View Full Version : Attitude every time

12-31-2011, 12:05 PM
My almost 6 year old has turned into Mr Attitude every time it's time to do school work. If we go to do math, for example, he'll sigh really deep, put his hands on his head, give me wrong answers on purpose, pretend like he "can't do it" etc. I'm only making him do an hour a day of work right now which is FAR below what he used to do before Thanksgiving break with no problem. So how do you deal with an uncooperative kid?

12-31-2011, 12:32 PM
I don't know if this will work for you but, when my kids get like that, I make sure and remind them of the fun stuff we have planned. We have to do our work first, and then we have a day where we do "fun learning" at the zoo or in the park or a nature walk or something. No work--no play til it's done.

Some kids don't have a super long attention span or they get bored. Make sure you are taking breaks when needed for his sake, and that he is challenged but not overwhelmed [and that can be a hard call too].

If you can find what he is passionate about, you can tailor some lessons around that and then put them after the lessons that aren't so exciting so that he has a positive thing to work for.


I used to think that oppositional defiance was a junk diagnosis, til I met someone with a kid that had that issue and saw it in real life--yikes! If that is the problem, I have no useful advice for that one. But someone else here might have something to say on that. If replies are slow to this, remember it's New Years Eve--replies may pick up in a day or two. :)

12-31-2011, 12:57 PM
6yos are like that, in my limited experience. Even my super-sweet, sugarcubes wouldn't melt in her mouth dd had a bit of 'tude at 6. (those darn even ages drive me crazy).

You guys are fairly new to homeschooling as well, aren't you? (forgive me if I'm mistaken!) ime, it takes time to get everyone used to the routine, and for kids to see mom as a serious educator (not just loving mom). The first few months might be rocky, so give yourself plenty of time for everyone to get in the groove. I think one of the common misconceptions I see with newbies (and I went through it as well) is thinking that the kids will be YAY!!! LET'S LEARN!!!, mom will have all the lessons and curric just perfect, and everyone will slip into it as easily as into a swimming pool. Other starting-out homeschoolers might have had that experience, but for me it was a few tears (not all mine), a few battles, a few serious over and under-estimations on my part, and a general feeling of angst and worry. It mostly passes* :)

*that is, until your 10yo starts to cry and says your carefully selected math program is too sllllllloooooow, and your 7yo decides maybe spelling tests (which she cried over) would be fun... There are more 'close my eyes and jump' moments in homeschooling than in anything other than general parenting, in my limited experience.

12-31-2011, 01:03 PM
I have the advantage of my kids having hated school, so sometimes I can point out that if we dont do school, they would have to go to school, because not learning isnt an option. But sometimes its time to find other curriculum. Esp if its just math, do some living math for a while - spend some time reading math readers from the library (picture books that are about math), play some games . . . even the simplest things, my sons loved it when we would take turns rolling 2 dice and add up the answer and just keep track of who won each round. I picked up some 10 sided dice to make it more challenging. I TRIED playing candy land with 2 dice instead of the color dice, but my son fought me on that.

check out http://www.livingmath.net/Home/tabid/250/language/en-US/Default.aspx

the idea is that you dont need worksheets to learn grade school math, and the last thing you want to do is teach little kids that math is boring.

12-31-2011, 01:05 PM
We've been home schooling since September so not really new new but new enough. We've struggled ALOT trying to find a curriculum that challenges him and that we like but I think part of the problem is we took a week off for Thanksgiving and he's had a hard time getting back in the routine after the break and then with winter break it was another long break even though I had him do a little bit of work each day.

He finally sat down and did just fine, I think the rest of the problem is, if it's too easy he doesn't want to do it because it's boring but once it starts to challenge him a little he gets mad because it's not coming as easily so he doesn't want to do it then either. He's not used to be challenged so I think that's a big part of the rebellion.

