View Full Version : Attention Issues

09-21-2011, 11:16 AM
I'm HS'ing my 6 year old daughter. Prior to this (our first "real" year) she would do schoolwork for hours upon hours, at her request. She's always been bright, and far ahead of schedule. (ABCs and phonetics at 2, reading at 3, etc.) This year, now that we actually have to maintain a standard, she is all over the place.
She works well if I sit right beside her, and work "with" her, but that isn't exactly practical. Even with only 2 hours of schoolwork in a day, it's hard to find that in the schedule. (This is in addition to 2 hours of vision therapy I have to do with her daily, and in addition to keeping her two year old brother happy and occupied....not an easy task.)

How can I keep her more on task, so that our days don't drag on so much?

09-21-2011, 12:18 PM
What curriculum are you using? Are they all teacher intensive or are they set up for independent work? If she is a strong reader you should have quite a few possibilities for things she can do independently at least part of the time. With independent programs, even if you have to be in the same room to keep her from wandering off, you should be able to play with your two year old, or do other things at the same time.

I still have to work directly with my son 99% of the time. I also still do a lot of the writing for him so cutting him loose won't happen any time soon, I'm sure. But, I have been finding that certain programs work better if I need to walk away for a minute or two.

-Explode the Code is really easy for him to do alone now but I like having him read everything to me to make sure he gets it (he also has interesting ideas about things so sometimes he doesn't answer the way they are looking for but it makes sense to him and shows he can read it.)
-Math Mammoth he could do a lot of it alone if he could handle the writing.
-Handwriting without tears he could do himself but I watch to make sure he's actually doing the letters correctly.
-We do grammar out of a scholastic workbook that he can definitely do himself. Growing with Grammar is another one I've heard can be done independently.

09-21-2011, 12:30 PM
Right now she's working on math. (Math Mammoth.) She's a fairly strong reader (3rd grade level or so, but her vision does give her stamina issues when reading longer books, etc.)
She has a lot of unit studies (intellego that look more parent involved, but we haven't even gotten into those much, as of yet....just some interest based studies, hummingbirds, etc.)

09-21-2011, 02:36 PM
I just keep my 8 yo's lessons really short, no more than 15 minutes, with lots of free time in between. He doesnt do much at all independently.

09-21-2011, 02:42 PM
How does that work for your day planning? Seems like that would make HS'ing take all day, rather than getting it done in the morning or afternoon, etc. Which is great if it works for you...but I don't think I can make that work in our schedule. As it stands now, I'm having difficulty getting her to finish school work and vision therapy in a day.

09-21-2011, 03:24 PM
We arent doing a lot of subjects. We are very relaxed ecclectic.

Here is our monday, just as an example:

10:00 clean table
10:10 sit and read a chapter of history together
10:30 review math section w teen and assign problems
10:45 do math with Raven
11:00 walk dog
11:30 go to martail arts
1:40 eat lunch
2:00 read a chapter of history
2:30 go over LA w teen and make assigment
2:45 do writing with Raven
hope to be done by 3

Raven is watching brain pop videos some of his free time, and he is reading fiction in the evenings. He is way behind in writing, and just refuses to sit and do more than 2 math problems. I am focusing on moving his learning forward without pushing him on his weaknesses (writing, and sitting still for extended periods of time.) I have read books which propose that many boys arent really ready to sit and do school work until 8, 9, or even 10.

Being patient with his reading paid off. Being patient with his veggie eating paid off. I am taking a minimalistic approach, assuming that he will mature to the point where i can push him more, and, even more importantly, that when he is ready, he will own his work, instead of it being something he does in order to avoid punishment.

Of course, that approach isnt for everyone - esp since some kids need a lot of repitition to learn, and some moms are simply not as relaxed as I am.

(oh, and he is doing a science coop tuesday mornings, so we arent covering that specifically)

Stella M
09-21-2011, 04:49 PM
6 is young to keep on task without mum or dad being alongside. I still sit with my 7 yr old to do maths most days and Intellego most definitely! We are really liking Intellego but it is not an independent study for this age by any stretch.

Short lessons worked well for us at six. About 20 min on each subject. Short but consistent really does work, for us at least.

Around 6, ds day looked like this

Maths - one page done with me
Phonics lesson - one lesson done by me
Reading practice - aloud to me
Handwriting - half a page supervised by me
and one other thing - a science experiment, art, a book on an interesting topic etc.
a read-aloud read after lunch by me.

This was about 90 min work. Most of these things could be done in the lounge room or wherever the toddler is playing. They don't have to be done without a break. When I had littlies I used to yo-yo between the school age ones and the toddler. It was exhausting! but all the kids learnt to read and write and work with numbers :)

Good luck! It's tricky with a toddler around as well. Add in the vision therapy ( friends of mine did this and I remember how challenging it was to fit it all in ) and no wonder there don't seem to be enough hours in the day...

eta I did a lot of my 6yr olds' work orally, leaving writing for a specific writing lesson. That helped us get through work in a timely manner.

