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theWeedyRoad
12-05-2011, 08:24 PM
My ds is 10. Today I declare something is not working.

If I boil down his complaints to the BIGGEST, writing is enemy #1.

So my question for you all is this... if I ONLY have him write copywork/journal, and the occasional 'essay' (not really) type writing this spring when we get there, plus math, will that be enough? If we handle everything else orally/with me writing, will that be a-ok you think?

I've already corrected his posture, and he holds his pencil fine now. His penmanship is tragically bad, although much better than it was 6mos ago.

I wish I thought we could make unschooling work, but my kid is not a motivated learner at ALL. And if I point a mirror at myself, I have a very ugly ps kid streak that says learning has to show on paper or it doesn't count (I know it's my issue.. my kids pay the price). I'm not sure I even know how to be super relaxed... it isn't really about checking boxes here (we do not do makeup work unless I can fit it in comfortably and everyone feels up to it). But I expect a certain amount done every day, and I stick to it barring illness, mental health day, or other out of the house moment (rare, too rare lately)

Boring. I think he declared our homeschool boring today :( I don't know if it makes me feel worse or better that he noticed that hurt my feelings and so he said he thought he was just really tired. (worse.)

I feel like we need to make some sort of drastic change, but I can't conceive where I would even start. He isn't crafty (he hates it). He wants the pace of his schoolwork to go like a racecar (he hates review of any kind at all), and sometimes it takes mastery of a concept to really get it.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive. This weekend sucked, and now this... ugh. Be gentle on me please, I feel crappy enough and no one wants to see me cry :(


Sorry- should have put this is in issues.... originally meant to ask what other styles I should look at. Mods, feel free to move if you'd like.

baker
12-05-2011, 08:53 PM
I don't have any insight, but will be following this thread since I feel as though we are in the same boat. I am about to toss my math curriculum out the window, along with English/grammar. I love the idea of unschooling, but fear I will short-change my kids for the future if they are too "loose" about their studies.

dbmamaz
12-05-2011, 09:33 PM
Ok, you didnt really give a lot to go on, so this is just my off-the-cuff impression. He likes things to go like a racecar, he doesnt like writing, homeschool is boring. Why not just let him read for a while? Let him follow his passions? I mean, i would require SOME english and math, but if he has a thirst for knowledge, why not let him? We dont all learn the same way. Some boys esp learn to write later. I went to a conference once and the main speaker was a writer who i think had written books about how to teach writing - but her son hated writing so much, she finally said, ok, you dont have to write. she said in his jr/sr year she convinced him that colleges judge you on your writing, and he was willing then to learn to write a passable essay

have him give presentations of what he reads - do lectures, do power points, do plays, whatever. Have him teach his passions to you. but dont tie him to a desk if it makes him hate learning!!

to me a big part of homeschooling is helping our children learn who they are, how they learn, and what their strenghts and weaknesses are so they can learn to use their strengths to help them overcome their weaknesses. That doenst look much like public school for most of them.

bcnlvr
12-05-2011, 10:11 PM
I think you will be fine. You are fine NOW. Take a deep breath!

I could have written your post. Wait I DID write your post....now where did I put it? Anyway, we had it. Up to here (pointing to forehead). DS10 hated to read, hated to write, hated math, blah, blah. So I decided to have a parent-teacher-student conference. I went through our curriculum subject-by-subject. (we took a day off to do this). He told me the pros and cons of each one. In depth. What he liked, what he didn't. I also had input....what was helping him, what wasn't, what I saw. Then I asked him, "What do you really like right now....what do you want to learn more about and study?" I used his answers to guide me in building our homeschool. I used to be freaky/controlling in that I thought he needed to know certain things/facts. Not anymore. He needs to have certain SKILLS for high school and college. Many boys don't really mature into writing until 12+. I have used narrations up until this point (this year to be exact). I am using this year to learn to build a good paragraph (he just finished a strong grammar program for his age and learning to construct SENTENCES). Just a paragraph, no essays or tomes. Literature has gone out the window (please don't throw rocks at me!!). Classical literature makes ds10 cry. I am just not going to ask it of him right now. He wants to read astronomy books and Goosebumps. So be it. He has only just started to read ANYTHING like 2 months ago without having a stroke, so I am grateful.

