Last day of school

My six-year-old made it through three days of school.

Before school started, when I could see that he wanted to go, I asked the school to test him, so the school would be very aware of how far ahead he is. For example, he tested at the end of second grade for math.

On his first day of school, the math he did was circling two balls, and writing the number two. Stuff like that. He brought it home. I said nothing. Although I noticed that after a page of this sort of math, he started making mistakes like writing there is one shoe instead of two shoes.

On the third day of school, I found him in his bed, crying. He said, “I was so excited to go to school and now I’m not excited anymore.”

He said the playground is too scary because there are third and fourth graders and the first graders can’t do anything. He said his best friend got beaten up and no teachers saw.

“What? Beaten up? Like how?”

“His skin got peeled off. Really. I’m not kidding.”

I don’t know about the skin. I’m sure he’s scared, though. The school playground reminds me of Lord of the Flies but without starvation to keep kids focused on the serious issue of hunger.

I called the school to say I am taking him out of school until he gets a differentiated math curriculum.

The school said they thought the math he was doing was okay for him.

So I told them to forget it. He’s not coming back.

19 replies
  1. christy
    christy says:

    Glad he was able to make the choice. Even happier that you had the strength/determination/patience/whatever to let him.

    If he truly is the social butterfly you’ve made him out to be, just give him opportunities for socialization. He’ll take it from there and you can find a closet nearby that is to your liking.


  2. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    Aren’t you always writing about how social IQ is the most important factor in people succeeding at work? At this point, you wouldn’t be sending him to school to learn math, you’d be sending him to learn how to negotiate tricky social situations like the playground. You won’t always be able to swoop in and save him.

    • emily
      emily says:

      My mom once wrote a letter to the school advocating that my brother learn different math and his teacher wrote back saying “i’ll decide what he learns and when, thank you very much.” re-reading the letter, i though my mom was so silly for having made a such a stink, but now i understand.

      i think my mom wanted for us what she didn’t get – some recognition of her specific talents. she was really smart in nontraditional ways and also very attractive and it takes a lot of balls to take advantage of those two qualities together.

      But it’s such a tough call.

      It sucks being weird in school and not having any advocates except other weird kids. The only thing that saved me were the school plays because i was good at acting and singling.

      I remember the plays well but they felt very pressured because they meant so much to me.
      There were a few good teachers too – ones that gave me a little wink of recognition. But by the time i went to a private high school i was pretty confused about where i fit in.

    • Paul
      Paul says:

      Please. Getting your ass beat on a playground is not a “tricky social situation”, and it’s not anything that one needs to prepare to deal with in the business world. It IS Lord of the Flies. I will find places for my kids to learn to deal with actual social situations that they may encounter. But I’m not going to drop them off in the middle of the woods just to see if they can manage to not die.

      • Lori
        Lori says:


        You’d never tell an adult to just put up with a bullying boss or co-worker or neighbor — and you wouldn’t tell them it’s educational to get beat down every day while a ring of other adults cheers them on.

        Homeschooled kids run into plenty of jerks, bullies, and other types, but at least they (hopefully) aren’t victimized regularly while adults turn a blind eye.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I get what you’re saying, but I’m totally convinced social skills are innate. I went to school my whole life, and then I went to work in offices for 15 years, and none of that taught me social skills because I was born with a deficit (Asperger’s).

      My son is incredibly social — loves people, makes friends easily, and often functions as the family’s social skills coach. So I just don’t believe that he needs school to learn social skills. I think he was born with them — and with a passion to use them with other people.

      So what I’m hoping is that he doesn’t need school so much as he needs people.


      • Zellie
        Zellie says:

        I think of social skills as an auto-upload program. Some people have fast processing, others have slow and it takes a while. The ones who have to upload manually may never have the full-featured program.

  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    A comment from you in the ‘About, Across, After’ post – “Our school tells me that this is the first year they are doing differentiated instruction.” Does this mean they lied to you? Or does it mean that’s the direction they want to proceed in and they haven’t implemented it yet?

  4. Someone in WI
    Someone in WI says:

    I’m happy for you! I think you’ll be glad you did this, too. (Note I didn’t say you’ll be “happy” about it every single day… but glad in the long run, for sure.)

    Just don’t over-do things… relax, enjoy, and be CONFIDENT that your children WILL learn everything they need to! Including the social skills. Who says you can only learn those in a classroom setting?

