View Full Version : Is it Just Me?

08-06-2011, 08:46 PM
Does everyone get push-back from their kids when homeschooling, or do I need to keep working on our structure/curriculum/set-up to meet my son's needs better? We are going into our second year of HSing, which is technically K again, and he has decided that school is no fun. This is really freaking me out, since part of why I decided to HS is so there wouldn't be that sort of attitude.

I have tried to take a look at what we are doing, and I am not sure what to change to make it more fun for him. I need to have structure in our day since I have 2 younger ones, and I also work from home, so if we don't "do school" at a certain time it doesn't happen. I wish I could be more unschooly, but I feel too uncomfortable with that approach, at least with my current level of experience.

We only work for about 90 minutes a day on everything, and it only takes that long because of his lack of attention span. Do all almost 6 year-olds fidget like mad? I am struggling every day not to assume that his fidgeting means he doesn't care, or he's not paying attention, but it's not easy. He is a bright boy, and I know he is capable, but his resistance is frustrating.

He decided he likes Singapore Math better than MM, so we dropped the MM for now, and that seemed to help. I am considering going project-based or literature-based for 1st grade, since he seems to like hands-on things. On the other hand, when he is given a coloring page or something to construct he is very rushed about it, and does not seem to care at all about the finished product.

So, do I scale it back even more? Do I push through? My goal this year is to get him reading, but maybe he is not ready? Do I rethink all of my carefully-researched curriculum choices? Am I expecting too much of him? I don't want to fail this early in the game! :Crying:

08-06-2011, 08:58 PM
My kids don't give me that kind of pushback (occasionally, but not usually), but if they did, I'd like to think I would have the courage (because it can be hard!) to back off and let things go, especially at that age.

Some kids are just fidgety. Trampoline while reciting math facts? Acting out scenes from history? Memorize geography on big playground maps? Maybe try to do something to shake things up. How would he like to learn? For me, the challenge is not to teach as *I* would like to teach or as I wish I were taught, but as my kids need to be taught. Not always an easy task.

08-06-2011, 09:05 PM
First a preface: here's what worked for our family. I hesitate to give advice, but I will tell you what I did.

I have sons (4 total). So far none of them were ready for school at the "age" when they "should" be. We did not do pre-school. At all. We also started kinder late...like a year late. Fast forward to today, the kids are doing GREAT. My gifted ds9 is doing 5th grade materials this year. This is a kid who couldn't tie his shoes a month ago. One day he just "did it". There. Boom. When he was ready, he was ready. Now, academically, I have to scramble to keep up with his sponge-mind. Same with ds7 (doing 1st and 2nd grade work and also a late starter). My older boys have also been that way (17 and 13). Late bloomers or whatever. Anyway, I don't know what I am trying to say, but for us, me relaxing and backing off was the ticket. My job in k-2 is to light the fire and 3 Rs. Also, just an aside, but perhaps relevant, I have a severely far-sighted kid and his reluctance to "do school" was directly related to the fact that he couldn't see his desk. I felt like poopoo-mama when the doc told me that ds7 was +4.00 in each eye (**gasp**). Between glasses and another birthday, ds7 is like teaching an entirely different kid.

I am starting to ramble. Let us know how things go. Good luck, and keep us posted!


Stella M
08-06-2011, 09:54 PM
Yes, two of my kids do push back.

With my 7yr old, I keep lessons quite short. 15 minutes would be a long lesson. He can do maths standing on his head if he wants :) I think fidgeting is pretty normal and it doesn't impact on his learning as far as I can see. I do insist on those short lessons though, in an unemotional and matter of fact way. He does no busy work or extras at all, just the 3 R's and oral narration of a book I read to him, sometimes some science.

I would and have scaled back - all the way to unschooling - with my daughter around the age of 6. The academics involved in K-2 aren't so important to me that I'd be prepared to force a child to 'learn.' Not that I'm saying that's what you're doing!

It's such an individual choice - whether to push on or scale back - I guess with ds I wasn't willing to scale back to unschooling again but I am happy to keep it short, basic and consistent. And to put up with the wriggling :)

Oh yeah, your son's brightness won't automatically mean he won't resist formal learning. Is he bored with what he has to do maybe ?

I don't think you will fail him. It's hard to figure it all out though, isn't it, especially with little ones around.

