View Full Version : How Much Should We Get Accomplished In A Day?

09-06-2011, 08:55 PM
This is our first year homeschooling and one of the major reasons we decided to hs is that my dd has a huge attention/focus issue. I believe that she has some form of ADD/ADHD, but dh will not allow her to be diagnosed...plus we would not medicate her anyway so it would have really been all for ps records. Now don't get me wrong she CAN focus when it is something that she really likes and she does a much better job focusing when she is not tired (i.e. in the morning) so I have planned all her LA stuff to be done first because it is her weakest and least liked subject and then I plan the rest of the day so that she has at least every other subject (math and science) in the middle of stuff she does not enjoy so much, but we can NEVER get everything done. I am wondering if I have too high of expectations or if I am not demanding (maybe that is the wrong choice of words) for her to complete assignments in a timely manner. I feel like I am walking a fine line between understanding and working with her attention issues and helping her cope and figure out how to work with them.
Today the schedule was this:

1. Grammar, one page of maybe 10 sentences on identifying compound subjects and predicates
2.One small passage with questions for reading comprehension. The section is maybe 3 paragraphs long with 5 comprehension questions at the end.
4.T4L vocab- synonyms and antonyms (this was a review for her)

She was able to complete all the above in about 1.5 hours

We took a break and went to the library... I am letting her pick out leisure books right now.

Home for lunch

5. LOF (one chapter...this was review)
6 T4L Math- Roman Numerals and Equivalents (this was also review for her)

Math took over 2 hours... and not because the content was difficult and she did not understand it or we had to take breaks to teach new concepts. She just could not focus.

Ideally we would just break and come back to it, but by this time it is time for her sister to get out of ps and our day is pretty much done.

Okay I did not mean for this to be so long...but I am just concerned that we are not going to make any headway...and that all we will get done in a day is LA and Math.

How much should I really worry about getting done in a day?

Stella M
09-06-2011, 09:04 PM
I've forgotten how old your dd is ? Could you remind me ?

I honestly believe we teach our children focus by starting small and building up. I would encourage a reluctant child under 10 to work his or her best for around 20 - 30 min in each subject, then call it quits. A small amount of work done well has more value than a quantity of work done without focus.

A rule of thumb I use for children under 10 is to aim to get the 3R's done plus one. Maths, reading, writing and art. Or maths, reading, writing and science etc.

I expect more of my older children. If I had an older child new to homeschooling or with significant focus issues, however, I would treat them as an under 10 for a while and try to build up the habit of work slowly but consistently.

09-06-2011, 09:09 PM
My son has ADHD and the two things that help are short lessons (no more than 20 minutes for subject, often less) and my sitting with him to help him stay focused. You can try a timer, though some kids freak out about that. Sometimes a short break for exercise will help improve concentration--jumping jacks, trampoline, etc. I'm sure some other folks will have suggestions.

I don't know remember how old your daughter is, but we do no more than three hours of work each day. We built up to that gradually over the first few months of homeschooling last year. Maybe you could try scaling back to just LA and math for a week or two and gradually add other subjects as you get into a routine.

09-06-2011, 09:22 PM
Focus can sometimes be an issue here, too. I think what didn't work for us was cracking the whip, i.e. setting a timer, getting all authoritarian about it, because that just made him freeze up and start into battle mode. My suggestion, if your DD is still elementary school age, is to let it take as long as it takes, but take breaks when it seems like focus is waning. Make it clear how long the break is, though, or else you may never get them out of break mode.

The important thing is that she retains what she's learned, not how fast she gets it done. If I graded Hurricane on speed, he'd be average at best.

09-06-2011, 09:44 PM
My dd is 11... 6th grade if she were in ps. I try not to time her when she is working... because she stresses out about that, but I do gently reminder her that she has been working in the one assignment for XX amount of time (but in my head I am saying for an ETERNITY!). I work from home so I have moved all of my office out to the kitchen table so I am sitting right next to her while she is working just so I can keep her on track. We also have schedule and unscheduled breaks so that she can run around, jump on the trampoline, etc... I do put a time limit in these of no more than 10 minutes and I set a timer. I also do the same for lunch... no longer than 30 minutes. I really want to embrace all that makes her such a special kid... she is so different than my other two and I love that about her, but I also want to make sure that I am creating an environment and providing the proper education for her to be successful. And MarkInMD... she is so very good about retaining... she can remember what I promised I would do (and didn't) from when she was 5!