After our conference, I dropped three curricula, tweaked one, and added one. He is now a much happier ds10 who is willing to work harder now that he has a stake in his learning. There is so much free/internet/out there stuff for the taking.

Sorry for the data dump, but this JUST happened to us. This year. Keep us posted!!

lakshmi
12-05-2011, 10:29 PM
I didn't realize it until Dbmamaz said it ..... not a lot to go on... so vibes it is!

I say go faster. Who cares about review, go at a speed that he can tolerate and then if you need to review you do. But later, not in the same day or week or month. I love handwriting books. I love handwriting. Silly girl stuff probably. But hey, assuming the world is going to be similar to how it is right now.... of course it may or may not, different topic.

Let him type. Teach him useful stuff like Powerpoint or Keynote on mac and let him present that way. Have him use Dragon Dictate and get it into the computer that way. go faster.

I am the same way. I hate hate hate hate things to take too long. Hate it. Did I mention that I hate going slow. ((((except of course when I don't understand something)))) K. So try that...

Oh and by the way, it isn't a competition or a race so guess what... no worries, of course it will be okay, and of course it will be enough. And if you back off you never know... he might want to do more stuff, it might take until May, but he could want to do something unexpected.

Keep us posted!

Stella M
12-05-2011, 10:47 PM
Yes.

Have him narrate orally in place of writing every now and then.

When he is ready he can transition to written narrations and then on to written responses/essays.

Jackielyn
12-06-2011, 12:01 AM
I second the typing...I can't believe this came out of my dh's mouth (since he seems very by the book school type (and forgive me cuz dh has a potty mouth)), "F-it...let him type." I was so proud that he thought outside the box! DS9 is the exact same...I think boys just take more time to mature period...in just about everything. And in my mind, if it's causing undue stress on both parties it's time to change something...either stop doing it, change it somehow...something. I also second what everyone else said, good advice all around! :)

Greenmother
12-06-2011, 12:09 AM
I have decided to remove their thumbs and invest in drag and drop. My kids won't write. Not when I want them to.

But honestly that is the only problem we have right now. I think it bores them to tears. I haven't quite figured out how to fix this. But I am working on it.

mommykicksbutt
12-06-2011, 06:34 AM
When I started homeschooling my son (right before his 8th birthday) he just didn't hate writing, he loathed it with an intense passion. This really puzzled me. This was a child who was reading by age 3 and started ps kindergarten at a 3rd grade reading level. I thought that because he was so gifted at reading that he would have little issue with writing. I was wrong. We stumbled along continuing to fail with each and every writing program for the next year and a half (all the crying and fit throwing over writing was depressing for us both). So I investigated why he hated writing and what we could do about it.

What I found out is that boys would rather be building forts that writing (duh). Writing seems like an impossible task to them because for the most part they are not given direction on not only how to write but on what to write. To the elementary school age boy, "write in your journal what you did today," seems impossible because they see that as too vague with no direction, they're lost and they hate being lost, it makes them angry. Instead, put them on the one-way road to writing with lots of guardrails, in other words be very specific. For his 5th grade, I found a writing program that gave my son the direction he needed to write. The creators of the curriculum understands that boys in particular hate writing.

In short, what the curriculum did was to give the child a very short story, like a one paragraph Aesop's fable. Have him read it then have him write down 2, 3 or 4 key words from each sentence in the short story in order. Then take the original story away from him and ask him to rewrite the story only with his key word notes. The idea is not to have him write the story exactly as the original but to paraphrase in his own words the story, btw he'll be writing but this is writing with direction. We took it slowly at first taking a week or so to do just one story. My son enjoyed this and thought it was fun to write this way! We did this for several weeks, the original stories got longer and so did his retelling essays. The lessons were on DVD with other children interacting with the instructor. Notes that were written on the whiteboard were included in the handouts for my son to follow along. There was little to no note taking (which made my son happy).