12-31-2011, 01:08 PM
I think I need to find my creative bone. I was public schooled and am so used to worksheet/workbook way of doing things that it's hard to make the leap to not using workbooks much. We use alot of manipulatives which helps and lots of other visual stuff which helps too but I think we need to start getting more creative with the idea. The dice game is a great idea.

12-31-2011, 01:58 PM
We've been home schooling since September so not really new new but new enough. We've struggled ALOT trying to find a curriculum that challenges him and that we like but I think part of the problem is we took a week off for Thanksgiving and he's had a hard time getting back in the routine after the break and then with winter break it was another long break even though I had him do a little bit of work each day.

My sincere apologies. You are welcome to ignore everything I typed in your thread.

I have "just one more day of vacation please!" kids, so I completely understand how hard it can be to get them back on track.

12-31-2011, 02:20 PM
It's possible he's really forgotten things you think he knows. Kids are like that. They learn, they excel, they forget. Development happens in fits and starts and does not follow a straight line up a ladder. I think I'm always hesitant to assume that a kid that young is manipulating you on purpose like that. He may just be in a growth spurt.

But I agree that sometimes you just have to find your creative bone. Other math things that help - Right Start games, games like Rat-a-Tat-Cat, Sleeping Queens, Zeus on the Loose, and Frog Juice, also games like Math Dice and Knock Out. We love the living math books here and the site Cara linked has great ideas.

12-31-2011, 02:45 PM
I have no suggestions for you. My 8 year old made me cry (literally had to go to my room and cry my eyes out) yesterday over math. I am beyond frustrated with her over it. I know all about the deep sigh, the head in hands, the glares, the snotty tone, the ugly looks, the wrong answers to get out of doing it. Dd's been pulling that stuff with math since day one. If you find a magic solution (other then maturity) let me know.

12-31-2011, 03:35 PM
Six is a difficult age for instruction, as we're learning. We didn't HS Hurricane until he was almost 8, but with Tornado, we're finding a lot of pushback on certain things. Now, he's probably ADHD, which doesn't help, but I think it's also the fact that at that age, there are many fundamental things getting thrown at them all at once, and it's probably overwhelming for many of them. With the new year, we're going to slow down somewhat and try to find the fun in everything we can, yet still achieve some educational goals. But you're not alone.

12-31-2011, 03:44 PM
Yeah, I also read some Moores books, which stress that some kids, ESP some boys, just aren't ready for organized academics u til they are 7 or 8 or 9. I went pretty unschooly with structure, with my younger, and just this year he is showing more willingness to do more academics

12-31-2011, 04:41 PM
We have math scheduled for first thing in the morning (along with penmanship), followed by a hour of break. I write a schedule with times on a little dry erase board each morning so that the kids can see it. If one of the kids is not cooperating, dawdling, doodling, etc. (usually my son), I remind him that he can't have break and play until his work is done, and every minute he isn't working is one less minute of play time.

12-31-2011, 05:15 PM
LOL...MonkeyMama I saw you put that same routine in another post and gave it a try. I can say...IT WORKS! (for my girls at least). I think it's something about seeing it. I list 3 subjects followed by a 15 min. break. Then, 4 subjects followed by a 45 min. lunch. Finally, our afternoon subject which is usually science or history. I let them choose the order of the subjects listed in each block and they take turns marking subjects off the board. It's amazing how making a colorful list each morning can help so much! I forgot to do it one day and they refused to do school until I made the list. Needless to say, I didn't forget again. Talk about a standoff...GEESH! I should also mention that with the exception of Science and History we don't have any subjects lasting more than 15 mins. Any longer than 15-20 and I lose them completely.

12-31-2011, 08:45 PM
I'm glad to hear that it's working for you, Staysee! We also take about 30 minutes for science and history and 20 minutes for other subjects. I think being able to see the breaks on the schedule helps the transition from play to school. Being consistent with the routine also helps.

Stella M
12-31-2011, 09:46 PM
Hmm. Frustrating! Honestly, with a six year old, I'd cut everything down to the bare minimum and let him play the rest of the time :) Six is so little. A math game, a read aloud, a little phonics and my ds was done.