09-21-2011, 05:15 PM
yes, yes, yes..

I agree with everyone. Short lessons through out the day. And because I am in a pissy mood today I want to warn you about the following.. It is nothing personal, but just a thought to think about.

The idea that unschoolers especially the Dada's have about Always Learning are fantastic, but they do NOT own the rights to this concept. Children are Always Learning, but they most certainly aren't always sitting still or hanging out waiting to be taught.

With this in mind, stop thinking about "getting school overwith" it will never be overwith, It is not hard to plan a day for a six year old. Play and lots of it. Put your schedule aside, and get done something like what Sadie has above. It so not worth it to argue with a tiny human about HS stuff.

And Breathe lots.

Egads just call me San Druh.

See maybe snarky is better, I am going back over to the love thread and remind everyone how much I love that word.
And apologies in advance to anyone who thinks I am snarky today.

I wish we could create a hs chill pill that we could all take when we start freakhoging on everything.

09-21-2011, 08:42 PM
I'm guessing MM wouldn't be a very good program in terms of layout for a kid in need of vision therapy. Even if the approach was right for math, those somewhat crowded pages with a goodly number of problems might be an extra hard slog for a kid having trouble tracking. I could be wrong, but that's just a guess. Do you think it might go quicker if you switched to working problems on a whiteboard and limited the amount of writing she's doing somewhat?

I think when the amount of work isn't fitting into a reasonable time frame, you have to re-evaluate the amount of work and whether it's right for you kid.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-21-2011, 09:53 PM
We do short lessons with lots of breaks now, after trying to do everything in the morning for a while. I try not to let things get past three and they usually don't. I use dd's breaks to get things done around the house or to have a break myself or to work with her big sister. When we did everything in the morning I was having to drag her through her work and I hated that and so did she. I guess, agreeing with the snarky previous poster, "school" is just becoming part of the flow of the day. I guess it varies on how much structure you need and she needs but I really like this better. My older dd though, she wants to get everything done in the morning and usually does.

09-21-2011, 11:40 PM
Accident, that momentarily reminded me of living on the commune - people could do work whenever they wanted (we all worked on the 'farm' including in the businesses. Well, some people liked to do 4 10-hour days so they had 3 day weekends and they would take camping trips or whatever. I liked to work about 6 hours every day, even weekends, so my days were less stressful. I guess it would make sense that kids are the same way . . . some kids need more down time in between, and some kids can cram and get it all done so they have more free time afterwards.

09-22-2011, 08:17 AM
That's what we would like.....if the homework is out of the way, then we can go to the park, library, play on the SkyFort or trampoline in the backyard, go on a walk, etc.
The problem (for our family) with breaking up school, is that there is too much additionally to get done. Before this year we let her do school when she wanted, and choose the subject. Now she still gets to choose subjects, but math, reading, etc isn't optional. (Although we can sometimes tweak the format...ie, if she has read 5 books that day, I'm not worried about fitting in reading "work." Some subjects are just easy like that. :) Even then, with a slack schedule, it was difficult to get her vision therapy work into a day. (Same thing....2 hours of work could potentially take 4 hours.)
I'm going to try sitting with her today, for a solid hour, to see what she can truly "do" in an hour....and then I'll re-asses her workload.

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
09-22-2011, 08:46 AM
Is it that she is unsure of the material unless you are right there. Or is it she does not want to do the work unless you are right there.
I ask that because they both have different causes and solutions.
The first one can be handled by making sure she understands the material before being left alone to do the actual work.
The second one can be handled in 2 different ways.
1. Sit down with her and even set up a spot for your son to sit and do some off his work. Even if it is just coloring with a crayon. You might have to have a box of toys there for him (quiet toys). Or you can do the paperwork time while he is taking a nap. Change the schedule a bit.
2. You can stay in the same room with her and be there if she needs your help. You make it clear that you are there in case she needs you. Make sure that she understands that helping her is not giving her the answers. After a few days of you staying there with her, let her know that you are leaving the room. See if she can do one by herself. Make a game out of it.
After a few days you will find that she will be doing the work on her own.

09-22-2011, 08:54 AM
When I sit with her, she pops off the answers, pop-pop-pop...like that. She knows this stuff, it's easy for her....if I sit with her, a sheet takes 5-10 minutes.But if I want to work on anything else...that sheet can take 2 hours.
I haven't exercised in a month....at least.
We like to go to the library at least once a week, and its been three. (We just went last night.)
I haven't had time to go and just SIT in the backyard with them, while they play, because my work isn't done either.
Frustration to the max. Seriously.
Anyways...I'm going to try that....hopefully once she is in a good rhythm she can do some of this more independently. Hopefully.

