View Full Version : Is this just my kid??

01-19-2012, 03:31 PM
So yesterday I wasn't a very good teacher. My ds had yet another screaming/yelling/refusal to work day. I didn't handle it very well, and I won't make excuses for myself here- I did a crappy job.

But the end result was a replay of a conversation that we've had over and over: he was upset (partly) because I had given him a graphic organizer, and he wasn't sure he could fit everything he needed to in the outlined space. His comment, after saying hs is nothing like ps, was that in ps they would be expected to keep it in the lines.

There have been countless examples of him struggling with the idea that our homeschooling is about progress and a decent finished result- the process to get there can be as messy and convoluted as it needs to be.

LA is really the biggie (I had a crazy hard time convincing him that a creative sentence doesn't have to follow this pattern: The (adj) (noun) (verb) (adv). Ex: The black cat walks softly. The brown puppy barks loudly. etc etc. Stilted!

But even math was a struggle for a bit- I don't care if he does the work in his head, counts on his fingers, writes on scratch paper, etc etc. The math is easy enough for me to figure out where he went wrong- and if not, we'll go through it step by step. ps was all about the process, and he sometimes had to make up work to go along with it. He's got that now, finally, but it took awhile.

Do you guys with formerly ps'd kids run into this ever? There's a drive to do it right the first time as well that seems partly related, but I don't think ps intentionally taught him that (he's a perfectionist by nature, so just one mention of a 'rule' and he might have felt it was pretty set in stone). He's not very patient with himself. He blames ps even more than I do. And he certainly has odd challenges that seem related to how he was expected to work in that environment compared to my expectations now.

01-19-2012, 03:39 PM
First of all...I've had those days where I know I could have been much better with the resistence than I was...so I feel you..

My girls spent a few years in PS and we ran into that a lot. It does get easier as the years go by.

01-19-2012, 03:46 PM
hwo long has he been out of school?
Honestly, Orion always liked doing his work pretty much, but couldnt emotionally cope w school

Raven - i kinda let him almost unschool his first year. he hated anything having to do with school. he's much better now.

I think you definitely need to work WITH him - i mean if he wants to write stilted sentences for now, thats ok. I would just say those are good, but point out that he can also try doing more creative sentences next time, like (whatever).

Raven hates writing, but I made up some silly examples (I think my first was "i farted on a crab") and suddenly, his creative juices were unleashed - we've had 2 days of potty humor sentences. Which is FINE . . because he's writing without throwing fits. I'm working esp on writing to just praise all effort, to help where needed, and to let them go at whatever pace is comfortable for them. They will branch out when they are feeling more confident.

I think in general for me it works to look at where they are and talk about where they want to get. Just the other day, Raven was saying how much he hated writing. I reminded him that 2 years ago, he hated reading, but i made him do it anyways, and now he likes reading. I pointed out that i am making him learn to write sentences, which is hard for him, but he will get better at it, and some day he will enjoy writing. He looked at me suspiciously, but didnt argue.

there are days I find the flow and get them doing things they didnt think they could do, and days i really doubt myself. It really looks better when you can look back on a year and see what you got done!

01-19-2012, 04:22 PM
Sounds a lot like my son.
He complains about formatting, or if something changes in how he's asked to solve a problem,
having to look at something in a different way...
It's like his mind shuts down just because something looks a little different.
But I'm kind of the same.
I think it's more of a personality thing.

01-19-2012, 04:38 PM
Yes, I had some of those problems (in addition to my 9 year old wetting him self while freaking out after we saw some people from his old school while out to lunch. He thought they were going to make him go back. I clearly did not grasp till that day just how traumatic ps was for him.)

I actually have me son just write for the sake of writing. We can teach the grammar aspect of it all during our editing process. He LOVES to edit the stuff. I also give him examples of graphic organizers but have him draw or right it out on another piece of paper so he never has to worry about running out of space.

01-19-2012, 04:49 PM
My daughter - age 10 - 2.5 years out of ps - is the same way. Perfectionist. I think it is partly a first born/personality thing.

