View Full Version : Feel like I am failing my little guy...

08-30-2010, 02:21 AM
First, a short history of the little guy: He has only been in an outside the home day care situation when he was a baby while I worked on a mapping contract. That was 4 months. Then he spent about a year in Spain in an at-home Family child Care house (we didn't have a preschool on our base for non-potty trained kids, and even that was only 3 hours a day). The provider, who had apparently won awards at her last base, didn't do much with Raines. She had an infant in her care as well as a girl a year older than Raines (who was 3 at the time) who prefered to sit and watch TV (her mom provided videos for Bella to watch). The provider didn't do much of anything except make sure the kids were fed when necessary and got their outside play time. I know she let this little girl "run" things. Raines liked Ms R, as did I on a personal level but not in the care level.

So Raines has not been introduced to a typical classroom-type setting. Good and bad! Good, because I like that he hadn't learned a herd mentalilty. Bad in that I can't get him to sit for a book, or want to learn anything. Part of this is my fault. One day I "woke up" and realized he hadn't learned much and I hadn't taught him. My older two had gone to a fantastic preschool (run by the university I was attending, a great mix of Montessori and traditional, the kids thrived and loved it, as did we). They were taught by lead classroom teachers who had Master's degrees in Early Childhood Education and were paid not minimum wage like most child care teachers but a real (and decent) salary. They were writing and reading (or beginning to recognize words) and knowing numbers, and on and on. They had so much fun there! They were very happy. I didn't have to teach them these things (and that's a whole 'nother thing...). So I realized that I wasn't doing anything for Raines. He's 4, almost 5, and while he recognizes most letters, he won't write them. He can count well but doesn't recognize his numbers. He knows his colors and shapes. But he would rather watch DVDs or play on the computer. I was failing to teach him anything. I was so used to others doing that for me that I didn't bother with it. I didn't leave him alone all day but I didn't go out of my way to say "Hey, this is the letter A, this is what the number 23 looks like, etc."

I am sending back the curriculum I bought him (save the $$ right?) and am going to try to teach him differently. But I cannot get him to stay with me to read even a short book. He doesn't even want to pick a book. I can't get him to have any interest in anything other than playing restaurant (I know I should find a way to teach him with cooking, as he loves helping in the kitchen), doctor or cars. I want him to start using scissors or picking up a pencil, or coloring. I don't need him to follow a strict classroom setting (and I hope I don't need to go to work before he masters these skills or they will hold him back, much to his detriment I believe), but I need him to at least show some sort of interest and understanding.

What do I do?
(Thanks for reading my novel. I am truly at a loss right now.)

Stella M
08-30-2010, 02:41 AM
Hey Kris!

No way are you failing your little boy! You are noticing him and trying to respond to his learning needs, that's a good thing :)

I only have two suggestions -

With the drawing, scissors etc - I often find that if I sit down with the materials and start using them, my kids will want to come and see what I'm doing and have a go themselves. If I ask them 'would you like to do some craft ?' they will probably say no, if I just start, they nearly always join in.

Re. lessons - maybe keep them really, really short. I know you said your little boy won't sit for a book - could you read a book to him while he's playing with Lego or something, or in the bath or while he's eating lunch ? Go for a walk and do some learning via conversation ? Just build on small amounts of more formal learning time (and I'm thinking minutes here, not hours!)

I know my boy needs to move around while he learns - I had to tell him the other day that it was going to be really hard to do a reading lesson if he was doing a handstand on the couch!

OK, hth and that you get lots of great suggestions to help you put your mind at ease.

08-30-2010, 03:27 AM
I agree that you aren't failing him. He's still very young & has plenty of time to get to where you want him to be.

I would say just it fun for now. Have him work on cutting, coloring, etc. by helping to make homemade decorations for the holidays. Consider limiting TV & computer time & make sure that a majority of the screen time he gets is educational. The Leap Frog dvds help a lot of kids with letter recognition, letter sounds, and beginning reading. Starfall (http://www.starfall.com/) has great activities for pre-reading & reading skills, and also has some free printables for offline practice. Use his interests to get him interested in sitting & listening to you read. My ds didn't like being read to, either. Even as a baby, he'd pull the book out of my hand & throw it across the room. I really just had to wait until he was ready for me to read to him. You can use recipes to work on number recognition. Dice can be great building Math skills, too (you can buy some that have numbers instead of pips). Play fun games to help with Reading & Math skills. Uno, Yathzee, Scrabble, Bingo, and War are all games that a child that age can learn & enjoy playing. Keep a lookout for those random educational moments & take advantage of them. Keep learning fun & he'll come around.