Stella M
09-06-2011, 09:55 PM
Would it make a difference if you did maths earlier in the day ? Or did maths/LA before a big break like a library trip ?

Idk, even with a 6th grader, I'd still keep lessons short. 45 min is the max I'd go to with an 11 year old and maths, unless she was having a fine old time with it and wanted to keep going.

09-06-2011, 10:22 PM
My 11 yr old doesn't have ADD, but he gets bored very easily. One thing we do is we only work on 3 to 4 subjects a day instead of trying to cram everything in everyday. I'm a bit of an organization freak, so we have a set daily schedule of four 35 - 45 minute work periods with a break between each one. We may do math, science, language arts one day and history, geometry and music the next. I have one item I expect him to do for each subject, then he gets to pick items off that subject's shelf for the rest of the work period. So for example, after he finishes the long division work sheet I put out for him in the math period, he can play with a math computer game, mess around with his tangram book, or play with the multiplication board. He finishes the worksheet with less complaints so he can get to the stuff he wants to do, and I get to keep him immersed in the subject and learning without (as much) procrastinating and whining about boredom!

Our fourth work period is a free choice, so if he is working on an involved history project or practicing a new song on the lap harp, for example, he can dedicate it to that. The only rule is he has to spend the free period on existing subjects, but he can work on multiple subjects in a single free choice period, if he prefers. It took us a couple of years to hit upon this method, and I'm sure it will need tweaking as he gets older.

09-06-2011, 11:49 PM
just to warn you, my family is big on food allergies, so i bring this up a lot . . but i noticed she seemed to have more trouble focussing after lunch . . .could that be a factor?

09-07-2011, 01:11 AM
Couple thoughts....

If you don'tt already, start the day briefly going over the list of what needs to be done THAT DAY and post it. Kids need to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel they have some control over their day.

Do more WITH her -- time with mom is a big motivator with my kids and stuff gets done much quicker and happily if I give them my focus. I understand working from home, but maybe just the first 10min? If you give her just a smudge more attention than she needs, she'll start needing less (my kids are like cats principle, lol).

Shorten the lessons. 45min is about the max most kids can maintain focus, and breaks don't really help if they come back to the same subject. Allow yourself to "ramp up". Trim the busywork, keep review only as needed, and subjects SHORT. You can build on this as you and dd gain confidence and get into the swing of things.

It really is ok if for the first few weeks you just do free reading, journaling (for writing), and math. Add a fun subject. You can use the journal entries to talk (later) about grammar and writing. Have her read out load a chapter or couple pages from a free reading book and discuss it with her (plot points, vocab, etc). Alternate math (instead of doing 2). I know it doesn't sound like much and you worry it isn't "enough", but done well your dd can get more out of a 15min reading and discussion than an hour of formal LA.

Give yourself permission to take some time to find your path. Give your dd permission, too. :) At 11yo there's nothing you can do that will put her horribly behind. Good luck!

09-07-2011, 05:49 AM
Thanks everyone for all the advice! I guess I figured that we could have a little more structured of a schedule now since we started back in the middle of August and we really just did whatever for the first several weeks...hikes, photography, poetry etc... and she was asking when "we would really start school." I guess we just have to reframe our thought process on what school really is. I told her tonight that we were going to do our best to stay focused and if we could not get everything completed on our schedule we were not going to worry about it. I think she felt better about that and said, "tomorrow will be a better day. I am sorry I could not focus today." At dbmamaz... curious that you mention allergies, I was just thinking about that yesterday. We were pretty good about monitoring her diet last year when she was in ps to see if restricting some foods that some say are associated with or exacerbate ADD/ADHA... specifically red food dye. I am unsure if there was any changes to her behavior, but I am interested in learning more. I know that she suffers from environmental/seasonal allergies more so than anyone else in the family...not sure if that is even remotely related.

Stella M
09-07-2011, 05:57 AM
Allergies of any kind make it really hard to focus :(

That's nice, what you said to your dd and what she said back.

09-07-2011, 06:25 AM
Sadie...I love that you live in Australia and it is 7:30 pm when it is (gasp) 3:30 am here. When I have to work in the middle of the night... I can count on you being awake too! ;)

09-07-2011, 01:10 PM
We all found our hayfever allergies became more mild when we got off our other food allergies. I was really suprised that the mom of twin boys w adhd has been talking to me at our video game gatherings about taking her sons off dairy, gluten and soy and seeing huge improvements in their adhd. (and food dyes and preservatives, of course). i keep wondering about the soy, because i do feed my most nutso son a fair amount of soy.

