School’s out for suummmmmer – I mean – Forevvvveeerrrr!

Yes indeedy, the boys have finished school forever.


Ahhhh, such a relief.


This isn’t a teacher hassling post.  Its about the raw product – kids or in this instance Teens at school.


Just recently there has been a change in leaving school age in NSW.  A  lot of people (including myself at times) think that everyone has to stay at school until they finish Year 12.

I just checked the site for NSW Public schools and it states that everyone must complete year 10.

Then they have to do something until they are 17 years old.

The somethings include staying on for Year 11, or even Year 12.

Or doing  career training such as Tafe courses.

Or an apprenticeship, or working as long as it is paid and 25 hours per week.

More options than I had heard mentioned either at school or by the media.


I don’t know what people without teens do for excitement in their lives.


I have no need to look for challenges, or things to keep me busy.

Just when you think that the end of the year is in sight,  and there’s the summer holidays between you and Year 12 X 2.

The sweet smell of (well not exactly success) maybe ………………….?


One son informs me that he’s not going to school anymore. No point really since they aren’t teaching him anything he wants to know.

Me:   Yep, ok, so what job are you going to get?

Him:    Huh?

Me:  So you’re going to tafe?

Him:   Huh?

Me:  Well you have to do something.

Him:  Who says?

Me:  Well if you don’t, you wont get paid.  No Youth Allowance when you leave school.  You have to get a job – or study something.

Him:  Well Thats Not  Fair!

Me:  Mmmm, well suck it up, cos life’s not fair when you leave school.


So Back from the land of Google to real life.


I have been struggling with my teenage boys, well since they were small children actually.

Originally they started with Montessori Preschool (or rather Stage 1).  Towards the end of Stage one the teacher found there was something not happening for them, but we couldn’t put our finger on it.  So they headed off to Stage two.  Where it all started to fall apart.  There were some learning difficulties, some visual problems, and some attention problems.


Being the mother I am I went looking for answers.


First to the optometrist.  Yes, significant problems that had caused them to miss out on important learning earlier.

You’d think I’d notice if they were blind – but there is a huge blurry gap between ‘blind’ and ‘problems that interfere with learning’.


The learning curve  began – for me.


It never fails to amaze me that as soon as I had children life became a learning curve, and when they went to school the incline on that curve went into hyperdrive!


I made the decision to take them out of Montessori as they weren’t getting the benefits that I wanted at that point and dollars were short, and needed to be spent on other therapies.

Glasses happened.  Very cute, and although very bendable – frequently lost or broken.

The makers of the frames were great – once when they were sent back with a comment – They just sprang off my face in class – they replaced them no questions asked.

It didn’t come out till later that the reason they sprang apart then was because some bully had been trying to break them at lunchtime.  I tried to get the teachers to let him leave them in the classroom at breaks, but if they were in the library or sport or such the room was locked and they often refused to let him in to put them away.


I did ask one teacher if she was willing to let my son have 3 $100 notes to run around with at break times?  Strangely she said no!   That was the price of the glasses tho.


We also used Homeopathy as we did for everything else.


We tried the Neurofeedback   which did seem to help, but being so expensive I couldn’t keep it up long term, especially for two of them.

One of them did Kumon for a while until he jacked up about the amount of work.  And then we found an excellent tutor locally who helped them more since she first worked out their learning difficulties, their academic level and then the way in which they learnt best.


Some days when I picked them up they had made damper – they just couldn’t handle sitting with books, so they went to the kitchen and read the recipe, measured, mixed, and cooked.  I really liked her style.


I’m pleased to say that when we moved and I repeated them in Year 5 they finally seemed to get on track.


All through primary I had struggled with teachers who would say ‘They’ll just click one day’


Trouble is they weren’t clicking, and by the time anyone noticed it was next years teachers problem and so a bit like ground hog day.


The second year in Grade 5 I received a call from a teacher who wanted me to know that one of my son’s was not doing his homework – it’s not that he can’t, he just isn’t.  I don’t think that teacher ever understood why I was so pleased to hear it.


It was the first time since entering school where I had been told he COULD do it, he just WOULDN’T!   Only a mother of a child with a learning problem would ever understand the joy.  I’m sorely disappointed by school.  When the boys struggled with doing essays in primary teachers would say…………….you’ll have to get used to them – when you get to high school its all essays!


Boy:  Mum, I’m not going to high school.

Me:  Okay, you can stay in grade 6 for 6 years I dont mind.

Boy:  Odd look. 😉


I did laugh the high school year the teacher wrote on one son’s essay ‘Great story.  A couple of full stops might have been good tho.’

He had written a great 3 page story.

Only one full stop and no capitals, comma’s or anything else – that’s my boy.


The amazing thing is what goes on inside their heads tho.  Verbally so much comes out of them, and it makes my brain hurt listening to them nowadays.

One son says to his brother ‘Its no good trying to tell her that, she doesn’t understand what you’re talking about.  Look at her face.’

I’m sitting there trying to look interested while thinking ‘Whaaaaaaat?’


I feel disappointed that after all the years of studying things they didn’t find easy, didn’t find interesting, didn’t understand – in the last two years when they have been often told – when you get to years 11 & 12 you can study what you like, you choose your subjects, so it’s so much more interesting.


Nuh, not if they aren’t going to run the subjects you’re interested in.

I’m not talking Ancient Mexican Clay Modelling either.