08-30-2010, 09:02 AM
You're not failing him :) And, even if you had worked on all those things, doesn't mean he would be able to do them all.

My DS can read, but can't write. He hates to even color or draw. If I can get him to hold a crayon or pencil or marker for 3 minutes I am happy, but really he is just now starting to practice writing for a few minutes at a time. He likes glue though, so we do lots of crafts that involve it...we made decoupage Easter eggs (I cut up tissue paper) and put them in a paper mache nest, I dyed rice and salt with food coloring and let him glue it to paper to make birthday cards. I let him glue shells and beads and other little things to a page in a scrapbook, that kind of thing. I just got a contact juggling (like Fushigi) beginner kit with DVD and he is trying that too. If he is using his hands, it is a step in the right direction, for us.

As for letters, I also suggest the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. Everyone I have heard of said this video worked well, and for us it was essential in DS learning the letter sounds. He has always liked being read to, but I tried to read educational stuff to him when he was "captive" like in the bath, and I'll admit, on the toilet (he has constipation problems, so it started as helping his relax and turned into a lesson time)

Pick up a Montessori at home book, as well, lots of great ideas in those!

08-30-2010, 09:51 AM

Keep in mind that in even the most fantastic preschools kids are still expected to all be learning at about the same pace at about the same time, which isn't necessarily what they are ready for, but just what is expected of them. Kids who are homeschooled are allowed to develop more at their OWN pace, and for reading and writing, that can be anywhere from five to ten years old, depending on their learning style, interests, etc. I would take some time to do some learning style explorations with your son and make sure you know HOW he learns best before delving into any kind of formal learning. If he is a visual learner, for instance, and does well with multimedia or computer-style learning, and you want some kind of formal curriculum for him, you could look into Starfall, Time4Learning, or K12. If you discovered he was a kinesthetic learner, you could do more with reading manipulatives, or something like New Child Montessori. Definitely explore the HOW's of his learning first before jumping into anything....

Might check out these articles:
Learning from the Student (http://www.secularhomeschool.com/content/320-Learning-From-The-Student)
Learning Styles Quiz (http://www.homeschoolviews.com/quiz/quiz.html)
Great Book: Discover Your Child's Learning Style (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0761520139/coachingforlearn)
Learning Styles Chart (http://www.chaminade.org/inspire/learnstl.htm)

08-30-2010, 09:54 AM
You're not failing him! You are being proactive and he will come around. Some suggestions about reading/writing: when he is playing "restaurant", how about giving him a simple "menu" that you and he read together so that he can practice reading within the context of play or he can be a waiter and write down your order; when he is playing doctor's office, you and he could "go to the eye doctor" and he could read the letters on the eye chart or be the doctor and write a prescription. If you start out by playing and get him more comfortable with the idea of reading and writing then perhaps it will be easier to then segueway into more formal lessons.

If he really likes being on the computer and you are comfortable with him doing some of his learning there, you might try the Reader Rabbit series of CD-ROMS. http://www.reader-rabbit.com/ My son loved these when he was little and learned so much about shapes, letters, numbers, simple addition etc.

Good luck!!

08-30-2010, 10:08 AM
You are not failing him !!! Much of what I want to say has been said already, you have gotten some wonderful advice.

Quince is reading, but has no interest in writing. He loves math, and science experiments. He won't sit still ever. Even when I read he is jumping on the bed, or playing with a toy. I only ask that he quietly do it. He is retaining it. If I make him sit still he has to think about sitting to much to listen. LOL

I also suggest Leap Frog Letter Factory, we have all the Leap Frog video's. We also play on starfall, and other sites. The mornings around here are for play and some educational show on PBS. The after noons are for school, reading, playing games, building, etc. But mostly mom directed.

I have 3 sons, 2 of them grown. My oldest wasn't interested or ready for much of anything till he was 8. My second and 3rd started much earlier. I only start subjects with the kids when they show interest. The key for me is getting them interested. Quince loves anything messy !! And you can see if you go to my blog, that we do a lot of messy stuff. ;-)

Hang in there, he may just not be ready to start. I don't get concerned until after age 8, especially with boys.

Hang in there, every child is different. You both will find your way in time.

08-30-2010, 10:15 AM
my third child was not ready for academics at the same age my other kids were. He went to a county-run preschool, and public school kindergarten (disaster) - he hated picking up a pencil or sitting still for a story there, too. I usually read to him while he plays legos or plays w pokemon or something in his room. My husband said that last night our son was reading easy-read books to himself while my husband read him the first chapter of 'the bad beginning'. Yeah, my son didnt realize the kids parents had died.