Now, if he was seven...I'd probably do the same and try to build up the work ethic through things he actually wanted to do. Sorry though if that is too unschooly a suggestion.

12-31-2011, 11:37 PM
My gf handles this with saying, that at her house they are either erners or learners. The erners have to work for their money and most of that money is taken back for room and board and any activities they want to do means extra work so they can afford to go. Or the other choise is to learn and to do that is to do the school work.
She handled this by giving the child a lot of the house duties. Worked a treat that particular child is now a learner.

01-01-2012, 12:38 AM
but the question is, is 'doing school' really the right choice for a 6 yo? THere are other countries where school doesnt even start until 7, and they beat our kids on standardized tests. Just because most kids are ready for 'school' at 6, doesnt mean yours is. I guess some of it depends on why you are homeschooling . . . but my 8yo son barely did any school at 6, and does a reasonable amount now. He just wasnt ready.

01-01-2012, 10:30 AM
but the question is, is 'doing school' really the right choice for a 6 yo? THere are other countries where school doesnt even start until 7, and they beat our kids on standardized tests. Just because most kids are ready for 'school' at 6, doesnt mean yours is. I guess some of it depends on why you are homeschooling . . . but my 8yo son barely did any school at 6, and does a reasonable amount now. He just wasnt ready.

You know, that brings up a host of other questions for me. What does 'ready for school' even mean? My studious dd would have failed ps K with a less sympathizing teacher, even though she had model-student attitude (and what can you say about a kid who thinks she is too stupid to learn, but faces the fire with a smile on her face every single stinking day?). My ds had a zillion behavioral issues in K (not entirely his fault, we found out later), but always read ahead of grade level and had a perfect report card. Stand the two side by side at 6 without knowing their grades, and you would have picked dd for your academic team- NOT my ds. So which one was 'ready'?

I can't be the only one who thinks if I JUST went with math, reading, and writing, that my kids would pretty much pick up the rest of it solo. There are many aspects of what I think I'm going to teach... only to discover it's totally old-hat to my kids, or that the depth of info they understand on that subject goes way beyond what I had planned to teach.

My portfolio reviewing teacher commented that school-time INTERFERES with learning (she has three kids in good Universities, all who unschooled until 5th grade).. while I don't totally agree with her, I can certainly see where it could.

Just my musings this morning.. :)

01-01-2012, 11:22 AM
With my 7 yr old (who can get quite oppositional when I try to sit down and "do school"), we have to spend a lot of time without workbooks when it comes to math before we sit down and apply it to something that would help on a test. We toss an Angry Bird stuffed animal back and forth, and we have to answer math questions before throwing. I look at his math book before we play so I use all of the different terms (difference, in all, sum, part + part=whole, greater than, etc.) so that the vocabulary is familiar when we do sit down to do some practice. I also flip ahead in the book a bit so that I can make sure some "natural learning" occurs a few times before we get to something new using money, cooking, art, etc. He still freaks out the moment he sees an operator if what we're doing isn't familiar or the terminology is different, but that calms down after a few days. I've also figured out that we need to review a bit at the end of each week which means flipping back through the book and verbally answering questions.

We also have to practice writing numbers and writing the problems neatly, he does so much better when he doesn't have to think and write at the same time, so I've figured out that he needs some practice with writing numbers so it comes more naturally. We also read math books as Cara suggested and I use Discovery Streaming and YouTube to show him related videos. One of the most important things we've done is to have a Tupperware container filled with money so we can easily practice math concepts without searching for the right numbers of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc. I've added dollars now that the math is getting a little more advanced. I also use white boards and wipe off sentence strips that I found at Target in the discount bin to quickly show him what math he just did with the money after he's comfortable with a concept. If I don't wait until he's doing it easily he freaks.

My son can do all sorts of "living" math easily if he doesn't know it's math. He can multiply, divide, figure out how much something costs if it's 50% off, etc., but only if he doesn't know he's doing math. So I have to make sure he has it down quite well before I let him know he's doing math. If I use the term multiply or divide he won't even try.

