Wednesday, April 05, 2017

In which I seem to go out of my way to offend people

I'm feeling a little kvetch-y today. In general things are going fine. My people have been doing some great learning around here, the laundry is nearly caught-up, and we even made it to a museum yesterday on a spur of the moment field trip. I still don't have any news to share with you about the house, and the houses I've been staring at on the realty sites are all disappearing at a fantastic rate, so I suppose that has more than a little bit to do with my mood. But really, it all boils down to not being understood. As a writer, if someone doesn't understand what I have written or said, then it is very easy to see that as a failure of communication. I really no not like to be misunderstood.

Here's what I would like to clarify. These are totally random and a smattering of what is floating around in my head.

1. To the woman at the member's desk at the museum yesterday, You know, I know that travelling around with nine children in tow is not terribly common, but does it really need a snicker? Really? I don't know for sure what you were trying to communicate. Since I wanted to get on with my visit, I didn't engage you in conversation, but I can tell you from my end, it didn't feel very nice. Besides, I wasn't asking you to take them around the museum for me. I wish people understood that having more than one or two children can actually be enjoyable.

2. I continue to find it difficult to adequately describe what we see in R., and that there is a total disconnect between how she presents to the general public and what we see in private. Yes, out in public she is charming, has terrific eye contact, smiles, engages, and wraps everyone around her little finger. She has learned how to survive and being charming in order to get what she desires... either something such as food or a hug (or ten)... she can do it. She can present as absolutely on top of things provided no one varies from her script of greetings, offers of help, and anything needing a yes or no answer. Thus, since this is about all that people witness, they think they understand that there is an actual child behind the facade of smiles. When more is asked of her.... real relationships, real emotions, real opinions, real engagement... the charming facade fails and you see you are left with a mere shell. All form and no substance. I try to explain this to people, and because they have never witnessed a child who experiences the degree of disassociation which R. evidences, they just cannot wrap their head around it. But she is so charming!!

When we see the glimpses of the real child who occasionally comes out, she is a toddler. A young toddler. A young and still very scared toddler. We have been working very hard recently on keeping her in the present. It is no small task given her years' long habit of not actively engaging with life. It is also extremely exhausting for her. Her brain is not used to being used so much.

I find it so difficult to really explain the differences between a fully engaged and functioning child and a child who is just not there.

3. Since we're talking about hard things, let's also talk about homeschooling. Not that homeschooling is hard, but it seems knowing what is and isn't homeschooling is terribly difficult. I, or someone expressing these same opinions, have been racked over the proverbial coals in homeschooling Facebook groups more than once recently for daring to suggest that someone really isn't homeschooling.

This should be fun. It could even be one of those times where reading the comments is far more entertaining than the actual post. Here we go.

Homeschooling is the parent teaching the child at home, using curriculum of their own choice, and minimally fulfilling the requirements of a person's state. The family may choose to enroll their child in outside classes or co-ops, but if any of those entities pass on money to government funded public or charter schools, then it ceases to be homeschooling.

You are not homeschooling if your child is sitting in front of computer using public school curriculum and resources, and must follow that school's requirements and answer to that school's teachers. Yes, your child is at home, yes they are learning, but because of the ties to public school, you are merely transferring the place where your child attends, you are not homeschooling. A key to really knowing the difference is, to ask yourself, if this particular curriculum is not working for my child, can I ditch it and try something else? If you worry about what the school would say about it, you are not homeschooling.

To me, the key to homeschooling is parental freedom to do what the parent believes to be best for the child and the family. The second you involve someone else in that equation, you have diluted its essence and invited more outside governmental control by confusing who gets to decide. We definitely need another term to describe those people who choose to use governmental or for-profit schools, yet do their work for them at home. Because it's not homeschooling, regardless of where it takes place.

No, I do not think I am splitting hairs. Yes, I think parents should be allowed to make whatever educational choice is best. If attending a K12 school at home is best, then great. But... don't co-opt a term that does not describe what you are doing because in the long run you are going to help make life that much more complicated for those of who are genuinely homeschooling. Please find your own term. And one more thing. The purveyors of these online schools are not going to help you find your own term. They are quite happy to use the term homeschooling to describe what they are doing, because ultimately it is in their own best interests to dilute what homeschooling really is and essentially corner the homeschooling market by providing what people will assume is the only way to homeschool. Follow the money.

There, now that I have probably offended quite a few people. I can on about my day.


Shaun G said...

In Pennsylvania, which has a bunch of those types of schools, they're called cyber schools.

I've never heard of them being equated with homeschooling. At least in this area of the country, they don't seem to be.

shambeda said...

I have homeschooled and I have cyberschooled. You a correct, they are totally different. I have tried the cyber route with three different children and three different schools. I will never try it again. As a homeschool mom, I hated it. I hated the rules and rigidity. I hated that my opinion no longer mattered. I hated being tied down. Homeschooling and cyberschooling are two different beasts.

c smith said...

I am currently tutoring a boy who is doing cyber school and the difference between what he is doing and my own homeschooling is night and day. He really is doing "school at home". The only change from public school is a little more flexibility in scheduling and less influence from peers, which is why his parents removed him from class.

Momma Ruthies said...

I can so relate to what you are saying about the child in public and the child at home. And I've learned, there isn't a way I can explain the difference that people understand.

We have homeschooled for 16 years and I agree, the "homeschooling" with the cyber schools is not at all what I would do. SO much busy work which ends up burning out both child and parent. I've seen a number of families in which the children have changed from curious and children who love to learn to children who begin to fight learning. And these families have all put their children in public schools because mom is exhausted. I had someone tell me her kids were in a stretch of wanting to read every day, and I thought that's great. But she said they couldn't as they had to do all their "required" work:(

Lucy said...

Another question about R, because I'm curious. You say she is functionally a toddler, the mental stimulation tires her out, etc. Quite expected of course, so my question is, do you also have her on a toddler schedule? Like, get up later (or earlier if she's an early rise), 1 or 2 naps in the day, snacks, early bedtime and so forth?

thecurryseven said...

Lucy, Yes, pretty much. She definitely has a rest time where we don't ask anything of her during quiet time, and the whole family (well, except the adults and those older children who have places to go) wake up on their own schedule. R. is pretty hypervigilant, still, so sleeps extremely lightly. I've had others do this, and it takes a good long while of feeling safe enough to relax for this to change.


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