View Full Version : Kids who learn better from other people?

03-20-2012, 01:24 PM
Hi all,

I am new here and have been lurking for a while. I have a question that I would love your input on.

Our son is 4 1/2 and has a diagnosis of global developmental delay (behind in everything but gross motor), severe language disorder (behind in both receptive and expressive), and ADHD. We feel that homeschooling would be great for him, but our one reservation is that he seems to learn better from other people. It's kind of the educational version of the "my kids behave better for other people" phenomenon. He has a focus and attention span with other people (therapists, teachers, evaluators) that he doesn't have with us and it seems like it allows him to learn more outside the home.

He is in a PS preschool special day class now, and is doing great. We are very happy with him being there, but special day class isn't going to last forever and he will have to start grade school at some point which is where I feel like he would do better at home, except for this one issue. Does anyone else have this issue and if so, how do you work through it?

Thank you!

03-20-2012, 01:59 PM
Hi Bones! Welcome to SHS. I don't have great advice, other than in general keep your options open, be flexible, find out what kind of settings might help (will he let you teach him in a library?) Maybe find out if one of the therapists/teachers has advice - can they watch you teach him and give you pointers?

Good luck, and again welcome!

03-20-2012, 07:41 PM

Well, he's young, so you have plenty of time to experiment and figure it out and see what might work. Some kids are better behaved (which enables them to learn more effectively) for others and in a few cases, I'm sure it means homeschooling isn't the right choice, but I also think a huge number of families face this and most of the time it's about setting up expectations so that education is taken seriously. I think even simple things like just setting aside a specific school time and establishing a routine can help a lot. And if you continue to get outside help from therapists or other professionals then they'll help you develop a bag of tricks to deal with distractions and so forth.

There are also advantages with having a parent teacher that are hard to pin down. Sure, some kids might sit still for a school lesson and retain a little more from that lesson, but when a parent is the teacher, you can extend the lesson constantly - pointing out things in everyday life, continuing the conversation, relating new questions to old lessons, and so forth, which is much harder when the lesson is done in school away from you.

03-20-2012, 07:58 PM
I don't have experience dealing with the learning challenges, I can say a lot can change. When my 2nd child was 4-5yo, I kept thinking "how will I ever be able to teach her?" She was just so strong willed. It took 3 years to PT simply because she didn't want to be "told what to do" (and that was AFTER her first week completely accident free -- she could do it, but just didn't want to). Now at 6yo she is the easiest of my kids to teach. They DO mature, they DO get longer attention spans. The fact that your dc feels safe to NOT behave now may actually mean teaching later will be more productive. I do agree with the PP who suggested getting support from his therapist and having them observe how you interact with your child. They may see little bad habits/enabling you can address or make suggestions on how to teach him more effectively.

So, yes, I applause your willingness to be open to finding the best situation and yes, sometimes it is NOT to homeschool -- but honestly, if you are committed, who else is ever going to put as much energy and effort into optimizing his education than you? Worst case, you can always stop homeschooling if it doesn't work for your family.

Good luck!

03-20-2012, 08:43 PM
Yeah, I'd wager to say that a lot of us here, and homeschooling parents in general, have kids who are street angels and house devils. (One of ours is definitely that way, the other is getting better with age.) Your son definitely is still pretty young to make too many assumptions yet, although my suggestion would be to structure as much as you can so that he knows what's expected of him and what subjects/activities will be done at which times. That might help some with the "don't-wannas." Seems to help around here, although of course it's not foolproof.

Good luck with it!

03-20-2012, 09:18 PM
Oh, goodness, my just turned 5yo is something else for sure. She is one of those kids that whenever mommy/daddy isn't around, she's a sweet angel, but as soon as we show up it's hell on wheels! She's very very very independent as well (someone above mentioned PT, and we went through the same thing, she *could* do it, went a week or two fine, but just didn't *want* to do it).

I have some issues with her in terms of HS, mostly because she is so stubborn. If it's not "her" idea to do school that day, or what we work on, then it's just not gonna happen, come hell or high water that child will refuse!

But, like a previous poster said, the good thing about having a parent as the teacher IS that you can teach throughout the day. My child may fight about the sit down stuff if I say it's time, but throughout the day I'm still teaching her, even if she doesn't know it. (like when we go to the store, and I say "let's get 8 apples, ok? you count them into the bag for me!" Then I ask her to show me 8 fingers. Then I make a game out of finding other things in a group of 8.

03-20-2012, 10:04 PM
One thing that really helped here: I used a magnet board and made little magnets for the different tasks for the day (cut up some of those thin magnets you get for free with phonebooks and glued stock paper onto them). One side of the little board said "To do" the other "Done". When dd got up, we'd look at what was on the "to do" side and as each task was done, SHE got to move that magnet over to the other side. I used short words and color coded the magnets, but you could also draw pictures for a pre-reader.