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
09-22-2011, 09:35 AM
my oldest is the same way so I understand your frustration. I have found that just sitting here using her paperwork time to be on the computer works well. I get both things done at once. My youngest is still at a point where she needs my attention completely to get her work done. But she has found that she can play by herself if she plays while her bigger sister does her work. Than she will get her time with mommy. After they each get their own time we do another activity with both of them. This works well for us right now.

09-22-2011, 09:37 AM
That's a good idea.....I might be able to coupon beside her while she's working.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-22-2011, 09:56 AM
Accident, that momentarily reminded me of living on the commune - people could do work whenever they wanted (we all worked on the 'farm' including in the businesses. Well, some people liked to do 4 10-hour days so they had 3 day weekends and they would take camping trips or whatever. I liked to work about 6 hours every day, even weekends, so my days were less stressful. I guess it would make sense that kids are the same way . . . some kids need more down time in between, and some kids can cram and get it all done so they have more free time afterwards.

That sounds nice. I have never like jobs where I have to report at a certain time and stay in one place the entire day. My favorite jobs have been where I make my own schedule and check in. The focus is not on being at work for so many hours but getting a specific list of tasks done. Even if I actually have to work more I still like feeling that I am in control of when/how I get it done. What sort of made me sad for my older dd is that she told me, "I want my life and school to be separate." School is work to be gotten done as quickly as possible and then move on to life. I think this is because that is how she thought about when she was in ps. Maybe as we hs for longer she will find some enthusiasm, but I guess she is at least doing the work. For my younger dd it is all mixed up together and I think that is healthier, but maybe just because that is more the way I like to work.

09-22-2011, 12:21 PM
I can really identify with that....I have certain things that have to be done everyday. (Although, it's rare that I make it to the bottom of my to-do list.) I want to work hard to get those things done so that I can relax in the evening, and enjoy a clean house and a day of accomplishments. (Again....rare.)
If our day was arranged so that paper work and household chores were done in the morning, and we had the rest of the day to play and tromp about, I couldn't be happier. Actually accomplishing that is another feat. I do have some friends (typeA moms) that do their schooling like this, every day. I'm green with envy, and on the days that this happens, it's great. My kids get to play so much more, do more, see more....the sleep better since they are more worn out, and it gives me that "good mom" feeling. (Which I suspect comes differently for everyone...for some it might be making a home cooked meal, etc.)
Every family is different, so our goals and desires may be different than other's....but I am pining after a structured day.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-22-2011, 08:57 PM
Every family is different, so our goals and desires may be different than other's....but I am pining after a structured day.

Well, I hope you get it!

09-22-2011, 10:20 PM
Even with build up, timers, making it a game, giving incentives... many 6 yos may not be capable of working independently for more than a few minutes. Some absolutely can, but I feel like what you're describing is pretty routine. I think most of us expect to have to sit with our kids so they get their work done (or at least, to be in the immediate vicinity and on call with something that can be interrupted every few minutes) at least until they're 8 or 9 and sometimes longer.

Stella M
09-22-2011, 11:03 PM
Yep. What she said.

09-23-2011, 12:09 AM
yep what she said, that she said. It does get better... just not right now. Imagine a class of 23 of those little anklebiters...

09-23-2011, 05:34 AM
lol, ok, well....this helps. So, I'll just plan on working with her.

Stella M
09-23-2011, 07:19 PM
That's the easiest thing to plan for, and then if she does something by herself, you'll be pleasantly surprised! Honestly, it won't be like this forever...

09-30-2011, 08:56 AM
So, fwiw, things have been better the past few days. Maybe because we haven't done squat for schoolwork. (Weeks with 2 or more doctor's appts get a free pass, right?)
So anyways, we are rebooting, reformatting, considering new ideas. Oh, and I"ve been booting them outside A LOT. It's done wonders for their sibling fights, attentions span, etc. The tv has also been conveniently unavailable, and I've changed their vitamins to include supplements crucial to brain health/function.
Something seems to be working, or maybe the combination....we'll see next week when we are back to school again.
Cheers! :o)

Crabby Lioness
09-30-2011, 11:03 AM
When my daughters were 6, we were lucky to get in 30 minutes of concentrated work time a day, and no more than 20 minutes holding a pencil/crayon. Don't overdue it.

10-01-2011, 04:32 PM
You could send them over to my house today, to play with my squirrely ones.

10-01-2011, 08:03 PM
I'm glad things were better. HOpefully the little break with lots of extra outdoor time resets you all :)

My 8yr old cannot do anything on her own. If I leave her with a math sheet I KNOW she can do, it will take over an hour and still be unfinished. If I stand over her shoulder and say "okay, read the next question...yes...answer? yes...write it down..." for everyfreakingquestion, then it's done FAST. I feel your pain with not being able to get much done!! What I do is have her work at the kitchen table, so I can be cleaning up, baking, doing dishes, prepping snacks, etc all the while being hovering over her shoulder.

One day they'll be self-learners :)