08-06-2011, 09:55 PM
My daughter's first response to anything has always been the push back. Anything new is suspect, and anything deemed too easy ("that's babyish") or too hard ("I can't do this, it's stupid!") is automatically vetoed. I've learned to be as nonreactive as possible and to plow ahead for a bit. Sometimes the exposure and getting into the habit of something makes the world of difference, but when it doesn't I put it away for a while. The trick, for me, is to not get too invested in any one subject/approach/curriculum. You have to be willing to switch gears and not fret too much about letting things go. I don't spend a ton on curriculum for this reason. I find things with free trials, or I find cheap or no cost stuff on line. I also heavily use the library. I only plunk down good $ when I'm pretty sure something will work out for us (that's not to say I don't have a bookshelf full of rejects to get rid of!). It's a hard balance to strike sometimes, but you'll find your way. Nothing is as urgent as it seems in the moment - it's not failing to step back for a bit.

Stella M
08-06-2011, 10:38 PM
Just a thought - I wonder if you are both a bit stressed having to fit school in that window when the littles are napping/at preschool ? If that's what you are doing, of course...I'm not suggesting that you don't do school then - it's been a while but I remember how that's the only time you get to concentrate on school - just that maybe the stress of having to get done before the littles wake up and/or come home and/or start playing up is part of the fidgety resistance and not concentrating.

Could that one on one time be just for your goal of reading - working on it, reading to him - and the other things slotted in elsewhere ?

08-06-2011, 10:52 PM
That's not a bad idea. I do tend to be more impatient if I feel like we are on a schedule (which we almost always are!). We are HSing through the independent study program in our school district, so I think I feel like I have to have some substance to show our teacher each week. I will try to chill, refocus a bit, and see if that helps. Thank you all for the advice and empathy.

08-07-2011, 12:47 AM
I'm coming in a bit late here, but my son HATED coloring at that age. Despised every second of it. He didn't care much about craftsy projects, either. If it didn't blow up, burn up, or otherwise self-destruct, he wasn't interested in making it. It's only been in the last six months that the notions of coloring in the lines and making models/projects have really taken hold. He also was (is) fidgety. I did a lot of first-grade lessons orally while we were on nature walks or eating lunch or whatever. :)

08-07-2011, 01:41 AM
One thing that engaged my reluctant pupil in k and 1st was to let *him* be the "teacher" sometimes. We'd learn something, or read something, whatever, then he would tell me about it, ask me questions, or I'd ask him questions as if I were a student and he'd answer as if he were the teacher, whatever works with what you're doing. It was like magic, he loved it. I think it can be hard when you don't have a classroom full of students to keep motivated, because young children especially love to show that they know things. It's easier to do that in a traditional classroom. By being "teacher" a few times, they get to show off a little. At least, that's my theory on why it worked. :)

(sorry if this is hard to follow...sleep deprived)

08-07-2011, 10:40 AM
I am considering going project-based or literature-based for 1st grade, since he seems to like hands-on things. On the other hand, when he is given a coloring page or something to construct he is very rushed about it, and does not seem to care at all about the finished product.

My son hates coloring pages. Hates. I really have to cater to his learning style or we would have battles of epic proportions. Literature-based has been the best fit for us (he loves listening to stories, but not textbook-style anything). There was a huge learning curve for me last year, figuring out what type of books and projects the kids like.

My son is also a fidgeter. I've found that leaning against me helps settle him. Someone else here said they give their kids stress balls or bowls full of dried beans or marbles to handle while working. I'm going to try some things like that in the fall to see if it helps him focus.

08-07-2011, 01:38 PM
My daughter never really liked coloring either. When she was younger, she had some mild fine motor issues, and when I wanted her to practice with a crayon I would take a Sharpie and scribble all over a page, then have her color in the little spaces in whatever colors she wanted to. She has always hated coloring large spaces with crayons, which I can totally relate to. I hated it too as a kid. I really prefer for them to draw freehand anyway, although my older dd didn't enjoy doing that until she was 7 or so. She likes it now, though.

Also, yeah, my dd is a fidgeter. She has been diagnosed with inattentive ADD, but there's definitely a fidgety component to it. I don't mind letting her fidget while she works, I think it helps her concentration. I discourage it at dinner, though!

08-07-2011, 01:42 PM
Oh, and I have the original push-back child. Seriously, she will argue endlessly. I usually don't put up with it for very long and will end the conversation or send her away for some quiet time if it goes too far, because she can really get herself worked up and it pushes my buttons like crazy. We haven't started homeschooling yet, though, and I feel like for her the threat of having to return to PS will work. She really hated it there. Not like I'm going to constantly employ it as a threat (because it would be largely empty), but she has been informed that this will require her active participation if it's to work, and if it doesn't work that she will go back to school. I don't want to spend my days haranguing her.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-07-2011, 02:13 PM
My 6yo dd is big on pushing back and the way I deal with it is very short lessons (15-20 minutes) and breaks between. I think it would be really difficult (though more convenient) to try to do 90 minutes straight. However, I don't have younger children needing my attention either. That sounds really challenging. I have found that letting dd determine the order of what we are going to do to be helpful in getting a bit more cooperation. I have noticed however, that if I am stressed or tired or cranky...she reflects it right back at me.

