05-31-2018 12:41 PM
I hope you dont mind if I have a huge vent here. I have two boys. One is an absolute dream at school - hes 15. My other son is 17..in Yr 11..and absolutely over school.
Ill let you know what he is like. Hes very shy, introverted, creative and totally not in to being social or doin stuff he doesnt enjoy. He is a different kid when out and about but hates the school system.
So, on Tuesdays we have made a compromise where he can stay home, manage a bushwalk with me, catches up on a bit of Maths and thats about it. He loves his break day.
Only thing is, the school senior subject coordinator is on my back about him not being at school for five days a week. He is passing everything except graphics (which he may change). Hes getting an A in Maths and B+ in English,
Hes hanging on at school by a thread and I am sure he would leave at any moment if pushed too far. He knows legally that he doesnt have to be there. I am hoping this particular lady the subject co-ordinator doesnt keep hounding him.
I met with her today and explained that he is not happy at school but we have come to an agreement that he should still go even just 4 days a week. She said to me well hes not going to get a job with that attitude. Hes not going to function in society if he never communicates with his teachers or asks for work that he has missed (remember he is VERY shy and unsure of asking teachers..why I dont know but hey thats how it is) I said well even though he hates being at school...he loves the idea of being in the army or working on a boat or something like that and that he isnt like all the other kids. I felt like she was thinking I was a bad parent and wanted my son to fit her mold. I dont know if I should talk to the principal. I dont know if I am doing the right thing by my son.
05-31-2018 12:49 PM - edited 05-31-2018 12:49 PM
Hi @hippychick, your post really touched me. I think you have a very progressive, sensible and well-rounded view of the education system. This element I found particularly amazing "So, on Tuesdays we have made a compromise where he can stay home, manage a bushwalk with me, catches up on a bit of Maths and thats about it. He loves his break day."
The reality is there are many successful people in the world who did not complete high school or even attend university, tonnes. Your son's anxiety around school certainly does not reflect his ability to work, and judging by your post his grades are very good. Is the school coordinator threatening to fail him, or will she still allow him to pass? I suppose it is her job to follow these things up, and perhaps she is quite conventional in her approach with students, I really feel your frustration as she called your parenting into question. My perception is quite the reverse, that you're actually a very empowering parent.
05-31-2018 01:05 PM
@Breez-RO thank you so much for your empathy and understanding. I have been literally on edge all morning...questioning myself and feeling very emotional. I read what you wrote and it took such a weight off me - it reallt did. Your words made me feel so encouraged. Sometimes I am sure the teachers think I'm a kook and that I'm neglecting my childs best interests. I dunno. I do think of homeschooling sometimes but he likes the subjects where he can make things out of wood and metal and he likes the marine based subject. I feel for him having to be under the spotlight at school. There are only ten kids left in his class as all the other kids left at the end of Yr 10 and some left last term.
His subject co-ordinator is, in a way, threatening to fail him - but thats only if he looks like he isnt going to get his senior certificate. It seems to me that a child failing means a big black blot on the schools name and one of my sons teachers (who is very understanding) said that they will cancel his enrolment if by the end of Yr 11 it looks like hes not going to pass to get his senior certificate.
SOmetimes I wish that I didnt let things like this get to me..I wish I didnt think about my childrens issues so much ... maybe I have a problem with overthinking or not seeing things from another perspective?? I dunno but thank you so much Breez for tapping in to me and making me feel a little stronger at the moment.
05-31-2018 01:35 PM
Definitely, I think this is a very understandable reaction @hippychick. I have heard many parents acknowledge the education system is not designed to accommodate various learning styles. As your son enjoys wood and metal work it's quite possible, unlike your other son, he is a hands-on learner (which is awesome!) Although his grades actually sound above board in academics too. I find it interesting the school aren't accommodating considering he is delivering the results, your family is definitely doing the best to work within a system that is not very flexible for different learning needs.
