The insecure unschooler begins school

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Registered: 07-23-2002
The insecure unschooler begins school
6
Wed, 09-14-2011 - 2:39pm

I don't write much about my 14yo ds here. If I had to place bets on his IQ I'd guess he's highly gifted, but he's more right-brained and avoidant than a motivated overachiever like his sister. He prefers to tinker, to find workarounds, to stay in the background. He has some anxiety issues, lots of perfectionism paralysis, interests (like computer-gaming) that tend to be associated with slackerism, and a procrastination streak a mile wide. He's also quite profoundly dysgraphic and still struggles even with writing his name. So he doesn't exactly present himself as stereotypically gifted. In an unschooling situation his avoidant, procrastination tendencies haven't exactly lent themselves to achievement. For instance, he avoided doing any formal math study until he was almost 10. At the point at which his younger sister was clearly beginning to outstrip his knowledge and skills, he asked me to "force" him to do 20 minutes of math every day. Within 6 months he was finished pre-algebra. Satisfied, he dropped it.

Fast-forward four years. He decided to attend school part-time. Same reasons as with elementary math: he was looking for someone to force him to do some learning work that he knew he wouldn't otherwise stick to. He's small for his age and a little shy and emotionally fragile. I worried how he'd cope, thrown into high school courses with no experience whatsoever with school, tests, assignments, evaluations, homework.

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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Registered: 05-13-1998
Thu, 09-15-2011 - 11:29am

It's great that he's getting a dose of confidence and seeing he has actual strength where he might have seen flaw before. It's probably good he came in when he did as opposed to in elementary where the dysgraphia would have been much harder to work around.

I wonder how much of this is a birth order type thing.... second child right? It's common for them to carve their own way seperate from their older sibling. Even though you've set up a great non-comparative enviroment for him to grow, it's hard not to look at your sibilings and notice differences. Sooner or later, they take notice as to what society values. School offers him a more realistic litmus of where he is in the world and sounds like it's reassuring. I know my own DS who has many similarities to yours takes a lot of comfort in working with others in school because while there are still those high-achievers like his sister, there are more that are just trudging along and DS comes off very strong amoungst them.

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Registered: 01-05-2005
Thu, 09-15-2011 - 1:11pm

I'm so happy to hear that school is a positive thing for him. Do you think it's just the right confluence of place and age and people? How do you think it would have played out four years ago, or two? That's one of the reasons that homeschooling or unschooling can be so wonderful, imo- if you have a kid who might not be ready at 8 to do math, he can still flourish at 14, instead of perhaps being made to feel so bad about it that he turns off completely.

And I definitely agree about getting the feedback. I know in our household, where all the kids are pretty bright, and among our relatively bright extended family, the kids tend to take their abilities for granted. Ds9 is *just* beginning to see what the the older kids have learned- "wow, I do pretty well compared to the other kids," or "that concept didn't seem all that hard, but wow, a lot of the other kids were struggling." At home, they might get it easily but if they're perhaps comparing themselves to their sibling who got it even more quickly, it changes their perspective.

That's great news! Thanks for sharing

Theresa

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Registered: 07-23-2002
Thu, 09-15-2011 - 1:13pm

Yes, I'm sure it's difficult living in the shadow of his older sister. Actually, one of the hard sells with the advanced writing course is that his older sister was for three years the wunderkind in that same class. He really didn't want himself measured against her shadow, even though she's gone now. But he seems to be finding his own way.

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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Registered: 05-13-1998
Thu, 09-15-2011 - 2:10pm
DS went to a different elementary school than DD and that helped a great deal. However, he's going to the same middle school and within minutes of walking on the campus, he had a teacher great him with "you've got some awfully big shoes to fill." Apparantly, every teacher but the Spanish immersion teacher made a similar comment. I know them to be excellent teachers but man, they could have been more subtle. I really hope DS finds his own way as gracefully as yours seems to be!
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Registered: 06-14-1999
Sun, 09-18-2011 - 7:53am

My DS is similar.

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Registered: 05-02-2004
Sun, 09-25-2011 - 6:21pm
This is a wonderful age for kid to do self discovery. I would suggest, that perhaps his wanting to do school classes is part of that self discovery and risk taking. (Not the other way around.) His is ready, he is interested, and therefore he is trying new things. School may be challenging his boy traits of needing competition. But what ever it is, it does sound that the path he has chosen is good for him right now! A year or two ago, with you pushing him, he probably wouldn't have been ready and had a totally different reaction.