So my suggestion would be to play store, do math games while shopping, play with money and think of different concepts you can teach with it, watch some Schoolhouse Rock, toss a ball back and forth for drill & kill, etc. I haven't tried it, but a lot of people like Math Mammoth for kids that are resistant to math.

01-01-2012, 04:46 PM
My 9yo son is the one who most frequently has attitude about schoolwork. Lately, there has been a lot of stomping his feet and banging around whenever he is asked to do something.

My philosophy has always been to just focus on structure and routine. In the mornings, after breakfast, is ALWAYS work time. It can be school work or house work or yard work, but it's work time. If he really, truly, would rather vacuum or clean toilets than do his math, no problem. Normally, he's trying to negotiate for reading over math, or math over writing, but at least we're talking about school work!

Since this has been a policy at our house for the last 6 years, it isn't news to the kids when I remind them that it's time to clean up breakfast and get started on something.

With a 6-year-old, the amount of schoolwork or housework required would be pretty light, and I was extremely flexible about HOW it was accomplished. A game, a conversation, something on the white board, reading a book, making a craft....practically anything could be called "school work." If my 6yo were really, truly fighting me or miserable, I would be inclined to say "Maybe you're not quite old enough for school work, we'll just try again when you're 7."

01-02-2012, 04:53 PM
I so appreciate this thread! My DS turned 7 in November. A little background-he came to us from a Chinese orphanage when he was 2.5 years old. He started kindergarten when he was 4 and 10 months because he needed speech services for his cleft lip and palate. Long story short, he'd be in 2nd grade now, but he's clearly a 1st grader, probably with ADHD. So, as much as I thought hs would help him feel less pressure to be like everyone else, we clash everyday-he in tears and me aggrevated no end. Interestingly, I taught k and 2nd for many years and I try to be mindful of developmentally appropriate practice, but I guess I'm so used to the school structure that I forget about it.

I should go back to writing the routine down. I also really stood firm on no playing until the work was done. DD headed outside and he had to finish writing. I'm not concerned so much with his level-its the refusal to do anything without a fight. Also more hands-on which he really likes. I think some of my own issues it that here in NY you are required to give your outline for the year and for me, things changed, but I'm paranoid about covering what I said I would. But that's my problem, not DS.

I'm glad for this read today! It lifted me up a bit!

01-03-2012, 12:31 PM
We had a really hard time getting back on track after our first break (this was our first year too).
It took a couple months to get back into it without all the fighting.

What I recently established is that any work that doesn't get done on schedule has to be done on Saturday, which would otherwise be a free day.
It seems to be working.

01-03-2012, 03:14 PM
I have a 6 year old ds and he hates it when we "do" school. I really thought the "school at home" approach would work since my kids did great in their private school. I have ditched the math curriculum and am going to spend the balance of the year trying "living" math. Today (our first day after 2.5 week break) we started more of a CM style. While the kids were doing a craft (ds making a cardboard mask he saw in our history book and dd crocheting), I fired off math questions..."if you found 3 candies in this room and 5 candies in the other room...." It was relaxed and enjoyable. My ds told me a few he "wants to learn what nobody else knows". He hates anything like flashcards, worksheets, etc. After reading these boards, we have purchased some mathy games (sleeping queesn, math dice). After much reading, I truly believe my kids will not be "behind" in math when they are older if I chose to take a gentler approach now. I know my kids are bright - they have interests that are not typical (at least compared to the kids we know), I don't want to squash the love of learning because they are bored to death doing a worksheet of stuff they know, but may not regurgitate super quickly. All of this is a bit hard on me because I LOVED math in school - could do most gradeschool math in my head, never struggled with anything until Calculus.

I have a friend who also hs her two kids. She admits her dd has a meltdown every day over math - to the point that it is ruining her relationship with the child. Granted, she is a type-A, over-the-top, task-master, but she will not lighten-up on the poor kid. So sad!