

That I purchased a large bottle of Southern Comfort while on my grocery run this morning was a complete coincidence. It was on sale.

A lot will be decided in the next three and a half weeks. I’m doing my best to live in the now and not freak out over the future. If I just concentrate on the day-to-day, I’ll have the mental energy to deal with the big things when they come up. And big they will be.

What I’ve repeatedly heard about homeschooling a 2e kid is that the home stress levels dropped and family relationships improved; for that alone I’d homeschool. But how do you ensure the child is learning what needs to be learned, without becoming just another painful school setting? If you know your child needs to learn XYZ so some really cool stuff can be understood and appreciated, but he’s hell-bent on QKV, what do you do? Let it be known that A and I are both first-born, Type A children who butt heads over the.littlest.thing. For this reason our therapist in Colorado strongly recommended I not homeschool him; if she knew of the current situation she’d tell me to pull him now.

How do I let go?

I’m serious here. I need some intense guidance on this. A is bulldozer-motivated, but only on things of HIS choosing. How do you step back and guide learning, rather than shove it down his throat? The best situation for him is a self-guided STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum, with arts and history branching off from that.

How do I let go?

How do I make learning a natural thing, homeschooling just his current educational situation, and not have it affect our parent/child relationship? Right now I’m the school’s enforcer as it is, making him struggle through homework when he’s exhausted from a day of keeping his shit together in school, when his ADHD meds have worn off, when he needs to relax and mentally prepare for the next day. I can’t do that all day long.

How do I let go?

I think if I had a handle on this one thing I’d feel much more comfortable. Curriculum I can handle. Teaching and coaching and guiding I can handle. But blending that with being a mom to both him and his brother and not scorching our relationship? That’s where I need someone to light the path. I know others have done this, I know I can do this, but because I’ve never done it I’m scared to death.

How did you let go?

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  1. Myrinda

    I’m not sure I can tell you HOW…but what I can share is that I’m not sure if our DD is ADHD or not (might be learned distraction behavior from poor school fit), but she IS gifted and stubborn and DOES have processing speed and fine motor issues that make writing akin to major surgery without novocaine.
    After 3yrs and 3mo of disappointments, arguments, blaming, tears, heartbreak…we are homeschooling.
    And it’s going WONDERFULLY! For us, I think just the idea that she can choose which work to do first is a BIG deal. I lay out the things we need to work on for a week and she choses the order. If I see her getting exhausted, she can have a break. There are so many ways I can tailor the environment to her and her needs.
    Right now…it is HEAVENLY!
    Why not give it a try? What’s the worst that could happen? Could it be worse than it is now? I didn’t think it would work for us in a million years, but I was so wrong!

  2. Rich

    Hmm. You say your child is motivated, even to the point of single-minded purpose. I don’t mean this in a “comparing pain” kind of way, but as a celebration: unlike some 2E kids, he’s not been entirely broken by school. That’s GREAT!

    Because your son is still motivated to learn, it sounds like your first big challenge is going to be deschooling YOURSELF. Get Tammy Takahashi’s books; absorb them, live with them, work through them from denial all the way through acceptance. They are all about the parental process of deschooling, and the attendant anxiety it causes.

    Best of luck!

  3. Heather

    Follow your childs interests. Trust that they will learn what they need to know in life when they need it. Your child has an inner drive to learn about the world around him, follow that as your guide. Use the resources around you, as there are many. Strew things of interest around the house for him to discover & learning will magically happen on its own while you can focus on relationship and keeping the peace and love between you. Accept and let go. Homeschooling does not have to look like school…make it work for you. Unschooling is a great option that meets these needs. You can do this! Trust that.

  4. Joanne

    LOL – how do we let go? We’ve been homeschooling for 9yrs and only this year am I feeling ready to “let go.” So far we’ve always used Sonlight and loved the curriculum! However our gifted 9yr old keeps doing his own thing and then spends ages “catching up” on what the curriculum said he should have done that day. SO this next year he’s designing his own curriculum. (With us insisting on him doing maths and a writing program the rest is up to him) So far he’s elected French, Latin, Piano and violin. My hubby is a scientist so he’ll start a sceince club for other kids so we can do some science experiments withour own kids without them realising they learning and I’ve started a drama club so they get to do drama too. So don’t be too hard on yourself it’s taken us 9yrs to take a chance and give one entire year to “letting go” so can let you know in a year how it goes :)Enjoy the ride…

  5. cocobean

    We’ve schooled at home with a virtual school for 7 1/2 years – it started out that my daughter needed more structure, where I’d have been more unschooly in primary grades. Then, as she became more “driven” in what she wanted to study, the virtual school kept us aware of the bigger picture of things. I sort of think about it like I did nutrition when she was a toddler – it wasn’t about what she ate at one meal or on one day, it was more about her diet over the course of a week…

    Let your control freak tendencies guide a big picture and longer-term goals (complete x lessons per week – meet this goal each month) – but give him control of smaller timeframes (ie: doing all of his english on Monday to be done with it for the week (or suffering through doing it all on Friday because he put it off all week))

    Also, look at places where you can let him determine how he’ll “pass” a subject – maybe instead of a vocabulary “test” he can write a comic strip with the vocabulary words – alternate assessments will make help keep learning fun and exciting at home!

  6. Paula H.

    Jen,
    I found myself in a similar situation when my now 10 year old was in grade 3. The school that we were at would not accommodate his needs at all and he stopped doing the classwork (and the teacher did not notice – I did!), and he spent a lot of time chatting with the office ladies on his extended “bathroom breaks”. No one was interested in providing him with more challenging spelling words, reading materials, or math worksheets. So I pulled him out. The only support group I had was the homeschooling organization – we had the same ideas about educating kids (my family did not). I will not tell you that the next six months were rosy and that we bonded, blah, blah, blah…Really, most days were tough. I think I was more happy than he was about getting a spot in a gifted education program-not run by me!

    What I did enjoy was figuring out how he learned best, how he could finish work when it challenged him, and all the fun ways to incorporate learning into our everyday. “School” became very unstructured and it worked for us. Would I do it again? I hope not to.

    If you need ideas or support, let me know.

  7. /ei

    I wonder about this when I hear my friends who homeschool talk. I don’t know at all, but I really wish I could find out sometimes. Maybe start with a new therapist??? 😉

  8. Siggi

    Ok, dumb question time: Could he study what HE wants to study for a few months while you get comfy homeschooling together? You might find that this serves only as a deschooling period for him, and then move into more parent-directed study, or you might find that he actually is making progress in XYZ without studying them specifically.

    Alternately, a bare minimum course of study mandated by you for each week (my 5yos do a chapter of ETC and four pages of math/week), to do when he pleases, but if it doesn’t get done by Friday morning, that day the whip comes out, so he’s done going into the weekend. Works with my girls pretty well – I’ve only had to nail them down on Friday a few times, and even then we’re done in a matter of a few hours.

    Any which way, good luck, and don’t forget the chocolate. 🙂

  9. Accidental Expert

    I have many homeschooling friends and they love it. I think having a kid that is motivated is half the battle. If you choose to do this, you’ll do great. One minor suggestion…you may want to hold off on the Southern Comfort during schooling time.

  10. trish

    I have no children and I’m naive and my worldview is probably skewed from working with geeks, but if he is motivated to learn in STEM but hates things like reading/writing can he just … NOT do the reading/writing/history stuff? Or do them just within a STEM-driven context (like writing a lab report, reading instructions to assemble a gadget or do an experiment)? I think formal school puts a lot of emphasis on being “well-rounded” but the “real world” doesn’t necessarily demand that.

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