    Just think, if your son stayed in school, he wouldn’t learn much of anything and he’d be living in fear. Such a deal.

    Details… don’t forget to submit your DPI PI-1206 form. Very simple, very quick, online here. That’s all you have to do and you will be following the law in WI. You should do it immediately for your younger son since you already had him enrolled in a brick-and-mortar school.

  5. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    Penelope, I’m sure you know there is plenty of time to learn how to act socially. He has brother’s after all and if he can learn to deal with that, he can learn to deal with anyone.

    Happy for him…and you.

  6. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    Well good for you. I am so disappointed that the school took this attitude. It would have taken just a little bit to show him something new and exciting about numbers and keep his love of learning from withering.

    Counting objects on a page. That’s insane math! I remember that from school. It was actually confusing. I couldn’t understand what it meant.

    People often assert that cliques, bullying are important to growing up. One of my bullied sibs learned how to fight, often suspended for it. The other learned to feel terrible about herself. Neither is good relating with co-workers. A defensive, aggressive person in the workplace is not a good advertisement for the fine socialization of public schooling.

    He’ll be more equipped to handle situations of this nature after he’s got several more years behind him. Think of Suzuki social skills. Suzuki kids don’t practice failing; they practice one step they can master at a time.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I have this crazy infatuation with our elementary school principal. So I have to say that she didn’t ignore me. It’s just that I think there is a cultural gap or something. Like, what I think is okay and what she thinks is okay are so far apart.

      I don’t know. I am just starting to think it’s cultural. My expectations for my kids are so unusual for where we are living.


      • Lori
        Lori says:

        this is interesting and i think you’re right. we also live in a rural location, close to a university town. our community is perfectly happy with the local school – it’s considered very good. it is completely unsatisfactory to us. i think most parents are concerned only with what their children are learning compared to their immediate peers – whereas we are thinking about how this education compares to education *everywhere*.

        a better education is only part of why we homeschool, but it is really interesting that these parents (and it’s a wealthy town) are fine with the status quo. i think they believe their kids will be competing against this same group of peers for the rest of their lives, so as long as they’re all in the same boat, it’s fine.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        “I am just starting to think it’s cultural. My expectations for my kids are so unusual for where we are living.”

        I think this is very good insight and the correct assessment. It is what it is. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to make changes in the educational curriculum that you would consider to be satisfactory. The school will teach to meet the needs of the many rather than satisfy the wants of the few. The expectations of the parents in your school district are not nearly as high as your own. Perhaps this is the case because they have not known anything different as they have lived their whole life in the Darlington area. Maybe it’s because the resources available are sparse (e. g. – very few or no computers). The majority of the people in your community appear to be content with the public school for the most part. There’s nothing wrong with that. However you have to do what you feel is right for you and your sons. I’m sure homeschooling is a lot more work for you but it appears to be the correct decision – at least at this time.

  7. Donna Boucher
    Donna Boucher says:

    You can do it!!! One year at a time.
    I home schooled one of my children from 1-12th grades. She graduated from college with honors…she is fabulous. Socially amazing. Living in uptown Chicago as a missionary to the poor and homeless.
    She grew strong at home and can handle hearing gun shots on the prob. ( me not so much)
    Every child is unique. Homeschooling is not for everyone. But it can be remarkable!

    Donna Boucher

  8. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    Yeah! I am so happy, too, that your kid actually told you about the bad stuff and that you were able to listen and act on it.

    I remember a family whose little 5 year old girl was punished by the school for 3 “tardies” coming in from lunch recess. It turned out that every one of those three days a bigger, older bunch of boys were grabbing her and her best friend, taking them somewhere, and writing “bad words” on their legs, up high under the skirts, in Sharpie pen. (Awful, right? But it could’ve been EVEN worse, of course…) The girls then fled to the bathroom, where they scrubbed the bad words off their legs. Hence, they came in late from lunch recess.

    Of course the saddest part of this story is that the playground supervisor, the teacher, and the parents did not know anything about this until the punishment had been meted out. Why didn’t the girls feel empowered enough by the caring adults at their school to immediately tell what happened, that first day? Why did they not tell their parents, at least? Naturally, I “get” that it could be worse and that some abuse victims don’t tell about much more serious stuff, for years – but I also cannot picture my daughters not immediately asking for help and protection and justice.

    Anyway, I’m glad your kid DID tell, and, like I said, that you listened!

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