A lot of you will probably recall that David (12) has had a really tough time with school over the past couple of years, and that one of the biggest issues was homework.
Towards the end of this past school year, we decided to take him out of public school and do homeschooling. I didn't feel like we really had much choice, to be honest. As long as he was enrolled in public school, we were in danger of getting in trouble for his truancy, because we couldn't ever get him into the car to take him to school in the first place.
So far, it's just been an extended summer break for him. I've done a fair amount of research as far as what kind of curriculum we'll have. Luckily, our state is pretty lax as far as how we choose to do things.
I found this online math curricula, called ALEKS. I like the way it looks, and I thought it might be a good option for him. I was looking at a free preview, and there is short placement test, to help decide which level to start at. I got it all set up, and asked him to come and take a look, just for a few minutes. He did the first problem, although not with the good attitude I was hoping for. It didn't require any real thinking, other than learning how to type in the answer in the correct format. The second one showed a grid of 100 squares with a certain number of them filled in. It asked was the percentage of filled in squares was. He became all uppity about having to count the squares. He refused to make any effort to work out how many squares were filled in, so I worked it out for him, and said if he agrees that it's 50%, to type that in. He sat there and typed, "5.1349342" and all kinds of garbage like that. Finally he did it right, banging the heck out of MY keyboard in the process. Lastly, we went to the next question, which was "convert 20/7 to a mixed number." He immediately became oppositional, and refused to even try it. I told him if he doesn't remember how to do it, he should press the "I haven't learned that yet" button, and that will let the assessment know that he needs work on it. He said, "I can't push that button, because I HAVE learned it. I just don't remember it!"
I should have just smiled calmly, and said, "Let's just put this away for now." But no. It felt like we were reliving every bit of homework we ever had to deal with (the wounds still haven't healed), and I felt a sudden surge of panic. Since I took him out of school, I can't even have a proper conversation with anyone in my family anymore because they have no faith in my ability to do right by him. Now here he is, proving them right.
So my response was to give him a tearful, shrill lecture along the lines of, "Jane Austen once said that nothing kills the spirit like poverty, and THAT'S exactly where people who can't get through high school end up! Poverty! Your father and I both have college degrees and it's hard enough for us, blah blah blah!" while he yelled at me to shut up. It was just like an afternoon of homework at regular school.
In retrospect, I realize I didn't have to let it get to me so much. These months were supposed to be our "unschooling", so I regret that I even brought it up at all. But the reason I took him out of school in the first place is that the constant stress was destroying our family. Homeschooling is our last hope. I can't afford to have it go badly.
I know there's no requirement to do this particular math program, although it's the only one I can find that goes into higher levels. There's little chance that he'll actually have to use quadratic equations or derivatives in his daily adult life, but he will have to have a brain that has learned how to think. That's what math does, and why I'm a big fan of learning math.
In all fairness to him, nearly everything I learned in middle school and high school went in one ear and out the other, just long enough for me to pass a test. At his age I still cared about grades, but in high school I figured that since the teachers were dopeheads and perverts, impressing them wasn't so important. As an adult, when I needed or wanted to relearn stuff, I put in the effort and learned it. I trust that he'll learn and grow according to what he's interested in and motivated by. I know I can't force any of it. The problem is that he's interested in and motivated by such a narrow range of things, and only on his terms. Everything else, he vehemently rejects.
And of course, if he does poorly in anything, now people can say, "Well, it's his mother's fault because she took him out of school." That puts the pressure on, certainly. The fact that he was on his way to getting and ulcer because of school doesn't count.