The program teaches about the 3 & 5 paragraph essay format then would give instructions something like this: "write 3 paragraphs of 5 sentences each, with each sentence having a minimum word count of 5 words." Then it would give a scenario to write about, by more importantly we could modify it to include our own personal experiences such as, "I want you to write about what you saw the monkeys (at the zoo yesterday) doing when the caretaker throw the beach ball into their pen." This is still writing with direction but with a bit more freedom but it is still very specific.

I discovered that my son required VERY specific direction in his writing. I had to give him exactly what I needed him to write (actual rewrite-paraphrase). This approach totally changed by son's view on writing. He gained not only the skill but also the confidence to write independently without the guardrails. This year, 10th grade, my son is penning his own novel. He now loves to write and he's good at it too.

I encourage you not to abandon writing or to diminish it, it is very important skill that must be mastered to succeed in so many things later in his life that you may regret not finding an alternative way of encouraging him to do it now.

BTW, the curriculum I found was from EIW, it is their student writing intensives. I highly recommended it for students who hate to write, it is an outstanding program. http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/sid-b

JinxieFox
12-06-2011, 08:16 AM
When something isn't working, I'm in the "let it go" camp. That is, I'd cut the writing wayyy back or even make it nonexistent for a little while. There are other ways to encourage it (he has a story idea? Or wants to draw a comic? He wants to organize something, make a list, make a pros/cons chart? Go for it!). But maybe cut out formal writing for now and let it happen naturally.

Not forever, because even in our digital age, writing is still a skill that should be learned, even if it is not applied as frequently as typing. Perhaps you can let it go or cut back for 3 months or 6 months, and then come back to it.

We waited until my son was about 7 to really instruct him in writing and, ever since then, I only expect him to do his writing lesson once a week (during his "half-day", every Friday).

He tends to write on a daily basis - he keeps a notebook in which he writes stories, thoughts, ideas, draws and labels pictures, etc. - so I'm not too concerned about it. I will introduce him to Word on the computer at some point, but only after his writing is nice and neat.

There are many suggestions here. Hopefully you will find what works for you both. :)

lakshmi
12-06-2011, 12:33 PM
Jinxie..... all i can think of is your mercury retrograde protection..... My computer logic board fried....I'd call that some Mercury Retrograde issues...Now just trying to decide to rectify it during MR or to wait until after it is over.... New thread material i suppose... Sorry to hijack.

albeto
12-06-2011, 12:59 PM
My ds is 10. Today I declare something is not working.

If I boil down his complaints to the BIGGEST, writing is enemy #1.

Writing can be tough. Like mommykicksbutt explains, there's a lot of vague expectation in there that can be frustrating. Add to that the expectation of recalling how to write each letter so as to avoid yet another comment that this one is backwards, as well as how to spell words, in addition to keeping the whole thought in line while attending to these details and you might see it's really quite a lot of work.

If this is the case, you're talking about executive functioning skills - making a plan, organizing it, executing it successfully. It comes easy in some places (take a good look at what he enjoys doing most with his free time and that should give you a clue as to what kinds of ideas are easy for him to execute). You can do one of two things. You can break down the writing into separate components - penmanship is one, spelling is another and composition is yet another - and don't make any comments about the others when the assignment is focusing on one. Or you could attend to these skills more stealthily. Provide opportunity to work on executive functioning in general, focus on writing when there's no external value assigned to it (no grade), play fun games orally when possible (spelling lesson smackdown was a favorite around here).


So my question for you all is this....

