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Thread: Ideas for "stubborn" 8 year old?

  1. #1
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    Default Ideas for "stubborn" 8 year old?

    My son is 8 years old and was in public school (3rd grade) until a week ago. My daughter is 7 and was in her second year of kinder until a week ago (I promoted her to 1st grade because she was far ahead of kinder, but her shyness made it impossible to pass the tests).

    Lillie (7) is down for anything. Workbook. Online. Games. Tests. Busy work. Reading. She wont complain, and she will excel in everything I give her.

    Emerson (8) isnt willing to do anything besides group games or teaching his sister. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder and we are medicating him. Everything beyond a game or a puzzle or teaching his sister is:
    dumb
    boring
    too hard
    too easy

    He has a total stop about anything hand written. Maybe he needs an OT eval? Or....I dont know

    Anyone dealt with this? Should I get firm. "DO IT NOW". Or do I keep looking at options? Or get a therapists opinion?

    Please help. so lost!!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Arrived dbmamaz's Avatar
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    anxiety and a bad school experience - havent a coupla people suggest 'deschooling' first?

    I'd say have him teach his sister every subject for now, and after a while (like a month?), ask him what he would do if he had to teach an 8 yo like himself? With anxiety, pushing is usually going to make them shut down. Letting him take some ownership of learning should help.

    My older one had really bad anxiety as part of his bipolar, and I had to sit next to him most of his first two years of homeschooling - and we started in 8th grade! My younger is super stubborn. I have always done much less work with him than I think he should be doing at his age because I know if I push too hard, he'll totally refuse. For him, checklists helped - esp if I said there were 6 things on the list and he could choose any 4. Also I always include my kids in curriculum choices.

    But in the long run - he's got 10 more years of school left - its more important to help him feel safe, and know that you've got his back and arent fighting against him, than to hit the ground running (or fighting). IMO
    Cara, eclecticly homeschooling two boys
    Orion, ds 18, special needs
    Raven, ds 10, all around intense kid
    21 yo dd, not at home
    Inactive blog at longsummer

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    What do you think he needs? What are your objectives in homeschooling him? What kind of education do you want for him? What kind of environment are you hoping to create for your kids? What are your goals in having him do workbooks and tests and busywork?

    Do you want a situation where the "product" of learning is the most important part of your educational plan? Is it crucial to you that he demonstrate his learning in a way that is acceptable to you, or are you okay with observing his learning from a distance? Is it more important to you to cover a specific set of material or is your priority to engage him where he is and use passions to spark learning of content and skills? Because I think it would be helpful for you to work to clarify that for yourself and so you get the sort of advice you need from the people here.

    There's a reason that most of the people who have answered your posts have told you the same thing. With the benefit of lots of collective experience, and having walked lots of newbies through their first days, most of us are trying to gently tell you that you are setting yourself and your son up for conflict, burnout and possible failure. Give the kid a break - literally. It's way too early for OT evaluations and cracking the whip and buying curriculum. You need to give everyone some time (not a week but months) to adjust.

    Seriously - go on holidays for a couple of weeks. Go visit grandparents or go on a road trip or go camping. Do something different so you can focus on him -not his schooling.
    ejsmom and Rocky like this.

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    Senior Member Arrived farrarwilliams's Avatar
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    Deschool. Deschool. Deschool.

    It's not necessarily going to magically fix these issues. But it might help. And it will give you time to observe and learn about him in a new way without the pressure of "school!"
    Disclaimer: Everything I'm saying is just my own opinion, based on my own experiences teaching and with my own kids and my own life. You should just ignore me if I'm annoying you. I don't mind.

    But if I don't annoy you, feel free to visit my blog:
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

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    Senior Member Evolved Norm Deplume's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbmamaz View Post
    anxiety and a bad school experience - havent a coupla people suggest 'deschooling' first?

    I'd say have him teach his sister every subject for now, and after a while (like a month?), ask him what he would do if he had to teach an 8 yo like himself? With anxiety, pushing is usually going to make them shut down. Letting him take some ownership of learning should help.
    I have a 9 year old with anxiety too. If there's anything educational (like teaching his sister) that he *will* do, roll with it. IMO, teaching another person is the single best way of totally understanding a subject. If he likes doing that, that's a HUGE win, in my eyes. It's amazing what kids pick up when we're not teaching them anything.

    And to add to what others have said: relax. Be content to play games for a bit. School is hard. And it completely takes the wind out of some kids' sails. My family is 5 months in, and we're just now getting serious about adding in anything beyond just grammar and history (and both of those have been mostly just reading).
    Last edited by Norm Deplume; 03-02-2014 at 10:17 AM.
    dbsam, ejsmom and melissa like this.
    Robin,
    working-at-home mother of two.
    homeschooling the 10yo boy.
    the girl is 12 (7th grade) and loves her public school.
    they are very very different kids.

  6. #6
    cal
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    My son also has ADHD (PI), dysgraphia, and is prone to anxiety. Stress makes him shut down, so – if your son is similar – I would very strongly advise against a do-it-or-else approach.

    I would focus entirely on bringing down the stress.

