Thursday, September 20, 2012

My daughter is mad because I let her quit school...

Corazon has been angry with me because I gave her permission to not do schoolwork.

Homeschooling is full of ups and downs with her because she has so many challenges with organization, attention, opposition, hyper vigilance and perfectionism. Sometimes we go for weeks and everything moves relatively smoothly. Then she just stops doing any schoolwork or doing pretty mediocre work. We have ridden that wave pretty much her entire life with us and I don't sweat it when we have to take a break. When she won't do her work she just gets to help me out and do more chores. We both win. She gets time with me and I get chores I don't have time for done. The challenge is that the other kids take their cues from her so when she is battling about schoolwork they try to battle too.

While she loves learning, her skills vary considerably depending on the day and the attitude with which she approaches her work. As a teacher, I am pretty sure she is close to grade level or just above it in most areas. However, if anyone administered any kind of assessment she would be somewhere around 3rd grade (instead of beginning 7th.) I haven't worried about assessments because I can see steady progress over time. However, sometimes we go through some serious battles for attention because she refuses to do her schoolwork. As with any RAD kid, it makes no difference if I take things away or have her miss out on activities. What works for her is missing out on time with me. If she thinks she won't have access to attention from me, she will often get her act together. Not always but often.

Enter puberty and hormones.

Enter little brother who still can't read at grade level.

Enter 5 year old sister now homeschooling too.

Result:  recipe for disaster.

With a new addition to our homeschooling crew and a need to give Pollito more one-on-one as he struggles with his reading, her anxiety about getting "enough" attention has kicked into high gear. Since we started "Fall school" (we do year-round schooling) she has had a very hard time despite her involvement in selecting much of the work she gets to do.  She will not allow me to give those children ANY attention without engaging in destructive, counter-productive, distracting, rude, unsafe or just plain obnoxious behaviors. It has affected the other children's quality of life considerably. I gave Corazon a choice: do schoolwork while I am working with the other two OR go to her room. Of course, that didn't work. So finally I said I was ok with her NOT doing schoolwork. She could just sit there or do something quietly instead. In fact, she never had to do schoolwork again. I was done. Totally done.

She got MAD. She begged. She pleaded. She wrote me letters. Did I want her to be uneducated? (Of course not.) Did I not care about her learning? (Can learn without schooling.) Did I not care about her future? (Of course!) How could I tell her she could stop school at age 12? Didn't I love her? (Yep, that's why I am not doing this battle anymore.) She wrote me more letters. I didn't cave. Nope. No schoolwork for you.

In the past 2 days she has caught up on all the schoolwork she hadn't done in the past 3 weeks. All of it. She keeps trying to show it to me (when the other kids are getting my attention) and I smile and say "that's nice" and then remind her that the other kids are schooling right now. Today she asked me for more schoolwork. I said I didn't have any but showed her what her older brother was working on. She asked if she could photocopy it. Last I saw her she was busily working on doing an "analysis" of a Helen Hunt Jackson poem. School ended a few hours ago for the rest of the children. I wonder how long this will last.

3 comments:

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Great job! I love that she got so worked up she wrote you letters. Hopefully now that she wants it for herself it will go well!

Dia por Dia said...

The letter thing is working for her. We started a "mother/daughter" journal a few years ago that seemed to help us communicate better but then we gave it up. When this issue came up she pulled it out and wrote me a letter. So far we have been going back and forth about every 2 days. It seems to help both of us out. Of course, I am being cautious and nonchalant about the whole schoolwork thing. :-0

Dia por Dia said...
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