He's ten years old? If he can functionally read and write, yes, I would think this is enough. You can check out various unschooling blogs and websites to learn how to incorporate these academic skills in a natural setting. I like joyful rejoicing (http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/academics/math/unschoolingmath.html) for ideas like this. "Living math" is another thing to search online for ideas of incorporating mathematical concepts into the day naturally. At ten, what takes him 9 months to learn will likely take him 6 weeks to learn at 15 simply because his brain will be more mature, refined, will comprehend abstract thoughts, and will have five more years of natural experiences that he'll be able to identify when learning what certain concepts are called.


I've already corrected his posture, and he holds his pencil fine now. His penmanship is tragically bad, although much better than it was 6mos ago.

Before I scrapped penmanship, I found Spencerian penmanship (http://www.amazon.com/Spencerian-Penmanship-Copybook-Rogers-Spencer/dp/0880620838/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1323191729&sr=8-2), a wonderfully old fashioned curriculum that teaches cursive writing (before people thought to teach children print first and then cursive). It starts with simple lines. I had my child with dysgraphia practice four lines on four pages in a row. It took less than ten minutes. Penmanship wasn't talked about in any other context. Learning to break down the strokes to simple lines made all the difference for my son. His penmanship improved within a short time and I stopped when he asked if he could incorporate his penmanship into his written answers for other subjects. In other words, it was legible. Cursive is nicer too, imo, because it takes less effort to write when you don't have to pick the pencil up two or three times per letter.


I wish I thought we could make unschooling work, but my kid is not a motivated learner at ALL.

A couple ideas here, if you don't mind my sharing. Unschooling is a really broad concept and you can find all kinds of ideas to incorporate into your day without feeling like you're abandoning any control over the learning. Sandra Dodd is another unschooling guru but I find her website to be less helpful as it's mostly "trust the child!" commentary everywhere and I don't know about you, but I wanted to know exactly why I should be trusting a child who can't remember to wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom. Now I think I understand. "Trust the child" means "trust child development." The more you know about child development, the more you'll see that these things we organize and formalize in our education can (and are) incorporated into our natural lives. Spelling rules can be put around the house as little reminders (I like the cards from Spell to Read and Write (http://www.swrtraining.com/id51.html)). Grammar is learned through exposure and practice. Read quality literature, play audio books in the car for long drives, speak well at home and grammar will make sense when he's 15 and studying for the GED or taking classes. At 15 you'll need to remind him once what a noun and verb is and adverbs and adjectives are just what you call those things he's been using his whole life.

History is everywhere. We have a timeline we started with boring old ancient Greek and have since given up and put in important things like when the Beatles came together! Talking about the Beatles leads to history even. The song "Revolution" is a social commentary about the Vietnam War. That brings in the Korean War that preceded it, the fear of communism, Cuban Missal Crisis, McCarthyism, WWII, USSR, Prussia, the beginning of WWI, African Colonialism, founding of Israel in 1948, etc, etc, etc. There's a boatload of 20th century history just by talking about one song. One thing I learned is not to lecture when given the opportunity. Nice kids will learn to tune you out politely, but some kids can't help but run away. Instead, I throw out these ideas like crumbs to birds and each bird (child) picks up something and misses lots of other things but not to worry because I'm constantly throwing crumbs about. By the time they're older, they have a good image of general history in their heads and when they learn it formally in high school, they already get the *why* and they're now learning major players and analyzing who did what based on particular objectives.

Science is nature. Again, when kids are teens, they generally have an idea of what they really like and what they want to pursue. Studying academics formally is part of executive functioning - it's a means to an end, part of the plan that must be executed. If you can provide information that fits within your child's interests (which should be pretty broad because lets face it, kids are curious little beasts), you'll be ahead of the game.

Math is simply the relationship between amounts. My oldest son was inspired to learn calculus because it made chemistry make better sense. Granted, my oldest is freakishly smart when it comes to science (not so much math), but my dd (who is not freakishly smart), has decided she like geometry because, well, just because I guess. We've not studied it at all but she's starting to notice it everywhere (which happens when you like something). She's quite fragile still with learning so I take it slowly because I'd much rather her have confidence and tackle math at the community college when she's 16 than to cry at 14 because she feels stupid and bored. I'd much rather wait for her to see math as a challenge she can overcome for the sake of her goals. Executive functioning at work.

