Friday, September 18, 2020

Back to School

 This was our third week of school and what started becoming increasingly apparent was that if William is interested in our studies, he engages and reads and does the work willingly. However, if it is something that he isn't interested in, he digs in his heels and gets very stubborn about doing whatever is required of him. 

No amount of talking was going to persuade him to simply knuckle down and do it, even though I tried pointing out to him that he was determining the length of his school day. 

The final straw was a 20 minute cry over writing one question. Just one: "What is something that you would ask Chief Cornplanter if you could interview him?" I was surprised that he was so uninterested in his social studies, but he's been bored by indigenous people for three weeks now.  He finally did the question, but there was a lot of drama. 

I knew that he could (and would) eventually do it, so I sat in the other room and waited out the storm. I felt increasingly sick as I waited. I remembered long struggles with his mother. She hated math, and would simply cry at the dining room table. It was difficult to remain patient with her as I tried to balance the needs of her two younger siblings. It was unproductive. It was frustrating. In the end, we were unsuccessful. We couldn't save her. That math anxiety turned into a kid who simply did not want to go to school at all.

And all these years later, I couldn't do it all over again. I simply could not run the risk of being unsuccessful with a beloved grandchild. I took a deep breath and decided that we were moving into a very unhealthy learning dynamic and that the end result could be that he began to hate school, to hate learning. 

William's school teacher had a parent conference. It was suggested that William return to physical school. 

He's never been a behavior problem in school. He would not cry in front of his peers, for fear of being labeled a baby. He wouldn't try to 'play' his teacher. I suspect that part of his problem was knowing that a lot of his friends had returned to school. He's a social kid. He missed that.

Mostly what I think is that if there is some sort of learning disability, it would be identified. Also, in school he would have text books and that's a big deal for a visual learner, which is William. 

I can go on at great length about why it was the wise and sensible choice for William to return to a physical school, but it does not stop me from feeling like I failed. 


  1. I think my daughter went to school more for her social life but had to keep her grades up to be able to enjoy the social life. She endured one to be able to have the other and her friends did make a difference since she wanted to be able to see them and do fun times with them. She finished school and college and is glad we insisted on things she did not like or understand why at the time.

  2. I don't see it as a failure. I see it as a wise grandparent who recognizes that not all children learn the same way. It sounds to me like sending him back to school is what's right for William.

  3. Oh Deb - it is hard when kids have a hard time dealing with what some parents have a hard time dealing with too.

    I think a big issue with the learning from home is that the schools who are trying to convert to it don't know how.

    Schools who have done so for years would have been great resources for the in-house learning schools to emulate, and it is frustrating when they don't or won't.

    Our tiny school did a great job of it in comparison to a lot of the bigger schools in the area - and one of the things that they did was to encourage connections with other students (and not necessarily just the kids that they knew) as one of the weekly tasks.

    They also sent home a hard pack with texts in it, and we could print out the daily email lesson plan and work from a hard copy. That helped greatly.

    It is hard for everyone right now. You are not a failure by any stretch. The resources that you were given were catering for a system that had not "pivoted" well.

    You are not a failure.

  4. I agree with what’s been said here so won’t repeat it. I think William
    is where he needs to be. I think William is fortunate to have you and Tim
    as grandparents and, as much as a 10-year-old can, I think he knows that too. From
    all you’ve written here, it appears William also loves to learn. And I have a hunch you’ll
    continue to teach him, even if it’s not in an official capacity. Blessings to all of you.

  5. You are not a failure! You have just experienced what millions of other families are going through right now. I know a couple of people who have three kids they are trying to navigate through the online schooling and the nightmare is real.

  6. Time and time again throughout their lives, my children always amaze me at what they will do for a teacher or a coach but won't do for me. This very scenario is part of the reason we opted to send out kids to school in person this year. Although I am not convinced it was the best thing to do in regards to Covid, it was definitely the best thing to do for their education. Thus far, the Covid thing has worked out too and their hasn't been a mass outbreak and the protocols in place have limited the spread to a few single students here and there who most likely brought it from home.


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