View Full Version : Interval training anyone?

10-26-2010, 07:13 AM
We are new to homeschooling, and I'm still in the process of finding out what works best for my ds. He is 9, and generally loves to learn, but was losing that love and getting into the do-just-what-you-need-to-do-to-get-by attitude. I like the idea of unschooling, but worry that he won't challenge himself to grow in the more difficult areas, or to get that sense of accomplishment when he does push himself a little harder and succeeds.
With my work schedule, he ends up getting a few "easy" days...a handful of work assignments that he can complete on his own and experiential learning with Dad, interspersed with "Days with Mom" (Capitals intended, as I'm starting to feel like the ogre!) when the more challenging work is done. The funny part is, he is coming up with more and more creative ways to procrastinate, like designing a slingshot propelled airplane to deliver his work to my desk. As much as I would like to follow him down that path, and weave in lessons with his self-directed projects, he still needs to practice his language arts (the tough stuff). After a couple of hours of struggle, I am ready to pull my hair out! When he finally does settle down and finishes the challenging stuff, he is pleased with himself, and I am completely wiped. This is not exactly what my vision of homeschooling was! I don't want to be "the bad cop" :p (we do go on field trips and do fun things as well). Does anyone else have a similar situation going at home? Suggestions?

10-26-2010, 09:08 AM
Hi Bearbrook and welcome to the site. Nice to see another Granite Stater here. Sorry I don't have any good suggestions for you, but I'll be following this thread closely, since I'm having some similar issues with my daughter.


10-26-2010, 04:28 PM
Since you're a new homeschooler, I'm sure someone will say "deschooling" soon. ;)

I don't have any great ideas, but I would definitely talk to him about it. What does he want out of homeschooling? Is there some way to balance his desires and interests and your need to get him the remediation he needs? Could you draw up a contract or make a deal together about it?

Also, how long term is your homeschooling? If it's for a year with the specific goal of remediation, then, well, yeah, you may need to find ways to kick him into gear so you don't burn out by Christmas. On the other hand, if you're planning to do this for at least a couple of years or more, you can probably take a deep breath and get into a more long term frame of mind.

Just some thoughts. Could be I'm off...

10-26-2010, 07:31 PM
Actually, Farrar, you seem to be right on with good advice.

10-27-2010, 01:07 AM
This may be part of the 'finding what works' process :)

I'll second the 'deschooling' suggestion, especially if homeschooling is in your long term plan. Have you seen 'workboxes'? Some kids thrive on them...
I'm also keeping an eye on this thread - anything that talks about motivation and kids is something I'm interested in!

10-27-2010, 11:32 AM
Anything that talks about motivation and kids (and even demotivated parents) within the context of homeschooling is probably going to get a lot of attention. This seems to be an issue that most of us have from time to time with an unforgiving frequency! :)

10-27-2010, 04:20 PM
I keep thinking about the slingshot propelled airplane to deliver his work. That's just so... future scientist, right? Or a kid who's been watching too much Phineas and Ferb like mine!

Miguels mommy
10-28-2010, 03:23 PM
What in language arts does he need to work on? Maybe you can rotate subjects kinda like an A/B or block schedule. I have a kid that's great the first week of somethings new then when it looses it's newness he's done with it to. So our homeschool environment is constantly being re-wrote.

11-07-2010, 06:32 AM
Thanks everyone! I've been running full tilt the past couple of weeks, and now can finally sit down and chat!

I'd love to think he's a budding scientist or engineer (there are many in the family tree), but his influence is probably more from P and F, or the ilk. We finally cut the cable down to basic, just so to avoid the constant battle against cartoons 24/7 on tv!

In my heart, I would love him to be homeschooled as long as possible, or as long as he is willing. Deschooling and unschooling sound great, but I'm not sure he would get around to gaining the self-dicipline to settle in and do the harder stuff on his own. And if he did need to go back to public school, would he be able to handle it?

We may have been presented with a solution, at least for now. My mother just hung up the keys, so now I am driving her to her errands. I leave him with an assignment list, like on my workdays, that he is to finish before I get back, and then we do whatever we do together later in the day. I think an "unknown deadline" actually works better for him, because he is not calculating exactly how many minutes he can goof off before getting it all done last minute.

As for Language Arts, I broke everything down. He does cursive sheets and copywork to get the actual physical writing skill, spelling lessons (sequential spelling) and narration of his reading material...either by painting pictures, telling me about the book, or some sort of art project. I bagged writing reports altogether for at least a few more months. Will probably teach him typing before then, and let him try typing them out.

Have not heard of workboxes, but definitely will check it out! And a contract, I like that! Been meaning to do a project a la Steven Covey with the whole family, and this would fit right in. Thanks!

11-07-2010, 09:42 AM
Just so you know, part of the idea of deschooling can be that you set aside some amount of time for it, after which you ease into doing more formal work. It isn't that it magically happens that he suddenly wants to do spelling on his own after you've not done it for a couple of weeks. It's more like having a spa weekend after a really hard week. He's coming out school, full of school behaviors and expectations. To help him detox and give him a sort of upset to let him know that what you're doing is totally different from regular school, then you spend a few months (or a year, or whatever) doing things differently - taking field trips, watching videos, learning math by measuring to help cook instead of doing workbooks, reading stories - but not doing formal learning. You can be more structured than many unschoolers, but you are basically doing a short period of unschooling. Then, at the end of that time, you slowly ease back in on the formal stuff if that's what you want. Presumably when you feel like you know his learning style better and when he's more relaxed and ready to take on formal learning.

But you don't have to... I would say that it's probably worth it to get out and do some non-book learning more, even if you're not deschooling per se. There's so little of that in traditional schooling and often so much of it in homeschooling.

11-14-2010, 08:03 AM
Thanks Farrar,

I was thinking of doing a bit of unschooling in the beginning of the year, but he seemed to really want things to be like what he was used to. He drew up a plan for the "classroom", the placement of desks and the whole bit. I went with it, as it seemed to be reassuring to him to have some familiar ground in this new adventure. I asked him this week if he would like to rearrange the room (3 months into the 'year') and he was adamant that he likes it just the way it is.

We are easing into a pattern (at least for now!) that seems to be working. He has some quick, relatively easy things that he can do consistently every day to build skills, in a "baby steps" kind of way, like copywork and cursive practice. He can do them in minutes, and being that it is a daily thing, he just does it, like brushing teeth. I have found the more he can do independently, the better. Then we can have fun learning together in a more relaxed settings...outings, cooking, building together, etc.

I also found some good websites that have helped with providing comprehension worksheets, and so I know is actually reading and understanding his books, and I found a good website for math that is motivating for him, and records progress for me, so we're both happy!
As for music, he decided he wants to learn how to play the guitar, and he is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the guitar he picked out and ordered with his own money.

Independence is his thing. I find the biggest challenge is to gently guide, then step back and let him learn it on his own. Thank God we have some great resources!