08-07-2011, 02:14 PM
I'd definitely look at more active learning -- for math facts DD#1 loved dice racing: she rolls 2 dice down the hall, chases them down, added them, calling out the fact (e.g., "2+5=7" ), and then runs back and repeats.

I'd talk with your teacher about what is required. I'm assuming she's there to assist you, so don't be afraid to use her. :D

ETA: I also found making magnets with the subjects written on it, so my K'r could move from the "to do" to "done" column, and a quick daily briefing about what we had to do that day really helped her feel aware and in (some) control. I realized how much I would HATE to not know what was expected of me at my job or when I'd be done for the day. Kids aren't that different.

08-07-2011, 05:48 PM
One active math thing that was good for us was an idea I got off a blog where I used sidewalk chalk in the backyard to make a thing where the kids could only jump on certain numbers. You could do it for lots of things - only jump on even numbers, only jump on multiples of 3, only jump on numbers bigger than something or smaller than something or between something... and it can be as simple as just numbers or it could be things like two numbers added or subtracted. And you could change it midstream, like the kid starts by jumping on each spot with a number that adds up to 10 but then midway you change it to 9 or something. And there can be a story involved - a wizard bewitched them, they make a secret spy code, a giant bird will swoop down and tag them out if they mess up, etc.

speech mom
08-07-2011, 07:37 PM
Last year my kids had 14ish "subjects". Grammar, vocab, reading, writing, handwriting, critical thinking, science spectrum, science pals, science hots, history, geography, math, art, pe.
On push back days, I would tell them to do 10 things or 5 things. I didn't care if they were all the same subject or a couple of subjects. Do whatever you want, just do something, was my motto.
They usually pushed back when they felt they didn't have control over their lives.

Stella M
08-07-2011, 07:47 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that you're at one of the harder stages of homeschooling - trying to do it with little ones around. So you may not have the extra time/energy to do a whole lot of active learning every day, which is OK. I know you have a certain amount of work to get through each week; any chance you could work with ds on the weekends when your dh or other support is around to mind the littles ? Even if just to finish off, or to do the work that seems to cause the most pushback, for which you need your wits about you ?

Also, can he do lessons orally with you writing down his answers ? Maybe not ? I just know that my ds does way better with oral lessons at this point in time.

08-07-2011, 08:05 PM
I am loving all of these great ideas! I am interested in trying to make things more physical and active, so I will be trying those. I have recently started giving him some control over the order of what we do, which he has responded positively to, and I like to make sure he knows what we are trying to accomplish that day before we start. Also, oral lessons do help, although he likes to write at least some of the time. I have to remember not to correct every backwards 4, 5 and 7 (among others).

I have also been thinking, and I am wondering if maybe I am approaching our schedule wrong. I won't change anything right away, but maybe we should do lessons and learning-related activities in the afternoon while the youngest is sleeping, instead of in the morning while the middle guy is at preschool. This would free up mornings for me to do my work at least 3 days a week, which might take some of the time pressure off. My oldest can keep my youngest entertained, and while he is in workshops I can have alone time with the baby. It's possible, but he is more of a morning guy...

08-07-2011, 08:17 PM
For the correcting thing, I found that my kids responded much better if I announced slowly that something had to be fixed. So, I would say, hey, from now on, every backward 3 or capital A or whatever, has to be fixed. Then I would be really vigilant about it. But once it got better, I would move on to something else. Making them correct everything when the focus on the activity was math or phonics or something (not handwriting, where obviously it would have to be fixed) always made them feel rotten and was just counterproductive. But nor could it be allowed to stand forever, you know?

08-10-2011, 08:36 PM
I'm just starting out so take this for what it's worth - not much! :0 I'm not in the full swing of things as I'm easing into it. But, I found that when i tried to control things and direct things too much my DD5 (almost 6) started pushing back. When I gave up quite a bit of that control, that "teaching" mentality, and made it more about our experience together, she has become more cooperative. I'm still not sure where it will lead but at least I'm less worried that I'm causing her to hate me!

08-11-2011, 07:18 PM
I heard about something today that was called a lesson bank. Some days kids can be in a good mood and get more then one lesson done, so they write the "extra" lesson on a 3 x 5 card and file it by subject for later. When later comes around and the kid is in a horrible mood and doesn't want to do 'math' or whatever, they can check the lesson bank and see if they have an 'extra' math saved in the bank. I think I may try this one with my 3 kids.