[ETA: I don't mean to push unschooling - just offer ideas to incorporate into your school day for a little change of pace]


And if I point a mirror at myself, I have a very ugly ps kid streak that says learning has to show on paper or it doesn't count....

If you were interested in unschooling seriously, I'd suggest you take off one month for every year *you* were formally educated. Don't worry about slipping anything in, just enjoy life through the eyes of a ten year old. Eventually this habit of looking for formal proof will slip away and you'd see examples of learning in a more organic way, but that's not your goal so I would suggest you look to unschooling to incorporate sneaky, er, natural learning into your school day and just keep mental notes of what your ds is learning.


Boring. I think he declared our homeschool boring today :( I don't know if it makes me feel worse or better that he noticed that hurt my feelings and so he said he thought he was just really tired. (worse.)

(((hugs)))

But can I say, what an enormously considerate and sensitive child you have there! Oh my god, that is just the sweetest thing ever! This is the other component to unschooling *for me* -- social skills. In my opinion (just mine, so take them for what they are - some anonymous fool's opinion), good executive skills and social skills are the foundation upon which everything else is built. Your child will be able to take directions from an employer and get along well with others if he has good social skills. Good executive skills will help him take initiative and allow him to chase his dreams more effectively.


I feel like we need to make some sort of drastic change...
What does he do in his free time? What makes him happiest?


Maybe I'm being too sensitive....

I hate weekends like that. I think we've all had them at one time or another (some people, like me, had them like, all. the. time). I started by incorporating more organic, natural learning into our school day. Eventually I scrapped all formal education but that's just me and the dynamics of our home are different than the dynamics in your home. Besides, it does freak me out to think my kids aren't learning math, but I see other gains and that makes me feel better so take what I say with a huge pile of salt.

Avalon
12-06-2011, 03:06 PM
Writing is so hard, because it encompasses so many skills. I try to separate the mechanical skill of holding a pencil and forming letters, from the spelling & grammar & punctuation issues from the whole problem of what to say and saying it well. If we're going to work on physical writing, that's one thing. Spelling & grammar are something else. Actually coming up with something to say is a totally different issue.

My kids have problems in all these areas, so I can relate to feeling distressed about it.

If your child is willing to discuss things with an adult (other than you), tell about the books he's reading or the projects he's working on, and other adults can understand and follow what he's saying, then that is 80% of the battle. Just being able to do a two-minute presentation on any topic involves practically all the skills involved in writing an essay: research, organizing your thoughts, explaining things in clear sentences, coming to a conclusion.

For a ten-year-old who was truly unhappy or upset about writing, I would be willing to drop it completely and do things orally, probably for at least a year or two. At that point, maybe he might consider creating a blog, or getting a penpal, or making a manual about his personal passion, or whatever.

theWeedyRoad
12-07-2011, 05:05 PM
(((hugs))) to you all!!!!! You guys are truly my sanity.

Love all your suggestions! I started taking them today (yesterday was off completely).

Apologies for sounding vague- I think I was blindsided as much as anything. He didn't specifically mention anything, just melted down completely. Leaving me... lost, confused.

So we had a sit-down meeting. He said almost everything was fine (and cracked me up that he said KEEP social studies -which we both despise- because we laugh at the book. He told me not to groan over that decision :p). We went subject by subject, increment by increment. He said he hated the phonics, but thinks he needs it. He said my journal assignments were too open. And he said he wanted to switch from the slower moving method I've been using for math back into our lightning-fast book, for now, and said if that doesn't work we'll use a combination.

Surprisingly, he said the writing was ok. I still think it might be an issue (he doesn't mind learning, just doesn't want to write it down), and I think I need to gear down there.