My son turns 7 next week! Only this summer has he been willing to do some cutting, and it was only last year w a dry erase easle that he was willing to draw. While my 14 yo knew more pokemon than letters of the alphabet at age 4, he was reading at 5. this one . . . knew the pokemon later and read later too. The biggest thing for us with reading was to find books he liked. We started with the BOB books, but he got really angry and refused to look at them. When he was 6, he was willing to start reading the Piggie and Elephant boks, because he really liked them. He has never been willing to read typical phonics books - as if he can tell, this is not a book i would like if you werent trying to make me read it . . so why should i read it. The first book he was even willing to TRY to read was "Go away big green monster".

My point is - its likely not your fault. He's likely a differnt kind of learner. Look for games that hold his attention, and watch for clues when he is ready for something.

Oh thats another one - one of the first books my son picked from the library and was willing to sit still for . . . was about the planets in the solar system. He love that it was REAL. I think this one is my self-motivated kid, as long as I follow his lead.

he loves Time4Learning, too, because he doesnt have to listen to me!

08-30-2010, 11:03 AM
THANK YOU all for the great suggestions!!! This support is why I love coming here each day! I guess I need, as a homeschooling parent, to get over the whole "school" thing. I will look into the tests to learn what type of learner he may be. And Cara, you might be right about the computer learning so he doesn't have to listen to me!

I think I might be feeling like this because I am constantly reminded by a friend about public schools and their standards, and just how far ahead her daughter is and how she should be going to kindergarten even though the cut-off date makes her have to stay home, and just how Denali is doing this and that like a prodigy girl (Raines and she were friends in Spain but she was sometimes annoying!). I know I shouldn't compare my child to others, especially those outside my own family, but I guess with the constant reminder it gets hard to ignore.

Raines did at least watch a bit of LeapFrog Letter Factory. I have 2 of the DVDs; I need to see what other ones they have available.

08-30-2010, 11:20 AM
Kris, that is hard to find your own way, especially when it is not clear or apparent, and then be subjected to "friends" who are undermining your efforts, or making you second guess yourself. But I would hazard a guess that this mom who must always be bragging about her kids in such an obvious way probably has quite a few issues of her own, and likely, so do her kids. Her kids are great at what--going with the flow and learning through the herd mentality? Well, good for them, but you and your children are finding your own REAL ways, and if the going is slower or less well-defined, then so be it. The payoff will come! Hang in there--you are a terrific mom, who obviously cares for her children

08-30-2010, 12:04 PM
I think I might be feeling like this because I am constantly reminded by a friend about public schools and their standards, and just how far ahead her daughter is and how she should be going to kindergarten even though the cut-off date makes her have to stay home, and just how Denali is doing this and that like a prodigy girl (Raines and she were friends in Spain but she was sometimes annoying!). I know I shouldn't compare my child to others, especially those outside my own family, but I guess with the constant reminder it gets hard to ignore.

She is bragging on her kid's strengths, which is natural. It's only a problem if you feel less than confidant about your choices (been there). Also remember rarely is a child such a high achiever in all possible areas.

My son has strengths, my friends same age son has different strengths. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to tomatoes. Similar in many ways (round, red, grow on plants) but so dissimilar in so many other ways. If I tried to compare, say, physicality I would think my kid was a plodding oaf, because her kid is part spider monkey or something...he is so agile and balanced it's almost supernatural. However, socially, my son is more sensitive, empathetic, and has a more sophisticated ethical system emerging.

I am sure Raines has many strengths that Denali doesn't. Celebrate and work with his gifts.

09-06-2010, 12:19 AM
So, I finally (FINALLY after 10 days of trying!) finished reading the salon.com article linked to on another thread (regarding homeschooling (http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/03/15/home_school_3/index.html) and the questions people have, among other things. (That was a poor description, but it's waaay early here and I've not eaten breakfast yet.) I am going to retool some of what we are doing. And in regards to the little guy, I am going to try to get him set on a path that younger kids were really meant to take. We move to a new house next week, and once we are settled by the end of the week, I am going to bring the kids out on more nature walks, be more hands-on outside. I did do a little quiz about the little guy and found that he is a more hands-on kind of kid, plus he's not quite 5 years old. I think that letting him lead the way while guiding him toward more book time (listening to stories) and more interacting with the natural world around him will help him.

Thanks everyone for your encouraging words and guidance. I've decided to stop looking at the "standards" and start looking at natural development. And that will bring peace in our learning. I hope. :)

09-06-2010, 10:37 AM
Good luck, Kris! It sounds like you are feeling good about the choices you are making about his education. I hope that it all settles into a happy way of learning for all involved!