09-08-2011, 07:09 PM
My son is 7, we do math first. Math must be done. Nothing gets done until math is done. Are you noticing a pattern. It requires the most attention and I find I'm a better teacher and he's a better student first thing, so we go with math first. Then he gets to do a chore, ride his bike, something for about 15 min. Then back to the salt mines. We do math every day. Mon,Tue, Thurs and Fri we do Language arts, spelling and writing. Now Language arts is usually fused with Science or Social STudies and they are done together. So we might read about Electricity and then do an experiment, then write about our experiment, and write our vocab words from the Science. Wed. is our extras day. This is the day we have PE and Art and Ballet with the homeschool co-op, so math and this stuff is all that is done.

09-09-2011, 04:01 PM
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. My kiddo, who also has major focus issues, works better with a routine and a plan. However, she's been going off on these really cool tangents lately, reading tons, designing and building things, making books, making up games and puzzles... I feel like one of the reasons we homeschool is for her to have the freedom to do this and maybe I should just let her go. When I do, though, it's hard to get her back on task for things that need to get done, like chores and even basic daily self care routines. I guess I'm finding it challenging to strike the right balance at the moment, and to figure out what exactly it is that I want to accomplish each day, too. Every time I think I have it figured out, something changes.

09-09-2011, 10:43 PM
Itsafoot, I am in a position similar to yours in that, even though he has not been diagnosed, I am pretty certain that my ds, 12, has adhd. We have not pursued a diagnosis, because like you, we would not medicate...soo....sigh

So getting him to complete his work can be a chore, mostly because he resists sitting down to work for long periods. I get easily frustrated because he is also gifted. So knowing what he is capable of, and then not having him focus to match his potential frustrates me to no end.

On the other hand, I think about how much he probably got his attention called on in school for not keeping still or being quiet breaks my heart :(

So far, he always finishes his work in a reasonable amount of time, but I do have to prod him :(

I would LOVE to learn any ways that I can help him deal with this. Not only for now, but for the future

09-09-2011, 11:34 PM
I can't speak to ADHD because Zack's diagnosis is sensory processing disorder but he has similar issues of fidgeting, lack of focus, etc. Some of the things we do:

I bought him an inexpensive office chair without arms and I allow him to spin around and around (and around!) in circles while I read lessons. He's an auditory learner and I'm still amazed at how much he retains when it seems he isn't listening.

We also keep a supply of "fidgets" in a basket on the table we use for homeschooling. There's a little can of Playdoh, Silly Putty, different rocks and nuts that we've picked up during our walks, and although it sounds funny, a latex glove stuffed with flour. I even find myself grabbing that one when I need to concentrate on something.

We also have a peanut ball and an exercise ball. When Zack starts to "derp out" as he calls his periods when he loses focus, he will go kick the ball around the house or bounce on it. We also "wake up his body" with a scalp massage or hand massage or just by having him stand up and shake his arms and legs out. We keep the Wii balance board out and ready to go and those quick five-minute activities in Wii Fit are a nice activity break for him and helps him refocus his attention.

Savoir Faire
09-11-2011, 01:46 PM
I have ADD as well...and definitely having the hyper-focus on one area is something you'll see. I still have it at 31...though I am lucky enough to realize that I just can't focus on X all day when Y and Z are still there.

My kids are younger...but we don't do everything every day. I think if we tried, we'd all go crazy.

Mondays: Handwriting, History and Explode the Code
Tuesdays: Writing and Math
Wednesday: Handwriting, Explode the Code, Logic and sometimes Spanish
Thursdays: Nothing. We're at co-op
Friday: Writing and Math

Workbooks help ME because I can see how much we've done...and it is easy to keep track. The kids always know what they need to do as well...we just have a set # of pages they have to do.

Perhaps you could write things down on a list for her? A lot of ADD types really enjoy lists-- seeing what they need to do and then checking it off...

Savoir Faire
09-11-2011, 01:48 PM
Love the fidget tools! My son is a definite fidget-er...I could see him loving Play-Dough while I'm reading. Usually, if I have to read aloud, I give them coloring pages...which seems to work for now.