I asked for critiques on my teaching style (writing on the board, talking a lot) and he said those things were fine. I again told him this was his education, about him, so please tell me if I'm not presenting it well, and he again said it was fine and assured me he wasn't trying to be gentle on me.

Science is apparently his favorite subject these days, and that rocks. He wants more experiments (I agree, I'm just struggling to come up with decent experiments for what we have been learning).

I told him he could learn from books, learn from movies, tell me he'd learn something himself and i'd completely let the subject go, that we could nix sitting at the table for whatever would work better, that we would completely tailor this whole thing for him. And he replied that sitting at the table was best, and that the way we are doing it is working.

I even (*sob*) said if he felt ps would be better, then tell me and we'll do that. He vehemently said no way, this is where he wants to be.

So now I'll look over my notes, and let my ps school expectations go. I'll dump/delay some of what we have, and tweak most of the rest. And I told him when we resume a normal day tomorrow, if he thinks of anything else to please tell me.

It's funny.. I was giving him the ultimate dream of my younger self: permission to learn it all with no adult telling me to learn what when. And he turned me down cold.

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your stories. Just knowing that I'm not alone helps immeasurably. I know there is no 'right' way to homeschool, but when it comes to my own... sometimes it's hard to take my own advice and let them show me what to do.

bcnlvr
12-07-2011, 05:47 PM
Weedy, I have the biggest warm fuzzy right now. That sounds just. awesome. :) :)

dbmamaz
12-07-2011, 05:54 PM
so glad you two had a great heart-to-heart! being partners is what matters, and it sounds like you guys are on the same page!

WindSong
12-07-2011, 06:00 PM
It sounds like you had a wonderful talk today. Keeping the lines of communication open is so important. Kudos to you for listening to what he had to say. That is so awesome!

lakshmi
12-08-2011, 12:20 AM
woot woot woot....

now you can use PS against him.....lol.. just because I threaten my kids doesn't mean that you will. I tell them... I can't break you like a horse. but the PS teachers can.... just try you're wild heathen ways there!!! lol.. I really say this and that makes me laugh...

Glad you had a place to vent and a place to share all about the same topic....: )

Lou
12-14-2011, 11:31 AM
Before I scrapped penmanship, I found Spencerian penmanship (http://www.amazon.com/Spencerian-Penmanship-Copybook-Rogers-Spencer/dp/0880620838/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1323191729&sr=8-2), a wonderfully old fashioned curriculum that teaches cursive writing (before people thought to teach children print first and then cursive). It starts with simple lines. I had my child with dysgraphia practice four lines on four pages in a row. It took less than ten minutes. Penmanship wasn't talked about in any other context. Learning to break down the strokes to simple lines made all the difference for my son. His penmanship improved within a short time and I stopped when he asked if he could incorporate his penmanship into his written answers for other subjects. In other words, it was legible. Cursive is nicer too, imo, because it takes less effort to write when you don't have to pick the pencil up two or three times per letter.

My dh HATES to write. He always hated it in school & hates it as an adult, but wanted to have better handwritting, so he became a student with the kids and we did hand writting at the table in the evenings for a while. I gave him some cursive sheets, because he pretty much gave up as a child at the printing stage and still to this day would print. HE LOVED CURSIVE and wondered why didn't he learn that first in school. For his logical mind it was far easier and had an easy FLOW to it. And because my son hates hand writting too, I'm curious about taking some time off handwritting and then coming back at it with cursive later down the road??? :confused:

Lou
12-14-2011, 11:33 AM
I threaten PS too...my son hates it and he tells my daughter all the time it's horrible. She isn't fully convinced, but when she complains about a worksheet my son will tell her if you go to school, you have to do those all day long with a really short recess, it's horrible...so I rarely have to mention it. I will call attention to the kids getting out of school at 3 when we are coming home from a field trip or park playdate that those poor children have been in school ALL DAY LONG...ha, ha...