It was amazing how much more cooperative my kid was when she knew what needed to be done and had some sense of control (I'd let her "go to the board and pick what we did next" when practical). It made me realize how much the preschool set is dependent on us to provide the rhythm and order to their day. I tried to imagine how it must feel to not have that. I still write what each kid needs to do for the day on the board and we go over it at the start of the day, so they don't have to wait for me to tell them what they need to do next.

03-20-2012, 10:26 PM
When my DD was 4, I thought exactly the same thing. She doesn't have the issues that your child has, but she does have mood issues that typically manifest strongest when she's at home. So she's been in private school, and I've been perfectly happy with that... until this year. This year has been the first year that I've been 100% convinced that she would be better served at home and that I DO have the ability to work with her and teach her. She'll come home this fall. I don't regret putting her in private school (I would even have gone with a public school if our local one was any good, but it isn't, so private school it was) one bit, but I'm excited to have her home. I think you have to evaluate yourself and your child and see how you and he can be best served. If you really, truly feel that his place is at home and that you are willing to step up to the challenge and teach him, then by all means go for it. There are TONS of people here who can give you fantastic advice - some of it I've already seen in this thread. You can totally do it. :)

03-21-2012, 01:27 AM
I have a few of suggestions:

1) Pick a schedule--like MWF for a month--that you'll teach every day-some thing and have your spouse videotape you--it would really be best if you didn't know which days, but whatever. My guess is that on your own you could see what is going on at home that is different with what is at the other places. You might want to consider how you discipline, as well. I'm not saying change or even suggesting that you're doing it wrong. But, kids smell blood. My kids are different when the Mister is home, for example. If he is attentive because he is getting a sense of authority (from the others) that he's not getting from you--because you're mom. That may just be it. AND that's not even a bad thing because kids are known to listen to their parents even when we think they aren't.

2) Anther suggestion is to tell him as if he's going to Disney World---Mom and Dad get so excited about this--it's gonna be great! and let him pick out some pencils and do the magnet suggestion and get him this and that--and let him hear you tell everyone how great it is--make sure you ask him what he wants to learn and go with it..even if you have to read superhero comics and watch dinosaur movies for a month..just be sure to have "PE" every so often scheduled in the day so he doesn't fret about sitting too long. The other parents who mentioned it are right (IMO)--kids who participate in their education value the time more whether they are 4 or 14. Join a HS group if you can and help him make another HS friend. The point is to get him excited and on board.

3) Finally, I'd look into some unschooling resources. You can think outside of the box to teach things to kids things they'd never think of on their own that age--like demonstrating gravity over paper planes and types of energy by going up and down a slide.. The entire world is our classroom...some kids just don't work very well within structure and he may just need another year to mature before formal schooling, if at all. Most formal schooling really isn't even necessary until 7 or even later--(most states don't even require a child to attend school until they are 7yo) especially children with development issues because sometimes pushing them into a mold of what they need to know by this age is a hit to their confidence. By unschooling him--again, check resources, this doesn't mean do nothing all day, lol--he'd be given the opportunity to learn in ways that are more adapted to his needs. If you are considering homeschool because of fears that he'd not measure up to their "faux standards"--this may be an option for a year or so (while he's 5 & 6). I put off teaching my son and he's learned so much on his own--I feel we went from learning our shapes and numbers and straight into the second grade--I'm trying to figure out where he learns half this stuff! I'm not an unschooler, but I have a few in my circle of friends and their kids usually (there is that one weird family in the group, lol) learn A LOT and seem more ahead (academically speaking) than the others and most of the parents chose the methods because of a diagnosis--add, adhd, impairments, sensory disorders, etc. Of course, mileage does vary.

I do wish you the best of luck and welcome you to our group!

03-23-2012, 01:33 AM
Thank you so much to everyone who has replied to this thread! I feel much more confident now. It is good to know that other people have similar issues and have still homeschooled successfully.

Honestly, I don't have any delusions that he will sit and do seat work for any length of time. His attention span, medicated, is seconds. Literally seconds. This is part of the reason we want to homeschool. He is a very active learner and very visually oriented, and even the best PS teacher in the best school district is not going to be able to accommodate that learning style the majority of the time. He is an intelligent boy, but his ability to focus or do low key/organized activity is non-existent. I particularly liked the suggestion about looking into unschooling resources, I feel like that may be the best approach for the next few years while he matures and gets used to being more organized in general (doing organized play, sitting for a story, coloring, etc. None of which he is able to do right now.)

I may try to incorporate some light unit study type activities based on things is is interested in. For example, right now he likes space so I try to engage him is coloring a picture of a space shuttle or reading a book about the moon. I will definitely get with his teachers and therapists about way to engage and teach him.

Thank you again for all of the suggestions and for the warm welcome. I am so glad to have found this forum!