    Schoolwork can be stressful if it’s too hard, but if he’s had bad experiences at school, it can also be stressful just because it has ALWAYS been awful. I know my son came home from PS feeling dumb and useless. You son probably feels the same. So why would he want to ‘do school’ and show you and his sister that he’s ‘no good at anything?’ (Obviously, I’m not saying that’s the case, but it’s probably how he feels.) It’s safer for him just to refuse.

    He’s coming home wounded. He needs to heal. And you won’t get anywhere with him until he feels safe and comfortable. Making him feel that way has to be your first priority.

    Others have suggested taking time off. That may be very helpful. And when you do start getting back into it, go slowly. Your first goal as you ease back into it should be to build his confidence. The rest can (and will) come later.

    - Find out what he’s comfortable doing. Do that. Let him see you’re pleased with it.
    - Let him play the educational group games. Praise him for how well he does.
    - Let him teach his sister (if she’s willing). Thank him for helping.
    - Find ways to do learning that don’t look like traditional schoolwork.
    - Catch him being smart during the day. (And not just during school.) Tell him how clever he was, the way he did XYZ.
    - Let him sit in on activities with his sister. Don’t expect him to contribute right away. Eventually he will. Praise him when he does. Not for the fact of his contributing, but for how clever/right/valuable his contribution was.
    - When you finally (down the road) DO get to the point of gently doing a bit of traditional work here and there, make sure you give him lots of support. Set him up for success. Sit next to him. Do the work together. Talk about it. Scribe for him. Praise him for every right thing he does.

    Always make sure your praise is sincere – I mean, really DO find the good in what he does.

    And patience, patience, patience on your part with his learning challenges. About the attention/focus: Imagine you’ve got a flu with a fever, and you are being asked to perform academically. Can’t focus? How would you like to be treated? About the handwriting: Imagine you had to hold the pencil wearing an enormous, mickey-mouse-like foam hand. How much handwriting could you churn out? What would it look like? How sore would your hand and arm become?

    In my experience with my son, starting slow gives more return in the long run. And when I say slow, I mean SLOW. For example, my son was also a ‘total stop’ for handwriting. When I brought him home for school, any handwriting completely stressed him out. So we started with writing one letter at a time. Literally. “Here, write one letter ‘a,’ that’s all you have to do for now. Later today, we’ll write another one. But just one.” Well, okay. He could do THAT. In one day, he’d write five letters, spread out over the whole day. He knew handwriting was important, and he trusted me that we’d practice it in a way that didn’t stress him out. We called it being nibbled to death by ducks. (He thought that was funny.) Slowly we built up his daily handwriting practice. He’d balk a little every time I’d ‘up’ the requirements (“I can’t write words. I can only write one letter over and over.” “Just try it for today. If it’s too hard, we can go back to doing it like before.” Sometimes we had to go back, usually we didn’t.) A year and a half later, he believes he no longer has dysgraphia and happily writes six sentences at a time. He's thrilled. I'm thrilled. And I fully believe we wouldn’t be where we are now if I’d pushed too soon and too hard.

    So don’t panic about starting slow. It’s an investment in the future. It will pay off.

    Carol

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    I know...deschool. But it isn't really an option. Taking it slow is my only real option. Which I am doing.

    My goals are that he learns stuff that he missed in school. He stays current with the school distract standards so if he ends up going back at some point, he isn't way behind. I am totally open to 100+ ways of learning. Games, puzzles, online, workbooks, field trips, etc (I mentioned busy work about my daughter because I have her busy work to keep her...busy when I am trying to help my son). I want him to be part of the process. But maybe I do just need to give him time. I haven't been applying pressure and trying to open a dialog with him. He has just been so negative about it.

    lol He keeps telling me "we didn't even do school today" when we actually did. Change is really hard for him.

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    Carol, thanks a MILLION. I will follow that advice. I think your son and my son are a lot alike. I need to take my goals off the table and step back. Its always been frustrating to me because he is *so smart* but getting him to work has been awful. He used to love school, and now he feels dumb and useless.

    My daughter has some attachment issues from her adoption and so in the way I let her be young for her age and praised for every step towards independence, I need to do the same thing with education for my son.

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    cal
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonHomeschoolers View Post
    My goals are that he learns stuff that he missed in school. He stays current with the school distract standards ...
    I totally get that.

    When I started, I had anxiety about my kid being behind and about getting caught up.

    I now know that, in the long run – like, looking forward to when he’s an adult – what ‘level’ he is currently at is irrelevant. What matters is that we have steady progress forward. And the way to maximize forward progress is to always make sure that the work he’s doing today is at the exact right level for him.

    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonHomeschoolers View Post
    He keeps telling me "we didn't even do school today" when we actually did.
    I'd take that to mean he enjoyed it -- or at least, didn't have the stress he usually does. I think that's success.

    Carol

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    cal
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonHomeschoolers View Post
    Carol, thanks a MILLION. I will follow that advice. I think your son and my son are a lot alike. I need to take my goals off the table and step back. Its always been frustrating to me because he is *so smart* but getting him to work has been awful. He used to love school, and now he feels dumb and useless.
    You make me smile. Yes, your description of your son made me think of my own.

    Carol

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