Your son deserves some kudos sticking it out whilst all of his peers have left. Also very glad to hear he has a teacher on his side. I am glad you will not be dis-empowered by this set-back. Keen to hear what our other members think too, they might have some ideas on communicating with the school throughout the process, and exercising self-care in the process
05-31-2018 02:24 PM
Thanks Breez, you come across as a very open minded and non judgemental yet intuitive person. I am also hoping some of the other people on our board have some insights to help. 😊😊
05-31-2018 05:42 PM
You are spot on!
I have found teachers get obsessed with grades and attendance and such stuff. How often have we heard "it's different when we get to uni" (or tafe, or whatever). High School has moved a long way from reality, imho.
I've moved my son to a new school, and was amazed at the difference in attitude compared to the giant high school he was at before. There are many pathways through school on to lots of careers. We don't have to obsess about the HSC and NAPLAN etc. - That's often a pathway to mental health problems. Definitely talk to the Principal, and ask for a clear statement about the impact of missing one day per week. In NSW attendance at exams and assessment is compulsory. I've read (but can't confirm) that an 85% overall attendance rate is also required. That's 4.25 days out of 5. If your son can manage an extra day or 2 per month (say, for assessments) he will meet that. Ask the principal.
It sounds like he is intelligent, doing well even though he doesn't enjoy it. He might be the kind of kid who really flourishes after school, in the right environment. He's almost there...another 12 months or so and he will be finished the normal teaching part! You said he might change his graphics course, does the school have any VET courses available? They might give him a taste of studying in a different environment.
If I may make another suggestion....get him to do something about his shyness. Counsellor, drama class, club, whatever he enjoys and works. It's going to pay dividends in the long run.
05-31-2018 06:24 PM
Thanks for being so helpful with your post. I will check with the principal regarding attendance percentage.
Also, he has decided he is going to stick with graphics even though he got a D, his teacher said he can resubmit it. He has big issues with time management and while the school isnt big, he does get overwhelmed being around lots of people. He was going to a VET course one day a week in Term One but when his close friend (who was also doing the VET course) dropped out of school, my son was too nervous and shy to keep going to the course on his own. He has terrible social anxiety - at least around people he doesnt know very well. It is so bad that on two occasions where he was supposed to go to the VET course, he just would not budge from the lounge room because he knew his friend was not going to be there. THis is something we are working on but it is not easy.
I would love for him to join a club or class doing something he likes and that is also something we continually try to encourage but without making too much of a fuss over. Hopefully, through all my suggestions, one will spark his interest.
He has plans to join a volunteer group after he finishes for a gap year or for however long he wants...may be a good way to see a bit of the world under the wing of an organisation.
Thanks for being so understanding and helping me feel that I am not alone in my thinking. I am not keen on the school system at all. Even now, many hours later, I am feeling anxious for him. Thank you for helping me through though Schooner. I will take your advice on board too
05-31-2018 08:47 PM
So good to see your boy has plans (gap year, volunteering). It's a great way to build up some social skills and confidence.
I don't know how you approached your boy. It's hard to give advice without all the facts. But, I think we guys respond to straight talk: I know you're anxious, you want to do a gap year, that's great, I support it, but you need to work on your social skills, a lot of that is just a skill that can be learned, like soccer or drawing, so how about we learn some? That sort of thing. Have that conversation a few times over a month, no pressure, see what happens.
I think you are on a good path. Don't get distracted by "the sky is falling" teachers
05-31-2018 09:04 PM - edited 05-31-2018 09:08 PM
Hi @hippychick I really commend you for seeking a different educational experience for your son. Some great responses from @Breez-RO and @Schooner. I think @Schooner is right, students need a minimum attendance % and have to attend school on the day an assessment task is due, so I would check with the school about attendance requirements. Your son sounds like he is doing quite well academically, even though he does not attend every day so I don't understand why the school can not encourage him to finish high school if the alternative means dropping out - providing he maintains his grades and fulfills his attendance requirements. Maybe talk to the teacher who is understanding about the best way your son can catch up on work when he is not at school. Some kids struggle with school for a variety of reasons, but will flourish in the workplace or other study after school, so try not to let the coordinators comments discourage you too much.... You certainly don't sound like a bad parent to me. I hope that your son continues with 4 days a week, and passes his HSC exams to prove to the coordinator and himself that it can be done!
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