When we first came home from school, she would MELT DOWN if I marked anything wrong - especially if it was in INK. Oh my. She wanted her pages to look perfect. If I marked anything wrong, it was to be done lightly in pencil so she could erase it. So, what did I do? Markers. Hot pink. Red. Neon orange. That's how I roll. Ha ha.

I give the "we learn by making mistakes" speech ALL. THE. TIME. They see it as failure (I see some of this perfection thing in my youngest who only did 2 years of pre-k so I do think it is somewhat personality and somewhat borne out of the school system) and so I'm trying to emphasize PROGRESS. Slow and steady.

Funny thing is, one the reasons why I brought my oldest home was because all of the pages that came home in the backpack looked perfect. I didn't want her in an environment where being perfect was going to be praised because we all know none of us are perfect. Especially seeing this aspect to her personality. She hates art because she wants to get the right answer and there are none in art.

We've all had days where WE could have done better as the leader of this effort. I know your pain! Hang in there!

01-19-2012, 05:04 PM
Thanks guys! It definitely helps to know we aren't alone. It makes sense that it might be a first-born thing as well- hadn't considered that aspect!

Just to clarify the LA- I HAD to go over that because he feels he sucks with adj and adv, so wouldn't write AT ALL. No journal entries, no sentences, nothing. I had to explain (and read a bunch of example sentences) that didn't use adj and adv so that he realized that any sentence he came up with that included a noun and a verb was fine. The stilted comment wasn't directed at him- just at the way he learned. Sorry for the confusion.. should have worded that better.

ercswf- that breaks my heart! :(

Yes, I'm ashamed of myself for yesterday. Thank you guys for the empathy. I'm working really hard to just chill out- not easy at all. I'm doing better, but it's definitely a personal journey. Once upon a time, I thought I was a very patient person. Thank goodness for my kids, they really are making me a better sort of human being.

01-19-2012, 07:00 PM
i think it may be a personality thing. kid1 has never been to school, and he has a perfectionist streak that puts my own to shame. he hates when i mark his papers wrong, he freaks out when i correct him... i hold on to my patience with both hands some days, except on the days that i don't. *blush*

christina in lawrenceville

01-19-2012, 08:23 PM
Maybe some "feedback aversion" is just human nature???

There is a blog that I follow that is written by a non-certified teacher at a private school in Georgia. He has written tons of posts about how to give feedback and how the mindset around giving, and especially, receiving feedback has to change. Here is a particularly good post about it:


Key excerpt:

In fact, the first week for me has been all about feedback. Iíve probably already written paragraphs of feedback to all of my students at this point, and today, when handing back some position vs time graphs when I wrote lots of feedback all over the paper, I heard a few groans and grumbles under studentsí breath.

And so it was at this point that I stopped the class an asked in general why a student would grumble when getting feedback, and pretty quickly we decided it boiled down to two assumptions

Teachers only write bad things on your paper and point out what youíre doing wrong (Iím often guilty of this)
When teachers write bad things on your paper you grade goes down.

This logic is pretty easy to see, a lot of ink on the paper means a bad grade and just one more strike against the good grades that are going to help you achieve your dreams. Of course, the real problem is that the two assumptions above are just about the two most detrimental ideas to learning one could imagine. The teacher writes feedback in order to help you get better, and if you approach it with a sense of dread, your chances of improving are greatly diminished. Also, if you view every moment of teacher feedback and interaction as a chance to have your grade lowered, you are going to be much less willing to take the risks and make the mistakes you need to make to learn.

And that was a nice segue to a discussion about the environment we wish to create to replace these assumptions with principles that actually encourage learning.

Feedback is feedback, designed to help you improve, not evaluate your understanding. Therefore, more ink is a good thing (and Iím trying to be better about pointing out positive stuff as well)
I give feedback so that when it comes time to assess your understanding you know what to do and can demonstrate mastery, and I think you should have multiple chances to show that mastery.

From there we went into a deeper discussion of the grading system in this class, and it is mostly summarized in this keynote presentation.

Check out the summary slide from the keynote persentation. This is the best thing I have ever read written by a teacher in a school trying to incorporate homeschool principles into a classroom. He is putting a lot of effort into getting his students to get onto the "progress" model vs. just being focused on grades. It's revolutionary (in an elite private school environment, anyway).