Subjects like Physics and Engineering Studies.   Student choices, only so long as they are on offer.  So I can understand the boys not having a lot of motivation.  Getting a verbal boot from their mother doesn’t have the same impact these days.

But I was just trying to get through the last of Yr 11 (which is actually the first term of Yr 12) and then thought the last year couldn’t be all bad since there was ‘no school’ at the end of it?


Mum, I’m not going to school anymore.  I think I’d actually like to insert the link for The Mom Song here (The mum song here in oz)  but its been copyright removed.  Glad I blew all out peak broadband last month showing it to the kids and laughing.

If you get a chance to hear it its awesome!


What do you do with two 17 yo’s who don’t want to go to school?

Who are already not doing much work when they do go?


Well, since the only bit they did enjoy about school was the TVet IT course I went to Tafe to ask.

The TVet course in IT for the HSC (equivalent I think to something called the VRE? no, thats Vancomycin resistant enteroccocci;  VCE?)  anyway this 6 months Tafe course is stretched out to two years, so there are many weeks and an entire term when there is no IT class.  Not hard to see why they lose interest in school itself.


So what are the alternatives and exceptions to going to school and doing your HSC, even if you don’t want to go to Uni at this stage;  and especially if you don’t want to go to school at this stage?


The Department of Education feels that all kids should finish Year 10 and stay at school until they are 17 years old.  We’ve done that.  What are the statistics on high school dropouts?  No idea really, I would have preferred my children not to be, but I figure there’s more than one way to get into the workforce with some qualifications.


I feel like I’ve had a square and triangular peg trying to fit them into the ’round hole’ of school for many years.


It isn’t ‘the only way’  its just the ‘usual way’.


So many kids seem to blossom AFTER they leave school.

How many times do we hear of people who have excelled in many fields after they left school having been told for years that they weren’t getting anywhere?

It seems that although there are ‘many different opportunities’ out there today in the world, there is a much narrower path to getting there.  Viva la difference!


I’m sure it’s the pits being a teacher and having a huge range of  academic levels and range of learning types in the classroom – I don’t minimise the huge task.

But it does seem these days that there is only one way to get on with your life.

And that is to learn the curriculum, go to Uni, get a job.

And if that suits then go for it.  But for those it doesn’t suit, what are the other ways?

And no I’m not schooling at home – there’d be no one left alive by lunchtime!



Off to Tafe I went.  Tafe is after all, Technical and Further Education (well it can also stand for Training and Further Education, Tertiary and Further Education;  in India – Tractors and Farm Equipment;  and lastly Transverse Alternating-Field Electrophoresis).


Tafe’s interesting I find.  They are used to dealing with teenagers.  They are used to dealing with adults (some of whom don’t want to be there, but have to retrain for another job).


The way they present things, the way they talk with you is just different.  They don’t have Yr 7 kids.   So they have a different perspective I suppose.

They do speak differently tho.

It feels more grownup.

You can actually do your Yr11 & 12 in one year at Tafe.  Lots of hard work I’m sure (my neice did it after not getting good enough results at school to get into the Uni she wanted) but over in 12 months.


You can also do Certificate courses, in things like IT, hospitality, childcare, trades.

You can go on to do Diploma Courses and Advanced Diploma courses, and you can get into Uni as a mature age student after that if you want to.


But you can actually get two Certificates in IT in one year and be able to get a good job in IT at the end.

You can get time off to do the next Certificate or Diploma course while you’re working.  Wow!  Now we’re cooking with gas!


For those who can’t get in to Tafe, or don’t want to go to classes, you can even do it online.


We have worked out a plan, we have a schedule.  We have a goal, and it will be not only a useful one when they are finished (I’m not averse to people earning money) but it is one that both boys are absolutely thrilled about.


They’ve finished up school early as they aren’t doing Yr 12 not much point in staying on.  They are currently catching up on sleep (their choice) and mowing (my choice), and I’ve a list of other things to keep them occupied lol.


It is really amazing tho.  Adults seem to be horrified that they aren’t going to do their HSC.  Its like the Holy Grail.


My question is – what would they do with the HSC (even one which said they were unmotivated and didn’t make an effort) that they couldn’t do with two Certificate’s in a course they are interested in?


I can’t believe how people seem to have forgotten there are many ways to where you want to get – its a bit scary how people think – or don’t think,  just follow what they hear.

The boys are getting used to answering the horrified questions.

It would be similar if I kept asking people ‘Your children are doing the HSC and going to Uni?  WHY?’


My way doesn’t have to be your way, but it works in reverse too.


I really do think that after living with these two kids for 17 nearly 18 years (and making them from scratch for 7 months before that) I have some insight into how they think, how they work, and what will make them want to work.


Someone said to me ‘but they are quite bright!’

Yep thanks, they are.  Doesn’t mean they want to go to Uni tho.


Teachers now find it unusual when I say the boys had learning difficulties in primary school.

They see no evidence of it now.

That’s great.

But I think there is some evidence in the way the boys look at life.


I think we have all learned a lot – I know I have.

I look at things and figure ‘there must be a way’.  And then work out how to find a way.  So maybe that attitude is shaping the boys attitude.

Time will tell.


Altho I often thought the day would never come – I have two out the other end of the schooling system.


Phew, what a relief.


And you know what?  There are no parent/teacher interviews at Tafe!  OMG I’m in heaven!  😉

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