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Friday, December 2, 2011

Bullying - Part II in which we talk about homeschooling

Week 1---Within a few hours of my talk with my sweetie, emails were fired off to the school administration, the teacher where most of the "incidents" were taking place, and the school counselor.

Sweetie pie is torn.  Doesn't want to go to school.  Doesn't want the stigma of tattling.
Sweetie pie uses anger and belligerence as a first line of defense.  Aside from being a mama, it's hard to react with grace and after being poked with a sharp stick for more than a few days hours minutes.

So... now what?

I've home schooled previously.  Specifically this kiddo.  I only did it for a few months, coincidentally (maybe not?) when the bullying started.  In that incident, the teacher was a huge contributor to the problem, and the administration had tied hands.  With administration, we worked out a plan that I'd home school for the remainder of the year, work on esteem issues, (honestly the school work was secondary... maybe thirdary) and administration would "hold" my child's space at the school till the following year.  (My children all attended an alternative public school that has a lengthy waiting list.)  I don't know the particulars except to say that this teacher was the only one not asked to return the following year.
So in my head again, is homeschooling.  This child is all for it and has requested it many times over the last couple years.  Maybe in part due to the fact when we did it previously, school work was a bottom priority, and that was obviously a very attractive feature to said child.

My only hesitation to home schooling, is that our sweetie absolutely positively needs to learn some organizational skills and the consequences of follow through.  My sweetie needs to learn to follow directions from several different teachers, keep track of all of the different responsibilities, and find a system to follow through with obligations.  This has been an area of serious concern for... ever.  This skill is one that I don't think I, or any one person, can teach.  Would love love love some input from some homeschooling mamas now, who teach upper grades.  How do I teach the organizational skills that typical middle/high schools require simply as a result of the fact that there are multiple teachers with various teaching styles?

I've research homeschool in the meantime.  Found something that really feels "right."

Week 2---
Things seem to be getting better this week.  We've discerned that the main source of the bullying is one person.  Other kiddos are picking up on it and joining in, but knowing the main instigator has helped us know where to focus our efforts.  Sweetie has always been a bit socially awkward and when younger, it came across as the class clown.  Now as time passes, it has become an easy target.  It's no excuse for what's happening.  It is what it is.

Sweetie pie seems to feel better about going to school this week.  And it's really really helped us focus our efforts on academic issues, which really really need attention.

Our efforts here at home are to teach our sweetie socially acceptable and appropriate behaviors.  We are also providing lots of opportunities in many areas for success.  My dad has been a wonderful source of help.  The two have been spending a large quantity of quality time together, doing many projects.

Ok... that's where it sounds now.  Getting better for now. But still not out of the woods.


  1. I am sitting at my desk in my office at home and look over to see Sweetie's school work planner and homework folder sitting on the corner of my desk while he is at school. I guess I can't expect all things to change over night. We will keeping working at it.

  2. If you do consider the homeschooling route again, let me know. I have a bunch of good schools that do online learning and you have different teachers, etc. I looked at them for hours only last month when we went through the bullying thing.

    There are lots of hs co-ops and such, that might be a good source just for info on making sure you address the issues specific to your kiddo, keeping organized, completing work etc.

    Work with the school as best you can, but if you don't get the answers you want and deserve and Sweetie still struggles, do what you have to.

    Good luck. I'm rooting for this to not just go away but to be resolved, in whatever way is best for all of you.

  3. As a HS mom with a kiddo who also struggles with some of those issues (bullying, social awkwardness at times, follow through, organization...) I'm pretty sure there's no perfect answer. But here's what's working for us (or working on the good days and not as far off the mark on the bad days as other stuff we've tried):

    Look for things that are thoroughly engaging for Sweetie Pie and require organization, following instructions, etc. It's not going to click into place until the child is ready for it to click into place and it won't happen because other people expect it. It has to come from within. There has to be an internal motivation.

    I've given my kiddo responsibility for things-- here's your budget and travel limitations, you plan the family's 4th of July celebration (with appropriate guidelines spelled out-- plan for food needs, etc.).

    But our best efforts come from topics that interest her and have some sort of reward at the end. She's into science and space, so more complex projects with trips to the planetarium (or some such) when the project is complete.

    We also joined a HS co-op this year and my kiddo is taking a couple classes there (different teachers, peer group...). One of those classes I leave entirely to her. She has homework. She has responsibilities. The class is something she chose, she enjoys and she's doing it. Some assignments aren't at the level I'd like, but she hasn't forgotten anything, has completed every assignment on time, is excited about what she's doing, and the teacher enjoys having her in class.

    I've found there is a lot less bullying in the HS world. Probably because parents are more present and because the dynamics of traditional school settings seem to encourage bullying. So the social world is improving and as she feels accepted and comfortable, her social skills are growing.

    Hope you continue to see improvement in the situation at school!

  4. As someone whose 7th grade year was absolutely hellish due to bullying (with a liberal sprinkling of culture shock after living overseas), all I can do is send good vibes in your direction. You are *so* right about the additional non-academic education picked up in school by working with multiple teachers in multiple classes... but you're also right about being able to concentrate on important specific areas of need -- again, not necessarily pure academics -- with home schooling.

    If Sweetie Pie is still open to continuing in public school, my personal scales tip in that direction simply because it will help her (perhaps not as comfortably as either of you would like) learn the additional skills of how to deal with bullying situations and kids who don't necessarily choose the proper interpersonal behaviors.

    I look forward to (hopefully) reading positive updates in the blog...

  5. I am reading every single comment. And taking notes and still formulating plans as we learn and things change. The comments are so very appreciated.


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